Ethical Fabrication (Aesthetics)

I’m not sure this is exactly what my friend and colleague Gail Hamner at Syracuse University had in mind, but the idea of “the beautiful soul” is an old idea in Enlightenment and post Enlightenment German moral theory, circa 1800. Check out Robert E. Norton’s excellent book on same; and the prominent place played therein by our deal old Moses Mendelssohn. Somehow the idea has carried over here into this little snippet of contemporary pop culture.

Of much more significance is this comment posted by Gail Hamner on FB about Katrin Pahl’s book, which I have not read, about Hegel, moral affect, and aesthetic fabrication:

In her lovely book on *Hegel and Emotion*, Pahl writes, “In the end” “the beautiful soul has led us to the verge of a radical new conception of emotionality, where authenticity depends on fabrication” (49). This fabrication is the “theatrics” of ethical life, “staged” before others in the passionate scenes of daily life, and before the self through self-lacerating self-reflection (Chapter 2, “Pathos”). [Gail’s post is slightly edited]



About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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