Howard Caygill – The Fate of the “Beautiful Sciences”



Event Date 8 – 9 May 2013

Room 22/26
Senate House
University of London
London WC1E 7HU

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy


Romantic Transdisciplinarity: Art and the New Conference

2011–2013 (AHRC 914469)

This conference is dedicated to discussion of the transdisciplinary legacies of early German Romanticism in contemporary theory and practice in the arts and humanities, with particular reference to the construction of the concepts ‘art’ and ‘the new’. Themes to be discussed include: Romanticism and disciplinarity; aesthetics as a transdisciplinary field; transdisciplinary constructions of art, nature and the new; medium, media and transmedia as transdisciplinary concepts.

The conference is in collaboration with the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Professor Howard Caygill (CRMEP, Kingston University) – The Fate of the “Beautiful Sciences”

One of the consequences of Baumgarten’s invention of the ‘logic of the lower faculties’ or aesthetic was a reconfiguration of the disciplines of knowledge and the character of relationships among them. The configuration of the disciplines on the basis of an expanded lower faculty was understood by contemporaries in terms of the idea of the ‘beautiful sciences’, with aesthetic as both logic of sense and discourse of beauty serving as the principle of articulation. The Enlightenment understood this articulation in terms of the enhanced role of philosophy as the discipline of the lower faculty and key to the articulation of the other disciplines. With the decay of the Enlightenment project and the incursions of Romanticism, the orientation of the ‘beautiful sciences’ changed from the logic of sense to the impossible logic of the infinite. It reached a limit with Schelling where art succeeds philosophy as the principle of articulation of the disciplines. This paper will reflect upon the character of this limit.

Howard Caygill is Professor of Modern European Philosophy in the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London. He is the author of Art of Judgment (1989), A Kant Dictionary (1995), Walter Benjamin: The Colour of Experience (1998) and Levinas and the Political (2002). His new book, On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance, is forthcoming in autumn 2013.






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