In this dissertation it will be argued that contrary to many current views the concept of genius is of considerable importance for understanding what is most significant in the aesthetics of German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). In the recent literature on Kant’s aesthetics, it is commonly asserted that Kant’s discussion of genius in the Critique of Judgment is “parergonal,” or merely extrinsic to his aesthetics. Part One reconstructs Kant’s conception of genius and demonstrates that genius, and the art produced by genius, has a fundamental and not only “parergonal” place in Kant’s aesthetics, his moral teleology, and his philosophy of history.
Drawing on the results of Part One, Part Two argues that Schelling, inspired by his early TÌÄå_bingen Plato studies and Kant’s conception of genius, transformed Kant’s relatively modest conception of creative subjectivity into a much more ambitious conception of creative agency. According to Kant, there is an aspect of the genius’s production that escapes the complete determination of the understanding because neither the genius nor the observers of its products can account for the steps involved in the genius’s production. But Kant also suggests that even though the genius’s production presupposes a certain privileged intuitive state that is not reached through judgment, this state engages the genius’s rational faculties in such a way that it results in a genius’s insightful judgment which allows genius to determine whether its products meet relevant epistemic standards of intelligibility. Influenced by Plato’s account of poetic inspiration as a state of possession by something divine, Schelling soon transformed the intuitive process of the genius’s creativity in Kant into a genius’s intellectual intuition of the supersensible, leaving a genius bereft of any rational means of discussing the normative aspects of his works. By systematically establishing for the first time the significant connection between Kant’s conception of genius and Schelling’s only recently made available early studies of Plato, Part Two clarifies the still not sufficiently explored issue of the relevance of Plato’s philosophy for the origin of German Idealism.