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After UtopiaThe Decline of Political Faith$
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Judith N. Shklar

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691200859

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691200859.001.0001

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The Unhappy Consciousness in Society

The Unhappy Consciousness in Society

The Emptiness of Progress

(p.65) Chapter III The Unhappy Consciousness in Society
After Utopia

Judith N. Shklar

Princeton University Press

This chapter points out how the “unhappy consciousness” does not just assert itself against the laws of reason and nature. It mentions the struggles of Prometheus that are part of the revolt of Romanticism against “things as they are.” It also explains the restless longing of Romanticism that finds its most vehement expression in its opposition to all historical and social optimism. The chapter describes romantics that were brought to self-recognition as a result of their radical dissatisfaction with their social environment. It recounts the prevalence of utilitarianism as first target of Romanticism, which of all attitudes is the most repulsive to poetry.

Keywords:   unhappy consciousness, Prometheus, Romanticism, social optimism, social environment, utilitarianism

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