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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 Romanticism of Defeat

The Romanticism of Defeat

The Unhappy Consciousness Today

(p.108) Chapter IV The Romanticism of Defeat
After Utopia

Judith N. Shklar

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks into the possibility of pure Romanticism no longer existing in the present day, while the “unhappy consciousness” flourishes as never before. It talks about how Romanticism does not express itself today in spontaneous outbursts of feeling, noting that the change in tone has not brought Romanticism an inch closer to traditional philosophy. It also mentions how the unhappy consciousness has become acutely aware of itself as the realization that God is dead and how it analyzes its condition with a detachment unknown to the earlier romantics. The chapter examines the distance between the unique self, the increase of the surrounding world, and the unhappy consciousness that openly admits its sense of meaninglessness in the present. It discusses the survival of aesthetic idealism in its negative form as a basis for social criticism.

Keywords:   Romanticism, unhappy consciousness, traditional philosophy, romantics, aesthetic idealism, social criticism

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