Inventions of the Imagination: Romanticism and Beyond

Published by University of Washington Press in 2011.


The dialectic between reason and imagination forms a key element in Romantic and post- Romantic philosophy, science, literature, and art. Inventions of the Imagination explores the diverse theories and assessments of this dialectic in essays by philosophers and literary and cultural critics. By the end of the eighteenth century, reason as the predominant human faculty had run its course, and imagination emerged as another force whose contributions to human intellectual existence and productivity had to be newly calculated and constantly recalibrated. The attempt to establish a universal form of reason alongside a plurality of imaginative capacities describes the ideological program of modernism from the end of the eighteenth century to the present day. This collection chronicles some of the vicissitudes in the conceptualization and evaluation of the imagination across time and in various disciplines.

Richard T. Gray is the Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood professor of Germanics at the University of Washington. Nicholas Halmi is University Lecturer in English Literature of the Romantic Period at the University College, Oxford. Gary J. Handwerk is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Washington. Michael A. Rosenthal is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Washington. Klaus Vieweg is professor of philosophy at Friedrich Shiller University.


Introduction by Richard T. Gray
1. Imagination on the Move
2. The Poetics of Nature: Literature and Constructive Imagination in the History of Geology
3. Between Imagination and Reason: Kant and Spinoza on Fictions
4. Herder on Interpretation and Imagination
5. William Blake: Imagination, Vision, Inspiration, Intellect
6. Imaginative Power as Prerequisite for an Aesthetics of Freedom in Friedrich Schiller’s Works
7. The Gentle Force over Pictures: Hegel’s Philosophical Conception of the Imagination
8. The Status of Literature in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: On the Lives of Concepts
9. Difficult Freedom: Hegel’s Symbolic Art and Schelling’s Historiography in “The Ages of the World” (1815)
10. From Art to History: Schelling’s Modern Mythology and the Coming Community
11. “To impose is not to discover”: A Romantic-Modernist Continuity in Contradiction
Biographies of Editors and Contributors

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