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2018 Vol. 9 №4

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A. G. Baumgarten’s aesthetic-semiotic concept



In this article, we consider the semiotic concept developed by Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, a founder of modern aesthetics. We describe the principles of the semiotic theory, as expressed in Baumgarten's Metaphysica, particularly in the parts ‘Ontology’ and ‘Psychology’, in which he introduced the basic semiotic terminology. We pay special attention to the general context of Baumgarten’s Aesthetica. This context had determined the characteristics of the semiotic ideas that he developed later. In this work, semiotics is considered as part of aesthetics, as ‘denotative aesthetics’. Within Baumgarten’s concept, aesthetics and semiotics are closely interrelated. He described aesthetics as a science of essentially inseparable sensible cognition and expression. We analyse Baumgarten’s attitudes from a historical perspective and compare them with those of the ancient authors, John Locke, F. de Saussure, and R. Barthes. We emphasise the connection between the aesthetic and semiotic ideas, on the one hand, and the concept of fundus animae, on the other. We address the transition of the latter term from the theological realm of German mysticism to the aesthetics and gnosiology of the 18th century and examine its correlation with the 20th-century aesthetic and semiotic concepts. We stress the significance of Baumgarten’s ideas for the development of new aesthetic systems rejecting the traditional poetic and rhetorical systems. Baumgarten made an important contribution to the development of the idea of sensible cognition as the goal of aesthetics, which was formulated by F. Schiller in his Letters upon the Aesthetic Education of Man.


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