The Ideology of the Aesthetic presents a history and critique of the concept of the aesthetic throughout modern Western thought. As such, this is a critical survey of modern Western philosophy, focusing in particular on the complex relations between aesthetics, ethics and politics. Eagleton provides a brilliant and challenging introduction to these concerns, as characterized in the work of Kant, Schiller, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Lukacs, Adorno, Habermas, and others.
Wide in span, as well as morally and politically committed, this is Terry Eagleton's major work to date. It forms both an original enquiry and an exemplary introduction.
Although not a history of aesthetics, Eagleton's new book traces the relationship between aesthetics and political interests from the Enlightenment through post-modernism, aiming at a Marxist philosophy of the body. While starting with Shaftesbury, Hume, and Burke, he is primarily concerned with the contribution of the German philosophical tradition. He is especially interested in the Hegelians from Hegel and Marx to Benjamin, Adorno, and Habermas, and the anti-Hegelians from Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche to Heidegger and Foucault. As with his many earlier books on literary theory and Marxist aesthetics (e.g., Literary Theory , LJ 8/83), Eagleton's new volume is marked both by its clarity and its commitment.--T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.