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Beautiful Thinking: Poetic Episteme in European Modernism

Stephan Kammer

Poetic texts and poetological programs around 1900 claim a mode of thinking that exceeds the limits of rationality—beautiful thinking shall imply better thinking. In its most sophisticated utterances, poetry of Classical Modernism pretends to give better insights into the appearances and structures of the world than any other mode of knowledge. Moreover, it asserts a genuine aesthetic nomothesis. The paper sketches the tensions of claim and consequences with respect to some core positions of Classical Modernism (Hofmannsthal, Meyer-Graefe, Rilke).