Kallias Letters

Kallias, oder Über die Schönheit; Kallias, or On Beauty (written 1793)

This is a series of letters from Schiller to Christian Gottfried Körner, written in January and February 1793. In them, Schiller develops the idea of aesthetic autonomy which had appeared in Kant’s Critique of Judgement (1790). Kant regards art as an independent realm governed by its own laws. For Kant, artworks are autonomous: they do not adhere to external laws, but instead follow their own internal imperatives. In the Kallias letters, Schiller elaborates on this idea: we perceive an object as beautiful when it seems to be free of all external laws, and determined only by its own nature. In this way it manifests freedom to the human senses. Schiller thus defines beauty as ‘Freiheit in der Erscheinung’; ‘freedom in appearance’.

Further Reading

John M. Ellis, Schiller’s Kallias-Briefe and the Study of his Aesthetic Theory (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1969)