Aesthetics as Secular Millenialism
Its Trail from Baumgarten and Kant to Walt Disney and Hitler
The concept of secular millennialism summarizes a crucial point made by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism: that twentieth-century totalitarian movements, in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union under Stalin, are not nationalistic but essentially millennialist, focused on the achievement of a universal world order. The question of whether totalitarian thinking can be located in a secular millennialist tradition is brought to the forefront in Secular Millenialism: The Trail of Aesthetics from Baumgarten and Kant to Walt Disney and Hitler by Benjamin Bennett. Bennett contends that the new philosophical science of aesthetics - beginning in the eighteenth century with Baumgarten, Kant, and Schiller - is the source of such a tradition.
About the author:
Benjamin Bennett is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of German and comparative Literature at the University of Virginia. He is known mainly as a Goethe scholar and an expert on the history and theory of the dramatic theater. But his most recent books, Goethe as Woman (2001), All Theater is Revolutionary (2005), and The Dark Side of Literacy (2008), have moved toward a focus on political questions, especially the question of the structure and genesis of totalitarianism. The present book develops this tendency, and will be succeeded in its turn by a book on Freud and the original psychoanalytic movement as an anti-totalitarian force in the domain of literature and culture.