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Walter PaterIndividualism and Aesthetic Philosophy$
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Kate Hext

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748646258

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748646258.001.0001

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Introduction: Individualism and the ‘aesthetic philosopher’

Introduction: Individualism and the ‘aesthetic philosopher’

(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction: Individualism and the ‘aesthetic philosopher’
Walter Pater

Kate Hext

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter introduces Walter Pater's troubled individualism as a personal and intellectual problem. It presents a case for viewing Pater at the philosophical centre of British Aestheticism in the period 1864-1894 and uses Steven Lukes' seminal work of sociological history, Individualism, to define the importance of 'Romantic Individualism' in Pater's writings throughout his career. It argues that the philosophical spirit at the heart of Aestheticism has yet to be appreciated, asserting that Pater perceives the limitations of contemporary formal philosophical discourse and -- radically -- attempts to remake 'philosophy' so that it might account for the 'fugitive conditions' and spiritual uncertainties of emerging modern sensibility. This chapter sets out its argument in the cultural and intellectual contexts of mid- to late-Victorian Oxford; a tumultuous time at which the creation of university disciplines, challenges to the Church of England, and reconceptions of philosophical discourse in Oxford.

Keywords:   Individualism, Victorian Oxford, Aestheticism, Walter Pater biography, aesthetics

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