By Kang Liu
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Extra info for Aesthetics and Marxism: Chinese Aesthetic Marxists and Their Western Contemporaries
But Cai’s transcendental concepts did not transcend reality. His understanding of the Kantian dichotomy of phenomenal and noumenal worlds had an unequivocal historical referent: conflict-ridden modernity. Both universal and transcendental aspects of the aesthetic have a primal heuristic value, central to Cai’s project of aesthetic education. 63 The goal of Cai’s aesthetic education is, in one sense, similar to Schiller’s. Like Schiller, Cai wanted to wage a cultural revolution in the psychic realms in order to create an ideal aesthetic state.
No matter how beneficial it might have proved itself to China’s modernity, Cai’s project had unfortunately little material condition in China then. Marxism had a quite different fate.
He claimed that ‘‘the animus of Mr. ’’48 Wang critiqued Confucian utilitarianism from the same angle. He contended that most Chinese philosophers were only concerned with moral and political philosophies as means to societal change, without emphasizing a metaphysical basis, which should be an end in itself. Moreover, in Chinese tradition, fine art has never had an independent value of its own. Hence, in order to have truly independent intellectual inquiry, scholarship and fine art must be pursued as ends in themselves, rather than means to other political and social objectives.