A history of the idea of «vital knowledge». From Luther to the aesthetics of the German Enlightenment
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In this essay, the Author outlines the history of the idea of «vital knowledge» - a kind of knowledge which elicits an action - as it is discussed in the German context until the end of the Enlightenment. The aim is to show its semantic development from its Lutheran basis to its philosophical adoption in Thomasius and Wolff, for whom the impulse to act does no longer derive from the Holy Spirit, but only from immanent causes. Finally, the paper investigates the employment of the concept in aesthetics, from Baumgarten to the late Enlightenment, and its new foundation on the obscure perceptions of the soul, which turn out to be man's most powerful motive.