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utility: the stated imperative of the Technological Age. The belief that scientific research will lead to advances of high utility (that is, usefulness to society and perhaps even to the advancement of humanity) is just that ­ a belief. In the first century of the Industrial Revolution, this notion was challenged by thinkers of the Romantic Movement in Europe and, a little later, by members of its American offshoot, Transcendentalism. In his Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1793), German Romantic playwright Friedrich Schiller [1759 ­ 1805] wrote:

"Utility is the great idol of the age, to which all powers must do service and all talents swear allegiance. In these clumsy times the spiritual service of Art has no weight; deprived of all encouragement, she fells from the noisy marketplace of our century. The very spirit of philosophical enquiry seizes one province after another from the imagination, and the frontiers of Art are contracted as the boundaries of science are enlarged." (26)

This passage exemplifies Romantic protest against scientific materialism. In fact, it is one of the earliest succinct statements of this protest.

In his Letters, Schiller applied his style of metahistorical critique to expose what he viewed to be the prevailing social and cultural delusions of his act. With that clarification done, he proceeded to offer directive beliefs for reorienting human experience. At the heart of his proposals are the play impulse and the role of beauty in human experience.