Nothingness and the work of art: A comparative approach to existential phenomenology and the ontological foundation of aesthetics

Philosophy East and West 58 (2):244-266 (2008)
Abstract
: This essay analyzes the relation between nothingness and the work of art, where negation appears as a fundamental element of art. Starting at a discussion of the concept of nothingness in existential phenomenology, it points to the limitations of Heidegger’s notion of nullity and negation, which spring from the denial of the dimension of consciousness to his Dasein. Although Sartre recovers that dimension in his portrayal of the pour-soi, now the idea of nothingness is not taken to its ultimate consequence, where art would appear as a product of consciousness that is entrenched in nothingness. Only through an enlarged notion of consciousness, one that allows the perception of negative experience as intrinsically related to poiesis, will the work of art appear ontologically grounded in a form of Being that searches for its own contradiction. Such an enlarged notion of consciousness appears in the thought of Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitarō , where concepts such as ‘‘the place of nothingness’’ and ‘‘pure experience’’ can serve as ground to an analysis of the relation between nothingness and the work of art.
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