Cultural paths and aesthetic signs: A critical hermeneutics of aesthetic validity

Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (3):315-340 (2003)
Abstract
Contemporary philosophical stances toward `artistic truth' derive from Kant's aesthetics. Whereas philosophers who share Kant's emphasis on aesthetic validity discount art's capacity for truth, philosophers who share Hegel's critique of Kant render artistic truth inaccessible. This essay proposes a critical hermeneutic account of aesthetic validity that supports a non-esoteric notion of artistic truth. Using Gadamer and Adorno to read Kant through Hegelian eyes, I reconstruct the aesthetic dimension from three polarities in modern Western societies. Then I describe aesthetic validity as an horizon of imaginative cogency governing the exploration, presentation and creative interpretation of aesthetic signs. The essay argues that aesthetic processes, so construed, are crucial to cultural pathfinding, and that aesthetic validity-claims in art talk contribute significantly to this pursuit. Aesthetic validity, cultural orientation and art talk constitute the hermeneutical matrix from which questions of artistic truth emerge
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