Mare Nostrum 7:56-74 (2017)

Aiste Celkyte
Utrecht University
ABSTRACT: Aesthetic disinterestedness is one of the central concepts in aesthetics, and Jerome Stolnitz, the most prominent theorist of disinterestedness in the 20th century, has claimed that (i) ancient thinkers engagement with this notion was cursory and undeveloped, and consequently, (ii) the emergence of disinterestedness in the 18th century marks the birth of aesthetics as a discipline. In this paper, I use the extant works of Epicurus to show that the ancient philosopher not only had similar concepts, but also motivated them in careful and complex ways. I argue that, in the Epicurean theoretical framework, arts belong to the category of ‘merely natural’ desires, and this classification, combined with what we know of Epicurus’ rejection of art criticism, shows he had carefully worked out reasons supporting the idea that art ought to be approached terminally, rather than instrumentally. Finally, I compare the notion of aesthetic disinterestedness with Epicurus’ views on arts and argue that in many ways the latter are not inferior to the former, and therefore ought to belong to the history of aesthetics.
Keywords Epicurus  Epicureanism  Ancient Aesthetics  Aesthetics  Aesthetic disinterestedness  Stolnitz
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References found in this work BETA

The Morality of Happiness.Julia Annas - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy.David Wolfsdorf - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
On the Origins of "Aesthetic Disinterestedness".Jerome Stolnitz - 1961 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 20 (2):131-143.
Aesthetics—What? Why? And Wherefore?Kendall Walton - 2007 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65 (2):147–161.
The Aesthetic Attitude.Gary Kemp - 1999 - British Journal of Aesthetics 39 (4):392-399.

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A Third Note on Eighteenth-Century "Disinterestedness".Jerome Stolnitz - 1963 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 22 (1):69-70.
An Alternative to "Aesthetic Disinterestedness".Jerome Schiller - 1964 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 22 (3):295-302.
Art and Engagement.Arnold BERLEANT - 1991 - Temple University Press.


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