Towards a creative aesthetics: with reference to Bergson

Dissertation, University of Warwick (2001)

This thesis explores issues in aesthetics with reference to Bergson. The first chapter outlines and assesses Bergson's interesting and subtle theory of humour, which emphasises the necessary lack of sympathy in humour, and its generalising, external methodology. In doing so it explores the different ways the motif of 'something encrusted on the living' functions on various levels. This is ultimately found to be an interesting account which has many merits. The second chapter then begins to outline the theoretical structure of Bergson's account of humour in terms of vertical and horizontal movement. This leads to an account of Bergson's critique of 'ordinary' conceptual language and a consideration of other alternatives, including metaphor. The third chapter discusses Bergson's notion of intuition and levels of interpretation - assessing what, if any, relation there is between Russian Formalism and Bergson's own understanding of poetry. The notion of levels helps to define Bergson's anti-modernism, when modernism is understood as the self-referential exposure of the art work's own conditions of possibility. The fourth chapter examines several art forms. Music is discussed in some detail with particular attention being paid to the distinction between rhythm and melody, notions of repetition, creativity and difference. A comparison it then made between Bergson's thoughts on evolution and melodic creativity. This discussion is of importance not only for the light it casts on aesthetic issues, but also because music, or more specifically melody, is often given as an example of the heterogeneous continuity of duration. The thesis also examines painting, particularly in relation to duration, comparing it with photography. Bergson's arguments against cinema are then discussed. The thesis also examines how the role of sympathy functions in artistic production generally. Finally Bergson's ability to distinguish between art and philosophy is examined referring back to notions of self-reflexivity in art.
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Reality and its Shadow.Emmanuel Levinas - 2009 - Filosoficky Casopis 57 (6):871-886.
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