While feminist aestheticians have long interrogated gendered, raced, and classed hierarchies in the arts, feminist philosophers still don’t talk much about popular music. Even though Angela Davis and bell hooks have seriously engaged popular music, they are often situated on the margins of philosophy. It is my contention that feminist aesthetics has a lot to offer to the study of popular music, and the case of popular music points feminist aesthetics to some of its own limitations and unasked questions. This (...) essay addresses the paucity of work in feminist philosophy and popular music by applying insights from other areas of feminist aesthetics to questions of popular music, and thereby using feminist aesthetics – specifically, Julia Kristea’s notion of female genius and the genius spectator – to critique itself. (shrink)
In this article I discuss what I am calling “ally aesthetics.” I suggest a set of necessary, though not necessarily sufficient, considerations for the creation of successful instances of ally art. Focusing on three case studies, I propose some key characteristics of ally aesthetics, such as its contextual/temporal nature and how that relates to success and the importance of understanding the place of the ally aesthetic within the larger movements they are allying with.
Experimental philosophy offers an alternative mode of engagement for public philosophy, in which the public can play a participatory role. We organized two public events on the aesthetics of coffee that explored this alternative mode of engagement. The first event focuses on issues surrounding the communication of taste. The second event focuses on issues concerning ethical influences on taste. -/- In this paper, we report back on these two events which explored the possibility of doing experimental philosophical aesthetics as public (...) philosophy. We set the stage by considering the significance and current state of efforts in public philosophy, and by introducing the emerging sub-discipline of experimental philosophical aesthetics. Then, we discuss the research and outreach aspects of the two events on the aesthetics of coffee. Finally, we conclude by reflecting on the prospects and potential pitfalls of experimental philosophy as public philosophy. (shrink)
It is a very great honor to address my friends and colleagues as president of the American Society for Aesthetics, an organization that plays a unique role in a field that is, at once, a major traditional branch of philosophy and also central to disciplines often regarded as remote from philosophy, as well as depending crucially on their contributions.
In this article, firstly, I begin by articulating four logically different positions Kant has been argued to hold concerning the nature and meaning of ‘aesthetic judgement’ so that, secondly, I may endorse the alternative that has been almost entirely neglected: that is, aesthetic judgement should be understood to be both ‘internalist’ in that the pleasure of taste is a constitutive element of the judgement itself (rather than its external effect or prior referent) and ‘objective’ insofar as the pleasure of taste (...) not only reflects the mental state of the judging subject but discriminates features or properties of the object judged. Ultimately I believe that this ‘internal objectivism’ is a compelling meta-aesthetic position in its own right with interesting parallels to recent trends in aesthetic theory, but presently I am concerned to demonstrate that one way to get clear about how such judgements are possible and to become comfortable with their significance is to see how this position arises and is resisted in the Critique of Judgment and, accordingly, in the contemporary scholarship on Kantian aesthetics. (shrink)
As opposed to Melchionne and Naukkarinen, I defend an expansive definition of everyday aesthetics, one that includes festivals, tourism, and many daily activities of artists and other professionals, along with most ordinary and common experiences. I argue for continuities between aesthetics of everyday life and the aesthetics of art and nature. Looking through a window, for example, may involve aspects of all three. Although I agree with Melchionne that everyday aesthetics is closely related to questions of subjective well-being, I take (...) a more expansive approach to this, drawing from recent psychological studies of the experience of “awe” to stress the importance of such experiences in subjective well-being, thus tying the high points of everyday aesthetics more closely with the high points in the aesthetics of art and nature. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that it is a promising avenue of research to consider philosophy of perception to be a guide to aesthetics. More precisely, my claim is that many, maybe even most, traditional problems in aesthetics are in fact about philosophy of perception that can, as a result, be fruitfully addressed with the help of the conceptual apparatus of philosophy of perception. This claim may sound provocative, but after qualifying what I mean by aesthetics (to (...) be contrasted with philosophy of art) and by philosophy of perception, it may be easier to accept. (shrink)
The beginning of the 21st century has seen the renewed use of aesthetics as a critical and interpretive method within various discursive spheres. Particularly, and unsurprisingly, this move has been most pronounced in the discursive systems of philosophy and the artworld. It is to this more specific re-discovery that the authors in this journal address their arguments.
This paper originated as the keynote address at the conference “Aesthetics Today” organized by the Finnish Society of Aesthetics to mark its 40th anniversary and was delivered at the University of Helsinki on March 1, 2012. Written for that particular occasion the sense of an oral presentation has been maintained. Shusterman’s point of departure is the thesis that contemporary aesthetics can be characterized by a number of leading themes that mark a return to older aesthetic perspectives, after these perspectives have (...) been neglected in modern philosophical discussions. The paper briefly outlines and explores three of these themes whose increasing importance in current aesthetics can appeal to historical antecedents, namely: a focus on perception, the expansion of the aesthetic field beyond the philosophy of fine art, and the close connection of the aesthetic and the practical. After that, Shusterman formulates a fourth theme in aesthetics today which incorporates the first three and whose value for contemporary aesthetics he seeks to highlight, namely: the somatic, as exemplified by somaesthetics. (shrink)
"A first-rate introduction to the field, accessible to scholars working from a variety of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. Highly recommended... " —Choice "... offers both broad theoretical considerations and applications to specific art forms, diverse methodological perspectives, and healthy debate among the contributors.... [an] outstanding volume."—Philosophy and Literature "... this volume represents an eloquent and enlightened attempt to reconceptualize the field of aesthetic theory by encouraging its tendencies toward openness, self-reflexivity and plurality." —Discourse & Society "All of the authors challenge (...) the traditional notion of a pure and disinterested observer that does not allow for questions of race/ethnicity, class, sexual preference, or gender." —Signs These essays examine the intellectual traditions of the philosophy of art and aesthetics. Containing essays by scholars and by the writer Marilyn French, the collection ranges from the history of aesthetic theory to a philosophical reflection on fashion. The contributions are unified by a sustained scrutiny of the nature of "feminist," "feminine," or "female" art, creativity, and interpretation. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that, over and above the need to explore and understand the technological newness of computer art works, there is a need to address the aesthetic signiﬁcance of the changes and effects that such technological newness brings about, considering the whole environmental transaction pertaining to new media, including what they can or do offer and what users do or can do with such offerings, and how this whole package is integrated into our living spaces and activities. (...) I argue that, given the primacy of computer-based interaction in the new-media, the notion of ‘ornamentality’ indicates the ground-ﬂoor aesthetics of new-media environments. I locate ornamentality not only in the logically constitutive principles of the new-media (hypertextuality and interactivity) but also in their multiform cultural embodiments (decoration as cultural interface). I utilize Kendall Walton’s theory of ornamentality in order to construe a puzzle pertaining to the ornamental erosion of information in new-media environments. I argue that insofar as we consider new-media to be conduits of ‘real-life’, the excessive density of ornamental devices prevalent in certain new-media environments forces us to conduct our inquiries under conditions of neustic uncertainty, that is, uncertainty concerning the kind of relationship that we, the users, have to the propositional content mediated. I conclude that this puzzle calls our attention to a peculiar interrogatory complexity inherent in any game of knowledge-seeking conducted across the infosphere, which is not restricted to the simplest form of data retrieval, especially in mixed-reality environments and when the knowledge sought is embodied mimetically. (shrink)
Empirical aesthetics and philosophy of art are often framed as disciplines in conflict with one another. Psychologists working in empirical aesthetics argue that philosophical theories of art reflect the evaluative biases of critics and experts and so fail as objective accounts of artistic practice. Philosophers argue that the causal-psychological explanations appealed to in empirical aesthetics can not account for the role normative conventions play in appreciative judgements, and so fail to differentiate artworks and artistic practices from ordinary artifacts and behaviors. (...) I argue that this putative conflict can be dissolved by paying attention to the productive role shared normative conventions play in our perceptual engagement with works of fine art. I sketch a hierarchical theory derived from a biased competition account of selective attention that can be used to model these cognitive influences in our engagement with artworks. (shrink)
I. History. Mainwaring's Handel : its relation to British aesthetics -- Herbert Spencer and a musical dispute -- II. Opera and film. Handel's operas : the form of feeling and the problem of appreciation -- Anti-semitism in Meistersinger? -- Speech, song, and the transparency of medium : on operatic metaphysics -- III. Performance. On the historically informed performance -- Ars perfecta : toward perfection in musical performance? -- IV. Interpretation. Another go at the meaning of music : Koopman, Davies, and (...) the meaning of "meaning" -- Another go at musical profundity : Stephen Davies and the game of chess -- From ideology to music : Leonard Meyer's theory of style change -- Sibley's last paper -- In defense of musical representation : music, representation, and the hybrid arts -- Music, language, and cognition : which doesn't belong? (shrink)
Reflections on the relationship of aesthetics to politics tend to circle, almost compulsively, around a relatively stable set of conceptual oppositions, inherited from German philosophies of the late 18th century. This essay proposes an expansion of the theoretical terms of the debate by extending the field of transcendental aesthetics into the domain of historical temporalization. Fundamental art-historical categories may thereby be incorporated, philosophically transformed, into ‘aesthetics’ as forms of historical temporalization: avant-garde, modern, contemporary. The essay expounds two theses, in particular: (...) 1. The historical subsumption of the temporality of the avant-garde by the temporality of the modern: the modern stands to the avant-garde as the negation of its politics by the repetition of the new –‘the new as the ever–same’; 2. the historical subsumption of the temporality of the modern by ‘the contemporary’: the contemporary stands to the modern as the negation of the dialectical logic – and hence specifically developmentalist futurity – of the new by a spatially determined, but imaginary co-presencing. One effect of this latter subsumption, it is argued, is a particular, regressive ‘repetition of the national’, at the level of cultural representation, on the terrain of the global. (shrink)
In the history of aesthetics, few concepts have been as powerful and as elusive as the idea of the sublime, the "enthusiastic terror" that can possess us when we behold a mountain or a miracle. In his new book, James Kirwan traces the history of the sublime from its emergence in the eighteenth century to its resurgence in contemporary aesthetics. Sublimity addresses the nature of the sublime experience itself, and the function that experience has played, and continues to play, within (...) aesthetic discourse. The book both updates and revises existing treatments of the sublime in the eighteenth century, examines its neglected role in the nineteenth century aesthetics, and analyzes the significance of the modifications the concept has undergone in order to serve the interests of contemporary aesthetics. The book thus offers the most comprehensive coverage of the history of the sublime available. With its appeal for readers in aesthetics, art history, religion, and literary theory, Sublimity will beof wide use to students and scholars. (shrink)
Wolfgang Welsch examines global aestheticization phenomena, probes the relationship of aesthetics and ethics, and considers the broad relevance of aesthetics for contemporary thinking. He argues that modes of thought familiar from the aesthetic realm comprise fundamental paradigms for understanding todayÆs reality. The implications for specific and everyday issues are demonstrated in studies of architecture, advertising, the Internet, and our perception of the life world. Surgically precise, innovative, and, above all, relevant, this book is an essential resource, providing the analysis of (...) contemporary culture with philosophical bite. Aesthetics is to transcend itself, address the whole realm of aethesis, and hence enable orientation in the contemporary condition. Undoing aesthetics means releasing it from old cultural binds and giving it new ties with the future. (shrink)
By the close of the eighteenth century, many features of Western intellectual history had become incorporated into a coherent body of aesthetic doctrine that soon acquired the standing of tradition. "The three dogmas of aesthetics" is Allen Carlson's fitting designation of the main principles by which I have characterized this theory: that "art consists primarily of objects," that "these objects possess a special status," and that "they must be regarded in a unique way." Held against the practice and experience of (...) the arts, each of these, I claim, is assumptive and misleading.'. (shrink)
Thanks to his unsurpassed eye and his fearless willingness to take a stand, Clement Greenberg (1909 1994) became one of the giants of 20th century art criticism a writer who set the terms of critical discourse from the moment he burst onto the scene with his seminal essays Avant Garde and Kitsch (1939) and Towards a Newer Laocoon (1940). In this work, which gathers previously uncollected essays and a series of seminars delivered at Bennington in 1971, Greenberg provides his most (...) expansive statement of his views on taste and quality in art, arguing for an esthetic that flies in the face of current art world fashions. Greenberg insists despite the attempts from Marcel Duchamp onwards to escape the jurisdiction of taste by producing an art so disjunctive that it cannot be judged that taste is inexorable. He argues that standards of quality in art, the artist's responsibility to seek out the hardest demands of a medium, and the critic's responsibility to discriminate, are essential conditions for great art. The obsession with innovation the epidemic of newness leads, in Greenbergs view, to the boringness of so much avant garde art. He discusses the interplay of expectation and surprise in aesthetic experience, and the exalted consciousness produced by great art. Homemade Esthetics allows us particularly in the transcribed seminar sessions, never before published to watch the critics mind at work, defending (and at times reconsidering) his theories. His views, often controversial, are the record of a lifetime of looking at and thinking about art as intensely as anyone ever has. (shrink)
"This collection of essays on aesthetics is the first set of Dufrenne's shorter pieces to appear in English. It is arranged thematically and includes works from as early as 1948 to as late as 1974.... In these essays Dufrenne covers a lot of ground and draws into his discussion of aesthetics a whole range of thinkers, including Barthes, Foucault, Lyotard, Metz, Freud and Derrida.... These essays are well worth reading both for the quality of the writing and for the continual (...) insights which come to the surface along the way. The text has been devotedly translated and a helpful introduction has been added." -- David Pollard, British Journal of Aesthetics. (shrink)
The book draws on the astonishing scope and depths of Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics, exploring the multifaceted issue of art and the absolute. Why does Hegel ascribe absoluteness to art? What can such absoluteness mean?
Philosophical aesthetics is an area in which many strands of contemporary philosophical thinking meet. The contributors to this volume are aware of the wider logical, epistemological, moral and metaphysical implications raised by conceptual problems specific to aesthetics. Three themes recur and are taken up from different angles in several of the papers: pleasure – its nature and role in the experience of art and beauty; preference – figuring prominently in aesthetic appraising, appreciating and judging; and value – aesthetic value in (...) particular, and the status of value in general. As these themes interweave, the complexities of aesthetics bring into focus some of the central issues in the philosophy of mind. The authors argue their cases with professional expertise and perceptive understanding of the arts, making significant and original contributions. This book should be of interest not only to philosophers but also to the readers who know, care and theorise about the arts. All the essays were commissioned for this volume, which is part of an informal series of books emerging from meetings sponsored by the Thyssen Foundation. (shrink)
Although philosophers have characteristically taken the view that art is a vehicle of some universal meaning or truth, art historians emphasize the concrete, historical location of the individual work of art. Is aesthetics capable of sustaining these two approaches? Or, as Michael Kelly argues: Is art actually determined by its historical particularity? His book covers the views of four philosophers--Heidegger, Adorno, Derrida, and Danto--ultimately iconoclasts, despite their significant philosophical engagement with the arts.
Aesthetic discourse has always openly or secretly been linked to political projects. According to some main strands of aesthetic discourse modern aesthetics mirrors the structure of social and political emancipation and key elements of aesthetic discourse coincide with the political ontology of the left. Marxist and Post-Marxist critics have emphasized that the struggle for emancipation is indirectly present in the historical constitution of aesthetics as a discipline – although in a merely imaginary and displaced form. Therefore, however, it is also (...) partly of the same structure as what is normally described as “aesthetic”. Against this background aesthetic attributes (‘beauty’) can be ascribed to forms of emancipatory politics as well. (shrink)
The aim of this article is two-folded. First, I wish to situate Baudelaire in the midst of 19th-century media, bring attention to the way he explored the new media of his day, and suggest that he developed his own media aesthetics. Second, I wish to examine Baudelaire’s relation to photography more specifically, emphasizing his love of commonplaces and clichés. I begin by contextualizing Baudelaire’s notorious attack on photography in the Salon de 1859 and then examine three poems in light of (...) the photographic culture of Baudelaire’s day. Central here is the experiment on the notion of identity that was carried out with the spread of portrait photography: the notation of a unique identity was undermined, processes of multiplication were explored, and the poetic discourse of the “soul” was radically changed. (shrink)
The philosophy of art and empirical aesthetics are, to all outward appearances, natural bedfellows, disciplines bound together by complimentary methodologies and the common goal of explaining a shared subject matter. Philosophers are in the business of sorting out the ontological and normative character of different categories of objects, events and behaviors, squaring up our conception of the nature of things, and clarifying the subject matter of different avenues of intellectual exploration via careful conceptual analyses of often complex conventional practices. Psychologists (...) have developed careful empirical methods for measuring and modeling behavior, methods that are fruitfully used in practice to test and evaluate hypotheses derived from our conception of the nature of our own cognitive and emotional engagement with the world. So, for all appearances, philosophy and psychology are grounded in complimentary research methods directed at the common task of sorting and testing theories about the nature of art and artistic practices, e.g. what is an artwork, what is the nature of the productive practices involved in creating these kinds of artifacts, or what is the nature of a consumer's artistic engagement with these artifacts. Unfortunately appearances can be deceptive. Despite common calls for rapprochement the two disciplines rarely meet. There are methodological and ideological reasons for this rift, and they are, not surprisingly, related. In what follows I will explore and evaluate some of the central sources of resistance on both sides this divide, introduce a model for the possibility of rapprochement, and briefly sketch the promise and pitfalls of current research in two areas, dance and film, where an active attempt at bridging the divide between philosophy and empirical aesthetics is underway. (shrink)
In his Critical Aesthetics and Postmodernism, Paul Crowther argued that art and aesthetic experiences have the capacity to humanize. In Art and Embodiment he develops this theme in much greater depth, arguing that art can bridge the gap between philosophy's traditional striving for generality and completeness, and the concreteness and contingency of humanity's basic relation to the world. As the key element in his theory, he proposes an ecological definition of art. His strategy involves first mapping out and analyzing the (...) logical boundaries and ontological structures of the aesthetic domain. He then considers key concepts from this analysis in the light of a tradition in Continental philosophy (notably the work of Kant, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Hegel) which--by virtue of the philosophical significance that it assigns to art--significantly anticipates the ecological conception. On this basis, Crowther is able to give a full formulation of his ecological definition. Art, in making sensible or imaginative material into symbolic form, harmonizes and conserves what is unique and what is general in human experience. The aesthetic domain answers basic needs intrinsic to self-consciousness itself, and art is the highest realization of such needs. In the creation and reception of art the embodied subject is fully at home with his or her environment. (shrink)
This collection of essays explores the rise of aesthetics as a response to, and as a part of, the reshaping of the arts in modern society. The theories of art developed under the name of 'aesthetics' in the eighteenth century have traditionally been understood as contributions to a field of study in existence since the time of Plato. If art is a practice to be found in all human societies, then the philosophy of art is the search for universal features (...) of that practice, which can be stated in definitions of art and beauty. However, art as we know it - the system of 'fine arts' - is largely peculiar to modern society. Aesthetics, far from being a perennial discipline, emerged in an effort both to understand and to shape this new social practice. These essays share the conviction that aesthetic ideas can be fully understood when seen not only in relation to intellectual and social contexts, but as themselves constructed in history. (shrink)
The paper asks for the preconditions and the consequences of the emergence of aesthetics in and for philosophy. The question is: what does it mean for philosophy to engage the question of the aesthetic? My answer will be: it means nothing less than putting philosophy in question. Or, more precisely: by engaging the question of the aesthetic, philosophy puts itself in question. In order to show this, I will refer to a brief passage in the Phenomenology of the Spirit and (...) then attempt to turn it against what I take it to be Hegel’s own intention. The paper attempts to sketch this argument in three brisk moves by (1) distinguishing a philosophy of the “poetic” from a philosophy of the “aesthetic”; (2) describing the aesthetic as “regressive” and “(self-)reflexive”; and (3) sketching the paradoxical place of aesthetics within philosophy.  . (shrink)
In order to understand why analytic aesthetics has lost a lot of its former intellectual stature it is necessary to combine historical reconstruction with systematic consideration. In the middle of the twentieth century analytic philosophers came to the conclusion that essentialist theories of the “nature” of art are no longer tenable. As a consequence they felt compelled to move to the meta-level of conceptual analysis. Then they tried to show how a purely classificatory concept of art is used. The presupposition, (...) however, that there actually is such a concept can only appear plausible at first sight. Upon closer inspection it turns out to be utterly misguided. (shrink)
Why do people respond emotionally to works of fiction they know are make-believe? Boruah tackles this question, which is fundamental aesthetics and literary studies, from a totally new perspective. Bringing together the various answers that have been offered by philosophers from Aristotle to Roger Scruton, he shows that while some philosophers have denied any rational basis to our emotional responses to fiction, others have argued that the emotions evoked by fiction are not real emotions at all. In response to this, (...) Boruah contends that fictional emotions are rational because they are based on the same sorts of beliefs that we form about real situations and real people. He illustrates this argument with literary examples ranging from Shakespeare to Tolstoy. (shrink)
Why do people read novels, go to the theater, or listen to beautiful music? Do we seek out aesthetic experiences simply because we enjoy them--or is there another, deeper, reason we spend our leisure time viewing or experiencing works of art? Aesthetics, the first short introduction to the contemporary philosophy of aesthetics, examines not just the nature of the aesthetic experience, but the definition of art, and its moral and intrinsic value in our lives. Anne Sheppard divides her work into (...) two parts: In the first, she summarizes the major theories defining art and beauty; in the second, she explores the nature of aesthetic evaluation and appreciation. As Sheppard explains, there are three main approaches to defining art, all focused on what art objects share. One proposes that all art imitates something in life, another that it expresses something (such as anger or ecstasy), still another suggests that all art has formal qualities. There is also a fourth which offers that all art shares the quality of beauty. In the second part, which concentrates on literary art, Sheppard explores such philosophic topics as critical judgment, meaning and truth in literature, and the relationship between art and morals. She raises such questions as whether there is one correct interpretation of a work of art and whether art has a moral effect on its audience and, citing specific examples, explores the views that have been put forth. A wide-ranging, intriguing book, which assumes no formal knowledge on the part of its readers, Aesthetics opens the door to a greater understanding and appreciation of art. (shrink)
I present and analyze J.G. Herder’s aesthetics of sculpture, as an art form directed toward and appreciated by the sense of touch. I argue that Herder is unsuccessful in his attempt so to define sculpture, but his account is nonetheless fruitful, both in making salient and explaining signal aspects of sculptural appreciation and criticism and, more broadly and quite innovatively, in proposing an aesthetics of touch, even an embodied aesthetics.
This book is an introduction to the esthetics of music. Aesthetics, which were of prime importance in thinking about music in the nineteenth century, are today sometimes suspected of being idle speculation. Yet judgments about music and every sort of musical activity are based on aesthetic presuppositions. Carl Dahlhaus gives an account of developments in the aesthetics of music from the mid-eighteenth century onwards. He combines a historical and systematic approach. Central themes in music are grouped together to illustrate (...) both the historical course of events and a systematic unity of the essential elements in the aesthetics of music. For this edition, the late Carl Dahlhaus provided an annotated bibliography. William Austin has added books for the English-speaking reader, and has also supplied notes to the text to help the student. (shrink)
By analyzing the three loci of aesthetics -- the subjective, the objective, and the absolute -- the author concludes that only the sublime demonstrates that art is neither subjective nor objective. The one essential component of art is the new, the sole "instrument" that can guarantee art's vitality even when confronted by the nihilistic tendencies of modernit.
This presentation argues that the question about “future” presupposes an analysis of the current state of the discipline, which again in turn must be seen in the light of its history. The presentation then unfolds a rough reconstruction of that history from Baumgarten and Kant, over Romanticism’s establishing of the partnership with Art and Truth in the continental tradition and up to 20th century’s settling with especially that tradition, led by endeavours both within art itself, in the art sciences, and (...) in different branches of philosophical aesthetics. On the basis of this, it finally discusses the future of aesthetics: its status as a scholarly discipline, the need for it in our world, and proposes some issues to be at aesthetics’ future agenda of research. (shrink)
René Girard’s mimetic theory has significantly influenced the fields of comparative literature and cultural studies, as well as sociological anthropology and philosophy. Nevertheless, I argue that a somewhat different line of interpretation, an interdisciplinary one, has not been sufficiently investigated. This involves an interpretation which focuses on the vicissitudes of the mimetic and “victimage” circle not (or not only) in sociological terms, but by analysing their articulation on the level of knowledge. The sociological and epistemological perspectives do not exclude each (...) other, but can be integrated. The main aim of this paper is to clarify this articulation, and to show that integration between these two perspectives is possible only by bringing into play a real ‘literary aesthetics’. The notion of literary aesthetics needs to be considered in both the common and the etymological sense, as a theory of feeling and of experiencing. In doing so, I firstly cover in brief the main stages of Girard’s thought in the light of this perspective, to then focus on the relationship between literary aesthetics and knowledge. Finally I argue that this picture, if seriously considered, could lead to a mystical outcome, and will discuss the possible alternatives to that outcome. (shrink)
Nietzsche, Aesthetics and Modernity analyzes Nietzsche's response to the aesthetic tradition, tracing in particular the complex relationship between the work and thought of Nietzsche, Kant, and Hegel. Focusing in particular on the critical role of negation and sublimity in Nietzsche's account of art, it explores his confrontation with modernity and his attempt to posit a revitalized artistic practice as the counter-movement to modern nihilism. Drawing on the full range of his published and unpublished writings, together with his comments on figures (...) as diverse as Wagner, Zola, Delacroix, and Laurence Sterne, it highlights the extent to which Nietzsche counters the culture of his own time with a dialectical notion of aesthetic interpretation and practice. As such, Nietzsche the dialectician articulates a position that proves to be intimately connected to the negative dialects of Theodor Adorno. (shrink)
First published in 1990. How we perceive and respond to the visual image has been traditional concern of psychologists, philosophers and art historians. Today, where the visual image increasingly permeates our everyday life and consciousness, the question becomes ever more relevant. How do we, for instance, instinctively ‘know’ what it is that a picture represents without having to be taught? How it is that we experience pleasure in looking at certain pictures? How is it that we often want to talk (...) about the pictures we look at? Such questions are currently asked by a wide range of disciplines, including: semiotics, psychoanalysis, anthropology, neuropsychology, and in general, contemporary critical analysis of the visual arts. In _A Transformational Theory of Aesthetics_, Michael Stephan links the findings of these areas. Drawing on their common area of knowledge, he has developed a theory of picture perception and aesthetic response, arguing that images can generate in us a complex pattern of mental changes, or transformations. A Transformation Theory of Aesthetics is essential reading to those seriously involved in linking the arts and cognitive sciences. (shrink)
Stephen Davies presents a fascinating exploration of the idea that art, and our aesthetic sensibilities more generally, should be understood as an element in human evolution. He asks: Do animals have aesthetics? Do our aesthetic preferences have prehistoric roots? Is art universal? What is the biological role of aesthetic and artistic behaviour?