In my paper, I intend firmly to criticize Taubes' interpretation of Benjamin's Theology as a modern form of Gnosticism. In a positive way, I sustain rather the thesis that Benjamin's Messianism is in close connection with his conception of reason and, in particularly, with the paradoxical unity of Mysticism and Enlightenment, which, according to the famous definition of Adorno, distinguishes his thought. As a radically anti-magical and anti-mythical conception of the historical time, Benjamin's Messianism has to be considered as an (...) original synthesis between motifs of the mystical tradition of the Jewish Kabbalah and motifs belonging to the rationalist tradition of the Jewish philosophy. Moving from Cohen's standpoint of a continuity between Maimonides and Kant, I consider therefore the affinity between his messianic conception of history and that of Benjamin. Both, Benjamin and Cohen, share, together with the reference to the a priori of the idea of justice, the reference to the Kantian connection between rationality and hope. Hence originates the non-eschatological Messianism of both. Motives of difference between Cohen and Benjamin’s messianic idea are to be found, conversely, in their different way to consider the idea of "the infinite task" and of its infinite fulfillment in the context of the historical time. Unlike the fundamentally ethical interpretation that Cohen gives of this relationship, Benjamin understands it ontologically in a monadological sense. This explains the constitutive relationship that exists, in Benjamin's philosophy, between Origin, Fragment and Revelation. In the light of this connection, Benjamin's messianic understanding of the historical time exceeds the Scholemian alternative between a restorative and a utopian conception of Messianism. Consequently, the Krausian motto “Ursprung ist das Ziel” displays its truth in the idea of the messianic fragment or spark. (shrink)
Moving from the pages of Cahiers and Discours sur l' esthétique , where Paul Valéry clarifies the energetic value of aesthetics that rises from pleasure, the essay aims to promote a radical reconfiguration of conceptual domain of aesthetics. The sensation, in the surprising and gratifying form of pleasure, becomes expression of the efficiency of the link between emotional device and perceptive recognition: the thick and harmonizing synthesis that's peculiar to aesthetic.
Can we properly define and explain the human mind an aesthetic mind? The purpose of the paper is to answer this and the related questions that it implies. How do we understand the conceptual field of the aesthetic? What do we mean when we speak about an aesthetic experience or when we express an aesthetic judgement? The first move consists in shaping the outlines of the «aesthetic» as a cluster-concept. Having identified the conceptual core of aesthetic as an expressive synthesis (...) between the emotional and cognitive layers of the experience, I try to develop a theoretical paradigm consistent with it and, consequentially, a mental mechanism of the aesthetic. The next step consists, therefore, in replacing the causal monism involved in the adaptationist paradigm by a plurality of factors. Consequently, I claim that at the origin of the aesthetic mechanism there are four factors. These factors are: 1) the mimetic assimilation of the real; 2) the "seeking" or the pleasure of exploration; 3) the pleasure of exercising preferences as a degree of freedom and an advantage in the conduct of life; 4) the impulse to play. All these factors are dispositions rooted in the system of primary emotions and represent the preconditions for the epigenetic emergence of the aesthetic mechanism. Conclusively, this mechanism is considered a dynamic activity of the brain that integrates into a single space of mutual resonance and harmonization neocortical and subcortical neural circuits: aspects of mental life emotionally attuned and aspects that are specific of cognitive processing of information. (shrink)
From picture to photography and back. Tableau vivants, in their gestural synthetic dimension, represent for Diderot the apex of expression that the image can make explicit. Nothing closer to Wall’s poetics. His works show outstanding attention to detail: from scenic design to protagonists’ costumes, from light to actors’ action. And the result is exactly what Diderot saw in the eyes of people observing Chardin’s art: imagination at work.
This paper takes distances from two influential images of Wittgenstein's philosophy: the image of a primarily ethical philosopher defended by the so-called «resolute» interpreters and that of an ascetically "analytical" philosopher transmitted by the standard interpretation. Instead of contrasting images (that of Wittgenstein as an "aesthetic" philosopher and that of the "ethical" Wittgenstein), this paper focuses on the analysis of the fractures and tensions characterizing not only the relationship between Wittgenstein's philosophy and aesthetics, but also the very style of Wittgenstein's (...) thought. Addressing a specific issue from a conceptual and textual standpoint (the unity of Ethics and Aesthetics in the Tractatus) seems to the author to be a fruitful strategy that allows us not only to understand whether and how determinant and central the aesthetic problem is for Wittgenstein, but also to see how aesthetics itself can be radically reshaped through the filter offered by his thought. In the first place, then, it is clarified what the Tractatus claim that ethics and aesthetics «sind eins» might entail. Secondly, it is checked if and how the conceptual consistency of the «being one» of ethics and aesthetics is transformed during the 1930s, to the point that it requires a different configuration: the metamor¬phosis of the logical unity between the two conceptual fields into an analogical affinity. Analyzing this conceptual metamorphosis the paper considers also the idea of an asymmetry of the aesthetic over the ethical as already evident, despite appearances, in the 1929 Lecture on Ethics. This asymmetry is then developed focusing the image of grammatical mechanism with its degrees of freedom of which Wittgensteins writes from 1930. In connection with this image the author outlines finally the idea of an aesthetic mechanism arising from primitive reactions and strictly related with the genesis of language games. (shrink)
Hamlet’s character sets, under different shapes and extents, the benchmark against which a large part of the European philosophy of the very long «short twentieth-century» behind us has had to measure. In the name of Hamlet as the most enigmatic among Shakespeare’s creatures, even Europe, its spirit and destiny, is identified, according to the well-known claim by Paul Valery.Common trait to a big part of these interpretations – from the juvenile works of Pavel Florenskij and Lev S. Vygotskij to Carl (...) Schmitt’s Hamlet oder Ekuba. Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel – is offered by the detection, in Hamlet’s figure, of the contradiction inherent to an epochal transition: the time of an unresolved passage between two ages that only knows the endless pain of an “interim”. My paper concerns the possibility to interpret Hamlet’s time as the time of an “interim” in light of Benjamin’s claims about Shakespeare’s drama contained in his book on the German Trauerspiel.While Florenskij interprets Hamlet’s time as tragic and the figure of Hamlet as a tragic one, in my essay - moving from some observations on the " Hamlet Problem " by the young Franz Rosenzweig - I consider the original Benjaminian thesis about the character and the drama of Hamlet as the end of the modern Trauerspiel. Starting from a statement by Theodor Adorno in the famed Hornberger Brief to Benjamin of August 2, 1935, I outline, therefore, how Benjamin characterizes the figure of Hamlet. This, from his early writings on the relationship between tragedy and Trauerspiel up to the great book on the Origin of the German Trauerspiel. In the frame of Benjamin’s interpretation, exactly by virtue of its distance from the thesis on the duality of tragedy, the Shakespearian theatrum of consciousness, paradigmatically represented in the figure of Hamlet and in the intimately dialectic character of his drama, is accounted for as necessary correlate of the Cartesian’s theatrum of consciousness. From a theoretical point of view, the Benjaminian characterization of Hamlet's figure reveals, therefore, something of the nature of modern consciousness and of consciousness in general in relation to the problem of truth and its representation. Hence the end of modern Trauerspiel coincides with the original incompleteness of its time. Consequently, I also claim Hamlet's dramatic figure to represent the aporetic characters of modern politics. This contrasts the thesis of Carl Schmitt who speaks, instead, of the Shakespearean drama as an expression of a pre-modern barbaric time. (shrink)
The main topic of my paper concerns the theological-philosophical nexus between the intensive and qualitative spatiality of the Monad and the Origenian idea of Apokatastasis as a nexus that can clarify Benjamin's latest idea of the Messianic World. The first step will be, therefore, to explain Benjamin's use of the Origenian notion of Apokatastasis in his Essay on Leskov and in the Passagenwerk. Secondly, I will discuss how and to what extent such use is relevant for Benjamin's idea of Messianism. (...) Thirdly, I will propose the thesis that, for Benjamin, a messianic idea of time implies a monadological idea of space. In this regard, the relationship between continuity and discontinuity, which is crucial to understand the late Benjamin's idea of history, must be understood precisely as a dialectical relationship that involves not only time but also space. The figure of intermittence – as we shall see – expresses in the most suitable way the intertwining of space and time as dialectically and messianicaly oriented. This sequence of logical steps and critical considerations will shed light on the true nature of Benjamin's idea of dialectics and on its relationship to the idea of the totality. The real term of confrontation of Benjamin's late philosophy does not concern, therefore, Heidegger, but Hegel. In the light of this confrontation, Heidegger's Being and Time is already in pieces. It is as it were – we can say – behind Benjamin's movement of thought. (shrink)
What “sort” of mind is required in order to be able to engage in aesthetic experiences? What are the marks of the aesthetic mind and which features distinguish aesthetic mental states? As humans, we are able not only to produce cognitions, feel emotions, use symbols, but also to engage in aesthetic and artistic experiences. How did our aesthetic mind arise over the course of evolution? Is it a by-product, or a side effect, of the development of our symbolic-linguistic competences or, (...) on the contrary, is precisely our aesthetic ability that allows the development of human language and symbolic thought? What is the relationship between the emergence of human modern mind and the origin of art? These are some of the challenging issues addressed during the International Conference The Aesthetic Mind and Origin of Art, held at the University of Florence, Department of Education, from January, 23rd to January 25th 2014. The essays collected in the present issue of «Aisthesis. Pratiche, linguaggi e saperi dell’estetico» mostly stem from talks originally delivered at the conference by leading researchers and international scholars across a wide range of disciplines. (shrink)
Sensibilité is in Valéry’s theory the name of a large grasp of functions, involving both perception and creation, and involved both in art and in experience. So far, this key word of Valéry’s aesthetics can be read as the bridge between his conceptions of art and his idea of the self in order to understand the way this author writes and conceives what philosophy can aim to.
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