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Art, Origins, Otherness

Between Philosophy and Art

William Desmond

Publication Year: 2003

Though our time is often said to be post-religious and post-metaphysical, many continue to seek some encounter with otherness and transcendence in art. This book deals diversely with the issues of art, origins, and otherness, both in themselves and in philosophical engagements with the works of Plato, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Addressing themes such as eros and mania, genius and the sublime, transcendence and the saving power of art, William Desmond tries to make sense of the paradox that too much has been asked of art that now almost nothing is asked of it. He argues that there is more to be said philosophically of art, and claims that art has the power to open up mindfulness beyond objectifying knowledge, as well as beyond thinking that claims to be entirely self-determining.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

I have been asked more than once why I do not write, or have not written, a philosophical aesthetics, somewhat along the lines of the metaphysics of Being and the Between, or the approach to ethics of Ethics and the Between. Philosophy and Its Others does have a chapter entitled “Being Aesthetic” which might...

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pp. 1-17

Our time is often said to be postreligious and postmetaphysical, but is it not true that art has become for many the happening where some encounter with transcendence continues to be sought? With art, it will be said, some important communication of significant otherness happens. With art, it will also be...

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1. Mimesis, Eros, and Mania: On Platonic Originals

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pp. 19-51

Vico’s inspiring work reminds us of the importance of what he called the imaginative universal. An imaginative universal, of course, would strike many rationalistic philosophers as very odd. It will not so strike the person with even minimum exposure to the revelatory power of art. Vico not only gives...

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2. The Terror of Genius and the Otherness of the Sublime: On Kant and the Transcendental Origin

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pp. 53-86

Kant is famous for claiming a Copernican revolution in philosophy by initiating what he calls a transcendental philosophy. “Transcendental” here means something other to what it means in premodern thought, namely, the utmost universals which are presupposed by all intelligible articulations of being, and...

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3. The Otherness of Art’s Enigma— Resolved or Dissolved?: Hegel and the Dialectical Origin

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pp. 87-113

In this and the following chapter, I offer two explorations of Hegel on art, origins, and otherness. In this chapter, I deal with whether Hegel resolves or dissolves art’s enigma, in light of his overall aesthetics.We will see that Hegel’s understanding of origin cannot but end by including art’s otherness within a...

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4. Gothic Hegel: On Architecture and the Finer Enchantments of Transcendence

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pp. 115-130

An interesting light on origins, art, otherness is shed by considering the case of architecture. This is not a merely “aesthetic” art, in that it is bound up with the everyday life of a people, and the ethos of ethical value in which people go about their diverse businesses. The ethical and religious practices of a people...

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5. Art’s Release and the Sabbath of the Will: Schopenhauer and the Eros Turannos of Origin

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pp. 131-163

Schopenhauer is one of the most interesting of post-Kantian philosophers who highlights the central metaphysical significance of art. This is by no means peculiar to him, yet he does it with a systematic verve and sensitivity so as to touch a sympathetic cord in the nineteenth century and beyond. The list...

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6. Eros Frenzied and the Redemption of Art: Nietzsche and the Dionysian Origin

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pp. 165-208

If the origin is dark, how dark? As dark as eros turannos is dark? Or perhaps dark with a more mysterious eros? Or perhaps with a love yet other again? The question returns with Nietzsche, whose response is not Platonic, or Kantian, or Hegelian, or Schopenhauerian, though in all these, with the exception of...

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7. Art and the Self-Concealing Origin: Heidegger’s Equivocity and the Still Unthought Between

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pp. 209-263

One must honor Heidegger for his efforts to keep us mindful, in his singular way, of the question of being, in an epoch when the calculative dominion over beings increases its sway on a daily basis. The univocalization of being, especially characteristic of Western modernity, promises the realization of...

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8. Art and the Impossible Burden of Transcendence: On the End of Art and the Task of Metaphysics

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pp. 265-294

The “end of art” puts Hegel immediately in mind, and his well known proclamation: for us art, on the side of its highest destiny, is now a thing of the past (VA, I, 24, also 23; HA, I, 11, also 9–10).What exactly he means is still disputed. One reason the thesis is controversial, I think, is that in modernity art...


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pp. 295-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780791486689
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791457450
Print-ISBN-10: 0791457451

Page Count: 318
Publication Year: 2003

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Subject Headings

  • Other (Philosophy).
  • Aesthetics.
  • Art -- Philosophy.
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