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Placing Aesthetics

Reflections On Philosophic Tradition

Robert E. Wood

Publication Year: 2012

Examining select high points in the speculative tradition from Plato and Aristotle through the Middle Ages and German tradition to Dewey and Heidegger, Placing Aesthetics seeks to locate the aesthetic concern within the larger framework of each thinker's philosophy.

In Professor Robert Wood's study, aesthetics is not peripheral but rather central to the speculative tradition and to human existence as such. In Dewey's terms, aesthetics is “experience in its integrity.” Its personal ground is in “the heart,” which is the dispositional ground formed by genetic, cultural , and personal historical factors by which we are spontaneously moved and, in turn, are inclined to move, both practically and theoretically, in certain directions.

Prepared for use by the student as well as the philosopher, Placing Aesthetics aims to recover the fullness of humanness within a sense of the fullness of encompassing Being. It attempts to overcome the splitting of thought, even in philosophy, into exclusive specializations and the fracturing of life itself into theoretical, practical, and emotive dimensions.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xvi

The origins of this book are multiple: a love of solitude, of woods and mountains and clouds and fields, of the changing moods on the surface of the water, of the play of light and deepening shadow on brush and timber in late afternoon; a love of the shape and color of bleached bones, slightly porous, dull white; a love of smooth...

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I. Introduction: Fine Art and the Field of Experience

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pp. 1-33

The philosophic mode of inquiry begins with a meta-reflection upon what is presupposed in other areas of human experience with a view toward developing a sense of the whole of that experience and what it entails. Philosophy involves an exposition of the fundamental framework...

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II. Plato

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pp. 35-70

In my treatment of Plato, the first of the great philosophers to address matters aesthetic, I begin to flesh out more fully the framework considerations I have offered in the previous chapter by an interpretation that builds a whole world of meaning, encompassing every aspect of human existence. There is a sense in which...

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III. Aristotle

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pp. 71-94

Art is that which depends on choice. Everything distinctively human has its origin in art in this broadest sense. Human nature is part of the frame of nature, since it involves a givenness that does not depend on human choice for its form, and that givenness involves structural features corresponding to tendencies...

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IV. Plotinus and the Latin Middle Ages

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pp. 95-115

In Plato’s development of the Line of Knowledge, the question of the status of the intellect was left open. Where do we stand when we each ascend beyond the privacy of our sensations, feelings, and preferences and become the subject whose correlate is the eternality and necessity presented paradigmatically in mathematics...

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V. Kant

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pp. 117-157

To determine the nature, limits, and interrelations of human powers, Kant attempted a systematic critical assessment, in turn, of the capacities of knowledge in the theoretical order—of willing-action in the moral order, and of feeling linked to judgment in the order of aesthetics and organics. “The moral law within” is the...

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VI. Hegel

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pp. 159-186

In the Enlightenment theological heritage, there is the tendency to consider God as a separate entity, absolutely one and apart from things, in a manner one might envision the separation of one atom from another in Greek atomic theory. Creation is the fashioning of preexistent material by...

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VII. Schopenhauer

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pp. 187-202

Now in On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Schopenhauer develops the foundations for the various sciences along Kantian lines, resting on the distinctions just recalled. Mathematics is rooted in the forms of sensibility. Natural science is based on the operation of the categories of the understanding...

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VIII. Nietsche

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pp. 203-229

Nietzsche here hearkens back to Plato’s Republic and the notion of the Good symbolized by the sun. That dialogue attempted to determine, by its argument, its structure, and its action, an absolute “up” and “down” for human existence. It begins “down in the Piraeus” and goes down further in reflection to Hades, from which it rises...

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IX. Dewey

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pp. 231-262

The centrality of the aesthetic is linked to the centrality of experience, for in Dewey’s view, the aesthetic is “experience in its integrity.” Attention to the features given in experience returns us from the region of ultimate ontological construals, which is a battlefield of contending views, to that which is always already there when...

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X. Heidegger

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pp. 263-301

Historically Husserl goes back to Kant and to Descartes. The latter made the fundamental discovery of the cogito and the multiple realm of “seeming” that is its enduring correlate. But he did not pursue the fruitfulness of the “seeming” theme, preferring to follow the direction of theoretical reconstructions. Kant distinguished...

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XI. Conclusion

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pp. 303-328

The dominant tradition underscores moral and intellectual development. Most people have emphasized the moral and downplayed the intellectual, while academics have emphasized the intellectual. In theological circles there has been a stress on the primacy of orthodoxy; in the last half of the twentieth century, there has been...

Appendix: On Sculptural Production

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pp. 329-346

Notes

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pp. 347-390

Bibliography

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pp. 391-406

Index of Names

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pp. 407-409

Subject Index

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pp. 410-413

Further Reading

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E-ISBN-13: 9780821440452
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821412817

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Series In Continental Thought