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Philosophy > Aesthetics

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Aesthetics of the Virtual Cover

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Aesthetics of the Virtual

Reconfigures classic aesthetic concepts in relation to the novelty introduced by virtual bodies. Arguing that the virtual body is something new—namely, an entity that from an ontological perspective has only recently entered the world—Roberto Diodato considers the implications of this kind of body for aesthetics. Virtual bodies insert themselves into the space opened up by the famous distinction in Aristotle’s Physics between natural and artificial beings—they are both. They are beings that are simultaneously events; they are images that are at once internal and external; they are ontological hybrids that exist only in the interaction between logical-computational text and human bodies endowed with technological prostheses. Pursuing this line of thought, Diodato reconfigures classic aesthetic concepts such as mimesis, representation, the relation between illusion and reality, the nature of images and imagination, and the theory of sensory knowledge.

Antiques Cover

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Antiques

The History of an Idea

The notion of retrieving a bit of the past-by owning a material piece of it-has always appealed to humans. Often our most prized possessions are those that have had a long history before they came into our hands. Part of the pleasure we gain from the encounter with antiques stems from the palpable age and the assumed (sometimes imaginary) cultural resonances of the particular object. But precisely what is it about these objects that creates this attraction? What common characteristics do they share and why and how do these traits affect us as they do?

In Antiques: The History of an Idea, Leon Rosenstein, a distinguished philosopher who has also been an antiques dealer for more than twenty years, offers a sweeping and lively account of the origin and development of the antique as both a cultural concept and an aesthetic category. He shows that the appeal of antiques is multifaceted: it concerns their value as commodities, their age and historical and cultural associations, their uniqueness, their sensuous and tactile values, their beauty. Exploring how the idea of antiques evolved over time, Rosenstein chronicles the history of antique collecting and connoisseurship. He describes changing conceptions of the past in different epochs as evidenced by preservations, restorations, and renascences; examines shifting attitudes toward foreign cultures as revealed in stylistic borrowings and the importation of artifacts; and investigates varying understandings of and meanings assigned to their traits and functions as historical objects.

While relying on the past for his evidence, Rosenstein approaches antiques from an entirely original perspective, setting history within a philosophical framework. He begins by providing a working definition of antiques that distinguishes them from other artifacts in general and, more distinctly, both from works of fine art and from the collectible detritus of popular culture. He then establishes a novel set of criteria for determining when an artifact is an antique: ten traits that an object must possess in order to elicit the aesthetic response that is unique to antiques. Concluding with a provocative discussion of the relation between antiques and civilization, this engaging and thought-provoking book helps explain the enduring appeal of owning a piece of the past.

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Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West

Psychic Distance in Comparative Aesthetics

Steve Odin

Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West takes up the notion of artistic detachment, or psychic distance, as an intercultural motif for East-West comparative aesthetics. The work begins with an overview of aesthetic theory in the West from the eighteenth-century empiricists to contemporary aesthetics and concludes with a survey of various critiques of psychic distance. Throughout, the author takes a highly innovative approach by juxtaposing Western aesthetic theory against Eastern (primarily Japanese) aesthetic theory. Weaving between cultures and time periods, the author focuses on a remarkably wide range of theories: in the West, the Kantian notion of disinterested contemplation, Heidegger's Gelassenheit, semiotics, and pragmatism; in Japan, Zeami's notion of riken no ken, the Kyoto School's intepretation of nothingness, D. T. Suzuki's analysis of the function of no-mind, and the writings of Kuki Shuzo on Buddhist detachment. "Portrait of the artist" fiction by such writers as Henry James, James Joyce, Mori Ogai, and Natsume Soseki demonstrates how the main theme of detachment is expressed in literary traditions. The role of sympathy or pragmatism in relation to disinterest is examined, suggesting conflicts within or challenges to the notion of detachment. Researchers and students in Eastern and Western areas of study, including philosophers and religionists, as well as literary and cultural critics, will deem this work an invaluable contribution to cross-cultural philosophy and literary studies.

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Art's Undoing

In the Wake of a Radical Aestheticism

Art’s Undoing is about radical aestheticism, the term that best describes a recurring event in some of the most powerful and resonating texts of nineteenth-century British literature. A radical aestheticism offers us the best way to reckon with what takes place at certain moments in certain texts by P.B. Shelley, Keats, Dickinson, Hopkins, D.G. Rossetti, and Wilde when aestheticized representations reach their radicalization. This aesthetic radicalization has profound consequences not only for the specific texts in which it occurs but for our understanding of the ambitious literary project undertaken by each of these writers and, finally, of our conception of the legacy of this literary tradition. This book explores what happens when these writers, deeply committed to certain versions of ethics or politics or theology, nonetheless produce the encounter with a radical aestheticism in their own work. These are the sites and occasions at which the authors’ projects are subjected to a fundamental crisis. A radical aestheticism offers no positive claims for art (either those based on ethical or political grounds or on aesthetic grounds, as in “art for art’s sake”): it provides no “transcendent or underlying ground” for their validation. In this sense, a radical aestheticism is the experience of a poesis that exerts such a pressure on the claims and workings of the aesthetic that it becomes a kind of black hole from which no illumination is possible. The radical aestheticism encountered in these writers is that which in the course of its very extremity takes us to the constitutive elements – the figures, the images, the semblances – that are at the root of any aestheticism, an encounter registered as evaporation, as combustion, as undoing. It is, therefore, an undoing by and of art and aesthetic experience, one that leaves this important literary tradition in its wake. In order to grasp the nature and consequences of this radical aestheticism, I turn to Walter Benjamin’s notion of the aura (Shelley, Hopkins), Roland Barthes’s accounts in his late work of “the third meaning” and the indolence of aesthetics (Keats), Jacques Derrida’s notion of the “event-machine” and Giorgio Agamben’s account of an originary poesis (Dickinson), Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theological aesthetics (Hopkins), absorption and theatricality according to Michael Fried (Rossetti), Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Zizek on the ethics of desire (Rossetti), and Georges Bataille’s notions of expenditure and sacrifice (Wilde). These diverse theoretical projects become in the course of the book something of a parallel text, one that reveals how some of the most significant theoretical and philosophical projects of our time remain within the wake of a radical aestheticism.

The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume I Cover

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The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume I

Culture, Philosophy, and Religion

John McDermott

Now back in print, and in paperback, these two classicvolumes illustrate the scope and quality of Royce'sthought, providing the most comprehensive selection ofhis writings currently available. They offer a detailedpresentation of the viable relationship Royce forgedbetween the local experience of community and thedemands of a philosophical and scientific vision ofthe human situation.The selections reprinted here are basic to any understandingof Royce's thought and its pressing relevanceto contemporary cultural, moral, and religious issues.

The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume II Cover

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The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume II

Logic, Loyalty, and Community

John McDermott

Now back in print, and in paperback, these two classicvolumes illustrate the scope and quality of Royce'sthought, providing the most comprehensive selection ofhis writings currently available. They offer a detailedpresentation of the viable relationship Royce forgedbetween the local experience of community and thedemands of a philosophical and scientific vision ofthe human situation.The selections reprinted here are basic to any understandingof Royce's thought and its pressing relevanceto contemporary cultural, moral, and religious issues.

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Beauty Unlimited

Edited by Peg Zeglin Brand

Emphasizing the human body in all of its forms, Beauty Unlimited expands the boundaries of what is meant by beauty both geographically and aesthetically. Peg Zeglin Brand and an international group of contributors interrogate the body and the meaning of physical beauty in this multidisciplinary volume. This striking and provocative book explores the history of bodily beautification; the physicality of socially or culturally determined choices of beautification; the interplay of gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and ethnicity within and on the body; and the aesthetic meaning of the concept of beauty in an increasingly globalized world.

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Between Word and Image

Heidegger, Klee, and Gadamer on Gesture and Genesis

Dennis J. Schmidt

Engagement with the image has played a decisive role in the formulation of the very idea of philosophy since Plato. Identifying pivotal moments in the history of philosophy, Dennis J. Schmidt develops the question of philosophy's regard of the image in thinking by considering painting—where the image most clearly calls attention to itself as an image. Focusing on Heidegger and the work of Paul Klee, Schmidt pursues larger issues in the relationship between word, image, and truth. As he investigates alternative ways of thinking about truth through word and image, Schmidt shows how the form of art can indeed possess the capacity to change its viewers.

Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic Cover

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Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic

Edited by James Elkins

Each of the five volumes in the Stone Art Theory Institutes series—and the seminars on which they are based—brings together a range of scholars who are not always directly familiar with one another’s work. The outcome of each of these convergences is an extensive and “unpredictable conversation” on knotty and provocative issues about art. This fourth volume in the series, Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic focuses on questions revolving around the concepts of the aesthetic, the anti-aesthetic, and the political. The book is about the fact that now, almost thirty years after Hal Foster defined the anti-aesthetic, there is still no viable alternative to the dichotomy between aesthetics and anti- or non-aesthetic art. The impasse is made more difficult by the proliferation of identity politics, and it is made less negotiable by the hegemony of anti-aesthetics in academic discourse on art. The central question of this book is whether or not artists and academicians are free of this choice, in practice, in pedagogy, and in theory. Aside from the editor, the contributors are, Stéphanie Benzaquen, J. M. Bernstein, Karen Busk-Jepsen, Luis Camnitzer, Diarmuid Costello, Joana Cunha Leal, Angela Dimitrakaki, Alexander Dumbadze, T. Brandon Evans, Geng Youzhuang, Boris Groys, Beata Hock, Gordon Hughes, Michael Kelly, Grant Kester, Meredith Kooi, Cary Levine, Sunil Manghani, William Mazzarella, Justin McKeown, Andrew McNamara, Eve Meltzer, Nadja Millner-Larsen, Maria Filomena Molder, Carrie Noland, Gary Peters, Aaron Richmond, Lauren Ross, Toni Ross, Eva Schürmann, Gregory Sholette, Noah Simblist, Jon Simons, Robert Storr, Martin Sundberg, Timotheus Vermeulen, and Rebecca Zorach.

Birth of Novalis, The Cover

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Birth of Novalis, The

Friedrich von Hardenberg's Journal of 1797, with Selected Letters and Documents

Friedrich von Hardenberg, who later became known as the poet Novalis, kept a journal between April and July 1797 that captured his moods, thoughts, and observations following the death of his fifteen-year-old fiancée Sophie von Kühn and his dearly loved younger brother Erasmus. The journal’s short, day-to-day entries allow a frank and candid glimpse into the inner life of the maturing poet, and are complemented by selections from Hardenberg’s letters. Taken together, and read in conjunction with the fragments written before, during, and shortly after this period of time, the journal and letters shed light on a process of self-discovery during which Hardenberg became convinced of his poetic vocation and acknowledged this conviction in an act of self-christening, as the poet Novalis.

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