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714 BOOK REVIEWS ice explore the writings of Maximus ·the Confessor. Indeed, conversa0 tion with the Orthodox tradition which has reflected upon Maximus's insights might contribute to the further development of an ecumenical theology-well initiated by Miroslav Volf-which is supple and extensive enough to address the global structures and personal experiences of work today. Loyola University Chicago, Illinois PHILIP J. CHMIELEWSKI, SJ. Philosophy and Art. Edited by D. 0. DAHLSTROM. Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy Volume 23. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1991. Pp. xii + 266. $44.95 (doth). Daniel Dahlstrom's collection of essays on philosophical aesthetics is by various writers, from differing theoretical perspectives, on diverse themes, in contrasting styles. Containing many good things, the en· semble witnesses nonetheless to the Babel that is contemporary Western philosophy and the disorientation of much artistic practice today. This review will attempt to guide the potential reader through this multifarious offering. The initial group of essays shares a common concern. Thomas Prufer argues, with Aristotle's help, that in tragedy the meaning of human action :is focussed through the conferring of form (eidos) so that the dramatic artwork transforms while reproducing, enhancing the elements of intelligibility in the action it portrays. Karsten Harries finds an adequate aesthetic not in the legend of Narcissus-art m; a beauty that invites us to " lose ourselves in its self-sufficient presence," -hut in that of Pygmalion where the artwork's beauty points beyond itself to a beatitude which comes from attention to the other. Joseph Margolis commends a minimum ontology in which artworks (like persons ) are " entities ... embodied in physical things " and with their "properties incarnate in physical properties." The emphasis here is meant to distinguish Margolis's position from that of physicalism. A sculpture, for instance, is not a mere physical object hut " a real, culturally complex object produced in a humanly apt world and embodied in a physical object of some sort": such a conclusion is forced on us, according to Margolis, by the very demands of reference and predication in aH language about art. We begin to see a common thread inter-linking the contributions summarized so far, :namely, How does the artefact come to be an artwork? BOOK REVIEWS 715 This is also the question with which Francis Kovach's Neo-Thomist contribution opens, and his answer is that while every artwork, like every artefact, has its material cause in entitatively accidental being, the artwork is distinguished by taking beauty as its formal cause, cognitive delight as its final cause, a ' model or preconceived idea ' as its exemplary cause, and a maker who ' arranges ' an artistic medium as its efficient cause. In this essay, which combines an austere practice of the Scholastic " distinguer pour unir " with a flurry of references to music and painting, Kovach does not hesitate to deny the term ' fine art ' to much twentieth century experimental art which for him is simply "interestingly novel." For Kenneth Schmitz, with his more pheno· menological approach, an artefact comes to be an artwork by " gaining a certain density of form, content and meaning." His essay centers on the concept of the boundary of the work, which both divides it from and links it to its audience. Schmitz stresses that such boundaries, in their role as providers of " juncture and communion," cannot operate without a circumambient tradition. Question: where would the artwork be without the mediating assistance of a community of producers, performers , receivers, and interpreters? Answer: reduced back to the status of an artefact. Somewhat abruptly appended to this discussion is the thought that a religiously inspired artwork may bring us to that supreme boundary where the bounded (the creaturely) is both divided from and linked to the Boundless (the Creator) . A fuller discussion of this issue would certainly be desirable-not least in a volume on philosophical aesthetics emanating from a Catholic University press! A second group of essays moves in the ambit of the late eighteenthand early nineteenth·century German philosophical tradition, which was still sufficiently imbued with the ideas and the concerns of the Judaeo-Christian revelation to advance its elucidation. Robert Wood, in an account of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 714-717
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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