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This paper uses present-day philosophical aesthetic terminology to examine important aspects of Chinese calligraphic appreciation, as they are revealed in classical texts on this art. I hold that the aesthetic objects in the experience of a calligraphic work are twofold: the outer form and the inner expressive qualities. I propose that calligraphic appreciation can be understood as a process of retrieval, a term I take from Richard Wollheim. Highly pertinent to the retrieval view is a recurring topic in traditional calligraphy criticism – whether a trained calligrapher is an ideal critic. I argue that a trained calligrapher is an ideal critic, because proper calligraphic appreciation relates to the kinesthetic experience one accumulates chiefly, if not only, through calligraphic practice.


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