Aesthetics in Dialogue
Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- I: Past, Contemporary, Future
- 1 Collective Memorials in the Face of Loss: The Multiple Roles of the Aesthetic (Kathleen Higgins)
- 2 The Rhythm of Time in Everyday Aesthetics (Elisabetta Di Stefano)
- 3 Contemporaneity, a Sublime Experience? (Jacob Lund)
- 4 Uchronia and Somaesthetics: Somaesthetics as Uchronia (András Czeglédi)
- II: Urban and Popular Culture
- 5 Archipelagal Thinking: The Geofilosofia of Massimo Cacciari (Tyrus Miller)
- 6 The Varieties of Kitsch: Ethical, Artistic and Political Dimensions (Katya Mandoki)
- 7 Rasa Industry: (Notes on) Classical Indian Aesthetics and Contemporary TV Series (Max Ryynänen)
- 8 Social-Aesthetic Constructs: Peripheral Cultural Phenomena in a New Key (Rodrigo Duarte)
- III: Aesthetic Approaches to Aesthetic Practices
- 9 Questions not Answers: The Usefulness of the Philosophy of Art to Artistic Practice & Education (Matthew Rowe)
- 10 Studio Practice as Aesthetic Experience (Izmer Bin Ahmad)
- 11 From Worth to Algorithms: The Role and Dimensions of Authorship in the Field(s) of Fashion Design (Natalia Särmäkari)
- 12 Material Events, Vibrant Essences and Resonant Atmospheres: An Approach to Perfumery in the Light of Contemporary Aesthetics (Mădălina Diaconu)
- IV: Care, Restoration and Environment
- 13 Aesthetics of Care (Yuriko Saito)
- 14 For the Sake of Authenticity: Philosophical Concerns in Art Conservation (Lisa Giombini)
- 15 Buildings as Objects of Care in the Urban Environment (Sanna Lehtinen)
- 16 Aesthetics of the Past and the Future: Human Life within Changing Environments (Yvonne Förster)
- 17 Towards a Media Ecology of Sense Acts (Ksenia Fedorova)
- V: Reframing the Tradition
- 18 What Kind of Aesthetics Are We Looking for and Why? (Adrián Kvokačka)
- 19 Towards a Topology of Aesthetic Immersion (Harri Mäcklin)
- 20 Aesthetic Prospects and Prospects of the Aesthetic: Variations on the Sublime in Natural and Altered Environments (Zoltán Somhegyi)
- 21 A Philosophico-Aesthetical Dilemma? Assessing Abhinavagupta’s Chapter-Invocatory Verses in His Commentary to Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra (S. Bhuvaneshwari)
- 22 Autonomy and Society with Hito Steyerl and Ryoji Ikeda: How to Use Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory Now? (Petteri Enroth)
- About the Authors
Zoltán Somhegyi / Max Ryynänen (eds.)
Aesthetics in Dialogue
Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World
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Sara Berti: World and Palm, 2015, mixed media, 28,5 x 18,5 cm
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About the author
Zoltán Somhegyi is a Hungarian art historian and Chair of the Department of Fine Arts at the College of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and from September 2020 he will continue as Associate Professor of Art History at the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary.
Max Ryynänen is a senior lecturer of theory of visual culture at Aalto University in Finland and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Somaesthetics and of Popular Inquiry.
About the book
Zoltán Somhegyi / Max Ryynänen (eds.)
Aesthetics in Dialogue
The impact of aesthetics is increasing again. For today’s scholars, aesthetic theories are a significant companion and contribution in studying and analysing cultural phenomena and production. Today’s scene of aesthetics is more global than what it is in most disciplines, as it does not just include scholars from all over the world, but also keeps on applying philosophical traditions globally.
This eBook can be cited
This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.
Elisabetta Di Stefano
Izmer Bin Ahmad
Since its seminal role in the European humanities of the 18th and 19th centuries – when the modern system of arts was established, and great minds like Kant and Hegel focused on questions of art and beauty – the impact of aesthetics as a discipline has somewhat declined, both within academia and outside it. The brand of aesthetics is – or at least for many it looks – antiquarian (for us aestheticians sometimes surprisingly), and the discipline arouses associations of marginality and of weak impact. The image of someone who problematises every concept and talks as if everyone should read Hegel or some other historical thinker is of course not far-fetched. A little self-critically and simplifying we could say this is what aesthetics and being an aesthetician has sometimes of course been about, having a merely exegetic and/or an overtly analytical approach and personality originating in the library, having little or no real connection to either actual art production or to the art infrastructure, and perhaps even a bit hard to handle for other scholars – although one must remember that there have been and still are major geographical differences in the role and the academic importance of aestheticians.
The “antiquarian aesthetician” is not the only reason for this marginalisation, though. One reason for the decline is found in academic competition between disciplines. Examples from the history of this competition may include semiotics in the 1960s and cultural studies in the 1980s, which claimed a strong role in the field where aesthetics once was the discipline, i.e. in arts and culture. If Kant and Hegel were specialists in multiplying the given problems, the leading authorities in cultural studies aspired to do the exact opposite. They wanted to create low-threshold readings, which were easy to access with any basic education.
Aesthetics continued on its own path. Whatever branch, approach and method of philosophy one follows, the discipline has become increasingly professional in the 20th–21st centuries, and harder to grasp from the outside.
Another reason for the – hopefully only temporary – marginalisation of aesthetics is that with the rapid multiplication of approaches, movements and thus also interpretations of the concept and role of art, the discipline that was primarily destined to theorise it also had a more and more difficult task in defining its own role. Since contemporary art itself is also often self-referential, aesthetics as philosophy of art also had to re-invent itself and its role with regard to the novel concepts, roles, functions and functioning of art and its infrastructure ←9 | 10→in the 20th and 21st centuries. As a consequence, aestheticians have often found themselves oscillating between practicing a form of “deeper” explanation of artworks or “expanded” or “upgraded” art criticism and – at the other extreme – losing their connection to the production of art and design, i.e. philosophising about art or beauty without any reference to an or any actual piece of art. This latter self-referentiality of contemporary art theoretical discourse may explain such perhaps surprising affirmations by philosophers who claim that they find contemporary artworks more interesting than recent theories of aesthetics.
We would like, though, to shed some new light on this “scene.” Conferences, journals, many new websites and blogs, just like university curricula, all lead to the same conclusion: that aesthetics today is again widely practised and that we can observe a growing interest in its still not entirely discovered potentials. It is just that a major part of the discipline, as well as its applicability, have changed shape. If aesthetics in the modern world was a Eurocentric discourse practised in departments of philosophy, art history, literature, and musicology, today it is widely applied in new areas including fashion, urban studies, sociology and popular culture studies, to name just a few. One may thus complain that aesthetics does not have such a central role as it used to have, but at the same time we need to acknowledge and welcome that for today’s young scholars, aesthetic theories are often a significant companion and contribution in studying and analysing other cultural phenomena and production. In other words, it is not exclusively the philosophy of art itself that can be at the centre of attention, but just as much focus can be given to how aesthetics can help in better understanding particular issues emerging in other areas of culture, broadly construed and more importantly including those areas that have not had previously been scrutinised with the tools and methodologies of aesthetics research. Philosophical disciplines aim to develop the important questions, not to find the easy answers. But this questioning, this making of complicated analyses, has everywhere, as we see it, managed to not only survive but also to find new forms.
For this volume, we have aspired to find texts that mix aesthetics with other forms of investigating cultural phenomena and texts that may seem to be rooted more in cultural studies than in classical aesthetics and that nevertheless seek to reframe thinking with the help of aesthetics – and on this we have added some which just rethink the discipline of aesthetics as well as its current state. The selection is thus not only about finding issues and problematics to share, but also to map out what we could call the new wave, the new ways of thinking and doing research that are now marking the come-back of aesthetics. We have asked scholars who we have been following in this respect to contribute to our volume. The texts are thus illustrating the rising wave where aesthetics is both influencing ←10 | 11→and is getting mixed with other disciplines, therefore one of the unifying points between the texts that investigate otherwise completely different phenomena is exactly the demonstration of the applicability of the approach. The book is in this sense not just about the attempt to grab the variety of approaches and traditions at stake in the scene of contemporary aesthetics. It is about documenting a current scene, and it also explains the anthology-like nature of the book. For those who are interested in what aesthetics in dialogue could mean, this seemed to be the best mode to show the variety of paths one can take.
One aspiration behind the book is to map out a new, lighter relationship to the tradition. Aesthetics has also sneakily become more global in its theoretical base. It might actually even show the way for others: although many fields of humanistic and social research have opened their doors to intercultural communication, the nature of aesthetics, its very interest in the grounds of theory, make its use in the investigation of different theoretical traditions, for example Indian philosophy and Middle Eastern thinking, more sensitive. The authors of this book build on a variety of different approaches, practices and theories, and so we hope that their work gives a broad overview of the many new directions that may grow out of the contemporary re-interpretation of the possibilities of aesthetics. This is also what motivated us in our selection of texts.
When summarising some of the important spearheads of this book, we should start by affirming that the volume introduces quite a global gaze on and interest in philosophies of art and their possible applications, without marginalising non-Western approaches and side paths as “other” ways of thinking, or even underlining this. We take seriously the idea that, for example, Far Eastern classics can shade the way for us as much as “Western” ones, and see no need to separate them, not to push them into a “ghetto,” something which is very typical for example of Sanskrit philosophy, which seldom becomes discussed as a philosophy on its own. The book has a strong accent on contemporaneity, the future of culture and discussing how to rethink classics today, all in one package. As we see it, the rethinking of classics – without forgetting to expand what we call classics – is a key issue for a new start, and this is what many scholars writing for this book are doing. There is also an urge and need for textbooks illustrating (for both students and researchers) how aesthetics is and can be applied today in the investigation of contemporary issues in art and culture. We have here aspired to produce one so that readers from any academic background can start swimming in the currents of aesthetics today. Many of the subjects examined in the chapters, including for example the themes of care, restoration and contemporaneity in aesthetics or applying aesthetics to TV series, artists’ studio practice, memory research, environmental studies and “digital flesh” are still very new, as ←11 | 12→is the use of non-European classics in analysing contemporary culture, and this book definitely reinforces their role. The texts are inspiring and forward-looking examples of the novel and broader application of aesthetics, and their selection was also motivated by offering a glimpse to the broad variety of areas of which investigation through the lens of contemporary aesthetics can bring to further discoveries and understandings.
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- Publication date
- 2020 (July)
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 344 pp., 5 fig. b/w.