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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics


Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.


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Ancient Chinese Aesthetics: Liu Gangji 179


Ancient Chinese Aesthetics Liu Gangji As a country with one of the oldest cultures in the world, China has a rich aesthetic inheritance, the fruit of its long-standing and highly developed material and spiritual civilization, the crystallization of the experiences and achievements of aesthetic cognition and artistic creation accumulated by the Chinese people during their 5,000 year history, and the full display of their extraordinary aesthetic education and initiative. Though never completely systematic in its manner of demonstration and expression, ancient Chinese aesthetics is infused with profound and extensive philosophical concepts, and composed of theories embodying long revered values. Since very ancient times, Chinese thinkers have exalted their research into aesthetics to the level of natural and moral philosophy by relating aesthetic and artistic questions to those concerning the universe, society and life. What they did was to enrich the aesthetic ideology of the human race and to make ancient Chinese aesthetics a unique system independent of those contributed by other peoples. The Chinese civilization came into being at a very early period. Before China became civilized, it had undergone a long evolution of a primitive clan society, during which both material and spiritual production, including primitive art, were highly developed. After China entered the period of a slave society, limited by its level of agricultural and commercial production, China failed to clear away the conventions of the clan society as completely as had the Greeks. The social and class relationship among men was still tied so closely to...

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