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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics

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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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Harmony and Chinese Beauty: Zhou Laixiang 205

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Harmony and Olinese Beauty Zhou Laixiang In general, classical beauty is a harmoniously organic whole in which all of the beautiful elements are integrated simply and dialectically. These include subject and object, people and nature, the individual and society, and form and content. In the classical beauty of harmony the members of each related pair, subject and object, representation and expression, reality and ideality, emotion and reason, artistic innovation and genre, space and time, form and content, are seen to differ from one another and yet are related to each other to form a stable, orderly whole. Classical art is an art form created according to this ideal conception of classical beauty of harmony in which the classical beauty of harmony is reflected. Their spiritual qualities are the same although they exist in different ways-the art being more sensitive and realistic, the classical concept of beauty being more rational and idealistic. The classical beauty of harmony is different from the modem notion of the sublime, which emphasizes contradiction, struggle and conflict. The modern sublime is fierce, turbulent and unstable. The classical beauty of harmony, on the other hand, emphasizes the interrelatedness and interaction between the opposing sides of any contradiction and so is peaceful, orderly and tranquil. The sculpture of ancient Greece is said to be "supremely simple, still and mighty." Although classical Chinese art emphasizes expression and temporal process, it is also simple and still. The human response to the sublime is at frrst oppressive, chaotic and stifling, but...

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