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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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Modern Morphology of Aesthetics: Yie Lang 225


Modem Morphology of Aesthetics Yie Lang Aesthetic judgment is a rather peculiar kind of experience of the world, for it is based on neither perceptual nor rational knowledge. Prior to Kant, people tried to derive beauty either inductively, according to empiricism-from below, as it were, or deductively, according to rationalism-from above, as it were. These two methods represent distinct aesthetic morphologies originating respectively from Aristotle and Pythagoras. Aristotle initiated the theoretical morphology of experiential depiction and objective observation, while Pythagoras concentrated on the invisible harmony of mathematical laws which governs the universe. It was not until the 18th century that the British empiricists and the Continental rationalists brought aesthetics into being as such, as a new field of investigation, the former concentrating on the material basis of aesthetic judgment, the latter exploring the essence of beauty and the sense of beauty. As a result, a new "science" of aesthetics arose, specializing in that "hazy sensational knowledge." At the same time, a more scientific study of art, which originated mainly from Horatian classical poetry and Ciceronian rhetoric, also flourished as a new "elegant" (schone) science. This scientific study of art concentrated on discovering laws of literary and artistic creation and developing methods for interpreting and evaluating individual works of art. Some scholars even regarded this scientific study of art as a third aesthetic morphology. According to Kant, however, none of these three aesthetic morphologies could be counted as genuine sciences. In the Critique of Judgment, published in 1790, Kant flatly denied...

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