Aesthetics as Phenomenology: The Appearance of Things (Studies in Continental Thought)
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Connecting aesthetic experience with our experience of nature or with other cultural artifacts, Aesthetics as Phenomenology focuses on what art means for cognition, recognition, and affect―how art changes our everyday disposition or behavior. Günter Figal engages in a penetrating analysis of the moment at which, in our contemplation of a work of art, reaction and thought confront each other. For those trained in the visual arts and for more casual viewers, Figal unmasks art as a decentering experience that opens further possibilities for understanding our lives and our world.
that which is not merely of the present. The modern is the unabiding; it is the new that has not always already been valid. Accordingly, just as in the querelle des anciens et des modernes, the concepts have a positional sense; one takes a stance with them by standing over against another position. Whoever calls something “classical” raises its value over against that which is present without a past, and which might therefore be ephemeral; this is evident enough in Gadamer’s indication of the
structured manifold. They cannot even lift out single moments such that there might result a “general presentation [ . . . ] of that which is common to several objects.”11 The concepts can grasp and highlight something about the structured manifold, but what is grasped in this way belongs so inextricably to its context that it becomes featureless on its own. That is why understanding plays every formed concept back to the structured manifold and the imagination, which in their turn can set free
painting and music as the more adequate arts of inwardness and the free inwardly pervaded particularity of the external” (vol. 14. 458–459)—as if Michelangelo and Benvenuto Cellini did not exist. Contrary to sculpture, Hegel says, painting is no longer bound to “heavy material,” but instead has “gleaming and the shining of color” as “sensual means of expression” (vol. 15, 205, emphasis in original); the painting does not stand over against one, and as a representation actualized for perception,
word: that which becomes experienceable in the language of a poem is the sense of what is said.62 Sense is something other than meaning. The meaning of terms used in a poem can be selfexplanatory. When Rilke’s sonnet speaks of mirrors, of sieves, of a hall, and of forests, these expressions mean the same thing that they mean otherwise. They are certainly not used to designate a thing or state of affairs, but remain in the state of possibility, without factual reference. Yet this possibility is
Breisgau May 2010 This page intentionally left blank TRANSLATOR’S FOREWORD This is a book about the experience of art. As the title Aesthetics as Phenomenology suggests, Günter Figal takes a phenomenological approach to aesthetic experience, rendering an account of what unifies it and distinguishes it from other experiences. In taking this approach, he aims to avoid the many pitfalls and dead ends of prior aesthetic theories, which in his view have either failed to delineate the proper