More by Robert B. Pippin

In this latest book, renowned philosopher and scholar Robert B. Pippin offers the thought-provoking argument that the study of historical figures is not only an interpretation and explication of their views, but can be understood as a form of philosophy itself. In doing so, he reconceives philosophical scholarship as a kind of network of philosophical interanimations, one in which major positions in the history of philosophy, when they are themselves properly understood within their own historical context, form philosophy’s lingua franca. Examining a number of philosophers to explore the nature of this interanimation, he presents an illuminating assortment of especially thoughtful examples of historical commentary that powerfully enact philosophy.

After opening up his territory with an initial discussion of contemporary revisionist readings of Kant’s moral theory, Pippin sets his sights on his main objects of interest: Hegel and Nietzsche. Through them, however, he offers what few others could: an astonishing synthesis of an immense and diverse set of thinkers and traditions. Deploying an almost dialogical, conversational approach, he pursues patterns of thought that both shape and, importantly, connect the major traditions: neo-Aristotelian, analytic, continental, and postmodern, bringing the likes of Heidegger, Honneth, MacIntyre, McDowell, Brandom, Strauss, Williams, and Žižek—not to mention Hegel and Nietzsche— into the same philosophical conversation.

By means of these case studies, Pippin mounts an impressive argument about a relatively under discussed issue in professional philosophy—the bearing of work in the history of philosophy on philosophy itself—and thereby he argues for the controversial thesis that no strict separation between the domains is defensible.
In his Berlin lectures on fine art, Hegel argued that art involves a unique form of aesthetic intelligibility—the expression of a distinct collective self-understanding that develops through historical time. Hegel’s approach to art has been influential in a number of different contexts, but in a twist of historical irony Hegel would die just before the most radical artistic revolution in history: modernism. In After the Beautiful, Robert B. Pippin, looking at modernist paintings by artists such as Édouard Manet and Paul Cézanne through Hegel’s lens, does what Hegel never had the chance to do.

While Hegel could never engage modernist painting, he did have an understanding of modernity, and in it, art—he famously asserted—was “a thing of the past,” no longer an important vehicle of self-understanding and no longer an indispensable expression of human meaning. Pippin offers a sophisticated exploration of Hegel’s position and its implications. He also shows that had Hegel known how the social institutions of his day would ultimately fail to achieve his own version of genuine equality, a mutuality of recognition, he would have had to explore a different, new role for art in modernity. After laying this groundwork, Pippin goes on to illuminate the dimensions of Hegel’s aesthetic approach in the path-breaking works of Manet, the “grandfather of modernism,” drawing on art historians T. J. Clark and Michael Fried to do so. He concludes with a look at Cézanne, the “father of modernism,” this time as his works illuminate the relationship between Hegel and the philosopher who would challenge Hegel’s account of both modernity and art—Martin Heidegger.
Elegantly inter-weaving philosophy and art history, After the Beautiful is a stunning reassessment of the modernist project. It gets at the core of the significance of modernism itself and what it means in general for art to have a history. Ultimately, it is a testament, via Hegel, to the distinctive philosophical achievements of modernist art in the unsettled, tumultuous era we have inherited.
With the rise of review sites and social media, films today, as soon as they are shown, immediately become the topic of debates on their merits not only as entertainment, but also as serious forms of artistic expression. Philosopher Robert B. Pippin, however, wants us to consider a more radical proposition: film as thought, as a reflective form. Pippin explores this idea through a series of perceptive analyses of cinematic masterpieces, revealing how films can illuminate, in a concrete manner, core features and problems of shared human life.

Filmed Thought examines questions of morality in Almodóvar’s Talk to Her, goodness and naïveté in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, love and fantasy in Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, politics and society in Polanski’s Chinatown and Malick’s The Thin Red Line, and self-understanding and understanding others in Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place and in the Dardennes brothers' oeuvre. In each reading, Pippin pays close attention to what makes these films exceptional as technical works of art (paying special attention to the role of cinematic irony) and as intellectual and philosophical achievements. Throughout, he shows how films offer a view of basic problems of human agency from the inside and allow viewers to think with and through them. Captivating and insightful, Filmed Thought shows us what it means to take cinema seriously not just as art, but as thought, and how this medium provides a singular form of reflection on what it is to be human.
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