Artistic Visions and the Promise of Beauty

Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures

Book 16
Free sample

This volume examines the motives behind rejections of beauty often found within contemporary art practice, where much critically acclaimed art is deliberately ugly and alienating. It reflects on the nature and value of beauty, asking whether beauty still has a future in art and what role it can play in our lives generally. The volume discusses the possible “end of art,” what art is, and the relation between art and beauty beyond their historically Western horizons to include perspectives from Asia.

The individual chapters address a number of interrelated issues, including: art, beauty and the sacred; beauty as a source of joy and consolation; beauty as a bridge between the natural and the human; beauty and the human form; the role of curatorial practice in defining art; order and creativity; and the distinction between art and craft. The volume offers a valuable addition to cross-cultural dialogue and, in particular, to the sparse literature on art and beauty in comparative context. It demonstrates the relevance of the rich tradition of Asian aesthetics and the vibrant practices of contemporary art in Asia to Western discussions about the future of art and the role of beauty.

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About the author

Kathleen M. Higgins is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her main areas of research are aesthetics, continental philosophy, and philosophy of emotion. She is author of a number of books, including The Music of Our Lives (1991/ rev. 2011) and The Music between Us: Is Music the Universal Language? (2012), which received the American Society for Aesthetics Outstanding Monograph Prize in 2013. She has been a Resident Scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Center and a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Shakti Maira is a respected contemporary artist in India. His work is in international collections and in the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. In 2005 he helped organize the ‘Learning through the Arts in Asia’ symposium. Subsequently, UNESCO invited him to formulate “i>The Asian Vision of Arts in Education: Learning through the Arts. His book, Towards Ananda: Rethinking Indian Art and Aesthetics was published by Penguin/Viking in India in 2006. His paper, “Socio-cultural Learning through the Arts in India” was included in Transmissions and Transformations – Learning through the Arts in Asia, edited by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, published by Primus Books, India (2011).

Sonia Sikka is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa. Her primary areas of research are philosophy of culture, philosophy of religion and continental philosophy. She is the author of Herder on Humanity and Cultural Difference: Enlightened Relativism (2011), and editor, with Lori Beaman, of Multiculturalism and Religious Identity:Canada and India (2014). Her current research focuses on the idea of religion, and on intersections between religion and politics.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer
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Published on
Mar 6, 2017
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Pages
265
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ISBN
9783319438931
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Criticism & Theory
Art / Techniques / General
Philosophy / Aesthetics
Philosophy / General
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
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This book examines “Taylorean social theory,” its sources, main characteristics and impact. Charles Taylor’s meta-narrative of secularization in the West, prominently contained in his major work A Secular Age (2007), has brought new insight on the social and cultural factors that intervened in such process, the role of human agency, and particularly on the contemporary conditions of belief in North America and Europe. This study discusses what Taylor’s approach has brought to the scholarly debate on Western secularization, which has been carried on mostly in sociological terms. McKenzie interprets Taylor’s views in a way that offers an original social theory. Such interpretation is possible with the help of sociologist Margaret Archer’s “morphogenetic theory” and by making the most of Taylor’s particular understanding of the method of the social sciences and of his philosophical views on human beings, knowledge and modernity. After exploring the philosophical and sociological sources informing Taylorean social theory and proposing its basic concepts and hermeneutic guidelines, the author compares it with two widespread theories of secularization: the now waning “orthodox” account and that proposed by Rational Choice Theory scholars, particularly prevalent in the United States. In doing so, the book shows in which ways Taylorean social theory supersedes them, what new issues it brings into the scholarly discussion, and what difficulties might limit its future development.
Whether understood in a narrow sense as the popular works of a small number of (white male) authors, or as a larger more diffuse movement, twenty-first century scholars, journalists, and activists from all ‘sides’ in the atheism versus theism debate, have noted the emergence of a particular form of atheism frequently dubbed ‘New Atheism’. The present collection has been brought together to provide a scholarly yet accessible consideration of the place and impact of ‘New Atheism’ in the contemporary world.

Combining traditional and innovative approaches, chapters draw on the insights of philosophers, religious studies scholars, sociologists, anthropologists, and literary critics to provide never-before-seen insights into the relationship between ‘New Atheism’, science, gender, sexuality, space, philosophy, fiction and much more. With contributions from Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom, the volume also presents diversity in regard to religious/irreligious commitment, with contributions from atheists, theists and more agnostic orientations.

New Atheism: Critical Perspectives and Contemporary Debates features an up-to-date overview of current research on ‘New Atheism’, a Foreword from Stephen Bullivant (co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Atheism), and eleven new chapters with extensive bibliographies that will be important to both a general audience and to those conducting research in this area. It provides a much-needed fresh look at a contentious phenomenon, and will hopefully encourage the cooperation and dialogue which has predominantly been lacking in relevant contemporary debates.

'A concern for beauty would certainly make us better shapers of the world.' - Roger Scruton The idea of beauty is highly conflicted terrain. Does it only have to do with how things look? Is it merely prettiness? Is it entirely subjective? Does it serve a function? Historically, beauty has been held in high esteem: 'beauty is truth, truth beauty,' the poet Keats wrote. Why then do the high priests of the arts and the arguably progressive socio-political thinkers of the day shun it? Shakti Maira explains how the problem lies with the confused understanding of beauty and with beauty becoming superficially located: quite literally, on the skin. What would happen, he asks, if beauty were to become central to every aspect of our lives: environment, education, economics and governance? Maira engages eighteen eminent thinkers in a series of conversations around the difficult, enthralling notion of beauty. Scientists explore whether there is an evolutionary purpose to it. Philosophers examine its relationship to truth and goodness. Artists speak of beauty and its rejection. Brain-mind experts consider whether the experience of it strengthens certain neural pathways connected with the qualities of balance, harmony, rhythm and proportion. Activists probe how beauty works in the context of social systems. What emerges is a deeper understanding of beauty and how it is a key to our world: a radical new way of evaluating problems and finding solutions, from the personal to the political, the individual to the universal.
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