The Aesthetic Dimension of Visual Culture

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Free sample

How can aesthetic enquiry contribute to the study of visual culture? There seems to be little doubt that aesthetic theory ought to be of interest to the study of visual culture. For one thing, aesthetic vocabulary has far from vanished from contemporary debates on the nature of our visual experiences and its various shapes, a fact especially pertinent where dissatisfaction with vulgar value relativism prevails. Besides, the very question—ubiquitous in the debates on visual culture—of what is natural and what is acquired in our visual experiences has been a topic in aesthetics at least since the Enlightenment. And last but not least, despite attempts to study visual culture without employing the concept of art, there is no prospect of this central subject of aesthetic theory ebbing away from visual studies.

The essays compiled in this volume show a variety of points of intersection and involvement between aesthetics and visual studies; some consider the future of visual art, some the conditions and characteristics of contemporary visual aesthetic experience, while others take on the difficult question of the relation between visual representation and reality. What unites them is their authors’ willingness to think about contemporary visual culture in the conceptual frame of aesthetics. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of philosophical aesthetics, art history, and cultural studies.

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About the author

Ondřej Dadejík is Assistant Professor of Aesthetics at the Department of Aesthetics, Charles University (Prague), and at the Department of Aesthetics, the University of South Bohemia (České Budějovice). He specializes in pragmatist aesthetics and the aesthetics of nature. His most recent publications include “More Than a Story: The Two-Dimensional Aesthetics of the Forest” (with Vlastimil Zuska), Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics 47 (2010) and the multi-authored volume Czech Aesthetics of Nature in Central European Context (Prague, 2010).

Jakub Stejskal is writing his dissertation on the notion of second nature in political philosophy and aesthetics at the Department of Aesthetics, Charles University, Prague. He co-edits Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics and Notebook for Art, Theory and Related Zones.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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Published on
Aug 11, 2010
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Pages
197
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ISBN
9781443824323
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Criticism & Theory
Philosophy / Aesthetics
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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For two millennia philosophy has restlessly stalked a fundamental problem—the answer to the question “what is art, really?” Aesthetic discourse, focused on the Platonic Matrix of truth and beauty, arthood and object, imitation and representation, form and idea, has not delivered on its promise, leaving us in bewilderment over principles that are either ignored or contradicted by the arts themselves. In this searching critique, some astonishing faux pas are brought to light. Notably that aesthetics makes do without a knower, the heuristics of art, and the dynamics of self-exploration that are central to the aesthetic experience.

What this book seeks to accomplish is a thorough reformulation of the terms of reference, based on the actual “form of life” that is art. This amounts to a framework for a wholly new philosophy of art. It demonstrates that art is quintessentially involved in the meaning of life, and through its heuristic dimension serves our impulse for self-knowledge and an understanding of the human condition.

The book is in the first instance a philosophical treatise and therefore suitable for academic study in all grades, though perhaps with greatest benefit at post-graduate level. But it has been written in an approachable style to encourage a wider audience to engage with its tenets: accordingly it seeks also to address art aficionados, whether professional or dilettante, as well as general readers with an interest in these ever perplexing and profoundly intriguing issues of our human estate.

How can we “know”? What does “knowledge” mean? These were the fundamental questions of epistemology in the 17th century. In response to continental rationalism, the British empiricist John Locke proposed that the only knowledge humans can have is acquired a posterior. In a discussion of the human mind, he argued, the source of knowledge is sensual experience – mostly vision.

Since vision and picture-making are the realm of art, art theory picked up on questions such as: are pictures able to represent knowledge about the world? How does the production of images itself generate knowledge? How does pictorial logic differ from linguistic logic? How can artists contribute to a collective search for truth?

Questions concerning the epistemic potential of art can be found throughout the centuries up until the present day. However, these are not questions of art alone, but of the representational value of images in general. Thus, the history of art theory can contribute much to recent discussions in Visual Studies and Bildwissenschaften by showing the historic dimension of arguments about what images are or should be. “What is knowledge?” is as much a philosophic question as “What is an image?”

Visual epistemology is a new and promising research field that is best investigated using an interdisciplinary approach that addresses a range of interconnected areas, such as internal and external images and the interplay of producer and perceiver of images. This publication outlines this territory by gathering together several approaches to visual epistemology by many distinguished authors.

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