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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

2 - Heidegger's Critique of Modern Aesthetics

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Summary

Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds.

Barnet Newman (famous witticism)

The essence of art is not the expression of lived experience …. Nor does this essence consist in the artist depicting reality more accurately and precisely than others, or producing ([that is,] representing) something that gives pleasure to others, that provides enjoyment of a higher or lower type …. But in order to understand what the work of art and poetry are as such, philosophy must first break the habit of grasping the problem of art as one of aesthetics.

Heidegger (ET 47/GA34 63–4)

INTRODUCTION: HEIDEGGER – AGAINST AESTHETICS, FOR ART

Heidegger is against the modern tradition of philosophical “aesthetics” because he is for the true “work of art” which, he argues, the aesthetic approach to art eclipses. Heidegger's critique of aesthetics and his advocacy of art thus form a complementary whole, as I shall show in the next two chapters. Here in Chapter 2, section 1 orients the reader by providing a brief overview of Heidegger's philosophical stand against aesthetics, for art. Sections 2 and 3 explain Heidegger's philosophical critique of aesthetics, showing why he thinks aesthetics follows from modern “subjectivism” and leads to late-modern “enframing,” historical worldviews Heidegger seeks to transcend from within – in large part by way of his phenomenological interpretations of art. In Chapter 3, sections 1 and 2 develop this attempt to transcend modern aesthetics from within, focusing on the way Heidegger seeks to build a phenomenological bridge from a particular (“ontic”) work of art by Vincent van Gogh to the ontological truth of art in general.

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Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity
  • Online ISBN: 9780511976605
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511976605
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