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5 - Originality and imagination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2014

Richard Eldridge
Affiliation:
Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
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Summary

Genius and the pursuit of the new: Kant

In presenting a subject matter as a focus for thought and emotional attitude, distinctively fused to the imaginative exploration of material, works of art are evidently special. Where does this special character of art come from? Are successful artists a special class of people, with capacities the rest of us altogether lack? Or do they rather exercise in a special way an imaginative capacity in which we all have a share? What are the roles of training, artistic tradition, and common culture in the development of artistic ability? Can art be taught?

It is commonly thought, and especially widely so in modernity, that artworks are in some way distinctively new and original. Ezra Pound, translating a dictum of Confucius, titled his 1934 collection of critical essays on literature Make it New. John Dewey remarks on “the qualitative novelty that characterizes every genuine work of art.” In Plato’s Ion, Socrates and Ion agree that though Homer and other poets “all treat of the same subjects,” one of them – Homer – “speaks well and the rest of them speak worse,” and this because Homer, like all the good poets, is “inspired, possessed.” Exactly what is going on in Homer that makes his poetry different and special? How does the sort of creative capacity that Homer displays have to do with making things that are distinctively new?

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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  • Originality and imagination
  • Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107300538.006
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  • Originality and imagination
  • Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107300538.006
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Originality and imagination
  • Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107300538.006
Available formats
×