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Chapter 3 - Appreciating Nature Aesthetically in The World as Will and Representation: Between Kant and Hegel

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 December 2022

Judith Norman
Affiliation:
Trinity University, Texas
Alistair Welchman
Affiliation:
University of Texas, San Antonio
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Summary

Sandra Shapshay looks at the joy Schopenhauer acknowledges us to feel in the presence of natural beauty. Many commentators subordinate this theory of pleasure to the cognitive aspect of Schopenhauer’s aesthetic. Shapshay resists this interpretation. But she also resists its opposite but still reductive or unifying strategy that minimizes the cognitive for the sake of the hedonic. Rather, she discards the notion that Schopenhauer had a unified aesthetic theory as not only false but undesirable. Instead, she shows that Schopenhauer develops two, mutually irreducible spectrums of aesthetic value, based on two different criteria. The spectrum that commentators acknowledge in Schopenhauer is the hierarchy of the arts, which puts architecture and fountainry at the bottom (as revealing the lower Ideas) and literature at the top, as a display of the higher, more complex ideas. The spectrum that is overlooked, but becomes visible if we take his more formalist views of natural aesthetics seriously, is the spectrum of the beautiful and sublime, where the beautiful – and botanical beauty in particular – lends itself more readily (than experiences at the sublime pole) to a state of mind that is not only tranquilizing but (in a departure from his usual attitude) positively joyful.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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