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The Future of Aesthetics

The Future of Aesthetics

Francis Sparshott
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  • Book Info
    The Future of Aesthetics
    Book Description:

    Addressing the nature and prospects of aesthetics as a discipline, Sparshott discusses beauty, taste, and the place of imagination, fiction, and fine art in societies

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8131-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introductory Note
    (pp. xi-2)

    The aim of these lectures was to explain why aesthetics is a permanent concern of philosophy, and to consider the prospects of aesthetics as an academic discipline in our time of intellectual and cultural turmoil.

    The outcome, as will be seen, is a threefold exposition of the core of aesthetics as a philosophical discipline, embedded in a fourfold account of the intellectual setting within which aesthetics has been, is being, and may or may not continue to be carried on. It follows that the titles of the lectures cannot correspond precisely to the actual divisions of the subject matter. But...

  5. I Aesthetics and the Future of Philosophy
    (pp. 3-16)

    Before I can tell you about the future of aesthetics, I had better explain what aesthetics is. If we can speak of the past, present, and future of aesthetics, as plainly we can, there must be something called ʹaestheticsʹ of which there can be a past and a present and a future. That is, there must be a traceable continuant – not necessarily or probably a persisting essence or describable constancy, but at least something that can be recognized as having (or being) a history.

    If aesthetics is a part of philosophy, its history must be part of the history...

  6. II Philosophy and the Future of the University
    (pp. 17-42)

    I said yesterday that aesthetics as a fruitful field of philosophical thought arises from the convergence and divergence of three lines of inquiry. First is the part played in human thought and action by what we call ʹbeautyʹ: that is, by the recognition that some actions and persons and objects are such that they demand to be brought into being, preserved, admired for their own sakes. This subject has been relegated to the sidelines of recent philosophy, perhaps partly because it has seemed to be a matter of individual psychology and cultural convention, and hence the perquisite of the behavioural...

  7. III The University and the Future of Civilization
    (pp. 43-67)

    Yesterday I talked about the rise of the research university, as perhaps embodying the final and most comprehensive ʹmap of knowledgeʹ on which philosophy and aesthetics, as well as the cognitive enterprises represented by the fine arts, might be most authoritatively located. The potential significance of such an institution is hard to exaggerate. From the point of view I attributed to the Platonic Socrates, it would represent the highest achievement of reinvented humanity. In Aristotelian cosmology, ascertained scientific knowledge is simply the self-knowledge of the universe, and the university is the only location that systematically aspires to such knowledge. Such...

  8. IV Civilization and the Future of Aesthetics
    (pp. 68-90)

    Last night, I recounted the forces making for the disintegration of the research university, and hence by implication of the civilization to which such universities are integral. But the reflection that civilization in general, and our own civilization most conspicuously, elevates critical thinking into a guiding principle reminded us that we had hitherto neglected one of the three lines of thought whose confluence and divergence constituted the discipline of aesthetics. That neglected line was the logic of critical thinking itself – a kind of thinking that may be applied to anything within the scope of purposive action, but takes its...

  9. Afterword
    (pp. 91-98)

    The lectures have been moving toward their final sentences, the dispersal of the audience and their separation from the lecturer with the valediction from that enigmatic playLove′s Labour′s Lost. Our attention is brought back to our situation, the compresence of strangers at an academic discourse. Who has been talking? Whom was the audience hearing?

    The Danish journalist-theologian Søren Kierkegaard notoriously wrote several of his books under ʹpseudonyms.′ The point of these was that they had to be recognized by the reader as Kierkegaard-writing-pseudonymously-and-pretending-to-be-pretending-to-be-someone-else. Naturally, he found it necessary to write an essay titled ′The Point of View for My...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 99-173)