Art's Claim to Truth

Art's Claim to Truth

Edited by Santiago Zabala
Translated by Luca D’Isanto
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  • Book Info
    Art's Claim to Truth
    Book Description:

    First collected in Italy in 1985, Art's Claim to Truth is considered by many philosophers to be one of Gianni Vattimo's most important works. Newly revised for English readers, the book begins with a challenge to Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel, who viewed art as a metaphysical aspect of reality rather than a futuristic anticipation of it. Following Martin Heidegger's interpretation of the history of philosophy, Vattimo outlines the existential ontological conditions of aesthetics, paying particular attention to the works of Kandinsky, which reaffirm the ontological implications of art.

    Vattimo then builds on Hans-Georg Gadamer's theory of aesthetics and provides an alternative to a rationalistic-positivistic criticism of art. This is the heart of Vattimo's argument, and with it he demonstrates how hermeneutical philosophy reaffirms art's ontological status and makes clear the importance of hermeneutics for aesthetic studies. In the book's final section, Vattimo articulates the consequences of reclaiming the ontological status of aesthetics without its metaphysical implications, holding Aristotle's concept of beauty responsible for the dissolution of metaphysics itself. In its direct engagement with the works of Gadamer, Heidegger, and Luigi Pareyson, Art's Claim to Truth offers a better understanding of the work of Vattimo and a deeper knowledge of ontology, hermeneutics, and the philosophical examination of truth.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51566-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: The Hermeneutic Consequence of Art’s Ontological Bearing
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
    Santiago Zabala

    The recent publication of Weakening Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Gianni Vattimo has induced us to translate and publish this early book of Vattimo’s because the festschrift confirms not only that the Italian intellectual is one of the most important living philosophers but also that his early works deserve to be presented to Anglo-Saxon readers as much his later ones.¹ Although we are all well acquainted with Vattimo’s understanding of postmodernity (educed in The End of Modernity, The Adventures of Differences, and Beyond Interpretation) and his interpretation of religion (in Belief; After Christianity; The Future of Religion, with Richard Rorty;...

    • 1 Beauty and Being in Ancient Aesthetics
      (pp. 3-12)

      The meaning of ancient thought for the history of aesthetics is still largely debated. The interpretative views on this topic have always oscillated between general observations to the effect that the antiquity of Greece and Rome did not develop a detailed inquiry of the question of art (hence the fragmentary presentation of isolated ideas that speak of a philosophical sensibility at a very embryonic stage for the question of art in regard to the beautiful), and the attempts to discover in antiquity the more or less explicit premises of the philosophical theories of modernity. Now, it is obvious that the...

    • 2 Toward an Ontological Aesthetics
      (pp. 13-28)

      Even though the following essays attempt to present an ontological approach to the question of art, or at the very least to shed light on its exigency from a variety of perspectives, it seems necessary to clarify preliminarily¹ how the links between poetry, and art more generally, and ontology are addressed in the following pages and how this inquiry stands in regard to contemporary aesthetics.

      What does it mean, in general, to pose the question of art ontologically or to raise ontological demands in the realm of aesthetics? The question immediately implies a leap from the limited sphere of aesthetics...

    • 3 The Ontological Vocation of Twentieth-Century Poetics
      (pp. 29-56)

      Surely, one of the more general definitions one can give of the twentieth century from art’s perspective is that it is the century of poetics. The phenomenon of explicit poetics—of manifestos and art programs that are put forth, discussed, and fought over by the artists themselves not only by means of their artworks but also of essays, in which they take a stand on theoretical views—goes back after all to romanticism, and not by chance. Strictly speaking, the expression “the century of poetics” may describe a chronological period harkening back to the last decades of the nineteenth century....

    • 4 Art, Feeling, and Originality in Heidegger’s Aesthetics
      (pp. 57-74)

      If we read the few lines Heidegger devotes to poetic language in Being and Time after scanning the sections that Heidegger dedicates to art and poetry in his more recent works (i.e., Holzwege [Off the Beaten Track] and Unterwegs zur Sprach [On the Way to Language]), we may well get the impression we have found the evidence for the “turning” (Kehre) in Heidegger’s thought. There is indeed a turning in Heidegger’s philosophy, the importance of which has been greatly exaggerated by a lot of interpreters, which nonetheless does not undermine the fundamental unity of his speculative path of thinking.¹


    • 5 Pareyson: From Aesthetics to Ontology
      (pp. 77-89)

      If contemporary hermeneutics is to continue to develop its vocation for ontology, the importance of Pareyson’s thought for the philosophy of interpretation is destined to have an increasingly central role.¹ The following remarks intend to show: that the ontological implications of Pareyson’s hermeneutics above all spring from his reflection on the experience of art not only in its interpretative moment but also in the moment of artistic “producing”; the ontology of the inexhaustible elaborated in the last period of Pareyson’s philosophical speculation, which he also formulated in terms of “tragic thought,” is much more deeply bound with the theory of...

    • 6 From Phenomenological Aesthetics to Ontology of Art
      (pp. 90-107)

      What follows could be easily entitled “variations on the ontological perspective opened to aesthetics by existential philosophy.” The horizon within which we are moving here is more or less defined by the questions and conclusions that were elaborated by ontological existentialism. By existentialism, I mean Heidegger’s philosophy as well as the philosophy that more or less explicitly finds its inspiration in him. By virtue of this opening horizon, I argue, it is possible to satisfy the exigency of an ontological foundation of art that increasingly rises not only from aesthetics but also from contemporary poetics.

      To speak of the ontological...

    • 7 Critical Methods and Hermeneutic Philosophy
      (pp. 108-122)

      It is possible that if Hegel can be said to sum up the whole tradition of modern philosophy (at least that part of tradition that Hegelian philosophy, in its historical self-awareness, recognizes as its own) and to be the prophet of our epoch, it is because he recognized and theorized as the center of his philosophy the Aufhebung, the mediation, that is, the overcoming and abolition of what is “mediated.”¹ The Aufheben, the essence and power of thought, at least in the sense in which it is generally understood, is today critical as never before. Sartre’s theme of nothingness, which...

    • 8 Aesthetics and Hermeneutics
      (pp. 125-138)

      The outcome of recent philosophical hermeneutics has been the “recovery of the truth claim of art,” to use Gadamer’s expression. This recovery, in itself, is fundamentally polemical toward a large part of the twentieth century’s philosophical aesthetics, whose inclination has been to redefine art by excluding its theoretical or practical bearing or, at best, by assigning to art a position of subordination according to which, even though art belongs to the field of truth, it is the task of other activities to take cognizance of the truth that art represents, by including it into a perspective that is vaster, more...

    • 9 Aesthetics and Hermeneutics in Hans-Georg Gadamer
      (pp. 139-150)

      Hegel’s philosophy of art illustrates very clearly the risk often faced by many theories of the truth of art, that is, of justifying the truth of art by means of a dialectical operation that recognizes art as a manifestation of truth only in the moment in which it is overcome and abolished by philosophy. The aesthetics that reproduce, albeit in different forms, this typical movement of Hegelian dialectics face two problems, which can hardly be overcome within the limit of their perspectives, whether they look at art as a substructure of economic developments in Marxist fashion or whether they look...

    • 10 The Work of Art as the Setting to Work of Truth
      (pp. 151-160)

      From the perspective of ontology, Heidegger’s most thorough definition of the artwork appears, as is well known, in the essay Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes (“The Origin of the Work of Art”),¹ according to which a work of art is the “setting-itself-into-work of truth.” Heidegger works out this definition with a view toward specifying the ontological meaning of art, but he does not do the same with aesthetic enjoyment.² This essay and the following Heideggerian works remain quite vague on the encounter between the reader/spectator and the work, on how to conceive of aesthetic enjoyment. To attend to this question we...

    • 11 The Truth That Hurts
      (pp. 161-166)

      The rise of artistic poetics in our century can be examined from the point of view of their stance vis-à-vis art and truth, specifically in their stated opposition to the philosophical aesthetics that, echoing the neo-Kantianism of the second half of the nineteenth century, sharply distinguished aesthetic experience from the domain of knowledge and action. From this viewpoint—which seems to me more reasonable and more productive than others for the arguments of criticism—Alfredo Jaar’s oeuvre acquires the prominence he deserves because he stands in the line of continuity with the programmatic stance of poetics, and above all because...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 167-182)
  9. Index
    (pp. 183-190)