Contemporary Aesthetics does not publish book reviews. However, to inform our readers of new publications of interest, we do publish brief descriptions extracted from information provided by the publishers. These notices do not necessarily represent the views or judgment of this journal. Readers are invited to send us such information about books they think will interest other readers of CA.
Aesthetic Pathways, eds. Gerald
Cipriani and Arto Haapala (Airiti Press, Winter 2010).
The purpose of the journal is to encourage and promote research in
the type of aesthetics that draws inspiration from the phenomenological
tradition broadly understood, that is, in the sense of reflection on, or within
the relationship between meaning and experience. Importantly, more than a
narrowly defined theoretical framework, the field of Aesthetic Pathways is here defined in its close connections
with the arts and culture as a whole, including the
reality of human experience. Besides philosophical rigor, the journal puts emphasis on both creativity of
ideas and precision of language. To this effect, a balance in the types of
publications is sought between analyses of phenomenological works (e.g.
academic studies on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s The Eye and the Mind) and experimental phenomenological writing (e.g.
Merleau-Ponty’s The Eye and the Mind).
The language of the journal is English, but submissions in French
and German might be considered for Special Issues with Guest Editors. The Editorial Board is
composed of world authorities, academics, and younger scholars specializing in
the fields of philosophy, aesthetics, cultural and art studies. Members of the
Board come from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
The first issue by invited contributors will be launched in Winter
2010. Subsequent issues will follow public calls for papers. Submissions are
encouraged from all areas of philosophical aesthetics that discuss topics in
the various artistic and cultural spheres, as well as issues concerning the
Tel: +886-2-2926-6006 #8296
Crispin Sartwell, Political
Aesthetics (Ithaca and London:
Cornell University Press, 2010), 270 pp.
Juxtaposing and connecting the art of states and the art of
art historians with vernacular or popular arts such as reggae and hip hop,
Crispin Sartwell examines the reach and claims of political aesthetics. Most analysts focus on politics as discursive
systems, privileging text and reducing other forms of expression to the merely
illustrative. He suggests that we need
to take much more seriously the aesthetic environment of political thought and
action. Sartwell argues that graphic
style, music, and architecture are more than the propaganda arm of political
systems; they are its constituents.
Sartwell brings together the disciplines of political
science and political philosophy, philosophy of art and art history, in a new
way, clarifying basic notions of aesthetics—beauty, sublimity, and
representation—and applying them in a political context. A general argument about the fundamental
importance of political aesthetics is interspersed with a group of stimulating
case studies as disparate as Leni Riefenstahl’s films and Black Nationalist
aesthetics, the Dead Kennedys and Jeffersonian architecture.
Philosophers on Art from Kant to the Postmodernists, edited by Christopher Kul-Want
(Columbia University Press, 2010), 376 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-231-14095-9 ISBN: 978-0-231-14094-2
collection brings together twenty-five texts on art written by twenty
philosophers. Covering the Enlightenment to postmodernism, these essays draw on
Continental philosophy and aesthetics, the Marxist intellectual tradition, and
psychoanalytic theory, and each is accompanied by an overview and
interpretation. The volume
includes Martin Heidegger on Van Gogh's shoes and the meaning of the Greek
temple; Georges Bataille on Salvador Dalí's The Lugubrious Game;
Theodor W. Adorno on capitalism and collage; Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes
on the uncanny nature of photography; Sigmund Freud on Leonardo Da Vinci and
his interpreters; Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva on the paintings of Holbein;
Freud's postmodern critic, Gilles Deleuze on the visceral paintings of Francis
Bacon; and Giorgio Agamben on the twin traditions of the Duchampian ready-made
and Pop Art. Kul-Want elucidates these
texts with essays on aesthetics, from Hegel and Nietzsche to Badiou and
Rancière, demonstrating how philosophy adopted a new orientation toward
aesthetic experience and subjectivity in the wake of Kant's powerful legacy.
Cheung, Kairos: Phenomenology and Photography (Zeta
Books, 2010), 200 pp.
ISBN: 978-976-1997-54-4 (ebook)
photography is considered as art, then the clicking of the shutter by the
conscientious photographer for a particular phenomenon through his photographic
seeing is what Cartier-Bresson called “the decisive moment”, i.e., kairos. Chan-fai Cheung presents the results of his
application of phenomenology to photography in this collection,
with essays by Hans Rainer Sepp and
Kwok-ying Lau and over 200 creative photographic works—his
products of kairos.
Galen A. Johnson,
Retrieval of the Beautiful, The Thinking Through Merleau-Ponty’s Aesthetics
(NU Press, 2010), 300
Galen Johnson retrieves the concept of the beautiful through the framework of
Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics. Although Merleau-Ponty seldom spoke directly of
beauty, his philosophy is essentially about the beautiful. Flesh is the term at
which Merleau-Ponty arrived to replace Substance, Matter, or Life as the name
of Being. In Johnson’s formulation, the ontology of Flesh as element and the
ontology of the Beautiful as elemental are folded together, for Desire, Love,
and Beauty are part of the fabric of the world’s element, Flesh itself. Merleau-Ponty’s “Eye and Mind” is at the core
of the book, so Johnson engages, as Merleau-Ponty did, the writings and visual
work of Paul Cézanne, Auguste Rodin, and Paul Klee, as well as Rilke’s
commentary on Cézanne and Rodin. From these widely varying aesthetics emerge
the fundamental themes of the retrieval of the beautiful: desire, repetition,
difference, rhythm, and the sublime. The third part of Johnson’s book takes
each of these up in turn, bringing Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetic thinking into
dialogue with classical philosophy as well as Sartre, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and
Deleuze. Johnson concludes with a direct dialogue with Kant, Merleau-Ponty, and
Lyotard on the subject of the beautiful and the sublime.
Invitation to ArchiPhen, Some Approaches and Interpretations of
Phenomenology in Architecture,
eds. Iris Aravot & Eran Neuman (Bucharest, Romania: Zeta Books, March
ISBN: 978-973-1997-36-0 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-973-1997-37-7 (ebook)
ArchiPhen is simultaneously architecture and
phenomenology, phenomenology in architecture.
is rooted in the first person perspective and seeks inter-subjectivity, the
shared cognition that
shapes our ideas and relationships with the world surrounding us. The
study of phenomenology may inform architectural
discourse by borrowing from phenomenological
philosophers, by implementing phenomenological thought
in architectural making, analysis, and interpretation, and by applying
phenomenology, as radical empiricism, to the realm of architecture.
is of short, illustrated essays by participants in the Architecture and
held at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in May
2007. It intends to provide an accessible
entrance into the field of architecture and phenomenology.
ed. Ken-ichi Sasaki (Singapore: Kyoto
University Press, 2010), 309 pp.
While the artistic traditions of the various countries of
East, Southeast and South Asia display distinctive aesthetic features, this
volume examines the qualities of each area and seeks commonalities that define
the aesthetics of a broader Asian civilization.
Contributors include specialists in philosophy, literature, art history,
religion and the comparative study of cultures.
Some are writing from within their own cultural traditions while others
approach their subjects as outside observers.
The book is divided in to five sections, dealing with
Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian aesthetics. Individual chapters provide in-depth
investigations of specific traditions, embracing both classical as well as
modern aesthetic forms. The authors
suggest that Japanese culture is characterized by an openness to diverse
cultural influences, Korean culture by “peninsularity,” Chinese culture by
parallels with the West, Indian culture by “rasa” (a kind of “cosmic” feeling
that is distinct from the one who feels), and Southeast Asian culture by
dilemmas of modernization. The volume as
a whole integrates these studies, clarifying essential elements of each
aesthetic culture and drawing on this material to characterize an Asian
civilization that transcends individual countriesS and cultures.
Art and Social Change,
ed. Curtis L. Carter (International Yearbook of Aesthetics, 2009), Volume 13,
212 pp. ISBN 978-1-61658-398-9
Philosophers from ancient times to the present have
commented on the role of the arts in society.
However, a gap remains in the discussion of art and social change in
recent contemporary philosophical aesthetics.
This volume, Art and Social Change,
represents an effort to address the gap by considering both historical and
contemporary aspects of the question of art’s role in social change for the twenty-first
century. The authors have provided
original essays that reflect diverse views of scholars in aesthetics both East
and West. The essays address the
influence of artists and art on social change and also reflect the effects of
shifts in ideology, politics, and technology on changes in the practices and
understanding of the arts. The subjects
include art as a catalyst for social action, reciprocal relations between
aesthetics and politics, changes brought about by globalization of the art
world, the impact of changing technologies such as digital communications,
feminist aesthetics, and arts and education.
Exhibitions: Curation & Design: Communication & Evaluation
2010 saw the launching of two major new publications that examine how best to
disseminate science to the public through a variety of new and traditional
media. Together, the more than forty
essays they contain provide a stimulating overview of new, innovative and
successful initiatives in this field, written by many of the museum community’s
most experienced and thoughtful practitioners. The essays draw on cutting-edge experience
throughout the world, with contributions from Australia, Brazil, Canada,
France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Singapore, and New Zealand,
as well as from the UK and USA. The book
is edited by Dr. Anastasia Filippoupoliti, Lecturer in Museum Education
at the Democritus University of Thrace, Greece. She writes, “In this book, I wanted to examine
the narratives generated in science exhibitions and tackle some of the
challenges museums experience in transforming scientific concepts or
events into three-dimensional exhibits.”
publications, Science Exhibitions:
Curation & Design and Science
Exhibitions: Communication & Evaluation, are available either
separately or together. For full
details please visit: www.museumsetc.com/?p=2175
Ben-Ami. Art without Borders: A
Philosophical Exploration of Art and Humanity (Chicago University Press,
2009). Extensive notes and index.
first chapter of Art without Borders opens with a discussion of why
there is art, and then uses an analysis of awareness, sight, memory, and
preference to establish an aesthetic theory open enough to apply to the world's
various art traditions. The second chapter is devoted to an analytic
description of "Selfless Tradition" especially in "tribal,"
Chinese, and European art. This is followed by a chapter on "Egocentric
Innovation" in Islam, Europe, China, India, and Africa. The next chapter,
"Intersecting Worlds and Identities," takes up the mutual influence
and conflict among the different art traditions, the weakening and
recrudescence of these traditions, and the creation of art among modern
"primitives." The final chapter, on "The Common Universe of
Aesthetic Discourse," deals with the likeness of perception and emotion
among humans, with the techniques for the relatively objective judgment of art,
and with the criteria for distinguishing between local and universal art. Then
comes a brief exposition and comparison of the basic aesthetic theories of the
West, Africa, India, China, and Africa. The final reflections take up
speculations on the unity of world art. These are essential to grasp art as a
whole, but they can never be quite adequate because they have to be tempered by
the realization of the irreducible uniqueness of the examples on which they are
based. Key terms include art, world art, open aesthetics,
anthropology of art, neuroesthetics, awareness, tradition, egocentricity,
Aboriginal art, Western Art, African art, Indian art, Chinese art, Japanese
art, objective judgment, unity of art, abstract generalization, and individual
Berleant, Arnold. Sensibility and Sense The Aesthetic Transformation of the Human World (Imprint Academic, 2010), 232 pp.
Aesthetic sensibility rests on perceptual experience and characterizes not only our experience of the arts but our experience of the world. Sensibility and Sense offers a philosophically comprehensive account of humans' social and cultural embeddedness encountered, recognized, and fulfilled as an aesthetic mode of experience. Extending the range of aesthetic experience from the stone of the earth’s surface to the celestial sphere, the book focuses on the aesthetic as a dimension of social experience. The guiding idea of pervasive interconnectedness, both social and environmental, leads to an aesthetic critique of the urban environment, the environment of daily life, and of terrorism, and has profound implications for grounding social and political values. The aesthetic emerges as a powerful critical tool for appraising urban culture and political practice.
Snævarr, Stéfan. Metaphors, Narratives, Emotions: Their Interplay and Impact, (Amsterdam- New York, NY: Rodopi, 2010), 398pp. ISBN 978-420-2779-4.
This book argues that there is a complex epistemological interplay between the concepts of metaphor, narrative, and emotions. First, all three are constituted by aspect-seeing, the seeing-as or perception of Gestalts. Second, all three are meaning-endowing devices, helping us to furnish our world with meaning. Third, the threesome constitutes a trinity. Emotions have both a narrative and metaphoric structure, and we can analyze of metaphors and narratives partly in each other’s terms. Fourth, the threesome has an impact on our rationality. Their cognitive roles suggest a richer notion of rationality than has traditionally been held, a rationality enlivened with metaphoric, narrative, and emotive qualities.
(Springer, 2010). Contributions to
Phenomenology, Vol. 59, eds. Sepp, Hans Rainer; Embree, L. 383 pp. ISBN:
and aesthetics are intimately related, giving great potential to the pursuit of
phenomenological aesthetics. This is the
first work thoroughly to show its breadth, depth, and continuing fecundity. It is comprised of essays on individuals,
almost exclusively European, who have made important contributions in this area,
as well as on many topics central in aesthetics and phenomenology. The principal figures receive substantial
treatment and include Moritz Geiger, Roman Ingarden, Fritz Kaufmann, Jean-Paul
Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Mikel Dufrenne. There also are entries for over a score of
other influential scholars, including Antonio Banfi, Simone de Beauvoir, Oskar
Becker, Jacques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, Michel Henry,
Dietrich von Hildebrand, Maurice Natanson, Nishida Kitaro, Jose Ortega y
Gasset, Jan Patocka, Paul Ricoeur, Heinrich Rombach, Max Scheler, Alfred
Schutz, Gustav Spet, and France Veber. In addition, over two dozen essays treat
such topics such as dream, empathy, enjoyment, imagination, sensation;
style, ecology, gender, and interculturality; and also arts, including
architecture, film, and theater. The introduction provides an extensive sketch
of the history of phenomenological investigation in aesthetics. All entries have bibliographies and the volume
includes a selected bibliography for the whole. This handbook is a foundational
contribution to continued investigation in aesthetics from a phenomenological
perspective. It is a unique reference
work and an invaluable resource for the field.
Van den Braembussche , A . Thinking Art (Free University of Brussels: 2009), 326 pp.
In the twentieth century, avant-garde movements pushed the concept of art far beyond its traditional boundaries, and thinking about art as a legitimizing practice has become prominent. However, most books on aesthetics do not join systematic philosophical discourse with an exploration of art practice. Thinking Art attempts to do this by combining an accessible, systematic account of classical, modern and postmodern theories of art with the work of artists that illustrate the relevance of the theory. Each chapter ends with a discussion of relevant literature. Thinking Art shows how to create fruitful cross-fertilization between theory and practice.