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Art and the Reenchantment of Sensuous Human Activity

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Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 65)

Abstract

Contemporary aestheticians face a question that has troubled writers since the Enlightenment: What is the role of the arts, when scientific rationalism and empirical understanding undermine our belief in the autonomy of each person? One reply consists of two familiar moves: the reiteration of dangerous effects caused by the hegemony of empirical thinking, and the affirmation that artworks serve as instruments for an emancipatory contact with some pre-objective domain. It is our challenging task to find an interpretation that upholds both of these moves, without linking aesthetic practices to the outmoded notion of a human subjectivity that is wholly disembodied, abstract and detached from actual life.

Keywords

Actual Life Human Individual Natural Content Aesthetic Dimension Natural Life 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Edmund Husserl, “Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity,” in The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, trans. David Carr (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970 ), pp. 6–7.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, “The Concept of Enlightenment,” Ecology, ed. Carolyn Merchant (Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press International, 1994 ), pp. 44–47.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Michel Foucault, “Two Lectures,” in Critique and Power, Recasting the Foucault/Habermas Debate, ed. Michael Kelly ( Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994 ), pp. 22–23.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, ed. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann, trans. C. Lenhardt (London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, 1984); and Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension ( Boston: Beacon Press, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, ed. Claude Lefort, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968); and “Eye and Mind,” The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, ed. Galen Johnson, trans. ed. Michael Smith ( Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1993 ).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement (The Hague: Kluwer, 1982), pp. 576–579; Galen Johnson, “Ontology and Painting,” in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1993), pp. 37, 47; Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter (New York: Routledge, 1993), p. 69; Patrick Burke, “Listening at the Abyss,” and Monika Langer, “Merleau-Ponty and Deep Ecology,” in Ontology and Alterity in Merleau-Ponty,eds. Galen Johnson and Michael Smith (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1990), pp. 82, 96, 126.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Eye and Mind,” p. 121.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory,p. 342.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension,pp. 6, 7, 37.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Theodor Adorno, The Aesthetic Dimension,pp. 343, 350. In a similar fashion, Clive Bell states that art is an “immediate means to the good” which transports us far from human interests, ideas, facts, and activities, toward peaks of exhalation. See Clive Bell, “The Aesthetic Hypothesis: Significant Form and Aesthetic Emotion,” The Philosophy of the Visual Parts,P. Alperson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 122–23, 125–26.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension,p. 54.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., pp. 9, 13.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory,pp. 343, 351.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Herbert Marcuse, Aesthetic Dimension,p. 39.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Karl Marx, The German Ideology,in Karl Marx Selected Readings,ed. David McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 160. This reading of “praxis” still circulates within some materialist philosophies today, even when empirical discourse is described, more appropriately, as petite and as a means for tactical intervention.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    To observe the visible flesh of one’s own body, it is sufficient to look at the duck-rabbit figure, which is often mentioned in philosophical discussions of human perception. The visible aspect of one’s own surroundings persists across the breaks in perception that occur, as one shifts back and forth between consciousness of a duck-shape and the recognition of a rabbit-shape.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible,p. 135.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Karl Marx, “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” in Karl Marx Selected Readings,p. 94. Empirical knowledge is dependent upon sensuous human activity, and sensuous activity marks the human individual’s living contact with nature; hence, science tells us about real, actual people. In such passages, sensuous activity is not yet discussed wholly in terms of the objective knowledge which science offers concerning human conditions.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Iris Young, “Women Recovering Our Clothes,” Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990 ), p. 186.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible,p. 3.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    See Walter Stace, “The Nature of Mysticism,” in Philosophy of Religion,eds. William Rowe and William Wainwright (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998), pp. 366–367: the extrovertive mystic is said to advance by means of the senses toward “the apprehension of an ultimate non-sensuous unity in all things.” Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Eye and Mind, p. 145.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New HavenUSA

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