Aesthetics as Phenomenology: The Appearance of Things by Günter Figal

By Günter Figal

Connecting aesthetic adventure with our event of nature or with different cultural artifacts, Aesthetics as Phenomenology specializes in what paintings ability for cognition, popularity, and affect—how paintings alterations our daily disposition or habit. Günter Figal engages in a penetrating research of the instant at which, in our contemplation of a piece of artwork, response and inspiration confront one another. For these expert within the visible arts and for extra informal audience, Figal unmasks paintings as a decentering adventure that opens additional percentages for figuring out our lives and our world.

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Art nowadays invites “thoughtful observation, not for the sake of bringing forth more art, but for the sake of scientifically recognizing what art is” (25–26). Hegel’s classicism is historical; he dwells in the certainty that “the beautiful days of Greek art, just as the golden age of the late Middle Ages,” are over. (24) And in his own way, he repeats the competition between art and philosophy that dominates the beginning of Greek philosophy, only that now philosophy need not constitute itself any longer as another possibility of knowledge and presentation over against art (more specifically poetry); instead, philosophy can take art up into scientific observation and treat it as one of its own prior stages in the development of spirit.

It is usually not difficult to say what this artwork here is: it is a house, an image, a poem, a piece of music, perhaps even a standing stone that hardly 26 Aesthetics as Phenomenology bears any signs of modification. But not every house, image, poem, or sound is an artwork, and certainly not every standing stone. The determination that this thing here is an artwork joins with the answer to the question of what it is. The determination demonstrates that this thing here is not just something, not even just something made (and thus a work), but a work of art, and this in turn means, in an initial and very preliminary answer: it is “artful” or “artistically” made.

The philosophical discussion of art must strive for a universal, coherent concept of art. Thus, the task is to work out such a concept and argue for its rigor and plausibility in the context of the art-philosophical tradition and discourse. The working out of a philosophical concept of art stands before a fundamental difficulty common to all formations of concepts. The formation of concepts aims at universality, and yet it must begin with the particular. The concept may not contain anything that only pertains to a particular instance, such that its universality would be compromised.

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