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Philosophy

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Beyond Words, Things, Thoughts, Feelings

 

Ha Poong Kim, a native of Korea, studied philosophy at Boston University. He taught both Western and Eastern Philosophy at Eastern Illinois University for over twenty years. His recent works (since his retirement) include Reading Lao Tzu: A Companion to the Tao Te Ching, with a New Translation, The Joy of beauty (in Korean), and To See God, to See the Buddha (Sussex Academic Press).


What is the nature of aesthetic experience? Ha Poong Kim sargues that a genuine aesthetic experience is a perceptual state of consciousness, free of thought. He characterizes it as subjectless, objectless, timeless, revelatory, and joyous. It is a state of mind thus markedly different from our everyday experience where thought processes impinge randomly on our consciousness.

The seven essays are divided to three parts. Part I explores the nature of aesthetic experience, as opposed to everyday perception, and attempts to illuminate the experience of the beautiful by discussing Plato's famous allegory of the charioteer in Phaedrus and an episode in Proust's In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, the second section of In Search of Lost Time. Part II takes a critical look at Kant's treatment of the judgment of taste in his Critique of Judgment and Eduard Hanslick's conception of the imagination. Part III details Kim's thoughts on several topics of the current debate in aesthetics – among them, on the difference between aesthetic and intellectual pleasure, and the nature of expressiveness of music. In the first of the two essays in this part the author discusses critically Christopher Butler's interpretation of artworks as narrative, and in the second, Peter Kivy's theory of expressive properties. Two appendices are provided: one on the alienation of aesthetic experience in the common love of artworks as values; and the other on performance art as an art form, especially in view of the recent retrospective of Marina Abramovic (MoMA, New York). In this appendix, the author presents a critique of today's prevailing conception of art.


Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-470-3
Hardback Price: £25.00 / $45.00
Release Date: June 2011
   
Page Extent / Format: 120 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No
   

 



Preface

Part I: On the Beautiful
1. Bright Presence
2. Plato's Myth of Eros
3. Marcel and the Milkmaid

Part II: The Beautiful and the Imagination
4. Kant: Beauty without Color?
5. Hanlick: Seeing and Feeling

Part III: Beyond Words, Thoughts and Feelings
6. Pleasure: Intellectual versus Aesthetic
7. What Do We Hear in Music?

Epilogue
Appendices:
1. Love of Beautiful Things: Aesthetic Experience Alienated
2. Sitting with Marina: Art without Joy?

References
Index


This collection of seven essays on the nature of aesthetic experience is to be lauded for its comparative approach: comparative in the double sense of bringing the contributions of Western philosophers such as Plato, Kant, and Danto into conversation with the Eastern tradition of Buddhism, and also of using literary examples to illuminate philosophical points. In the two appendixes, Cho (formerly, Eastern Illinois Univ.) presents his views on how the ‘common love of beautiful things is an abstract enjoyment.’ As such, he notes, it entails the alienation of aesthetic experience because abstract enjoyment is a function of the thinking mind, and aesthetic experience is truly authentic only when it is a function of the seeing mind. Cho then questions the idea of performance art as an art form. The points that Cho raises are important to the field of aesthetics, but they are not well developed. The author takes Wittgenstein's imploration to describe rather than to explain too far. The result is a suggestive collection of sketches without enough sustained argument to make the points compelling to the thinking mind. Cho, however, with his whimsical collection, does offer much to the seeing mind. Recommended.
Choice


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