Aesthetic and Artistic Autonomy (Bloomsbury Studies in Philosophy)
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Whether art can be wholly autonomous has been repeatedly challenged in the modern history of aesthetics. In this collection of specially-commissioned chapters, a team of experts discuss the extent to which art can be explained purely in terms of aesthetic categories.
Covering examples from Philosophy, Music and Art History and drawing on continental and analytic sources, this volume clarifies the relationship between artworks and extra-aesthetic considerations, including historic, cultural or economic factors. It presents a comprehensive overview of the question
of aesthetic autonomy, exploring its relevance to both philosophy and the comprehension of specific artworks themselves. By closely examining how the creation of artworks, and our judgements of these artworks, relate to society and history, Aesthetic and Artistic Autonomy provides an insightful and sustained discussion of a major question in aesthetic philosophy.
be a subject; in the hypostatized logicity of a Kantian cogito, detached from any living I, it is covered by the all-controlling rigidity.20 In turn, this division is put to specific philosophical work: to produce a stable fundament and territory within which the subject may control and determine both herself and the empirical world which appears to her. This division is directly relevant to understanding Adorno’s contention that Kantian cognition results in a ‘congealed labour’. Given other
thinking, such an account is undoubtedly incomplete and would require further development. However, inasmuch as the Kantian view of aesthetic experience persists, implicitly and explicitly in our aesthetic theories, the above analysis should raise some concerns for the pursuit of a non-dialectical account of aesthetic autonomy of that kind. It also suggests the complex importance of socio-historical phenomena for a theory of aesthetic autonomy. Notes 1Sincere thanks to Owen Hulatt for his
explicitly draws on the authority of Kant to support his claim that the essence of modernism lies in self-criticism, including his notorious pronouncement that the purity of art provides the ‘guarantee of its standards of quality as well as of its independence’.15 By the mid-twentieth century modernism had arguably established itself as the dominant discourse of art both in Europe and in North America. However, a series of challenges to its authority in the late 1950s and early 1960s brought
traditional aesthetics (epitomized in books like Hal Foster’s 1983 anthology The Anti-Aesthetic) this way: At the heart of this debate lies the question of the autonomy of aesthetics. If there is an autonomous ‘aesthetic realm,’ does this mean that it is separate from social (and thus political) realms, or does its very autonomy provide the opportunity for resistance, dissent, and freedom, in short the opportunity for political action? In a similar spirit, contributor Wolfgang Welsch advocates
figures like Brecht, Benjamin and Lukács, all of whom sought to show art to be the production of a play of heteronomous forces. The appeal, of course, of positing art as produced by heteronomy is that it puts in place a clear method for the artwork to intercede in the heteronomy which produced it. If artworks are always already causally in touch with the heteronomous, this provides a clear causal link which may allow for the artwork to alter the structure of the heteronomous. This governing