a note on Gadamer’s aesthetics & hermeneutics

After a nice week off, I have to admit: I rather prefer my ordinary everyday life, my peaceful study, hours of uninterrupted reading and writing. Celebration and parties are ok, as long as they come in small dosages.

I will spend my next days preparing a new lecture on Gadamer’s aesthetics & hermeneutics.

Gadamer’s approach to aesthetic experience stands squarely in the phenomenological tradition. He is primarily concerned with the place of art in our experience of the world. According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Gadamer’s approach to aesthetic theory is one of those rare intellectual achievements which are simultaneously deconstructive and constructive.”

Elements of interest

  • Hermeneutical aesthetics, as developed by Gadamer, is dialogical in character. It recognises that practitioner and theoretician share in bringing a subject matter to light and plays down any theory/ practice division in the arts. Interpretation is a means to a work’s realization.
  • Hermeneutical aesthetics is not a theory of art per se, more a set of practical contemplative notes for enhancing one’s encounter with art. The end of hermeneutical aesthetics is not to arrive at a concept of art but to deepen our experience of art. In hermeneutical aesthetics, theory is deployed to deepen contemplation of artworks rather than to categorise their nature.
  • Gadamer’s aesthetics is deeply respectful of art’s ability to disrupt and challenge customary expectations. It attributes an ethical significance to art as being able to reveal the limitations of fixed cultural expectancy and to open the spectator towards the other and the different.

Ori Gersht: This Storm Is What We Call Progress

(This illustration has no bearing on Gadamer whatsoever, but its a beautiful work of art – isn’t it?!)

Here is a little taste from herr Gadamer himself:

If we define the task of hermeneutics as the bridging of personal or historical distance between minds, then the experience of art would seem to fall entirely outside its province. For of all the things that confront us in nature and history, it is the work of art that speaks to us most directly. It possesses a mysterious intimacy that grips our entire being, as if there were no distance at all and every encounter with it were an encounter with ourselves

Hans-Georg Gadamer

2 thoughts on “a note on Gadamer’s aesthetics & hermeneutics

  1. Pingback: Why I love blogging: | sub rosa

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