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Sketch of a Theory and History of Aesthetic Experience

1. What does aesthetic experience mean?

 The refractoriness of aesthetic experience is ambivalent
o Transgressive function: it may also serve to transfigure social conditions by
idealizing them.
o To induce obliviousness to the actual suffering in society: ruling authorities provide
the satisfactions that aesthetic pleasure also gives to those who do not content
themselves with the consolations of religion.
o “In contrast to the mimetic or realist aesthetic, expectation in the prereflective
aesthetic attitude is directed toward something that does not resemble the
ordinary world but points beyond everyday experience. P. 5
 Principalmente no livro de Nellie Campobello, que trata da guerra, talvez
se espere contos heroicos e grandes feitos. Isso é, logo no início, refutado;
a visão da criança é o atestado de realidade e não se deixa levar pelas
ilustrações fantasiosas dos atos de guerra.
 The reflective level of aesthetic experience
o When the person will aesthetically enjoy and understand with enjoyment the real-
life situations that he recognizes or that concern him.
o “role distance” – the possibility of distancing himself from his actions
 O problema de N.C. é que não se pode distanciar; ao contrário, a escritora
busca, exatamente, fazer com que os leitores se defrontem com os
problemas, erros e imoralidade da guerra.
 Aestheticism: the seriousness of any role turns into play the moment one either voluntarily
or involuntarily adopts the aesthetic attitude of the spectator.
 The pathological reverse of the aesthetic experience: Madame Bovary, Dom Quijote,
Sorrows of Young Werther

2. Critique of Adorno’s aesthetics of negativity

 Art (characterized by negativity):
o In its relation to the social reality which conditions it
o In its historical origin which traditions determines
 The abandon of all subservience and opposition to all social dominations
o The art must to separates itself from the empirical world – this is the social art. (p.
 Adorno’s thesis: “refraining from praxis, art becomes the schema of social praxis.
o Iser’s critic: “the path of progressive negativity as a categorial frame is
inappropriately one-sided in its emphasis on what is social in art, for it leaves out
communicative functions” (16).
o Iser’s thesis: the attitude of enjoyment which art creates and makes possible is the
aesthetic experience par excellence which underlies both preautonomous and
autonomous art. (p.21)
3. Aesthetic pleasure and the fundamental experiences of poiesis, aesthesis, and catharsis.
 The concept “pleasure”
o Cognition and pleasure, i. e., the theoretical and the aesthetic attitude, were hardly
 The enjoyment of art was subordinate to rhetorical and moralistic
 Aristoteles: pleasure by admiration of a perfect technique of imitation; or pleasure by
recognizing the model in the imitation
o And identification – catharsis.
 Santo Agostinho: distinction between use and enjoyment.
 Gorgias: theory of effect speech – the sensuous aspect of language.
 Aesthetic of genius – the decline of all pleasurable experience of art
o Aesthetic pleasure X alienation
 Aesthetic experience is genuine when it left all enjoyment behind and risen to the level of
aesthetic reflection
o (GADAMER – crítica à consciência estética)
o Adorno – estética da negatividade
o Barthes – o prazer do texto – tentativa de retomar o prazer estético
o Todos excluem a questão comunicativa da arte

4. The ambiguity and the refractoriness of the beautiful – a backward glance at a Platonic
 The Plato legacy is ambiguous
o The transmittal of the suprasensible – the contemplation of earthly beauty kindles
recollection of the lost, transcendent beauty and truth;
o And the perception of the beautiful may feel no need to go beyond the pleasure it
takes in sensuous appearance or mere play.
 How this legacy went through the history of aesthetic experience
o The secular devaluation of sensuous aesthetic experience.
o Idealism and the affirmative culture

5. Poiesis: the productive side of aesthetic experience (construire et connaître)

 Aristoteles: subordination of poiesis to practice
 The ambiguous biblical definition of man’s activity: work as service and as domination
 The freedom of the Platonic eidos: the development by which the fine arts came to a be
excluded from the general theory and practice of the poietic faculty
o the separation of the fine form the mechanical arts
 Paul Valery: entreprises de la connaisance et les opération de l’art – Leonardo Da Vinci
 Vico : break whti the imitatio nature; the problem of the history.
o The raising of intellectual history to the level of a “new science”
 All of so-called world history is understood as man’s product through man’s
 Marx: the abolition of the distinction or separation between technical and aesthetic poiesis
– the goal or as the still utopian final state in Marx’ 1844 philosophy of history
 “having abandoned the perfect form of the esthetic object with the metaphysics of the
timelessly beautiful, the imitation of the artist with the preexistent truth of the idea, and
the noninvolvement of the observer with the ideal of calm contemplation, art finds itself a
new course” (p.55, 56) – it frees itself of the eternal substantiality of the beauty, of the
model of the theoretical cognition of the true and the aesthetic reception from its
contemplative passivity.
 The “ambiguous object” – the relation between art and nature / art and reality
o The necessity of a elaboration of an aesthetics of reception.
o The Dada and the poietic activity of the viewer, not the object itself.
o “what is new for a history of poiesis in the pop demonstration is therefore not the
abolition of the line dividing art object from object of the environment (this was
also attempted by the trompe-l’oeil of classical painting) but rather the call on the
viewer of an esthetically indifferent ambiguous object to switch form a theoretical
to an aesthetic attitude” (60).

6. Aesthesis: the receptive side of aesthetic experience (voir plus de choses qu’on n’en sait)
 The problem of the new mass media of contemporary arty
o Photography and motion picture;
o The possibility of subliminally manipulating the perceiving consciousness with new
stimuli of seduction
 Why the enjoying and the critically reflective attitude of the contemporary public diverge
more than ever before?
o Dieter Henrich: “[…] For it reveals that human sensory perception is not an
anthropological constant but subject to change over time and that it has always
been one of the functions of art to discover new modes of experience in a changing
reality or to propose alternatives to it” (63).
o The hermeneutic function of aesthesis is due to the fact that the human glance is
interested by its very nature. (64)
 The outer and the inner world
o The nature and the self
 The beautiful of something past
o Benjamim, baudelaire, Flaubert, Proust
o The crisis of perception during the epoch of progressive industrialization and
technicalization (85)
 Jauss: since the middle of the nineteenth century, both the productive and the receptive
aesthetic experience had a share in the recovery of the cognitive function of art.
o It safeguards a common horizon trough the art.
7. Catharsis: the communicative efficacy of aesthetic experience (movere et conciliare)