Existenz Menu
An International Journal in Philosophy, Religion, Politics, and the Arts
ISSN 1932-1066


Volume 9, No. 1, Spring 2014

Philosophy and Art


Index and Editors' Introduction

Remarks about Art and Truth After Plato and Its Critics
Tom Rockmore| Peking University, China

Though it is sometimes said that the aesthetic tradition began in the eighteenth century, for cognitive purposes it began much earlier in Plato's suggestion, on cognitive grounds, that artists of all kinds must be expelled from the city. The post-Platonic aesthetic tradition can be reconstructed as a series of attempts over the intervening centuries to answer Plato, who has perhaps never been satisfactorily answered. This work considers selected latter responses to Plato’s pioneering invention of aesthetics on the basis of the theory of forms. It further considers a number of related themes, including the decline of representation and the Hegelian thesis of the end of art in pointing to the still unresolved Platonic thesis concerning art and truth.

Keywords: Plato; Kant, Immanuel; philosophy of art; cognitive theory; transcendentals; historicism; aesthetics; empiricist; Marx, Karl; aesthetics; representation; mimesis.


The Problem of Art and Truth in Tom Rockmore's Art and Truth After Plato
Joseph Margolis | Temple University

I take Tom Rockmore to have met Plato's challenge more than adequately. But I am bound to say that the question the philosophy of art requires an answer to, which Plato does not address (but which bears on his verdict against the poets) and, I venture to say, Rockmore does not discuss either, asks how the arts are able to convey truths or propositional content of any sort, despite their not functioning communicatively in any merely discursive way, whether they are not discursive at all or when they employ the discursive powers of language in more complex ways (as in poetry and theatre). The issue bears directly on an essential equivocation regarding "representation" in the arts.

Keywords: Philosophy of art; Plato; proposition; representation; Rockmore, Tom; truth.


Review of Tom Rockmore, Art and Truth After Plato
Raymond Langley | Manhattanville College

Art and Truth After Plato provides us with a powerful historical and epistemological sweep. Time changes and past thoughts, art and history no longer satisfies the human needs it once did. This is not to say philosophy, art and history is over or done with, lost or dead. Contemporary philosophizing and aesthetics frees man to know the truth of actual reality of this historical moment and no longer entangled by inherited dogmas and ideologies.

Keywords: Rockmore, Tom; Kant, Immanuel; transcendentals; historicism; aesthetics; Plato; epistemology; empiricist; Marx, Karl.


Response to Tom Rockmore's Art and Truth After Plato
Alina Feld | Hofstra University

A superb scholarly achievement, Tom Rockmore's hermeneutic of art and truth in the Western tradition constitutes itself in a historical investigation (or history) of the principal articulations of philosophical aesthetics from Plato and Aristotle to the present. With a brilliant command over this vast territory, he reconfigures major philosophical arguments from the double perspective of the ontology and epistemology of art in response to Plato's attack on artistic representation. I will follow Rockmore's endorsement of the Aristotelian-Hegelian argument for a social relevance of art and its role in deepening self-consciousness irrespective of representationalism, mimetic or not.

Keywords: Plato; Rockmore, Tom; art; truth; end of art; aesthetics; representation; mimesis.


The Social Role of Art: A Reading of Art and Truth After Plato
Sophie Cloutier| Saint Paul University, Ottawa

It is well known that Plato wanted to ban the poets and artists from his perfect city. Indeed for Plato only philosophers, who have the knowledge of the reality, could be true artists. In his book Art and Truth after Plato, Tom Rockmore takes the above Platonic claims seriously and works out their major theoretical implications, showing that Plato's views on art are intimately connected with his epistemology. In addition, Rockmore explains that Plato's understanding of the relation between art and cognition has more influence on our tradition and contemporary aesthetics than we would usually acknowledge. His main thesis is that Plato’s claim has never been satisfactorily answered. In other words, Rockmore's book not only provides us with an interesting account on the history of aesthetics but also an original philosophical investigation on the relation between art and truth which allows a renewed interpretation and understanding of the social role of art throughout history.

Keywords: Rockmore, Tom; Kant, Immanuel; aesthetics; truth; art, social role of; Platonic tradition; Hegel, G.F.W.; Arendt, Hannah.


Icons: Interplay of their Artistic, Religious and Metaphysical Profiles
Lydia Voronina| Independent Scholar, Boston

This is a phenomenological analysis of icon as a work of art. Various approaches in understanding icons—magical, theological, artistic, educational, political, hermeneutical, phenomenological, and existential—are briefly discussed to introduce Marie-José Mondzain's perspective in her book Image, Icon, Economy. Having explicated her major categories such as oikonomia, visual image vs. divine logos, gazing vs. contemplation, the author suggests this phenomenological interpretation of icon can be further developed in two directions: an exploration of stylistics in iconography and an examination of the iconographer's artistic mentality. Particular artistic tools make it possible for a contemplating viewer to experience the divinity as "seeing the unseen." The iconographer's vision articulated in Jaspers' existential terms of borderline situation, transcendence, and the cipher allows qualifying the experience of seeing an icon as a "double transcendental participation", in which two transcendences—icon's creator and icon's viewer—become interwoven.

Keywords: Mondzain, Marie-José; icon; iconic imaging, phenomenology of; oikonomia; iconic art; iconographer; artistic mentality; Jaspers, Karl; psychopathology of the artistic psyche.


Reflections on the Phenomenology of Gazing: Christian Icon Veneration and Hindu Darshan
Alina Feld| Hofstra University

In Image, Icon, Economy, Marie-José Mondzain builds a three-fold argument regarding the ontology, hermeneutics, and destiny of the image, both natural and artificial. First, she argues that the iconoclast controversy around the legitimacy of representing God was a battle between secular and ecclesiastical powers over authority and control, focused around power over the use of the visual medium. Second, she demonstrates that the debate was over economy (oikonomia) as a universal hermeneutic: that is, a dialectical understanding versus a nondialectical hermeneutic supporting a hieratic vision. Third, she claims that our politics of the visual originates in the iconic triumph in the Byzantine controversy. Following Mondzain's elaborate investigation, I find most compelling her questioning of truth and of the destiny of our world: A reign established on the truth of the image cannot be a reign of ontological truth.

Keywords: Mondzain, Marie-José; economy; icon; image; iconoclastic controversy; iconophile; iconic gaze; idol; photography; shroud of Turin.


Artistic Disclosure of Nature: Heidegger and Tagore
Indu Sarin | Punjab University, India

The author reflects on the hazards of over-exploiting nature by modern technology which causes an ecological crisis, undoubtedly one of the crucial problems in the twenty-first century. Heidegger and Tagore distinguish between technological and artistic disclosure of the universe. Both thinkers are critical of technological domination of nature and come close in emphasizing the interconnections and harmonious relationships with all beings of the universe—human as well as non-human. They glorify the poetic way of looking at the universe that reveals the true nature of beings and makes one dwell in the world meaningfully. Heidegger advocates the "mirror-play and cosmic dance of earth, sky, mortals and gods" to bring cosmic harmony. Tagore pleads for "ever-flowing rhythmic dance of creation," which generates cosmic consciousness within man. The universe cannot be completely comprehended through abstract reasoning alone, as artistic outlook does play a significant role. The author explores how to view nature by addressing the possibility of nature being the object of worship (without modifying or changing it) or being a resource to be exploited to any extent. The essay concludes in favour of a middle position for maintaining ecological equilibrium.

Keywords: Heidegger, Martin; Tagore, Rabindranath; Einstein, Albert; nature; science; ecology; technology; art; poetic dwelling; earth sky mortals gods; cosmic harmony; materialistic; spiritual.


Death and Authenticity: Reflections on Heidegger, Rilke, Blanchot
Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei | Fordham University

This essay considers the relationship between death and authenticity, a concern in philosophy since Socrates' speech about his own death sentence in Plato's Apology. While death lies outside both ontology and phenomenology, a proper relationship to death has been central to existentialist thought. In Heidegger's philosophy, the notion of being-towards-death defines the singularity of existence, and death dramatically informs both Rilke's poetics and the literary theory of Blanchot. The essay shows how the relationship between death and authenticity in their works forms the horizon between the imaginable and the unimaginable, and forms a mode of thinking about the limits of thought and language.

Keywords: Death; writing; authenticity; authorship; Heidegger, Martin; Rilke, Rainer Maria; Blanchot, Maurice.




Founding Editors
Alan M. Olson
Helmut Wautischer

Spring / Fall

Sponsored by
Karl Jaspers Society
of North America
Boston, MA

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