Search results

This book is concerned with the scope of cultural theory in its modern, it might even be said in its modernist, form. The three thinkers under most consideration in the book are Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, who might hardly be seen as representatives of cultural theory per se if that enterprise is taken to be what it should often taken to be. The book starts with Adorno (1903-1969) not just because his work is an apt way to introduce further some very basic themes of the book: in particular those of critical autonomy and educationality. Adorno's reflections on art and culture are contributions to the ethical understanding of autonomy, emphasising the importance of the cultivation of critical reflection. The argument here is that he is, rather, an ethico-critical theorist of democracy and a philosopher of hope. The book then situates the work of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), in other ways so different from Adorno, in terms of a broadly, if minimally, parallel agenda in modern cultural theory. It outlines some of the importance of Foucault's notion of an 'aesthetics of existence' in relation to his work as a whole. It further invokes related themes in the work of Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002). Finally, it moves things in a different direction, towards postmodernism, invoking the increasing role of the cultural and aesthetic dimension in contemporary experience that is often taken as a central aspect of the postmodern turn.

From Kant to Nietzsche

In 1796 a German politico-philosophical manifesto proclaims the 'highest act of reason' as an 'aesthetic act'. The ways in which this transformation relates to the development of some of the major directions in modern philosophy is the focus of this book. The book focuses on the main accounts of the human subject and on the conceptions of art and language which emerge within the Kantian and post-Kantian history of aesthetics. Immanuel Kant's main work on aesthetics, the 'third Critique', the Critique of Judgement, forms part of his response to unresolved questions which emerge from his Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Practical Reason. The early Romantics, who, after all, themselves established the term, can be characterized in a way which distinguishes them from later German Romanticism. The 'Oldest System Programme of German Idealism', is a manifesto for a new philosophy and exemplifies the spirit of early Idealism, not least with regard to mythology. The crucial question posed by the Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling of the System of Transcendental Idealism (STI) is how art relates to philosophy, a question which has recently reappeared in post-structuralism and in aspects of pragmatism. Despite his undoubted insights, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's insufficiency in relation to music is part of his more general problem with adequately theorising self-consciousness, and thus with his aesthetic theory. Friedrich Schleiermacher argues in the hermeneutics that interpretation of the meaning of Kunst is itself also an 'art'. The book concludes with a discussion on music, language, and Romantic thought.

Open Access (free)
Art and interpretation

6 Schleiermacher: art and interpretation Linguistic turns The recent growth of interest in German Idealist and Romantic philosophy has tended to focus on Fichte and Hegel, and, to a lesser extent, on Schelling. However, given the philosophical motivation for the new attention to the thought of this period, it is actually rather strange that its main focus has not been the work of F.D.E. Schleiermacher (1768–1834). The contingent reasons for the neglect of Schleiermacher are, admittedly, quite simple. Schleiermacher’s theological work, as the major Protestant

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Open Access (free)
The beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art

5 Hegel: the beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art Which Hegel? Hegel’s work has come in recent years to exemplify many of the choices facing contemporary philosophy. The changed status of Hegel can, though, seem rather odd, given the labyrinthine nature of his texts, the huge divergences between his interpreters from his own time until today, and the fact that some of the philosophers who now invoke him come from an analytical tradition noted for its insistence on a clarity not always encountered in Hegel himself. Even contemporary interpreters range

in Aesthetics and subjectivity

, lifestyles, art, the state, a man’s profession and experience of life – these constitute the path of culture by which the subjective spirit returns to itself in a higher improved state.3 For Simmel there is a theoretical distinction between objective culture and subjective culture. But not the least of his originality lay in his ability to use his metatheoretical stance on culture as a lever for a veritably empiricist cultural turn of attention – to investigate money, adornment, fashion, bridges and doors. He wanted to relate cultural forms, in all their complexity, to

in The structure of modern cultural theory

language and art is, as we have seen, already part of Romanticism. Schlegel’s conception of irony puts in question the assumption that texts must inherently be about truth in a limited, propositional sense. Look, for example, at the essay ‘On Incomprehensibility’, where Schlegel at one point plays with the strategy of claiming that what he is saying is not ironic, a claim which it seems impossible to make in the context of a text about irony, because the very making of the claim ironically undermines it. The core problem for the interpreter of Nietzsche is that

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Open Access (free)

CONCLUSION The difficulties involved in giving an account of the contemporary significance of the ‘aesthetic tradition’ from Kant to Nietzsche become apparent when one considers phenomena such as the following.1 It might, for example, seem surprising that many of the thinkers who enthusiastically pursue a postNietzschean undermining of the illusions and repressions they associate with ‘Western metaphysics’ still have a considerable investment in art and in philosophical reflection on art. A radically anti-metaphysical view of art is in some respects more congruent

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Open Access (free)
Art as the ‘organ of philosophy’

4 Schelling: art as the ‘organ of philosophy’ Nature and philosophy One of the great issues which divides thinkers in modernity is the status of ‘nature’. If nature can no longer be said to have a theological basis, what determines how we are to understand what nature is? Kant’s ambivalence with regard to ‘nature’ suggest why this issue creates so much controversy. On the one hand, nature ‘in the formal sense’ is simply that which functions in terms of necessary laws, and is therefore the object of natural science; on the other, in the form of organisms and as

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Abstract only

3237TheStructureofModernculturaltheory.qxd:2522Ch1.qxd 6/8/08 10:39 2 Adorno as educator Miserabilism and hope – Dialectics – Paradoxes – Principles and themes – Counter-heteronomics: an overview – Culture industry – Jazz and jazzness – Dependency – Authoritarianism – High art – Liquidations – Autonomy – Postmodernism – Benjamin – Ethics and educationality It is commonplace to invoke Theodor Adorno as probably the greatest Marxist cultural theorist of the twentieth century. If there is any reason to read him in the twenty-first century, however, this is as

in The structure of modern cultural theory
Open Access (free)
An epilogue

visit the Bauhaus … [soon], at Tagore’s suggestion, a selection of Bauhaus works was shipped to Calcutta to be exhibited, in December 1922, at the fourteenth annual exhibition of the Society of Oriental Art … Among the exhibits (which mysteriously never returned to Europe) were two water colours by Wassily Kandinsky and nine by Paul Klee [and a larger

in Subjects of modernity