Book Critique of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Book: The Relevance Of The Beautiful And Other Essays

Seeking to define art form in its most encompassing essence, Hans-Georg Gadamer invokes the considerable bestowal from many great minds as he explores the motivation for philosophy, literature, music, and visual arts. Gadamer leans heavily on Plato, Kant, Goethe, Hegel, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Bach-to name only a few greats contributing to a work concerned with creative-interpretation, symbology, and interpreter-creativity.

In Foreword, Robert Bernasconi forewarns: ‘This book contains a selection of previously untranslated essays…. The main item in the collection is the lecture series “The Relevance of the Beautiful,” Gadamer’s most sustained work devoted specifically to the question of art.’ And in Editor Introduction: ‘We can find in Kant another route which avoids making either taste or genius the ultimate standpoint. This alternative route is by way of Hegel’s lectures on art, whose proper significance has, Gadamer believes, suffered in consequence of its neo-Kantian interpretation. For it is Hegel whom Gadamer has in mind when he writes here of an art where “humanity encounters itself”…

On ancient claims to truth, Gadamer asserts: “… this ancient and serious problem always arises when a new claim to truth sets itself up against the tradition that continues to express itself through poetic invention or in the language of art.” Truly, the relevance of beauty construes itself on individual perception; and we have to look no further than modern religion to discern the language of art and artful innovation.

As Hans-Georg contemplates Christian art contribution, he draws from Hegelian philosophy claims: “… to have comprehended the truth of the Christian message in conceptual form…. even the deepest mystery of Christian doctrine…. and… has constantly stimulated the course of thought in the West as a challenge and invitation to try and think that which continually transcends the limits of human understanding. In this ambiance was the content of understanding developed through Middle Ages Christian art, Greek and Roman art and literature revival, and the great social transformations and religious changes with which the nineteenth century began. But only a superstitious egocentricity would allow Gadamer’s primitive reserve to state insolvability in the biblical Symbols and Numbers.

Art is described as a “religion of culture” on the one hand and ‘modern artist’ provocation on the other. Gadamer further describes art as an experience; wherein, its spirit enlivens us. The Relevance of the Beautiful is summarized: “The work of art transforms our fleeting experience into the stable and lasting form of an independent and internally coherent creation.”

In The Festive Character Of Theatre, Gadamer compares festival and festive and the community constituted ‘immediacy’ displayed by players and onlookers. Here, at the festival, one “can still act for himself and succeed in rising up and letting what presents itself to him exist in the elevated form that crowns the festive moment.”

Pursuing Composition And Interpretation, we encounter tensions between the artist’s practice and the interpreter. Where: From the artist’s point of view, interpretation appears arbitrary and capricious, if not actually superfluous. And while an artist might ad-lib much of his composition, seeking merely to create a moment pleasing to the eye and flowing into his developed perspective, only the non-artist seeks a hidden meaning in inert expression. For, art plays with a balance of color and objective reference to the form most appealing to artist imagination.

Further wisdom is injected from the pen of Thomas Mann, on the motivation to art form: “The myth is the foundation of life, the timeless schema, the pious formula into which life flows when it reproduces its traits out of the unconscious.” Joseph Campbell adds: ‘… those mythologies themselves will be known to be but the masks of a larger-all their shining pantheons but the flickering modes of a “timeless schema” that is no schema.’ Marett would contribute, ‘… in The Threshold of Religion: certain elements of “make believe” are operative in all primitive religions.’ Even here, in the metaphysical, we encounter the art form.

The artist is a thespian at heart and not unlike the most primitive role-player, painter, or story-teller, is like a child at play’; where the primitive’s evolution to mythos-religiosity can be ascribed to the play-sphere, to the replacement of primitive circumstance with modernism’s supernatural conducts role. Thus, we should reiterate Rene Descartes profoundness, “I think, therefore I am.” After, Descartes’ example, Jean-Paul Sartes defined mankind’s role-playing to ‘existentialism,’ ‘choosing freedom of choice and responsibility as a decisive factor in deciding the character of fate.’

We can consolidate these ideations into consensus. Thus, in the ‘existentialism’ sphere, mankind plays a role as creative artist: unmindful of psychological repercussions, philosophic debate, or even the pleasure afforded by his endeavor. Gadamer understands the subject and intellectualizes his philosophy. But in the end, these detailed motivations exposes one to excessive banality and require copious refreshment; for the topic is dehydrated, over-stated, and written in vacuous expressionism.

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