Saturday, 21 February 2009

Beauty and art

The Aesthetics examination was very interesting: I actually learnt something new! And that was the distinction between beauty and art. Talking to the students, it became clear to me that there is such a distinction: not everything that is beautiful is art, and not everything that is art is conventionally beautiful.

The beauty of nature, for example, is not art. And Heidegger can speak at length about a work of art without once mentioning beauty. Could we call the Van Gogh painting of peasant shoes beautiful, in fact? Perhaps. But it lends itself better to a Heideggerean type of treatment in terms of the revelation of truth. And it became clear to me also how closely Heidegger follows Hegel: art is not so much beauty as revelation of the Idea / truth.

When asked what was the most important thing they had learned during the course, many students said they had learned to stop and appreciate beauty around them, where before they had perhaps either been 'blind' or else had had very global and undifferentiated experiences of beauty.

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