Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm writing, I'm writing

The idea of aesthetic disinterestedness was introduced in Western philosophy by Lord Shaftesbury and Francis Hutcheson. Shaftebury's ideas were developed in works he wrote between 1705 and 1710, including Sensus Communis and The Moralists most of which were folded into a summary volume of his life's work,Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1714). Hutcheson's aesthetic ideas were promulgated in Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony and Design (1725). Hutcheson was primarily interested in defending the thesis that beauty was perceived directly by a rational intuition. Shaftesbury's ideas, which came earlier, are harder to classify, but he is still basically concerned with the thesis that the experience of beauty is a perception of divine harmony and order.

The roots of nonattachment in Eastern philosophy are much more diffuse. The idea was already commonplace amongst the spiritual seekers and world-renouncers of India at the time the Buddha began to preach his version of the practice. The primary interest here was not any kind of perception, but the attainment of a mental state that would preclude the build up of Karma, and thus free one from the tyranny of samsara (rebirth). In the Gita, composed between 200 and 500 years before the common era, the nonattachment is used to reconcile the conflict between the need to act in the world and

argh. Kids need attention. And it doesn't take much to get me to play outside with them on a day like today.

In the terms I outline in my paper, they understood the aesthetic experience as being disinterested and noncognitive.

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