Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shaftesbury's notion of aesthetic disinterestedness

One reason one might be reluctant to compare aesthetic disinterestedness with Buddhist nonattachment is that the former is generally thought of as a secular concept while the latter is explicitly religious. However, aesthetic disinterestedness has been linked with religious ideas since the beginning. Shaftesbury's primary aesthetic interest was in the religious contemplation of nature, which he felt afforded a view into a greater order than any human art. Thus in The Moralists the character Philocles begins an invocation of the beauty of nature like this.
Oh glorious nature! supremely fair and sovereignly good! All-loving, all-lovely all-divine! Whose looks are so becoming and of such infinite grace; whose study brings such wisdom and whose contemplation such delight; whose every single work affords an ampler scene and is a nobler spectacle than all which art ever presented!
Disinterestedness enters the picture because seeing this divine order requires one to set aside earthy interests.
Since by the, or sovereign mind, I have been formed such as I am, intelligent and rational, permit me that with due freedom I may exert those faculties with which you have adorned me. Bear with my venturous and bold approach. And since nor vain curiosity, nor fond conceit, nor love of aught save thee alone inspires me with such thoughts as these, be thou my assistant and guide me in this pursuit, whilst I venture thus to tread the labyrinth of wide nature and endeavor to trace the in thy worlds.
Arg, that didn't quite say what I want it to say. The passage right after might be better, but I am reading the book in google preview, and can't get the next pages. In any case, I think Shaftesbury's sub specie aeternitas approach to aesthetics, probably makes him disinterested and cognitive, rather than disinterested and noncognitive, as I had had him.

I'm not going to get this done over spring break. My head hurt so much this morning I had to take a nap. I'm having trouble focusing. Winter has returned and the kids are back inside making noise. Maybe I should focus on classwork. Maybe I can keep writing a little bit every day once classes start again. Actually if this is going to get done, I'm going to have to.

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