Irrelevant spheres and vacancies of artworks
phenomenological aesthetics revisited
Does the meaning of artworks consist in authors' intentions, beholders' impressions, or the works themselves? Criticizing the traditional theory of author's intention, psychologists in the late nineteenth century underscored the psychological effects of works upon their beholders. They looked for the meaning of artworks not in the subjective impressions, but rather in the objective structure of our mind based on the method of experimental psychology. And the first impacts of phenomenology on the philosophy of art were brought by the members of München circle, who wrestled with the psychologism as the students of Th. Lipps, one of the leaders of the psychologists then.The present paper shall review W. Conrad's object aesthetics (Gegenstandsästhetik) and Ingarden's ontological aesthetics, both of which criticized psychologism and emphasized the meaning structure of artwork as objective being independent from the author's mind and the beholder's impression, while rightly acknowledging the "blanks" in the objective structures of artworks and giving attention to the concretizing process of artwork through the interactions between works and beholders. This view opened the door for Konstanz reception theory (Iser, W. 1976. Der Akt des Lesens – Theorie ästhetischer Wirkung. München: Fink.), as is known, but it also shares insights that converge with A. Schutz's theory of relevance, which has been accepted mainly in the field of sociology.The paper is organized in the following way. First, I will review briefly the situation of aesthetics and the philosophy of art in the turn of the nineteenth century and then examine the significance of Conradean object aesthetics, which took the lead in applying the phenomenological method to the aesthetics in order to challenge psychologism, and also anticipated Schutz's relevance theory in his discussion on the object field of music. The third section shall look at Ingarden's phenomenology of artworks, which describes the multi-layers structure of aesthetic objects, and sees the necessity of indeterminate gaps and vacancies in artworks, to be fulfilled by beholders. And finally, we confirm the reflections on vacancy of artworks by Schutz and Iser situated in the historical development of phenomenological aesthetics.
Kimura, M. (2014)., Irrelevant spheres and vacancies of artworks: phenomenological aesthetics revisited, in M. Barber & J. Dreher (eds.), The interrelation of phenomenology, social sciences and the arts, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 11-20.
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