(1998) Axiomathes 9 (1-2).

The phenomenological aesthetics of Alois Fischer

Robin Rollinger

pp. 81-92

What emerges in Fischer's phenomenological aesthetics is clearly the view that empathy is absolutely crucial not only to the apprehension of the aesthetic object, but also to the enjoyment of it. While this position certainly has merits, I have argued that in some ways his phenomenological description leaves something to be desired. This was particularly seen in his claim that empathy can never be described as an intuitive presentation of feeling. Perhaps another criticism which can be added here is be found in a consideration of abstract works of art. In the case of these it would seem that empathy plays a much smaller role than it does in the apprehension of other aesthetic objects, especially works of art of other kinds. This is not to say that empathy could play no role at all in the apprehension of abstract works of art, for we may keep in mind that Fischer formulates the notion of mechanical empathy whereby one empathetically grasps power and other phenomena which are analogues of the will. It remains to be seen in the further development of a phenomenological aesthetics whether the notion of empathy can be applied in any other way in such cases.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/BF02681705

Full citation:

Rollinger, R. (1998). The phenomenological aesthetics of Alois Fischer. Axiomathes 9 (1-2), pp. 81-92.

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