Aesthetic Experience and the Humanities: Modern Ideas of Aesthetic Experience in the Reading of World Literature

Aesthetic Experience and the Humanities: Modern Ideas of Aesthetic Experience in the Reading of World Literature

Aesthetic Experience and the Humanities: Modern Ideas of Aesthetic Experience in the Reading of World Literature

Aesthetic Experience and the Humanities: Modern Ideas of Aesthetic Experience in the Reading of World Literature

Excerpt

So far no one has ventured the phrase "global aesthetics." Teachers of the Humanities are generally too sensitive to the overworking of words (one of their chief quarrels with the professional educators) to expose themselves to such parodies as the "globaloney" of the clever congresswoman from Connecticut. Yet something very like global aesthetics has come to characterize our modern Humanities programs and other comprehensive literature and arts programs in the past two decades, as Dr. Shoemaker demonstrates in this book. And on this correspondence with other vigorous currents of thought today stands our chief hope for the future of the Humanities at a time when war has brought considerable fear for that future. Call it an increasing sense of "cosmic design" or what you will, it points to a revolutionary shift in our ideas about the significance of aesthetic impulses and aesthetic experience in our lives. In scope and emphasis it is very different from the green carnation aestheticism which has made aesthetics popularly suspect in America since the end of the nineteenth century.

Popular intuition of such ideas is evident in such current phrases and titles as "modern design," "Design for Living," "Design for Power," "The Shape of Things to Come," and for good and ill, "New World Order." In them the alert ear catches a common growing concern for a shaping and ordering of life that will be emotionally satisfying as well as technically efficient and socially significant. In short, they express an aesthetic impulse--the aesthetic impulse which we recognize in our quest for functional art, whether in automobiles or city planning maps, and which on a grander scale charges our new air-minded visions, world ideologies, great works of art, and vast designs of science, as Einstein has pointed out.

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