Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Skorin-Kapov, Jadranka. the Intertwining of Aesthetics and Ethics: Exceeding of Expectations, Ecstasy, Sublimity

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Skorin-Kapov, Jadranka. the Intertwining of Aesthetics and Ethics: Exceeding of Expectations, Ecstasy, Sublimity

Article excerpt

SKORIN-KAPOV, Jadranka. The Intertwining of Aesthetics and Ethics: Exceeding of Expectations, Ecstasy, Sublimity. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2016. 236 pp. Cloth, $85.00--Rather than simply showing that aesthetics and ethics have some overlap or similarities, Jadranka Skorin-Kapov makes the stronger claim that both branches have a common experiential ground. Through an extensive survey (with dense exposition) of many figures from modern and contemporary philosophy, she concludes that sublimity is that ground.

The experiential environment is found in both art and nature, and, following Dewey, Skorin-Kapov argues that to understand experience, one must look to aesthetic experience. Uniting two historical and divergent perspectives, she holds that both art and nature provide the properly aesthetic experience, which she defines as the exceeding of expectations. In other words, the necessary element of surprise in each aesthetic experience can be found in art and nature as they provide the appropriate experiential context, and neither is more primary with regard to an aesthetic experience. Through a careful exploration of Kant, Hegel, Goethe, Gadamer, and Adorno, Skorin-Kapov presents different positions about the primacy of art or nature with regard to the aesthetic. For instance, Kant favors nature, while Hegel gives primacy to works of art. Skorin-Kapov shows that different types of art have correlates in nature. As an example, sculpture would be the counterpart of a rock formation. They relate because we can experience them in similar ways; we can walk around a sculpture as we can a rock formation. This unites the aesthetic experience we can have in art and nature. She turns to Kant's notion of the sublime, which she claims--contentiously, I should add--can extend to cover experiences of art along with nature. The sublime, says Skorin-Kapov, is more about one's response (spirit of the spectator) to nature, not the natural object itself. She then claims that someone's response to a work of art could also be sublime. Thus, sublimity provides the most proper aesthetic experience for both art and nature.

Fundamental to aesthetic experience, Skorin-Kapov discusses authenticity as a governing force of expectation, and therefore the aesthetic. She begins by explaining that the possibility for authenticity according to Heidegger is the fact of death. She flips this around, however, to show that the beginning is just as important as any finality. This becomes the key for her notion of expectation. Once something happens, a person can no longer have expectations about what is going to happen. Expectations are, therefore, crucial because an aesthetic experience occurs when those expectations are surpassed.

In chapter 3, "Experience and Art," the focus turns to art solely. Since Skorin-Kapov argued compellingly that neither art nor nature is primary for an aesthetic experience, it is a little curious why she would have a chapter on art without a similar discussion of nature. Presumably, the idea is that art is experienced differently than nature, even though both are aesthetic. …

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