A Critique of Gadamer's Aesthetics
There are three main critiques through which Hans-Georg Gadamer develops his conception of aesthetics, which has a central role in his philosophical hermeneutics, which in turn is his principal contribution to philosophy in the twentieth century, all of which he amazingly witnessed. He offers a critique of the philosophy of art which regards art as a lie and that denies it is capable of making truth claims; a critique of aesthetic consciousness as an alienated abstraction from the experience of truth in art; and a critique of the subjectivization of modern aesthetics, which he traces back to Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment. These three critiques are integrally linked in Gadamer's work; for he thinks that the subjectivization of aesthetics is the conceptual twin of aesthetic consciousness, and that it is only from the perspective of subjective consciousness that art is unable to have any truth. These are powerful critiques and Gadamer makes strong arguments for each of them, as well as for their connectedness. Nevertheless, I would like to try to decouple and challenge these critiques separately. Specifically, I would like to defend Gadamer's critique of any philosophy of art that considers art to be a lie, though without conceding that art makes truth claims of its own; to challenge his critique of aesthetic consciousness because it reinforces rather than overcomes a fissure between consciousness and experience; and, finally, to resist his critique of the subjectivization of aesthetics because aesthetics, as well as art, is undeniably and unproblematically subjective, as is Gadamer's own aesthetics, or so I shall argue. I begin with the critique of truth since it concerns the ontology of art, which serves as the normative basis of the other two critiques.
Gadamer makes a very strong and unequivocal claim about the role of truth in art: “The fact that through a work of art a truth is experienced that we