Friday, August 14, 2015

Arts of the Beautiful

The Arts of the Beautiful by Etienne Gilson, 182 pages

In this brief study, Gilson's approach is that of philosophia ancilla artis - an inversion, but a necessary one, of the values of Truth and Beauty.  Necessary because, in Gilson's view, it is precisely the attempt to evaluate Beauty in terms of Truth that has resulted in a deformation, not only of philosophies of art, but of art itself.  In true peripatetic fashion he concentrates on making distinctions - between knowing and making, between utility and beauty, between the creation of art and the perception of art.  In the process he critiques various theories of art, including those of Plato, Nietzsche, and Valery.  Gilson's own analysis establishes the will to create as rooted in the fundamental fecundity of Being itself.

Perhaps Gilson insists too much on his distinctions - although admitting the ontological unity of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, he holds them as strictly separate on the human level.  Whether perception of the one can transcend the human and embrace the others is an aesthetic question formally separate from the artistic.

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