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(2008-01-29 21:43:54)








分类: 艺术哲学











The history of western aesthetics is the history of the failure of this domain to explain in a truly clear manner what art is. This fact became patently obvious when figurative art collapsed at the beginning of the twentieth century, and in its place what is called “abstract art” or “non-figurative art” was created. This book provides the proof that “abstract art” is neither art nor abstract in any sense of the term. In the twentieth century artists turned art into a no-man’s land in which everyone could do whatever he wished. In this situation the helplessness of aesthetics was revealed in all its severity: not a single aesthetician could place bounds to this anarchy by drawing the boundary lines between art and pseudo-art. The aestheticians thereby abandoned art to the hands of the art establishment, art dealers, impostors, cranks and all kinds of misfits who made art their heritage but without there being any art there at all. In this situation, it is to be expected that lovers of art and aesthetics in China should ask themselves if it is appropriate to adopt or treat seriously modern art and western aesthetics. Would any sane person choose to cross the ocean in a boat barely capable of floating upon the sea? This book demonstrates the futility and arrogance of modern art and the poverty of  aesthetics in the western world. For this reason my advice to my Chinese colleagues is to put aside the western aesthetics that let us down, and try their best to re-map art and aesthetics in their own way. Furthermore, I hope that the fact that this book already exists in English and Chinese, and soon in Spanish as well, will encourage many more intellectuals to challenge modern art and the aestheticians that defend it, and thereby to shorten the days of anarchy in art.



It may be that the main reason for the fact that throughout the history of aesthetics all attempts to define art have failed, is that these were attempts to characterise art by means of its reduction to just one of its attributes, either real or imagined – such as imitation, expression, emotion, composition, beauty etc. However, it is not hard to show that every one of these attributes is at best a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for a thing to be art. On the other hand, the approach of this book is completely different in that it does not attempt to define art on the basis of one aspect of its content or another, but by attempting to identify its structural attributes. When we ask about the structural attributes of art, we are in any case implicitly asking about the structural attributes of culture itself, since art is only a special case of culture. In other words, the question here arises: What is the structural common denominator of the different branches of culture, while at the same time pointing out the uniqueness of art among the other branches of culture. This is like defining first what an organism is, before asking what is a cat or a fish.



If we define an organism before we define a fish, we are on much firmer ground in defining a fish. And so with art: when we understand that all branches of culture are different manifestations of the same basic patterns of organisation of human intelligence, then we are on much firmer ground in gaining an understanding both of culture and of its different branches. The central idea in this book is that art is indeed an embodiment of about ten meta-patterns of organisation which I have called "mindprints", such as: connectivity-disconnectivity, symmetry-asymmetry, hierarchy-randomness, transformation-invariance, complementarity-mutual exclusiveness and others. If there is substance in this idea, then all that remains is to demonstrate how these structural attributes are embodied in the various branches of culture, and this I hope to show in my next book. Thus for example, we find that all of these patterns are found in stone tools, in figurative art from prehistoric paintings and up to this day, in philosophy and in science; but their appearance in these areas is at very different levels of abstraction and generalisation. This disparity arises mainly from the differences between the attributes of the images that served in the creation of stone tools 2.5 million years ago, when compared with the attributes of the symbols that served in the creation of prehistoric painting, and as compared with the symbol systems that are used in language, philosophy or science today. That is to say, that by defining art as a special case of culture, and defining the art on a structural basis, new hope is created that perhaps at last we have in hand a truly firm characterisation of art. If this hope has reality, then the theoreticians of art and culture can perhaps save art from the degenerative state in which it is today, and lay the foundations for a new art in the future that will also be of genuine cultural value.











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