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Benjamin's PassagesDreaming, Awakening$
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Alexander Gelley

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262564

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262564.001.0001

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Contexts of the Aesthetic

Contexts of the Aesthetic

(p.42) One Contexts of the Aesthetic
Benjamin's Passages

Alexander Gelley

Fordham University Press

The problem of philosophical aesthetics may be formulated in a double sense: What justifies the privileged access of art to truth? What constitutes the historicity of art’s “configurational” status? The limitations of a principal component of the aesthetic tradition, namely, its basis in an immutable human nature, are all too evident. What historical approach to the social collective today can underwrite the consensual principle underlying Kant’s idea of taste? And, to take up another tenet of his aesthetic theory, what remains of the reflective judgment in an era when, as Benjamin put it, technology has subjected "the human sensorium to a more complex type of training’? The chapter situates Benjamin’s thought in relation to three strands, focusing in each case on one of Benjamin’s writings. Regarding the linkage of art and philosophy, what may be termed the ontological status of art, it draws on the essay on The Elective Affinities. Regarding the political-pedagogic function of art, it examines ’The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility.’ And regarding the question of beauty and Schein, it focuses on the issue of commodity fetishism as treated in The Arcades Project.

Keywords:   Aesthetics, Politics and Art, Experience, Masses, Commodity Fetishism

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