Suffering Art Gladly The Paradox of Negative Emotion in Art

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-11-14
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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Suffering Art Gladly is concerned with the ostensibly paradoxical phenomenon of negative emotions involved in the experience of art: how can we explain the pleasure felt or satisfaction taken in such experience when it is the vehicle of negative emotions, that is, ones that seem to be unpleasant or undesirable, and that one normally tries to avoid experiencing? The question is as old as philosophical reflection on the arts, beginning with Plato and Aristotle, and subsequently addressed by Hume, Burke, Diderot, Kant, and Schopenhauer, among others. Moreover, it is still an important and unresolved question in contemporary philosophy of art, where the discussion has been notably enlivened by recent research on the nature of imagination, cognition, and the emotions.

Suffering Art Gladly comprises essays of two kinds, though the division between them is not airtight. The first kind are essays with a primarily historical focus, examining the problem of negative emotion from art as treated by important figures in the history of aesthetic thought, including Aristotle, Hume, Diderot, Kant, and Schopenhauer. The second kind are essays with a primarily contemporary focus, in which the methods and tools of contemporary analytic philosophy are much in evidence. In addition to the thirteen essays forming the heart of the book there is a general introduction by the editor, motivating the basic problem with which the essays are variously concerned and identifying the presuppositions or assumptions that are involved in different solutions to the problem. The individual essays are wide-ranging, dealing with a variety of artforms, negative emotions, and specific works of art, and the contributors, all recognized scholars in the field of aesthetics, are a mixture of junior and senior figures representing seven nationalities.

Author Biography

Jerrold Levinson is Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, USA, and Past President of the American Society for Aesthetics, 2001-2003. He is the author of Music, Art, and Metaphysics (1990, 2nd ed. 2010), The Pleasures of Aesthetics (1996), Music in the Moment (1998) and Contemplating Art (2006); the editor of Aesthetics and Ethics (1998) and the Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics (2003); and co-editor of Aesthetic Concepts (2001) and Art and Pornography (2012).

Table of Contents

Introduction; Jerrold Levinson
1. Tragic Pleasures in Plato and Aristotle; Pierre Destrée
2. The Paradox of Negative Emotion in Art in Enlightenment Aesthetics; Carole Talon-Hugon
3. A Lust of the Mind: Curiosity and Aversion in 18th Century British Aesthetics; Carolyn Korsmeyer
4. Mere Suffering: Hume and the Problem of Tragedy; Christopher Williams
5. The Problem and Promise of the Sublime: Lessons from Kant and Schopenhauer; Sandra Shapshay
6. A Simple Solution to the Paradox of Negative Emotion; Raf DeClercq
7. Painful Art and the Limits of Well-Being; Aaron Smuts
8. That Obscure Object of Desire: Pleasure in Painful Art; Jonathan Gilmore
9. Playing With Fire: Art and the Seductive Power of Pain; Iskra Fileva
10. Poetic Pains: How Poetry Hurts and Heals; Anna Ribeiro
11. Negative Emotions and Creativity; Derek Matravers
12. Attention, Negative Valence, and Tragic Emotions; Cain Todd
13. Watching the Unwatchable: 'Irreversible', 'Empire', and the Other Paradox of Negative Emotions; David Davies

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