Cover of Aesthetics of Appearing by Martin Seel, Translated by John Farrell
Aesthetics of Appearing
Martin Seel, Translated by John Farrell

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2004
256 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804743808
Paper ISBN: 9780804743815

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This book proposes that aesthetics begin not with concepts of being or semblance, but with a concept of appearing. Appearing bespeaks of the reality that all aesthetic objects share, however different they may otherwise be. For Martin Seel, appearing plays its part everywhere in the aesthetic realm, in all aesthetic activity.

In his book, Seel examines the existential and cultural meaning of aesthetic experience. In doing so, he brings aesthetics and philosophy of art together again, which in continental as well as analytical thinking have been more and more separated in the recent decades. Within Seel's framework, to apprehend things and events with respect to how they appear momentarily and simultaneously to our senses represents a genuine way for human beings to encounter the world. The consciousness that emerges here is an anthropologically central faculty. In perceiving the unfathomable particularity of a sensuously given we gain insight into the indeterminable of our lives. Attentiveness to what is appearing is therefore at the same time attentiveness to ourselves. This is also the case when works of art imagine past or future, probable or improbable presences. Artworks develop their transgressive energy from their presence as sense-catching forms. They bring about a special presence in which a presentation of close or distant presences comes about.

About the author

Martin Seel is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Giessen.

"...the broad vision and range of aesthetic topics addressed on a persistently high level deserves not only attention but respect...The fact that the book is also a joy to read makes it even more refreshing."

Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature