remarks on aesthetic intentionality: husserl or kant

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Computing & Library Services, University ofHuddersfield]On: 07 October 2014, At: 01:42Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    International Journal ofPhilosophical StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/riph20

    Remarks on AestheticIntentionality: Husserl or KantDanielle Lories aa Universit de Louvain , BelgiumPublished online: 20 Aug 2006.

    To cite this article: Danielle Lories (2006) Remarks on Aesthetic Intentionality:Husserl or Kant, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 14:1, 31-49, DOI:10.1080/09672550500445103

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09672550500445103

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  • International Journal of Philosophical Studies

    Vol. 14(1), 3149

    International Journal of Philosophical Studies

    ISSN 09672559 print 14664542 online 2006 Taylor & Francishttp://www.tandf.co.uk/journals

    DOI: 10.1080/09672550500445103

    Remarks on Aesthetic Intentionality: Husserl or Kant

    Danielle Lories

    Taylor and Francis LtdRIPH_A_144493.sgm10.1080/09672550500445103International Journal of Philosophical Studies0967-2559 (print)/1466-4542 (online)Original Article2006Taylor & Francis1410000002005DanielleLorieslories@rispucl.ac.be

    Abstract

    It is sometimes claimed that Husserls writings provide an inspiration forconsidering art today. More specifically we ask here whether Husserlsdescription of aesthetic attitude is rich and original. The comparisons he drawsbetween the aesthetic attitude and the phenomenological attitude always aimto clarify the phenomenological attitude and thus take it for granted that thetypical features of the aesthetic attitude are well known. In this way Husserlpresupposes and retrieves the teaching of Kant, although in certain workingnotes he clarifies and intensifies the formal and reflective characteristics ofKants description of the aesthetic judgment.

    Keywords:

    aesthetics; phenomenology; epoche; neutralization; imagination; disinterestedness

    It is well known that nowadays there are essays in aesthetics about modernand contemporary art which try to interpret the rather sparse and brief indi-cations on the topic in Husserls texts, and want to find therein relevantideas in order to understand art today. In the following pages I look againat the Husserlian excerpts most often appealed to in this respect. My aim isto assess the fertility of Husserls inspiration for contemporary aesthetics inthe light of the Kantian roots of these texts, which provide the outlines of aphenomenology of aesthetic experience.

    I shall endeavour first to show that the famous letter to Hofmannsthaland the often-cited passage in

    Ideen I

    , 111 confine themselves to definingthe aesthetic attitude in Husserlian vocabulary by retrieving the featureKant named

    disinterestedness

    or

    favour

    . Secondly, although it will be impos-sible here to demonstrate systematically the phenomenological relevance ofKants text, I will try to evoke that relevance by comparing excerpts fromthe third

    Critique

    with several working notes in which Husserl seems toprovide the closest description of the aesthetic attitude. Those notes wereclearly written in the same spirit as the letter and the passage in

    Ideen I

    mentioned above. They refer to an analogy, not an identification, betweenthe aesthetic and phenomenological attitude; but, because HusserlsD

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  • INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES

    32

    description is more refined, the difference is more obvious, and it isexpressed in terms which, however typically Husserlian and phenomenolog-ical they may be, also depend closely on two topics which were major issuesin Kants

    Analytic of the Beautiful

    :

    form

    and

    reflection

    . I will suggest thatHusserls writings, in spite of their phenomenological originality, commentupon the two features emphasized and developed by Kant and specify themas features of an intentional consciousness. And it is perhaps thanks to thisphenomenological presentation that these two characteristics appear sorelevant to current aesthetics.

    Let me consider, first of all, the letter of 12 January 1907 to Hofmannst-hal,

    1

    where Husserl made a very explicit comparison between the aestheticattitude and the phenomenological attitude:

    This method [the phenomenological one] requires the taking of astand towards all objectivity which essentially leads away from thenatural stand; and which is closely related to the stand and attitudeinto which your art, as a

    purely aesthetic

    one, leads us with regard tothe objects represented and the whole surrounding world.

    And he immediately adds the following clarification:

    The intuition of a purely aesthetic work of art is carried out byrigorously excluding any existential stand of the intellect, and anystand of the feeling and the will, which presupposes such an existen-tial stand. Or better: the work of art puts us (forces us, so to speak)into a purely aesthetic state which excludes taking those positions.The more a work of art resounds with the existential world, or themore it is vitally attracted by that world, the more the work of artby itself demands an existential stand, [] the less is the workaesthetically pure.

    Husserl insists that taking into account the existence of things that stand infront of us is an attitude of mind which is

    the exact opposite of the attitude of mind in purely aesthetic intuitionand in the corresponding state of feeling. But it is no less the exactopposite of the purely phenomenological attitude of mind, in whichalone can philosophical problems be solved. For the phenomenologi-cal method also demands a rigorous exclusion of every existentialstand.

    2

    Husserl maintains with great clarity a close relatedness betweenphenomenological contemplation (

    Schauen

    ) of the cognitive phenomenaand aesthetic contemplation in pure art: I contemplate, and my research

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  • REMARKS ON AESTHETIC INTENTIONALITY: HUSSERL OR KANT

    33

    is focused on contemplating (purely aesthetically, so to speak). In its veryprinciple, phenomenological contemplation, like aesthetic contemplation,excludes any position of existence. And the motivation of the comparison isquite clear: the aim is to make someone who undoubtedly has an intimateand profound knowledge of the

    purely aesthetic

    able to appreciate, on thebasis of this knowledge and this familiarity, and by analogy, what is meantby the phenomenological attitude and the

    pure seeing

    that it makes possible.Husserl gives an elementary lesson in phenomenology and, as a goodteacher, he relies on what he knows to be familiar to the person he is writingto. The incorrigible and flawless professor!, he says about himself (as akind of excuse) and adds: he cannot open his mouth without giving acourse.

    3

    Readers who are familiar with Husserls texts will very quickly make alink between this comparison and some other excerpts, among which arethe passages in

    Ideen I

    where Drers engraving

    Knight, Death and theDevil

    is evoked. And consequently they will also make a link betweent

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