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Why Should We Care About Art? A Kierkegaardian Account

  • Antony Aumann (Northern Michigan University)
Tuesday 17 October 2017
Anna van Buerenplein
Anna van Buerenplein 301
2595 DG The Hague
LUC Auditorium

The Leiden University Institute for Philosophy and Leiden University College are pleased to announce a talk by Antony Aumann.

Since Plato’s Republic, lovers of art have been challenged to justify its importance. One common defense, embraced by the 19th c. Danish thinker Søren Kierkegaard, is to argue that art has “cognitive value.” Works of art matter because they can teach us in important ways. Yet, there is considerable pushback against this view. Critics concede that art may have the ability to teach, but they counter by saying that it cannot do so as well as philosophy or the sciences. For the lessons communicated through art are never as clear-cut or as well-supported by reasons. In this paper, I will explain how Kierkegaard turns this objection on its head. First, he argues that works of art do not teach “directly” by telling us truths and offering us evidence. Instead, art educates us “indirectly” by helping us make our own discoveries. Second, the fact that art does not teach in a straightforward manner is not a defect. On the contrary, it is precisely because art teaches indirectly that it teaches better than philosophy and science do.

Antony Aumann is an associate professor at Northern Michigan University and a visiting research scholar at Fordham University. He has previously held positions at the Ohio State University and St. Olaf College. His publications focus on Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, as well as various issues in contemporary philosophy of art. He is the author of a forthcoming book with Rowman & Littlefield entitled, On Art and Selfhood: A Kierkegaardian Account of Practical Identity. For more information, please visit: https://www.nmu.edu/philosophy/antony-aumann

James Pearson of the Institute for Philosophy will be offering a short commentary the lecture.

Discussant: Dr. Adam Buben

Please register online for the event. 

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