Event Detail

Thu Nov 30, 2023
Howison Library
4–6 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Joseph Kassman-Tod (UC Berkeley)
Aesthetic Humility as ‘Remembrance’: A Critical Virtue

What is it for one’s thought to be appropriately and productively responsive to fine art? Responses to this question face two opposing dangers: ‘aesthetic servitude’ and ‘aesthetic hubris.’ In this paper I argue that aesthetic humility corrects for both of these alternatives. More specifically, I argue that German Idealist poet/philosopher, Friedrich Hölderlin, provides a promising model of aesthetic humility. In developing this model I contend that the artwork-directed dimension of aesthetic humility takes the form of ‘remembrance.’ My proposal is that ‘remembrance’ consists in thoughtful attentiveness to possibilities of sense-making that have been marginalized, which in turn opens our understanding to new possibilities for thought and talk to come. From an analysis of Hölderlin’s mourning-play ‘The Death of Empedocles’ and his theoretical essay ‘The Declining Fatherland,’ I argue that the kind of thought with which we appropriately and productively respond to fine art, is a form of ‘remembrance.’