On aesthetic disinterestedness / Thomas Hilgers.

Hilgers, Thomas
ix, 353 p. ; 29 cm.
Local subjects:
Penn dissertations -- Philosophy.
Philosophy -- Penn dissertations.
Schopenhauer famously claims that a person typically relates to the world according to her own interests. He further claims that the aesthetic experience temporarily disengages a person from her interests, and thereby makes her temporarily lose her sense of self. When claiming the latter, Schopenhauer introduces a notion of disinterestedness that has been criticized by many aestheticians of our time. In my dissertation, I explicate, specify, and defend this notion. More precisely, I defend the claim that our aesthetic experiences tend to make us temporarily lose our sense of self.
In my investigation, I proceed by interpreting, criticizing, and elaborating upon the work of some prominent philosophers, such as Kant and Schopenhauer. I further test the claims that I arrive at through my discussion of these philosophers against a description of the general conditions under which we experience works of art, where this description is informed not only by our ordinary ways of talking about art, but also by the findings of other humanities and related disciplines.
In order to support my claim, I proceed in four steps. First, I introduce my notion of disinterestedness by means of discussing Kant, Schopenhauer, and Bullough. Second, I specify this notion by means of defending it against nine objections. Third, I prepare the grounds for an argument that shows why we must typically lose our sense of self when having an aesthetic experience. In preparation for this argument, I explicate what it means to have a sense of one's own specific self. Then, I show that the conditions under which we experience works of art typically conflict with the conditions of having a sense of one's own specific self. Thus, I conclude that we typically lose our sense of self when aesthetically engaging with works of art. However, I also show that this temporary loss happens to different degrees with respect to different forms of art, different artistic periods, and different artistic movements. Moreover, I show that due to its disinterestedness, an aesthetic experience typically has a cognitive and an ethical value.
Adviser: Paul Guyer.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Philosophy) -- University of Pennsylvania, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Guyer, Paul, advisor.
University of Pennsylvania.
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