Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Worth - Paskow's 'The Paradoxes of Art: A Phenomenological Investigation'

"Alan Paskow successfully defends an important thesis in this book -- that we need not view artworks as separate kinds of entities from other things in our world. Rather, drawing on Heidegger's Being in Time, Paskow shows that self and world are one relational being (88) and artworks and fictional characters are most effectively viewed as internal components of that world. More generally, Paskow takes on a daunting subject: what are the ways in which we interact with works of art? Although there is much historical background required to understand his ultimate thesis, Paskow puts forward the notion of a radically adjusted worldview in order to provide a context in which his thesis makes sense. The key for Paskow is to appeal to the worldview of the Dasein -- an integrated world, one which prefers the first-person phenomenological experience, and which is wholly anti-third-person and anti-Cartesian. As Paskow argues for this worldview, he develops a wonderful and coherent juxtaposition between historical and contemporary arguments and considers the question of our engagement with artworks from a number of different viewpoints. In the end I think that Paskow is successful in his endeavor to find a new perspective from which we can better make sense of our engagement with art. I worry, however, that in the process he may have taken us too far afield from ways that people actually think about the world and their interaction with it. He is also often too quick to dismiss some very important philosophical work in order to argue for the worldview that allows his position to make the most sense. In the end, however, I think he is successful in his endeavor and this book deserves high praise amongst a number of others that appeal to historical contexts in order to grapple with contemporary philosophical problems." - NDPR.

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