Monday, March 9, 2015

Heidegger and Everyday Aesthetics Being and Time #13

Being and Time paragraph 13 intimates a theory concerning everyday aesthetics, especially by way of the concept of fascination.  Heidegger has established that Being-in-the-world is "a basic state of Dasein" where Dasein pre-eminately operates in everydayness.  Heidegger here stresses the mistake of setting up a relation between a knowing subject and an independent Object, this subject/ Object distinction to be replaced by the Dasein/world distinction.  Now, the concept of everyday aesthetics comes into this chapter through the concept of fascination.  Fascination itself is close to an aesthetic concept, so close that perhaps it is one.  We speak of being fascinated by aesthetic objects.  Fascination is when we perceive something and cannot jerk ourselves away.  The object is "fascinating."  It perceptually holds.  We think of fascination mainly as something positive, and so it is a kind of pleasure, or perhaps a delight in the sense of Edmund Burke when he speaks of the sublime as an object of delight but not pleasure.  For Heidegger,  "Being-in-the-world, as concern, is fascinated by the world with which it is concerned." This happens when concern "holds back from any kind of producing, manipulating and the like."  Thus it is a "tarrying alongside" which lets us encounter things in the world purely in the way they look. This implies a kind of looking-at in which we dwell "alongside entities within-the -world."  This "dwelling" is one in which "perception of the present-at-hand is consummated," which reminds us of Dewey's notion of the aesthetic experience as a consummation.  However, here the consummation is a matter of addressing oneself to something and discussing it as such, expressing what is perceived in determinate propositions. 

All of this, of course, is related to the problem of knowing.  Heidegger sees this as "interpretation in the broadest sense" in which the perception is made determinate.  Knowing is not the primary mode but is something based ultimately on Being-in-the-world.  The question is whether fascination is an aesthetic mode upon which all other modes, including that of knowing, are ultimately based.  If knowledge were simply a matter of bringing something into an internal box or cabinet then the aesthetic relation to the objects of knowledge would be unimportant.  A close or caring relationship Heidegger posits with objects of knowledge implies the fascination which brings in the aesthetic dimension.  So then it would seem that the aesthetic is primary and the epistemological is only secondary.   

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