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Sunday, September 25, 2011
Philosophy and Literature class notes- 23rd friday 2011.
discussion of the class centred around the essay “The Philosophical and
Aesthetic Foundations of Literary Theories” by Peter V. Zima which revolve
around the conceptualisation of the art and literature which Zima tries to
explain through the content and expression plane.
to Saussure the signifier is the phonetic sound which for Louis Hjelmslev is
the expression plane, and the signified which Saussure explains as the realm of
ideas and concepts or the phonetic image, is the content plain for Hjelmslev.
in discussing aesthetic and concepts argues that it is the concept which people
give to the world. But aesthetic is opposite. It suggests that the object is
what is giving pleasure to the people. In other words by aesthetic he means
that the world is effecting an individual. Keeping this in mind, Zima through
his essay is saying that Saussure’s understanding of the relationship between
signifier and the signified is comparable to Kant’s dualist theory of knowledge
and in particular to his dualist view of the relationship between conceptual
and aesthetic cognition. Therefore Kant’s idea of concept and aesthetic is
based on Saussure’s understanding of the signifier and the signified which is
expression and content plane for Hjelmslev.
discussion on art centres around Kant and Hegel. Kant argues that the aesthetic
cannot be conceptualised. He emphasises that aesthetic object should be
autonomous. The autonomy of art are strongly opposed to the idea of reducing
literature to heteronomous factors such as the author’s biography, the social
context or the reactions of the readers or the historical context, etc. To
understand Kant, Zima gives example of Saussure- that how he (Saussure)
considers the relationship between the signifier and the signified arbitrary.
The essayist leaves out an important theorist in this realm, Roland Barthes. If
for Saussure the relation between signifier and signified is arbitrary, the
same signifier and the signified for Barthes meets in the realm of the myth
which he explicitly explains in the essay “Myth Today.”
opposition to Kant’s division of the aesthetic and conceptual, Hegel says that
every work of art is conceptual. Hegel uses the word ‘Zeitgeist’ which means
the spirit of time. This is also the idea of history. It is very interesting to
note that history is born with Hegel. He says that every time has a spirit i.e.
the spirit of its own time. It is this spirit of the time which makes history
and it is the same spirit of time which is expressed in the literary text. It
is because it expresses the spirit of time, art for that matter can be
conceptualised. For Hegel any work of art cannot be located beyond the
conceptual domain because it expresses a historical consciousness.
Pinto, Anil. Literature and Philosophy. Christ University. 23 Sept. 2011. Lecture.
Zima, Peter. The Philosophy of Modern Literary Theory. New Jersey: The Athlone Press, 1999. Print.