Printed at: 4/25/2017  –  2:41:27 AM

The Fate of Art: Aesthetic Alienation from Kant to Derrida and Adorno

By: J. M. Bernstein


This original and wide-ranging book, now available in paperback, is a major contribution to contemporary philosophy. Bernstein focuses on the work of four key thinkers - Kant, Heidegger, Derrida and Adorno - and provides a powerful new interpretation of their writings on art, aesthetics and politics.

Bernstein argues that our experience of art today is conditioned by the loss of the truth-function of art: with the growth of modern science and technological reason, art is relegated to a separate and autonomous domain of the aesthetic. This condition of 'aesthetic alienation' - the raging discord between art and truth - is one of the most perspicuous signs of the fragmentation of modernity.

Aesthetic alienation is challenged in differing ways by modern Continental philosophers like Heidegger, Derrida and Adorno. Bernstein shows how each of these philosophers uses the experience of art and the discourse of aesthetics to criticize the fragmentation of modernity. He examines in detail their responses to aesthetic alienation and raises a range of fundamental questions concerning the relations between art, philosophy and politics in modern societies.

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First Edition
Publication Dates ROW:
Jul 1993
Publication Dates US:
Publication Dates Aus & NZ:
Jul 1993

250 x 200 mm
9.84 x 7.87 in
302 pages

* Exam copies only available to lecturers for whom the book may be suitable as a course text.
Please note: Sales representation and distribution for Polity titles is provided by John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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'Bernstein has made a much-needed attempt to place art and its relationship to aesthetics back in the foreground of philosophical historical and political debate.' British Journal of Aesthetics

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Aesthetic Alienation.

1. Memorial Aesthetics: Kant's Critique of Judgement.

2. The Genius of Being: Heidegger's The Origin of the Work of Art.

3. The Deconstructive Sublime: Derrida's The Truth in Painting.

4. Constellations of Concept and Intuition: Adorno's Aesthetic Theory.

5. Old Gods Ascending: Disintegration and Speculation in Aesthetic Theory.

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Author Information

At the time of writing this book Jay Bernstein worked in the Philosophy Department of the University of Essex and had already written several other books in the field of philosophy and its relation to culture.

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