A Lecture by
Professor Richard Shusterman, Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University, USA
Monday June 8, 2009 12.15-13.45
Tieteiden talo, Hall 104 (first floor), Kirkkokatu 6, Helsinki
Art as a Substitute for Religion
Since the nineteenth century, some important thinkers have argued that art could supplant traditional religion as the spiritual locus of the increasingly secular society of Western modernity. If art can embody the spirituality, idealism, hope, and expressive community of traditional religions, but without being ensnared in the particular doctrines, rituals, and historical conflicts that make these religions such a persistent source of intellectual disbelief and transcultural discord, can art then provide a sturdy bridge between cultures that historical religions have violently divided? Can art achieve the spiritual transformation and unification of humanity that traditional religions never seem to achieve? This paper examines the promise but also the problems of this proposal, by considering not only the arguments of philosophers but also different religious attitudes exemplified in art and aesthetic experience (both in Western and in East-Asian culture).
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