A contemporary exploration of Medieval Aesthetics
Calle Jerte 10
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After a long journey in the desert since the dawn of modernity, when Renaissance humanism condemned the Middle Ages to ostracism (the very name imposed to it contributed very effectively to this condemn), the contemporary crisis of modernity offered an opportunity to look again with interest at this long, exciting and fundamental period of our civilization.
At the core of philosophy—but not at the core of the ordinary world of life—there has been an undeniable advance in overcoming the modern reductionism of reason (particularly “scientific” reason), by opening the way for a broader and more truthful conception of reason itself, which is revealed as the faculty that opens us to multiple modes of revelation (of the particular and the universal, of the mundane and the divine, of the factual and the transcendental, of the theoretical, but also of the moral and the aesthetic…). This new framework helped us to better understand the medieval Weltanschauung, open to plural modes of intuition, and, above all, to a speculative thought—in the best of the senses of this word—in which the question of God and the transcendental plays a central role.
The medieval theocentric perspective endows man with an extraordinary sensitivity for beauty, which, from St. Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius onwards, occupies the foreground of the gaze, and is reflected in the entire aesthetics of medieval art, which excellently embodies the fusion between man’s lived religation with God and the experience of beauty. The critique of classical metaphysics in postmodernity—which in this respect remains very modern—continues to act as a counterforce to the relationship between theology and philosophy, and thus as a permanent motif of rejection of the Middle Ages.
For this reason, postmodernity tends to build itself again on the margins of our tradition of Western thought, leaving this essential period of our culture largely out of the picture. If we add to this the rise of aesthetics within philosophy today, we can see how attractive—we might even say how necessary—it is to look at medieval Aesthetics from our contemporary perspective.
More information in our webpage.
September 12, 2022, 9:00am CET
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