Perceptions of the other: aesthetics, ethics and prejudice. Estetik 2012.
Projektledare: Cecilia Sjöholm

Perceptions of the other; aesthetics, ethics and prejudice studies the relation between prejudice, perceptive predisposition and aesthetic expression. The project brings three parts of study together: Prejudice, tolerance and aesthetic translatability; the cultural boundaries of sensibility. (German philosophy of the 18th century), The Protoethics of perceptual life. perception and ethics in the field of henomenology and psychoanalysis; (German philosophy of the 20th century). Postdoctoral project, Politics of representation; Jewish identity in recent art. (Contemporary artists of an Eastern European heritage). PhD project. The researchers share two lines of inquiry that are set in the foreground: 1) The first concerns the way in which cultural identity, prejudice and aesthetic experience are related. How does prejudice and cultural identity form our perceptive predisposition? In what way does this affect aesthetic experience? Aesthetic experiences provoke not only our intellectual capacity of understanding but also our ethical faculties. Starting its line of enquiries in the German enlightenment, the project examines a philosophical and cultural heritage where issues of perception, embodiment and ethics are placed in focus rather than those of taste, autonomy and intellect. Rather than pursuing ideals of universality and standard conceptions of reason, the “other” tradition of the enlightenment engages with issues of particularity and embodiment. 2) The second line of inquiry examines the way in which a Jewish philosophical-cultural heritage, developed in what is now an Eastern European region, may help us understand the relation between prejudice, perception and aesthetic expression. The aim of the project is not to identify a Jewish form of identity or specificity, but rather to open for an understanding of the heterogeneous nature of the European tradition of aesthetics, for instance through the heritage of Spinoza and Levinas. All projects will be concerned with the way in which unconscious categorizations present themselves already at the level of perception in the form of prejudice. These categorizations have consequences also for aesthetic experience: the way we perceive aesthetic works passes through the grid of what we perceive as having weight, impact and importance. Therefore, questions of prejudice and tolerance are still relevant on today’s globalized exchange of art and literature.

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