Gianni Vattimo, Aesthetic Experience and the Development of Secular Science

Actualidad de las Tradiciones Emancipatorias – Foro Internacional por la Emancipación y la Igualdad, Argentina, March 13, 2015 | © Courtesy of Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación/Flickr.
Buenos Aires, 13 de marzo de 2015 - Se presentó la mesa "Actualidad de las Tradiciones Emancipatorias" en el marco del Foro Internacional por la Emancipación y la Igualdad, organizado por el Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación a través de la Secretaría de Coordinación Estratégica para el Pensamiento Nacional. Participaron de la mesa Leonardo Boff, Gianni Vattimo, Horacio González y Mercedes Sánchez Sorondo, moderado por Jorge Alemán.

Massimo Verdicchio and Emil Hatoum respectively explore the implications of the philosophical thought of Gianni Vattimo for the experience and definition of art and religion.

A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.


In his article, entitled “The ‘weakening’ of Gianni Vattimo” and published in Textual Practice on December 7, 2006, on the philosophy of weak thought proposed by Gianni Vattimo, Massimo Verdicchio also explores its implications for art in terms of aesthetic hermeneutics with respect to the experience of art and the process of secularization through which art has emerged from religion.1 As Verdicchio emphasizes in his quotation from Vattimo, the autonomy of art as “a sphere [of aesthetic experience] […] cannot be defined unless it is with reference to the experience of religion” (640). This contradictory interrelation between art and religion is for Vattimo also the reason why modern or contemporary art “often appeals only to a public of specialists, of artists involved in the same work, or of dealers who exploit its lasting cult value and thereby, very remotely, its connections with religion […] a ‘new mythology’, a rational religion” (642).

However, as Verdicchio delineates, rather than being defined by its opposition to religion, art can be conceived of “as constitutive of the rationality of science […] [and] that philosophy which results from the crisis of metaphysics” (645). In this regard, Verdicchio indicates the philosophical proximity of Vattimo’s and Nietzsche’s philosophical thought “through the ‘close connection’ of nihilism which also links his ‘weak thought’ to the cultural criticism which re-surfaces through the critique of art and religion” (647). Moreover, in his close reading of the latter’s works, Verdicchio argues that “Nietzsche shows ‘how art and science are not different from each other’, since the former is purely a play of the imagination, while the latter is cold knowledge of the things themselves” (648). Verdicchio further shows that Vattimo disentangles the philosophical similarities between art and science by highlighting that “[i]n Nietzsche, as in Vico, however, what appears to be an evolution, or a progress, from an unstable artistic or poetic model to a scientific model, turns out to be a mere substitution where what used to be the shortcomings of art have now become the shortcomings of science” (649).

Thus, while Vattimo, as Verdicchio indicates, argues that “art has prepared the ground for science and the free spirit” (650), this position needs to be differentiated from that of “Nietzsche’s nihilistic view of art as cultural critique [that] does not lead to a plurality of interpretations” (650). Similarly, Emil Hatoum, in his paper entitled “Conflict Resolved: the Amity between Postmodern Philosophy and Theology in Gianni Vattimo’s weak thought,” which was published in Open Theology on September 18, 2019, suggests that Vattimo’s hermeneutic philosophy, especially with regard to Nietzsche’s nihilism, is based on the “argument that postmodernism, in its weakening of all transcendental axiomatic claims, may be understood to share the “desacralizing thrust of Christianity”” (309).2

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Actualidad de las Tradiciones Emancipatorias – Foro Internacional por la Emancipación y la Igualdad, Argentina, March 13, 2015 | © Courtesy of Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación/Flickr.


Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Gianni Vattimo, Aesthetic Experience and the Development of Secular Science," in Open Culture, 26/10/2019, https://oc.hypotheses.org/2301.

References

  1. Verdicchio, M. (2006). The ‘weakening’of Gianni Vattimo. Textual Practice, 20(4), 637-654. []
  2. Halloun, E. (2019). Conflict Resolved: the Amity between Postmodern Philosophy and Theology in Gianni Vattimo’s weak thought. Open Theology, 5(1), 309-319. []

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