Suffering Art Gladly: The Paradox of Negative Emotion in Art (BOK)
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Suffering Art Gladly is concerned with the ostensibly paradoxical phenomenon of negative emotions involved in the experience of art: how can we explain the pleasure felt or satisfaction taken in such experience when it is the vehicle of negative emotions, that is, ones that seem to be unpleasant or undesirable, and that one normally tries to avoid experiencing? The question is as old as philosophical reflection on the arts, beginning with Plato and Aristotle, and subsequently addressed by Hume, Burke, Diderot, Kant, and Schopenhauer, among others. Moreover, it is still an important and unresolved question in contemporary philosophy of art, where the discussion has been notably enlivened by recent research on the nature of imagination, cognition, and the emotions. Suffering Art Gladly comprises essays of two kinds, though the division between them is not airtight. The first kind are essays with a primarily historical focus, examining the problem of negative emotion from art as treated by important figures in the history of aesthetic thought, including Aristotle, Hume, Diderot, Kant, and Schopenhauer. The second kind are essays with a primarily contemporary focus, in which the methods and tools of contemporary analytic philosophy are much in evidence. In addition to the thirteen essays forming the heart of the book there is a general introduction by the editor, motivating the basic problem with which the essays are variously concerned and identifying the presuppositions or assumptions that are involved in different solutions to the problem. The individual essays are wide-ranging, dealing with a variety of artforms, negative emotions, and specific works of art, and the contributors, all recognized scholars in the field of aesthetics, are a mixture of junior and senior figures representing seven nationalities.