Epicurus and Aesthetic Disinterestedness

Mare Nostrum 7:56-74 (2017)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
ABSTRACT: Aesthetic disinterestedness is one of the central concepts in aesthetics, and Jerome Stolnitz, the most prominent theorist of disinterestedness in the 20th century, has claimed that (i) ancient thinkers engagement with this notion was cursory and undeveloped, and consequently, (ii) the emergence of disinterestedness in the 18th century marks the birth of aesthetics as a discipline. In this paper, I use the extant works of Epicurus to show that the ancient philosopher not only had similar concepts, but also motivated them in careful and complex ways. I argue that, in the Epicurean theoretical framework, arts belong to the category of ‘merely natural’ desires, and this classification, combined with what we know of Epicurus’ rejection of art criticism, shows he had carefully worked out reasons supporting the idea that art ought to be approached terminally, rather than instrumentally. Finally, I compare the notion of aesthetic disinterestedness with Epicurus’ views on arts and argue that in many ways the latter are not inferior to the former, and therefore ought to belong to the history of aesthetics.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
Archival date: 2017-04-01
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
153 ( #17,244 of 38,934 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
100 ( #3,740 of 38,934 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.