Charis and Radiance: The Ontological Dimensions of Beauty

In S. Van Tuinen (ed.), Giving and Taking: Antidotes to a Culture of Greed. pp. 119-149 (2014)
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This essay developed out of the final chapter of The Sympathy of Things where I related beauty to a notion of radical generosity. Tracing generosity back to the ancient Greeks brought me to a whole new world of grace and “charis”, the etymological root of words like charisma and charity. The essay establishes a fundamental connection between grace and beauty, deeply interrelating movement and object. In the second part the argument develops into an ontology based on the concept of radiance, which we encounter in Aglaia, the first of the Three Graces, in fireworks, jewelry, makeup and in fashion, but also in acts of bravery, kindness and friendship. Radiance is subsequently defined as “thickened appearance”, where phenomenology and ontology become continuous in a “presence beyond the present”.
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