In the history of Chinese and European philosophy, metaphysics has played an outstanding role: it is a theoretical framework which provides the basis for a philosophical understanding of the world and the self. A theory of the self is well integrated in a metaphysical understanding of the totality of nature as a dynamic process of continuous changes.
Metaphysics has, however, suffered a loss of importance in current debates, especially in ethics. As a result, we observe the emergence of such philosophical views as moral skepticism and even nihilism. The consequence of this tendency has been the renunciation of a claim to understanding and to providing a solid ground for ethics.
How does thought become manifest in works of art? How do literature and the arts influence and enrich our knowledge of death and creativity? This essay presents a new and fascinating method for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary studies in the humanities.
According to Kant’s Critique of Judgement, literature and art have worked, from the beginning, towards not only expanding but also transcending the realm of common experience. They strive to represent the unrepresentable, speak of the ineffabile and advance into areas beyond all rational analysis, beyond the limits at which all attempts at philosophical or scientific explanations fail.
Proceeding from the assumption that a history of cultural knowledge is not congruent with a history of abstract concepts or rational ideas, this essay presents a new and fascinating cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach for analysing the powers of literature and art to form aesthetic ideas of lasting cultural impact, for analysing the interrelation between the formative forces of the imagination and the form-giving material or medium. Its focus is on Figurations of the Creative and Figurations of Death. Both of these topics raise questions relevant to all cultures: how does innovation enter the world; how does a society come to terms with the deepest and most basic uncertainty of human existence, the awareness of mortality? For on this depends any assignment of meaning to earthly existence, as does any notion of worldly or otherworldly salvation.
This publication examines how archaeological objects concretise notions of time, giving them tangible form. The focus is on a particular statue, depicting the »opportune moment« or Kairos, created by the Greek sculptor Lysippos and dating from the era of Alexander the Great. It will be shown how this statue absorbed earlier notions of the opportune moment, combined them into a new form, and thus imbued this form with lasting potency. The statue was interpreted and re-interpreted in art and literature since Classical times, and, in changing from one medium to another, emphasis was put on new aspects. Because of this, the long-lost statue has made a potent and lasting impact on people’s notions of time.
The perception and stucturing of Time forms a constitutive part of human cultures. With diachronous investigations in various parts of Asia (predominantly South Asia) a broad spectrum of visual and literary figurations can be traced.
While Hinduism has a God of Time and allocates the powerful, ominous factor Time in an ontological proximity to Death, other cultures of Asia have developed their own specific concepts and strategies. This collection of essays combines perspectives of various disciplines on forms or figurations in which Time congeals, as it were, that directly result from local time regimes.