Figuring Death, Figuring Creativity: On the Power of Aesthetic Ideas

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.

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