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Tragic Beauty in Whitehead and Japanese Aesthetics

Steve Odin

The present volume endeavors to make a contribution to contemporary Whitehead studies by clarifying his axiological process metaphysics, including his theory of values, concept of aesthetic experience, and doctrine of beauty, along with his philosophy of art, literature and poetry. Moreover, it establishes an east-west dialogue focusing on how Alfred North Whitehead’s process aesthetics can be clarified by the traditional Japanese Buddhist sense of evanescent beauty. As this east-west dialogue unfolds it is shown that there are many striking points of convergence between Whitehead’s process aesthetics and the traditional Japanese sense of beauty. However, the work especially focuses on two of Whitehead’s aesthetic categories, including the penumbral beauty of darkness and the tragic beauty of perishability, while further demonstrating parallels with the two Japanese aesthetic categories of yûgen and aware. It is clarified how both Whitehead and the Japanese tradition have articulated a poetics of evanescence that celebrates the transience of aesthetic experience and the ephemerality of beauty. Finally it is argued that both Whitehead and Japanese tradition develop an aesthetics of beauty as perishability culminating in a religio-aesthetic vision of tragic beauty and its reconciliation in the supreme ecstasy of peace or nirvana. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 356Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4985-1477-4 • Hardback • May 2016 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-1-4985-1478-1 • eBook • May 2016 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
Steve Odin teaches Japanese and East-West comparative philosophy at the University of Hawaii, where he has taught for more than thirty years.
3. Whitehead’s Aesthetics: Process and Reality
5. Whitehead’s Retrieval of Beauty
(ii) Japanese Aestheticism
8. Aesthetic Quality in East-West Perspective
10. Beauty as Synaesthesia in Whitehead, Hartshorne & Japanese Aesthetics
A. Penumbral Beauty
12. Yūgen as the Beauty of Darkness in Japanese Aesthetics
15. Tragic Beauty in Whitehead's Process Aesthetics
Tragic Beauty in Whitehead and Japanese Aesthetics embodies the best in comparative philosophy. Both Whitehead and various Japanese thinkers (Dogen, Nishida, etc.) are mutually illuminated in this clear and insightful study. Further, readers who are interested in the crucial issue of tragic beauty will be edified by the author’s treatment of this topic even if they are not experts in Whitehead or Japanese thought. Highly recommended!
Daniel A. Dombrowski, Seattle University