Hegel considered “natural beauty (not to say ordinary) a shifting and ill-defined concept devoid of all criteria (Aesthetics).” Ever since then, the question of beauty has been relegated to the realm of art, architecture and literature. Thus was created, under the influence of Greek philosophers (Plato. Hippias Major), a long and rich tradition, which, even if it was eclipsed from time to time by poetic approaches in literature, still feeds critical thought today, in an age marked by postmodern questioning on aesthetic value (Lyotard. Lessons on the Analysis of the Sublime) and the rearticulation of the constructs of perception.
On the other hand, as Ricœur has shown in his analysis of Proust (Time and Narrative), it is indeed in the non-aesthetic world that beauty as a phenomenon draws its essence, and exerts, outside of aesthetics, its influence on our perception of the world. It seems therefore essential to discuss a new the concept of beauty beyond the usual parameters and to think about the possibility of creating a new research object, and hence lay the foundations of a new aesthetics or, in other words, a non-aesthetics.
Taking “ordinary beauty” as the basis of questioning – that is to say beauty expressed in terms of ordinary language, defined roughly as any form of language which is not strictly speaking a constituent of literary or artistic representation, even as a critical discourse reflecting on the aesthetic beauty – this new perspective also allows researchers to study the place, role and forms of beauty such as it manifests itself in the field of social sciences, of particular interest in this context. Therefore the expression “ordinary language” is used here in a meaning broader than, but similar to, that defined by the philosophy of ordinary language (Wittgenstein, Austin).
The question of ordinary beauty has been posed regularly and explicitly in the pure sciences, especially in mathematics (H.E. Huntley. The Divine Proportion: A Study in Mathematical Beauty). But it also manifests itself in an important, though much less articulated and studied way, in other disciplines: for instance, in law (Ed Morgan. The Aesthetics of International Law), in economy (Cassey Lee, Peter L. Lloyd. “Beauty and the Economist: The Role of Aesthetics in Economic Theory”) and in history (Arthur W. Foshay. “Aesthetics and History”). It is, however, necessary to determine closely to what extent one can speak about the beauty of democracy, justice, war, or even the atomic bomb (R. Oppenheimer). Basically, we need to ask ourselves: on what precisely is the notion of ordinary beauty based? How is its essence expressed? How are its characteristics determined? And, finally, what is its relationship with aesthetic beauty? This exploration of poetics and aesthetics will be carried out in parallel with ongoing research in social poetics (Richard Brown. A Poetic for Sociology: Toward a Logic of Discovery for the Human Sciences; Henry Meschonnic, For a Poetics of Rhythm).
Ordinary beauty is not defined by the nature of its referent but by its mode of enunciation, that is by its essentially non-literary and non-artistic manner of perceiving and of expressing what is given to see and understand as beautiful. However, it remains possible, if not necessary, to establish a meeting point between the aesthetic and non-aesthetic domains: on the one hand, ordinary beauty can take the form of all aesthetic categories and even make art and literature subjects of discourses on ordinary representation; on the other hand, the same ordinary beauty can also manifest itself in literature as a topos. It is in this last perspective that we are soliciting contributions in the field of literary studies.
Ordinary beauty, essential element of social representation;
Ordinary beauty as posit of social discourse;
A esthetic implications of historical representation and narrative;
Power and ordinary beauty: forms, expression, legitimization;
Aesthetic foundations in political sciences and political systems;
Goodness and righteousness from the standpoint of ordinary beauty;
Ordinary beauty in the pure sciences (mathematics, physics, etc);
Place of ordinary beauty in scientific vulgarization;
Use of ordinary beauty in medical and therapeutic discourse;
Aesthetics of the mass media: ordinary beauty in journalism and advertising;
Ordinary beauty and testimony (life narratives);
Beauty and protocol;
Beauty as a non-aesthetic category in philosophy;
Ordinary beauty in literature and critical discourse.
Proposals for papers, in French or in English, must include an abstract of 300 words, accompanied by a title and coordinates (name, position, department, university, etc.). The organizing committee must receive proposals by email by December 20, 2007.
705 Ross N
Faculty of Arts,York University
4700 Keele, Toronto
M3J 1P3, ON, Canada
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