Summary and Info
Ever read a book on aesthetics and wondered what it all had to do with actual works of art? Ever had the uneasy feeling that aesthetics may have become so interested in abstract ideas about art that it had forgotten about art itself? Then rest assured, Ruth Lorand's book is not like that. Dr Lorand speaks about aesthetics with the voice of someone who is interested not only in analysing ideas about art and beauty, but also in how those ideas relate to the books she's read, the films and paintings she's seen, and artworks of all kinds. It is the voice of someone who has thought long and hard about the philosophy of art without losing sight of its ultimate raison d'être.The result is a truly impressive and original book. While always ready and able to situate her thoughts within a broader philosophical context, Lorand strikes out in interesting new directions in aesthetics, producing an approach to art that will give thinkers in this area a lot to chew over for a long time to come. "Aesthetic Order: A Philosophy of Beauty and Art" is exactly what its title suggests - a theory of art and beauty resting on the notion of aesthetic order. The thesis is worked out in careful, methodical detail and expressed in the kind of clear, unambiguous prose that one always looks for in works on philosophy but, regrettably, does not always find. To some extent, Lorand's book is reminiscent of Mary Mothersill's well-known work, "Beauty Restored", both authors being keen to rescue the idea of beauty from the cloud of philosophical suspicion that, for some aestheticians at least, has hung over it for some time. Mothersill's Beauty is, however, a rather pale and insubstantial creature, nourished, one senses, on a little too much of the thin gruel of analytical philosophy. Lorand, by contrast, offers us a robust and full-blooded Beauty, unashamedly announcing its presence and well stocked with arguments to explain what it is and why it merits our attention. Lorand's book is the work of someone who knows their philosophy and who can discuss it clearly, intelligently, and often with a welcome dose of common sense. The book covers a lot of ground, ranging over topics as diverse as hermeneutics, the institutionalist theory of art, deconstruction, the aesthetic theories of Danto and Kant, and a host of others. All of this is treated with so much sense and sensitivity that even if one ultimately dissents from the book's central thesis, one will certainly have profited from the quality of the comment and analysis one meets along the way.This is a book that deserves careful attention from scholars in aesthetics, and one that the general reader with an interest in the significance of art and beauty will readily profit from as well.