Heidegger's Conception of World and the Possibility of Great Art
Heidegger, great art, cathedrals, temples
Influential interpretations of Heidegger's Origin of the Work of Art focus on the view that great art is massive and communal—typically structures like temples and cathedrals. This approach, however, faces two interpretive problems. First, what are we to do with artworks in the essay that clearly are not monumental or communal, such as van Gogh's Shoes? Second, how should we understand our experience of works such as the Greek temple, which once were but are no longer central in this way? Heidegger himself says that great art of the past becomes either a relic of the past or a mere object of aesthetic experience, but his description of his own experience with a Greek temple seems to contradict this. To understand Heidegger's views on art—including his explicit claims about the limited vitality of great art of the past and his unintentional case for the continued power of great art of the past—it is crucial to distinguish, first, between Heidegger's notions of world and worldhood, and, second, between two senses of what makes art great—world disclosure and world gathering. Doing so allows us to make better sense both of the essay as a whole and the potential continued vitality of great art of the past.
Original Publication Citation
“Heidegger’s Conception of World and the Possibility of Great Art.” The Southern Journal of Philosophy
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
White, Justin, "Heidegger's Conception of World and the Possibility of Great Art" (2018). Philosophy Faculty Publications. 3.
The Southern Journal of Philosophy