Books on philosophy and beauty, art, narrative, or metaphor
July 30, 2013 1:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm well-read but pretty uneducated when it comes to philosophy, aside from having a working knowledge of the Post-Structuralists. I'm looking for philosophical books (it doesn't matter it they're canonical or not--I have not read most of the canon, but I also haven't read a lot of related books) that explore one or more of these areas: beauty, art, or narratives. (I just started Lyotard tonight, so no need to suggest him.)

I have also plundered the following thread and am checking out the suggested books:

I write a lot of poetry, so if any focus on poetry, that'd be cool. (I know about Poetry Language Thought.)

But I also like a lot of other topics under these broad umbrellas. Anything, really. Just in case you need more specific tips, conceptual art/writing, installation art, storytelling, minimalism in music, the nouvelle vague in film, just about anything to do with gender, and non-narrative/avant garde cinema are always winning topics in my book.
posted by mermaidcafe to Religion & Philosophy (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm far from literate in aesthetic philosophy, but Ranciere might be a good starting point. His latest book, Aisthesis has just come out and it might be a good (dense, heavy, French) read.
posted by nerdfish at 1:56 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is off the beaten track, but I just came upon it myself. I'm sure the original, and the modern update, are available digitally.

The Golden Bough

Apparently, this is the BIBLE of comparing mythology to religion. Good stuff.

posted by jbenben at 1:59 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Russell's History of Western Philosophy is a very good read and may give you a feel for philosophers you'd like to read more of. It's not a perfectly accurate and balanced account, but imo it more than makes up for it with brio and wit.
posted by Segundus at 2:06 AM on July 30, 2013

You might like something like Safranski's biography of Heidegger, which will probably have some decent explanations of issues in the field. ( I was a big fan of his Schopenhauer biography).
posted by thelonius at 2:22 AM on July 30, 2013

I really got a lot out of the The Art Instinct The Mating Mind, which is an ev-psych approach to 'why do humans make art'.

I'd also suggest Jun'ichirĊ Tanizaki In Praise of Shadows about light and aesthetics along with Calvino's Six Memos for this millenium.

You may want to grind through this list of architecture books for the philosophy-heavy ones.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:23 AM on July 30, 2013

Gilles Deleuze, both Cinema I and II
Formless, A User's Guide (if you can find it at a decent price)
posted by rhizome at 2:48 AM on July 30, 2013

This podcast is a great introduction to a lot of philosophical topics. You can pick and choose the ones that interest you, you don't need to listen to the whole series.

As far as your specific interest in philosophy and art, you might enjoy Theodor Adorno, though he was more than a bit curmudgeonly about modern art.
posted by empath at 4:11 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art," and, for poetry in particular, all of On the Way to Language (you know about Poetry, Language, Thought).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:52 AM on July 30, 2013

There's so much out there.. An overview I referenced a lot as an undergrad when trying to get a handle on theory was Critical Terms for Literary Study, might be a good jumping-off point.

I really dig Deleuze's Essays Critical and Clinical.
posted by citron at 10:02 AM on July 30, 2013

One of the most influential works in aesthetics by an analytic philosopher, in the past 30 years, is Kendall Walton's Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts.

A couple works on narrative that aren't by Paul Ricoeur: Peter Goldie, The Mess Inside: Narrative, Emotion, and the Mind; Gregory Currie, Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories.

For a poet and a philosopher reflecting on both of those things and their relationship, check out Jan Zwicky, Wisdom and Metaphor. Her Lyric Philosophy is also excellent.

You may also find something of interest referred to in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on metaphor by David Hills.
posted by Beardman at 10:37 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Beauty, A Very Short Introduction is probably a good survey and introduction.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you for all the tips! Some of these I'm familiar with and some are brand new, but regardless, I have plenty to read and I like that. I was able to track down a decent amount of these in pdf form too, so even better!
posted by mermaidcafe at 10:45 AM on August 4, 2013

I second Beardman's suggestions.

Why not go for some classics? Hume's essays: 'Of the Standard of Taste' and 'On Tragedy' are very lucid and both online here.

R.G. Collingwood's Principles of Art is also a classic (link to excerpts)

How about Edmund Burke's A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of The Sublime and Beautiful as well?

Or dare I suggest Kant's Critique of Judgement (Creed-Meredith translation)? (skip the intro, but do seek out a secondary text)
posted by leibniz at 3:58 PM on August 11, 2013

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