For the Love of Beauty

For the Love of Beauty : Art History and the Moral Foundations of Aesthetic Judgment

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For most of the last century the methodology of art history has followed a positivist approach, emphasizing form and style, fact and history as the means of studying works of art. By contrast the philosophical pursuit of truth, once central to the fine arts and humanities has largely been abandoned. In For The Love of Beauty, Arthur Pontynen offers a searching and ambitious critique of modern aesthetic practice that aims to restore the pursuit of the knowledge of reality--Being--to its rightful place.

Pontynen begins by addressing the question of why the pursuit of truth (be it called Dao, Dharma, God, Logos, Ideal, etc.) is no longer acceptable in academic circles even though it has been intrinsic to the purpose of art at most times and in most cultures. Lacking the pursuit of truth, of some degree of knowledge of what is true and good, the humanities necessarily lack intellectual and cultural grounding and purpose. Fields of study such as philosophy, music, art, and history are therefore trivialized and brutalized. Pontynen's focus on the study of the visual arts details the how the denial of purpose and quality in modernist and postmodernist aesthetics has denied art any possibility of transcending entertainment, therapy, or propaganda.

In place of the established narratives, Pontynen offers a counter-narrative based on a cross-cultural pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful. He recognizes that substantively different cultural traditions exist and that the truth claims of each may be valid in whole or in part. He shows how the history of art parallels the intellectual history of Western culture and how these parallels affect both aesthetics and ethics. Pontynen engages with those elements of modernist and postmodernist thought that might be true. His purpose is not simply to deny their validity but to engage a viewpoint that does not privilege the notion of a purposeless cosmos. For the Love of Beauty will be of interest to art historians, students of aesthetics, ethics, and intellectual historians.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 371 pages
  • 157.5 x 231.1 x 35.6mm | 748.44g
  • Transaction Publishers
  • Somerset, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0765803011
  • 9780765803016

Review quote

-This is an astonishing book, one I hardly hoped to see appear in our time. It reaffirms purposeful and morally coherent reality as the ground for the pursuit of beauty, and brilliantly brings into play the ideas of thinkers ranging from Eastern and Western Church Fathers to Lao Tzu, and including such fascinating moderns as Thomas Molnar and ?tienne Gilson, whose key voices are foolishly ignored by most of today's academics. - -

--Jonathan Chaves, Professor of Chinese, The George Washington University

-This book offers that which frustrated scholars of the humanities have been waiting: substance. Pontynen deftly connects the dots through western culture from what it is that a culture believes, to what it makes, to how it behaves. For the Love of Beauty offers a compelling defense of truth, goodness and beauty that quickens and inspires and makes one wince at the vapidity of much that passes today for scholarship.-

--Dr. Rod Miller Associate Professor and Chair, Art Department, Hendrix College

-A remarkable change is occurring in western publishing. We were used to practical and pragmatic approach on the US-side and philosophical on the European. Now, that is changing: Americans write -imperial,- not to say meta-historical works and Europeans are interested in concrete figures and party-politics. [In For the Love of Beauty] Professor Pontynen joins now the American agenda; he focuses with great erudition on the artistic side of world history. In well-structured chapters, he satisfies our interest in aspects of our past and present.-

--Thomas Molnar Professor, University of Budapest "This is an astonishing book, one I hardly hoped to see appear in our time. It reaffirms purposeful and morally coherent reality as the ground for the pursuit of beauty, and brilliantly brings into play the ideas of thinkers ranging from Eastern and Western Church Fathers to Lao Tzu, and including such fascinating moderns as Thomas Molnar and ?tienne Gilson, whose key voices are foolishly ignored by most of today's academics. " -

--Jonathan Chaves, Professor of Chinese, The George Washington University

"This book offers that which frustrated scholars of the humanities have been waiting: substance. Pontynen deftly connects the dots through western culture from what it is that a culture believes, to what it makes, to how it behaves. For the Love of Beauty offers a compelling defense of truth, goodness and beauty that quickens and inspires and makes one wince at the vapidity of much that passes today for scholarship."

--Dr. Rod Miller Associate Professor and Chair, Art Department, Hendrix College

"A remarkable change is occurring in western publishing. We were used to practical and pragmatic approach on the US-side and philosophical on the European. Now, that is changing: Americans write "imperial," not to say meta-historical works and Europeans are interested in concrete figures and party-politics. [In For the Love of Beauty] Professor Pontynen joins now the American agenda; he focuses with great erudition on the artistic side of world history. In well-structured chapters, he satisfies our interest in aspects of our past and present."

--Thomas Molnar Professor, University of Budapest "This is an astonishing book, one I hardly hoped to see appear in our time. It reaffirms purposeful and morally coherent reality as the ground for the pursuit of beauty, and brilliantly brings into play the ideas of thinkers ranging from Eastern and Western Church Fathers to Lao Tzu, and including such fascinating moderns as Thomas Molnar and ?tienne Gilson, whose key voices are foolishly ignored by most of today's academics. " -

--Jonathan Chaves, Professor of Chinese, The George Washington University

"This book offers that which frustrated scholars of the humanities have been waiting: substance. Pontynen deftly connects the dots through western culture from what it is that a culture believes, to what it makes, to how it behaves. For the Love of Beauty offers a compelling defense of truth, goodness and beauty that quickens and inspires and makes one wince at the vapidity of much that passes today for scholarship."

--Dr. Rod Miller Associate Professor and Chair, Art Department, Hendrix College

"A remarkable change is occurring in western publishing. We were used to practical and pragmatic approach on the US-side and philosophical on the European. Now, that is changing: Americans write "imperial," not to say meta-historical works and Europeans are interested in concrete figures and party-politics. [In For the Love of Beauty] Professor Pontynen joins now the American agenda; he focuses with great erudition on the artistic side of world history. In well-structured chapters, he satisfies our interest in aspects of our past and present."

--Thomas Molnar Professor, University of Budapest "This is an astonishing book, one I hardly hoped to see appear in our time. It reaffirms purposeful and morally coherent reality as the ground for the pursuit of beauty, and brilliantly brings into play the ideas of thinkers ranging from Eastern and Western Church Fathers to Lao Tzu, and including such fascinating moderns as Thomas Molnar and ?tienne Gilson, whose key voices are foolishly ignored by most of today's academics. " "-"

"- Jonathan Chaves, Professor of Chinese, The George Washington University"

"This book offers that which frustrated scholars of the humanities have been waiting: substance. Pontynen deftly connects the dots through western culture from what it is that a culture believes, to what it makes, to how it behaves. For the Love of Beauty offers a compelling defense of truth, goodness and beauty that quickens and inspires and makes one wince at the vapidity of much that passes today for scholarship."" "

"- Dr. Rod Miller Associate Professor and Chair, Art Department, Hendrix College"

"A remarkable change is occurring in western publishing. We were used to practical and pragmatic approach on the US-side and philosophical on the European. Now, that is changing: Americans write "imperial," not to say meta-historical works and Europeans are interested in concrete figures and party-politics. [In For the Love of Beauty] Professor Pontynen joins now the American agenda; he focuses with great erudition on the artistic side of world history. In well-structured chapters, he satisfies our interest in aspects of our past and present."" "

"- Thomas Molnar Professor, University of Budapest"
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About Arthur Pontynen

Arthur Pontynen was chairman of the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.
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