2018 | 1 | 5-7
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Editorial. Art as a Philosophy

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The present Dialogue & Universalism issue is dedicated to the outstanding Polish aesthetician Alicja Kuczyńska. Not intended as a Festschrift, it offers only a modest and fragmentary overview of Kuczyńska’s work, which has made her a major driving force in Polish aesthetic circles. Such a narrow selection will never give a full image, and this is especially true in the case of Kuczyńska, whose broad aesthetic interests led her to explore the art and philosophies of many eras and cultures alongside her main field, the Italian Renaissance, which has been the “pearl in the crown” of her academic work. Kuczyńska’s writings also address the present, the demands of the present are what underlies her explorations. History for her is a way to show that certain experiences, ideas and values are ever-present and existed in the past just as they do today. This Dialogue and Universalism issue concentrated on Alicja Kuczyńska’s intellectual achievements consists of two parts: one—with her own writings, the other—a collection of essays and papers which examine her work. The first section contains texts written specially for the issue as well as several earlier ones, which appeared in Polish. It closes with a collection of most of Kuczyńska’s published writings. The second section opens with a study by Magdalena Borowska, in which she traces Kuczyńska’s intellectual path in a step-by-step account of her academic achievements. In her work, Alicja Kuczyńska strongly addresses the condition of contemporary aesthetics and the ongoing reshuffle in aesthetic values—especially the progressing erosion of the beauty canon, once the main attribute and value of art, and the adoption by art of new roles in today’s world. Changes in aesthetics are forced by changes in art. Kuczyńska belongs to a generation of aestheticians whose task is to change the object of aesthetics, and hence the entire field—from its conceptual basis to its aims and fundamental aesthetician values. On the meta-theoretical level, this generation also had to constitute new relations between aesthetics and other philosophical fields. In Kuczyńska’s understanding, aesthetics is not just the philosophy of art. She puts forward a stronger thesis, characteristic of her whole attitude to art: the very art is for her a philosophy; this thesis gives the heading for the Alicja Kuczyńska issue: ART AS A PHILOSOPHY. For Kuczyńska, the creation and reception of a work of art are specific forms of philosophical reflection, because the spirituality that drives artistic creation and reception is of the same kind as that which stands behind symbolic thought expressed in philosophical writings. Texts written in language and works of art express the same human spirituality, and only differ in the ways of grasping and presenting spiritual phenomena. Another of Kuczyńska’s spectacular conceptions bridges research fields, and, on a higher level, their theoretical foundations. In her view, aesthetics is—or should be—an inherent part of social philosophy, human philosophy, and metaphysics. Art is closely tied to social, ontological and moral phenomena, and, most of all, to humans, Kuczyńska observes, hence it cannot be explained without reference to these spheres, and even to epistemology. Following suggestions by Alicja Kuczyńska herself and Anna Wolińska, the guest editor on this issue, we decided to retain the specific character of Kuczyńska’s Polish-language publications. Therefore, there are no abstracts bar one exception, and few quotations are cited from the Polish published translations of their original versions. *** Like few similar Dialogue & Universalism issues published in earlier years, this one also aims to promote valuable philosophical material that, owing to language barriers, is largely inaccessible to a broader readership. Language barriers are often the reason why the work of outstanding contemporary intellectuals remains largely unknown to today’s philosophy and, it may be feared, will remain lost to the philosophy of future generations. Their reception is narrow solely because it is limited to the users of only one language. This—in spite of our era of rapidly-developing ways of intersubjective communication—seems to suggest that the intellectual world is by no means equally open to all. This Dialogue and Universalism issue realizes a part of Dialogue & Universalism’s mission: to make available the works of outstanding thinkers who write and publish mainly in their relatively little-known native languages, which considerably limits their global reception. By “universalising” such writings, Dialogue & Universalism strives to bring them into the current intellectual mainstream. Without at least heralding them in English—today’s lingua franca just as Latin was in the Middle Ages—these texts, written in the languages of rather small nations, will never be able to enter any kind of true intellectual dialogue. Linguistic limitations disenable true intellectual communication on the global scale. The multiplicity of languages is a sign of cultural advancement, but also a curse on humankind which not only hampers communication but also bans some human groups to the peripheries of culture. Our narrowly-selected presentations of such writings, sometimes taken out of context (as, for instance, in the case of fragments of monographic works, which are usually indivisible wholes), will certainly not guarantee their authors any “equal chances” or ensure their full access to the whole human spiritual sphere. Dialogue & Universalism’s much more modest role is to herald their existence, to bring to broader awareness that there is valuable and unexplored intellectual content beyond world-renowned books and academic periodicals. In doing this, we hope to help create to a minor extent at least some basic premises for dialogue. This issue of Dialogue and Universalism was inspired by Professor Michael H. Mitias.
  • IFiS PAN, Warsaw, Poland
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