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schopenhauer and dewey

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Dewey and Schopenhauer: Art’s Relation and Value to Life
Using my own experience living in the wilderness, and bibliography on both authors, I shall do a comparison between Dewey and Schopenhauer’s views on art; life, and nature. Afterwards, I aim to show whose view I find more convincing.
Both Dewey and Schopenhauer consider that art comes from nature. To Schopenhauer, it is our consciousness what makes us see things in relation to ourselves. Unlike Kant, Schopenhauer considers that there is an interest in things, as we do not see objects in relation to their intrinsic qualities. Instead, we see objects in terms of utility to ourselves. (Ford 1). Also, to the German philosopher, beauty is both subjective, and objective, which means that everything can be beautiful. What changes is our perception, and the mind state in which we are at that moment.
In that light, we can see that Schopenhauer intends to outpace Kant’s aesthetics. To Schopenhauer, we all have the capacity to transform our consciousness, to free ourselves from the suffering with the aid of aesthetic contemplation. To illustrate the pass from the suffering to the aesthetic consciousness, I shall recount one of my experiences in the wilderness. When I was there I was filthy, past the point of exhaustion, and all I wanted to do was scream. For the next two months, I hiked, lived under a tarp, ate terrible food, and cried a lot. Little did I know at the time, nature was going to be my savior.

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After extreme duress, I was able to understand that nature sublimed me, that instead of fighting I had to embrace the experience, and transform, albeit temporarily, my mental state from the suffering to a contemplative state of the sublime in nature.
Regarding Dewy, we can say that his aesthetics refers to experience, and the way we perceive things. To Dewey, there is an importance on the way we perceive aesthetics as an everyday thing, rather than something far from our everyday experience. To Dewey, like Kant, the aesthetic experience must be unified and complete, as it must involve the full engagement of our mental capacities (Leddy 1). To Dewey, aesthetic experience is active rather than contemplative. Involves an interaction with the living things, and the environment. It does not include our surroundings, but our culture, and past. In that sense, to Dewey, every experience holds an aesthetic quality, regardless of being of the body or the mind. To embody the aesthetic experience, the American philosopher, wanted integration of art in everyday life. The “experience” gives us the ability to open the doors of the museums and let the art fill the streets, making art continuous. To Dewey, aesthetics is transformational and functional. To him, any experience has an aesthetic potential, and can give an aesthetic experience. In that part, both philosophers coincide.
I find Dewey’s view of experience having a lot to do with how we perceive art more convincing. He believes life is about the process of existing in an environment and struggling while overcoming that struggle. In Dewey’s aesthetics life overcomes and transforms the opposing factors to achieve higher significance. And the only way to achieve harmony is through reflective action, and incorporate those reflections into our life (Kubala 3) I witnessed this hands on when I faced many challenges living in the wilderness. Now, looking back on my experience, I have learned that overcoming difficult hurdles in life is tough, but overcoming those hurdles is a learning experience and takes time. Resilience is a life-long art and will consistently be used in one’s life, but resilience cannot be learned without a struggle.
Works Cited
Ford, D. “Art and the Aesthetic Experience in Arthur Schopenhauer.” Journal of The University of York Philosophy Society. Web. 3 May 2015. https://dialecticonline.wordpress.com/autumnwinter-issue-no-1/art-and-the-aesthetic-experience-in-arthur-schopenhauer/Kubala, R. “DEWEY ON FUNCTIONAL BEAUTY AND THE REALM OF THE AESTHETIC.”Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 8.1 (2011). University of Cambridge. Web. <http://www.pjaesthetics.org/index.php/pjaesthetics/article/download/62/59.>.
Leddy, Tom. “Dewey’s Aesthetics.” Stanford University. Stanford University, 29 Sept. 2006. Web. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dewey-aesthetics/#ArtExp

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