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Volume 50 Issue 10
December 2018
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Citation: Yanping GAO. Herder on Touching: Aesthetics of “Dunkelheit” (Darkness)[J]. Academic Monthly, 2018, 50(10): 130-139. shu

Herder on Touching: Aesthetics of “Dunkelheit” (Darkness)

  • This article explores Herder’s theory on touching, which is an indispensable, characteristic part of his whole aesthetics. This article argues that his theory on touching on one hand is embedded in his whole philosophical thinking that appreciates embodiment and feeling, on the other hand, it is based on his ambition of reconstructing aesthetics which was coined and established by Baumgarten. Herder seriously reconsidered touching’s significance and position in the field of aesthetics and claimed that touching should be a part of the aesthetics project. Herder embraced " dunkelheit” (darkness) as the ground of the soul and the ontological status of soul itself, and he argued that the sense of touching is a kind of dunkel (ambiguous) sense and leads the toucher to the the kingdom of darkness, the ground of the soul. Through a comparison between touching and seeing, Herder praised the value of touching for it presents the essence of reality and help the toucher arrive at the level of darkness through the slowness, ambiguity in perception and " in einander” with the touched object. Therefore Herder redeemed the epistemological, aesthetic and metaphysical value of touching. In some sense, Herder’s emphasis on feeling and darkness,etc. also exposed his criticism towards the Enlightenment, and prefigured the spirit of German Romanticism.
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        Herder on Touching: Aesthetics of “Dunkelheit” (Darkness)

        Abstract: This article explores Herder’s theory on touching, which is an indispensable, characteristic part of his whole aesthetics. This article argues that his theory on touching on one hand is embedded in his whole philosophical thinking that appreciates embodiment and feeling, on the other hand, it is based on his ambition of reconstructing aesthetics which was coined and established by Baumgarten. Herder seriously reconsidered touching’s significance and position in the field of aesthetics and claimed that touching should be a part of the aesthetics project. Herder embraced " dunkelheit” (darkness) as the ground of the soul and the ontological status of soul itself, and he argued that the sense of touching is a kind of dunkel (ambiguous) sense and leads the toucher to the the kingdom of darkness, the ground of the soul. Through a comparison between touching and seeing, Herder praised the value of touching for it presents the essence of reality and help the toucher arrive at the level of darkness through the slowness, ambiguity in perception and " in einander” with the touched object. Therefore Herder redeemed the epistemological, aesthetic and metaphysical value of touching. In some sense, Herder’s emphasis on feeling and darkness,etc. also exposed his criticism towards the Enlightenment, and prefigured the spirit of German Romanticism.

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