Is it body or spirit that makes us appreciate beauty and create art? The distinguished Canadian critic Ekbert Faas argues that, with occasional exceptions like Montaigne and Mandeville, the mainstream of western thinking about beauty from Plato onwards has overemphasised the spirit, or even execrated the body and sexuality as inimical to the aesthetic disposition. The Genealogy of Aesthetics redresses this imbalance via a radical re-reading of seminal thinkers like Plato, Augustine, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Heidegger and Derrida. Professor Faas attacks both the traditional and postmodern consensus, and offers a new pro-sensualist aesthetics, heavily influenced by Nietzsche, that draws on contemporary neo-Darwinian cognitive science. A work of both polemic and considerable learning, The Genealogy of Aesthetics marks a radical new departure in thinking about art, of interest to all serious students of the humanities and cognitive sciences, which no future work in this field can afford to ignore.
EKBERT FAAS is Professor of Humanities and Graduate English at York University, Toronto, Canada. He has published very widely as both critic (e.g. Shakespeare's Poetics, Cambridge, 1986), biographer (Robert Creeley: a biography) and novelist (The Revolutionist and Mengele's Friend).