The Sensory Intention. Art, Motif and Motivation : a comparative approach, Contemporary

Contemporary Aesthetics, vol. 7, Arnold Berleant Editor, Rhode Island School of Design, USA, 2009.

Philosophers like Gilles Deleuze claimed a new outlook for aesthetics asking for a rethinking of the traditional separation between the theory of sensibility and the theory of art. From a comparative standpoint, this article examines the concept of ’sensory intention’ which in our view might be able to bridge the gap between acting and doing and therefore to link the theory of sensibility and the theory of art.

Traditional Chinese art, and more specifically the script style caoshu[草書],has been chosen as the medium through which to illustrate the theoretical discussion. Analysis of traditional Chinese thought on art allows us to see how approaching art from the point of view of motivation contrasts with early Western aesthetic theory. Aesthetics appears not as the inferior gnoseologia mentioned by A. G. Baumgarten (1750) but, on the contrary, as living knowledge of the common fund of our practices and rationalities.

The discussion addresses the following issues : the traditional views of acting and doing found in Western and Eastern philosophies ; the place of motivation (related to qi[氣]) in Chinese art ; and, consequently, the place of motifs in Chinese traditional art and Western modern painting.

caoshu, Chinese art, John Duns Scotus, motif, motivation, painting, sensory intention, theory of art, theory of sensibility.