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Review: François Jullien, This Strange Idea of the Beautiful



Stephen K. Levine

When we use the arts in therapy, do we understand what we are doing? Do we rely on the concept of art that comes from our aesthetic tradition? Or does our work put this concept into question?

François Jullien’s book, This Strange Idea of the Beautiful, raises these questions in the reader’s mind by interrogating the Western tradition of aesthetics through a comparative study with Chinese writings on classical landscape paintings. The Western concept of beauty, which underlies the whole metaphysical separation between the sensible and intelligible worlds, is put into question by seeing that when the Chinese literati have written about classical landscapes, they do not use the term “beautiful,” which implies a disembodied ideal form that can be viewed at a distance from the spectator. Rather, they use a multiplicity of words which describe various aspects of the landscape, all of which draw the viewer into relationship with the work.

This review suggests that the use of expressive arts in therapy and education cannot base itself on the taken-for-granted concept of art which is embedded in our tradition. Rather, we must draw upon both Western and Eastern thinking in order to find a point of view which suits the actual practice of our work.

当我们在治疗中使用艺术的时候,我们是否明白我们在做什么?我们是否依靠来自审美 传统概念的艺术?抑或我们的工作对这个概念提出了疑问?

弗朗索瓦•于连的书《美的奇特理念》通过对中国关于古典风景画的著作的比较研究来 探讨美学的西方传统,从而引发了读者对这些问题的思考。于连对美学的西方概念,强 调感性和理性世界之间的整体性形而上学的分离提出质疑,因为书中提到当中国文人描 写关于经典的风景时,他们不使用 “美”这一术语,而这个词语意味着从观察者角度 远观产生的抽象的理想形式。同时,他们使用各种众多词语描述景观,把观众吸引到与 作品的关系之中。

本书评建议,在艺术治疗和艺术教育领域应用表达性艺术时不能依靠植根于我们传统中 的理所当然被接受的艺术概念。相反,我们必须找到一个角度,包含西方和东方的思想 以适合我们工作的实际做法。

Stephen K. Levine

1 The European Graduate School, Switzerland

1 Gadamer, H.G., (2004), Truth and Method, London: Continuum

2 Knill, P., Levine, E., Levine, S. (2004), Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward a Therapeutic Aesthetics, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

3 Jullien, F. (2016), This Strange Idea of the Beautiful, London: Seagull

4 Levinas, E., (1998) Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press

5 McNiff, S, (1998) Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, Berkeley: Shambhala.

6 Moon, C. (2001), Studio Art Therapy: Cultivating the Artist Identity in the Art Therapist (2001), London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


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