Aesthetics and Marxism: Chinese Aesthetic Marxists and Their by Kang Liu

By Kang Liu

Although chinese language Marxism—primarily represented through Maoism—is quite often obvious by means of Western intellectuals as monolithic, Liu Kang argues that its practices and tasks are as assorted as these in Western Marxism, relatively within the region of aesthetics. during this comparative research of ecu and chinese language Marxist traditions, Liu unearths the level to which chinese language Marxists contain rules approximately aesthetics and tradition of their theories and practices. In doing so, he constructs a totally new realizing of chinese language Marxism. faraway from being secondary issues in chinese language Marxism, aesthetics and tradition are in truth significant issues. during this appreciate, such Marxists are just like their Western opposite numbers, even supposing Europeans have had little figuring out of the chinese language adventure. Liu strains the family tree of aesthetic discourse in either sleek China and the West because the period of classical German inspiration, exhibiting the place conceptual alterations and divergences have happened within the traditions. He examines the paintings of Mao Zedong, Lu Xun, Li Zehou, Qu Qiubai, and others in China, and from the West he discusses Kant, Schiller, Schopenhauer, and Marxist theorists together with Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, and Marcuse. whereas stressing the variety of Marxist positions inside China in addition to within the West, Liu explains how rules of tradition and aesthetics have provided a positive imaginative and prescient for a postrevolutionary society and feature affected a large box of concerns related to the issues of modernity. Forcefully argued and theoretically subtle, this publication will entice scholars and students of up to date Marxism, cultural stories, aesthetics, and sleek chinese language tradition, politics, and beliefs.

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Extra info for Aesthetics and Marxism: Chinese Aesthetic Marxists and Their Western Contemporaries

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In this classic Chinese novel, Wang saw a mutual illumination of the Schopenhauerian denial of desire and a tragic vision of life. Such a vision looks like an appearance of Heideggerian authentic being, through the wholesale immolation and abnegation of worldly desires, achievable by an unobtrusive Taoist-Buddhist poesis incarnated by the novel itself. The second characteristic of Wang’s modernism was his adamant insistence on the autonomy and separation of art and scholarship. This was posed against Western-inspired reformist or revolutionary ideologies that aesthetics, modernity, and alternative modernity 21 favored scientific reason.

Cai’s enlightenment aesthetic project, though not a Marxist formation, highlights the intrinsic contradiction between an urban, cosmopolitan vision of modernity and a rural, agrarian, nativist orientation. Cai’s aesthetic concept is twofold. First, the aesthetic was conceived as a preeminent discourse of enlightenment and cultural revolution, against China’s stagnant tradition; second, it provided a humanistic and utopian dimension to Chinese modernity, influenced primarily by Western scientific reason.

In fact, the absence of any consideration of China’s political or economic situation in Cai’s project much weakened its effectiveness and viability. Although Cai’s project of enlightenment and aesthetic education revealed serious predicaments in China’s modernity, it also signaled certain possible directions for an alternative modernity. The liberalist one, pursued mainly by non-Marxist, procapitalist intellectuals represented by Hu Shi, faced insurmountable difficulties and internal contradictions.

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