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Nóra Horváth

Abstract:

Social instability and moral confusion (wrote Santayana) were characteristics of the present age—his own. Today in 2016, more than a hundred years later, moral confusion and social instability, coupled with a strong presence of terror, appear to be givens of our own times. A degree of European confusion and vulnerability tinges basic, everyday talk and discussion. This can be more dangerous than terrorism itself. Europe and the United States demand global answers and solutions, but nationalisms and populisms seem to be clouding the issues, and offering extreme solutions. Santayana’s maintained that perceived chaos was only a manifestation of natural contingencies. I would like to argue presently that Santayana’s philosophy gifts us a serene critical approach to the everyday that can help us deal with what seem to be unprecendented, novel problems.

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Series:

Nóra Horváth

Abstract:

Santayana’s philosophy of the aesthetic life shares many views with contemporary philosophical conceptions of the art of living, including somaesthetics. The aesthetic model of art and beauty represented by Socrates and Plato gave the most important inspiration to Santayana as it did to Foucault, who articulated the genealogy of “desiring man” in his History of Sexuality. Foucault’s ideas are useful for understanding the role of desire in the aesthetic ontology of Santayana’s life-philosophy, while Santayana’s naturalistic appreciation of embodiment is helpful for contextualizing the project of somaesthetics and defending the ideal of an embodied aesthetic way of life, even one that includes sexual desire as a key element and value.