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The Phenomenological Ontology of Literature

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image of Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Literary ontology is essentially a phenomenological issue rather than one of epistemology, sociology, or psychology. It is a theory of the phenomenological essence intuited from a sense of beauty, based on the phenomenological ontology of beauty, which puts into “brackets” the sociohistorical premises and material conditions of aesthetic phenomena. Beauty is the “objectified” emotion. This is the phenomenological definition of the essence of beauty, which manifests itself on three levels, namely “emotion qua selfconsciousness,” “sense of beauty qua emotion,” and “sentiment qua sense of beauty.” Art on the other hand is the “objectification of emotion” whose most general and closest manner to “humanity” is literature and poetry. Poetry is the origin of language and the linguistic essence is a metaphor. Language as “the house of being” is both “thinking” and “poetry.” Literature expresses the essence of art in the most direct way and, in traditional Chinese aesthetic terminology, literature is the “language of emotion” conveyed by the writer based on his own emotion towards the “language of scene.”


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