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Art and a People


In this dissertation I argue for a reading of Heidegger's philosophy of art through which we come to understand Heidegger as thinking that great works of art found communities. In order to make this argument I first layout the debate among Heidegger scholars about the most important work of art in Heidegger's lecture ``Origin of the Work of Art." Understanding what exactly Heidegger’s philosophy of art is lies in part on distinguishing which of the artworks Heidegger discusses in his lecture "Origin of the Work of Art" he takes to be the most important work. Whichever work of art one takes Heidegger to be emphasizing will determine what one thinks the overall goal of the lecture is. Because of this, I dedicate a chapter to examining the strongest arguments in favor of each of the three main artworks in Heidegger’s lecture. At the conclusion of this chapter I side with those who argue that the ancient Greek temple is the most important major work of art discussed by Heidegger in the lecture, but propose that the reason it is the most important is that it is the work of art which Heidegger understands to be able to found a community. The two chapters that follow provide further justification for this reading by examining Heidegger's discussions about the relation between the poets and the gods, distinguishing the concept 'world' from 'community,' and addressing possible concerns about Heidegger's involvement with the Nazis. Toward the end of the dissertation I propose that many thinkers have developed theories about the relation between art and a people and highlight this theme by discussing Hannah Arendt's Kantian political philosophy, developed from Kant's work on aesthetics.

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