Doubt and Indifference: Threshold Conditions within the Work of Art

Andrew Benjamin


The project of this paper is part of a larger attempt to develop a philosophy of art. Integral to that project is the distinction between aesthetics and a philosophy of art. It is always possible to consider affect as an end in itself if what is at stake involves a series of psychological claims. Equally, it is possible to engage with such claims philosophically. However, there is no clear connection between either possibility and a philosophy of art. In the latter the presentation of affect is always located within images. Images are produced by the work of materials. Images have to be understood in terms of that production. They have a material presence. If there is a failure to insist on the complex materiality of art’s work as comprising a locus of philosophical inquiry, then any subsequent theory of the image is unable to contribute to the development of a genuine philosophy of art. Moreover, within the history of art images are informed form. The informing of form has two elements. Form is informed firstly by the history in which those images are located, and secondly by their capacity to be reworked. The latter can be understood as a futural coming-into-relation and thus the possibility that images and the elements from which they are comprised are able to have an afterlife. The afterlife is forms’ capacity to continue to be informed. It is this latter possibility which necessitates that hermeneutic concerns supplant aesthetic ones in the creation of a philosophy of art.


Doubt; Indifference; Gesture; Threshold; Deposition; Rosso Fiorentino

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