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The Aesthetics of the American Dream: Experiencing the Visual as Meaning Beyond Truth. [Paperback]

Dennis Lama Stevens

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Book Description

1 Oct 2011
This research employs the methods of philosophical anthropology, visual rhetoric and hermeneutics to examine American visual culture and a historical anthropology of ideas in light of the core tenets of the American Dream. Within this study the American Dream is problematized by the perspective that it is actually derived from the conflicting perspectives of positive and negative liberty and serves as a myth that animates the paradoxical relationship between self-interest and social obligation. For this reason, the two ideals of liberty are deemed to be at odds with one another in the distribution of sensible within American politics.

From this basis, this research broadly examines an inherited legacy of intellectual traditions that help to form the basis of American historical consciousness and ultimately gives shape to the distribution of the sensible within American politics. As a broad intellectual legacy, the logic of Descartes, the rhetoric of Aristotle, and the ideals of the French Enlightenment further problematize American identity and serve to influence specific aspects of social theory and other forms of the sensible that have been derived from the inherently American traditions of Transcendentalism and Pragmatism.

Further, the function of myths, symbols and linguistic framing are examined within context of American culture to highlight how the notion of common sense is supported and denied through the various forms of rhetoric. Within the context of rhetorical studies, the perspective of philosophical hermeneutics is used to emphasize how visual rhetoric can be examined within the context of visual culture against the background of a historical anthropology of ideas. In this way, tradition, ritual, ceremony and more generally the performative are shown to animate specific aspects of our moral imagination. Thus the symbolic is reinforced through visually rhetorical frameworks, thereby demonstrating the inherent conflicts within the constellation of contemporary American identities.

The outcome of this study leads to a question about how reflexivity and interpretive understanding can be encouraged within the context of American media. Within this framework the hermeneutical question of meaning rather than truth, becomes central to consequential contexts that would prominently include the fields of education, culture and the arts.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Unknown (1 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1244778028
  • ISBN-13: 978-1244778023
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 18.9 x 1.2 cm

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