Creative Climate: East-West Perspectives on Art, Nature, and the Expressive Body
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This dissertation defends the need for a renewed conception of nature as seen through the lens of an artist. By exploring how the relationship between art and nature has been conceived by 19th and 20th century European and Japanese philosophers (including Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Nishida, and Watsuji), I offer a way of thinking about artistic expression that recognizes the active, expressive character of artistic media and, more broadly, nature itself. Through an analysis of the embodied foundations of artistic creation, I develop a non-subjectivist account of expression that incorporates the climatic milieu. I maintain that the continuity between the embodied self and its life-world implies that the origin of creativity exceeds the will of the individual. This, in turn, implies that nature and the material on which art draws are expressive. According to this view, nature is not an indifferent realm of "mere" material and chemical processes distinct from the domain of culture and meaning. Rather, it is a creative climate from which the artist draws and to which the artist contributes. In conclusion, I maintain that this view has the potential to inform a more sustainable and ethically sound attitude towards the natural world.