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A very interesting and helpful article on the evolution of “Indian aesthetics” has been provided by Parul Dave Mukherji, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India (see link below). Among the main points Mukherji makes in this essay are the following:
- In the 1950s and 1960s, following the establishment of India as a nation independent from British colonial control, there was strong interest in exploring and defining the nature of an Indian aesthetics.
- During that period, some scholars tried to find Sanskrit equivalents for western critical concepts, while other scholars rejected such comparative work.
- This original interest in exploring Indian aesthetics was short-lived, partly because there was a decreasing interest in aesthetics in general after the 1960s. The very idea of aesthetics became suspect because of a growing interest in cultural studies and the social sciences.
- Recently, however, there has been a renewed interest in aesthetics both in the west and in India.
- Recent discussions of Indian aesthetics have tended to compare Indian ideas and Indian art to those of the west.
- For example,
The decade of 1980s witnessed the publication of Padma Sudhi’s Aesthetic Theories of India, which revived [the] comparative approach advocated by K C Pandey. However, the sections on Indian and western aesthetic theories remain juxtaposed and do not speak to each other. Leaving large tracts of references from Sanskrit sources un-translated hampers her flow of her arguments and assumes a singular address to a 'native' reader.
- In the 1990s, V K Chari’s important book titled Sanskrit Criticism
underlined the bearing of philosophy, logic and linguistics on literary/aesthetic theories. Much more critical than his predecessors, Chari deployed comparativism that set up a conversation between western and Indian theories of aesthetics and brought out [the] cultural specificity of both.
- Most recently, Indian aesthetics has tended to respond in various ways to trends of globalization. Interestingly, one impact of this emphasis on globalism has been to stress not so much the differences that exist between cultures but rather what human beings have in common:
Perhaps, as a reaction to the last decade of the dominance of culture studies approach that underlined plurality of cultural specificities, the new trend of global aesthetics foregrounds commonality of sense perception that cuts across cultural difference. At its extreme lies the stress on universalism that has led many practitioners towards the biological given of [the] human brain and to explore the emerging field of neuro-aesthetics.
- Yet there is still much to be said (according to Mukherji) for an approach that emphasizes cultural and historical differences and that emphasizes the need to study aesthetics from a strongly historical point of view, using a strongly historical method.
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