Using Li Zehou’s theories of aesthetics, argues for the importance of the arts to philosophy.
In this wide-ranging examination of the concept of zhi ("the heart's intent") as the foundation of Chinese aesthetics, Marthe Atwater Chandler places traditional Chinese aesthetics in conversation with contemporary Chinese theory and traditional western philosophy. Poetry, music, painting, and calligraphy played much the same role in the development of thought in China as science did for philosophy in the west, with important implications for the relationship between art, religion, politics, and morality. Inspired by the work of Li Zehou, a leading contemporary Chinese philosopher and scholar of Kant who traced the relationship between philosophy and art throughout Chinese history, Chandler applies Li's theoretical structure to specific traditions in Chinese art. Throughout the book she considers the relationship of aesthetics and religion in the Chinese adoption of Buddhism, the aesthetics of horse painting, and the personal and political in philosophy in the work of Su Dongpo. By examining particular works of art, Expressing the Heart's Intent argues that if philosophy ignores the arts, it is immeasurably impoverished.
Marthe Atwater Chandler is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Asian Studies at DePauw University and the coeditor (with Ronnie Littlejohn) of Polishing the Chinese Mirror: Essays in Honor of Henry Rosemont, Jr.