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(1987) Collected philosophical papers, Dordrecht, Springer.

Reality and its shadow

Emmanuel Levinas

pp. 1-13

It is generally, dogmatically, admitted that the function of art is expression, and that artistic expression rests on cognition. An artist — even a painter, even a musician — tells. He tells of the ineffable. An artwork prolongs, and goes beyond, common perception. What common perception trivializes and misses, an artwork apprehends in its irreducible essence. It thus coincides with metaphysical intuition. Where common language abdicates, a poem or a painting speaks. Thus an artwork is more real than reality and attests to the dignity of the artistic imagination, which sets itself up as knowledge of the absolute. Though it be disparaged as an aesthetic canon, realism nevertheless retains all its prestige. In fact it is repudiated only in the name of a higher realism. Surrealism is a superlative.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-009-4364-3_1

Full citation:

Levinas, E. (1987). Reality and its shadow, in Collected philosophical papers, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 1-13.

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