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The book "Aesthetics of the Renaissance", Losev A.F.: review, description and reviews
The book "Aesthetics of the Renaissance", Losev A.F.: review, description and reviews

The Renaissance is of global importance in the history of culture. Her procession began in Italy at the beginning of the 14th century and ended in the first decades of the 17th. The peak came in the 15-16th century, covering the whole of Europe. Historians, art critics, and writers have devoted many works to the Renaissance, revealing the “progressiveness” and “humanistic ideals” of this period. But the Russian philosopher A. F. Losev in the book “Aesthetics of the Renaissance” refutes the worldview positions of his opponents. How does he explain this?

Losev A F Aesthetics of the Renaissance
Losev A F Aesthetics of the Renaissance

Essence of the Renaissance

The term "revival" is found for the first time among the Italian humanists, and was introduced into use by J. Michelet, a French historian of the 19th century. Now this term has become a metaphor for cultural flourishing, since the Renaissance, which replaced the Middle Ages, preceded the Enlightenment. Society has become interested into a person as a separate person, there was an interest in the culture of Antiquity - a revival.

Russian philosopher A. F. Losev refutes that the Renaissance began in Europe, and examines this in detail. In the introduction to his work The Aesthetics of the Renaissance, Losev emphasizes that the term "Renaissance" in its exact sense can only be attributed to Italy in the 15th-16th centuries. But, calling themselves "revivalists", the Italians greatly exaggerate, since "revivalism" manifested itself in other cultures, and this must be taken into account.

renaissance aesthetics book
renaissance aesthetics book

Eastern Renaissance

Losev refers to the orientalist N. I. Conrad, who did a lot to make it possible to talk about the Chinese Renaissance, which took place in the second half of the 7 the forerunner of the genuine Renaissance in China, which was observed in the 11th and 12th centuries. Another researcher of the Eastern Renaissance, V. I. Semanov, completely rejects this phenomenon in the East and notes only a “slow succession” in the development of life and literature.

Continuing the summary of Losev's Aesthetics of the Renaissance, it should be noted that the author gives examples of other great Renaissances: Iran of the 11-15th centuries, A. Navoi became a prominent representative of that era and the founder of Uzbek literature. Then he refers to the work of V. K. Galoyan, who argued that much earlier than the Western, the Eastern revival began, in particular in Armenia.

The Georgian Renaissance of the 11th-12th centuries is explained in his work by an academicianSh. I. Nutsubidze. The “pilots” of the Renaissance in Europe were Georgian thinkers, who were ahead of Western Europe by several centuries, sums up Losev in the first chapter of “The Aesthetics of the Renaissance”. Alexei Fedorovich ends his brief overview of the Eastern Renaissance and moves on to the Western one.

Losev aesthetics
Losev aesthetics

Western Renaissance

The author begins the review with the work of art critic E. Panovsky, who claims that the Renaissance is indeed a significant historical period, since after it they started talking about the Middle Ages. It was Petrarch who was the first to remember about “bright antiquity” and about the return to the ancient forgotten ideal. For him it was, first of all, a return to the classics, for Boccaccio or Savonarola - a return to nature.

Over time, these two trends merged, and European cultural figures were convinced that they were experiencing a “modern age”. The new worldview, according to Panovsky, has become just the antipode of medieval culture, based on Plato and Aristotle to improve culture and ex alt man. Losev devoted his work “Aesthetics of the Renaissance” to this proof, where he singled out the Neoplatonic basis of this era, proving the non-Christian, pagan nature of the Renaissance.

Author's worldview

In Russian culture it is difficult to find a thinker of such magnitude as Losev. His areas of research were philology, philosophy, theology, cultural historian, music theory, linguistics and aesthetics. The formation of his interests took place in direct connection with religious philosophy, the basis of hisworldview was Orthodoxy.

The specifics of religious and philosophical views determined the direction of his research. It is in Losev's work "Aesthetics of the Renaissance" that his historiosophical, worldview and historical-cultural views are closely intertwined.

aesthetics of revival reviews
aesthetics of revival reviews

“Aesthetics of the Renaissance”

This fundamental work, the main theme of which was the history of aesthetics, was written in a scientific style. According to Losev, the aesthetics of the Renaissance is based on the spontaneous self-affirmation of the human personality, on a partial departure from medieval models. A great upheaval is taking place, hitherto unknown to history, titans of deed, thought and feeling appear. Without such a renaissance there could be no subsequent development of culture, and “to doubt it would be savagery,” the author argues.

Independent, self-affirming personality in comparison with medieval stiffness was something new, revolutionary. But according to Losev, the author of Renaissance Aesthetics, such a human subject turned out to be not strong enough, and he had to look for a justification for his absolutization.

Nevertheless, it was during the Renaissance that the birth of a free-thinking personality took place. And this was reflected in all directions: new genres in poetry - the sonnet, in prose - the short story, in painting - the landscape, secular portrait, in architecture - the Palladian style, tragedy was revived in dramaturgy, etc.

During this period, early realism began to take shape. The works were filled with an understanding of human life, which demonstrated the rejection of the slaveobedience. The richness of the human soul, mind and beauty of the physical appearance were revealed, which can be observed in the works of the great Shakespeare, Cervantes, Rabelais, Petrarch.

aesthetics of the revival Alexey Losev
aesthetics of the revival Alexey Losev

Bright representatives of the era

Renaissance realism is characterized by the poeticization of the image, the ability to sincere feelings, the passionate intensity of the tragic conflict, reflecting the collision of a person with opposing forces. The ideal of a “universal man” arises, which is realized in various fields of activity. For example, Leonardo da Vinci is a musician, sculptor, artist, physician. Next to him are the names of the titans - T. More, F. Bacon, F. Rabelais, M. Montaigne, Lorenzo, Michelangelo.

By the same time is the transition from rural to urban hegemony and the flourishing of cities - Paris, Florence, London. Here are the greatest geographical discoveries of Columbus, Magellan, Vasco de Gama, N. Copernicus. In the 14th century, the ideology of the Renaissance was formed - humanism, a prominent representative of which is considered F. Petrarch. The ideas of humanism gave rise to a surge of culture and met with fierce resistance from the church. The same era includes the Inquisition, the split of the Christian Church, the Reformation.

Two elements

As Losev notes, the aesthetics of the Renaissance, its ideological heritage, "permeate two elements." Firstly, the thinkers and artists of that era feel the strength and ability to penetrate into the depths of artistic imagery, inner feelings, and the beauty of nature. Before the Renaissance, there were no such deep philosophers capable of seeing through the depths of nature, man andsociety.

But on the other hand, even great figures felt the limitations of man, his helplessness before nature, in religious achievements and creativity. This duality of the aesthetics of the Renaissance is as specific to her as her understanding of the self-affirmed person, unprecedented in solemnity.

book aesthetics of the revival a f losev
book aesthetics of the revival a f losev

Three features of the Renaissance

In his work, Losev noted that boundless literature has accumulated about the Renaissance, which cannot be fully reviewed and analyzed. With such a popularity of this topic, prejudices could not help but accumulate, which are sometimes difficult to refute, but, having reconsidered the “aesthetic facts of the Renaissance, we will hardly consider this incredible dualism as something unlikely and unthinkable.”

In general, Losev A. F. in the "Aesthetics of the Renaissance" identifies three essential features of the Renaissance as an independent era:

  • the classical ancient Greek world became an object of nostalgia and after 15 centuries found its expression in restoration;
  • ancient worldview and heritage are brought to bear on new ideals, planted on new soil, used for a new concept of man, in building life in its secular sense, and not with the medieval centering on God;
  • a new secular culture is emerging and, accordingly, science, art and worldview.

The book was published in 1978 and is dedicated to an era that became a turning point not only in culture, but also in the minds of philosophers and historians. The Renaissance occupies an important place in creativityAlexei Fedorovich, since this is the time of the death of the Christian worldview. Losev's view of the culture of the Renaissance is not only the opinion of a historian or art critic, but also a philosopher of Orthodoxy.

He does not aim to explore the phenomena of this era. From his point of view, this is the era of the “world catastrophe”, and his negative attitude towards it is obvious. Criticism of the Renaissance by Losev was not a lonely discourse; in 1976, a book by art critic M. M. Alpatov was published, in which the rejection of the art of the Renaissance was expressed. The well-known philosopher Yu. N. Davydov also contrasted the moral philosophy of Dostoevsky with the amoralism of Nietzsche, which originates from the “Caesarism” of the Renaissance.

Losev aesthetics of the revival summary
Losev aesthetics of the revival summary

Reviews from readers

The book of the famous philosopher and culturologist Losev is an outstanding work that will appeal to those who are interested in European culture. The author deeply reveals the basic principles of Renaissance aesthetics. Feedback from readers confirms that Losev versatilely shows the manifestation of aesthetic principles in everyday life, in religious and philosophical creativity. Little has been written about aesthetics itself, more attention is paid to Neoplatonism as a socio-economic basis.

The emphasis is on writers and philosophers, less attention is paid to artists. Its author concentrated only on five "first-class", from Losev's point of view, painters - da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Dürer and Grunewald. There is a negative attitude towards Leonardo da Vinci.

About other titans of the Renaissance, such as Titian andRaphael, don't say a word. But the chapter on Albrecht Dürer is very interesting, in which the author focuses on parallels with the work of da Vinci. Reveals little-known facts about patrons and patrons of that era, who were reputed to be humanists, being in fact sadists and tyrants. In a word, those who are fond of the history of aesthetics will find this book interesting.

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