Review Sheet for the Final Exam

The A, B, Cs of Aesthetics: From Heidegger to Perniola…


© Arsalan Memon, Department of Philosophy, SUNY Stony Brook,

Final Exam review sheet for PHI 381: Aesthetics, December 19, 2006




––– I cannot stress this enough, if you haven’t read the required texts designated for the class, then that is the first thing that should be on your to-do list for the final exam. Not only should you have read the texts, but you should also understand the points, concerns, themes, or questions that are at stake. The required reading thus follows:


§         Heidegger’s “The Origin of the Work of Art”

§         Heidegger’s “What are Poets for?”

§         Heidegger’s “Langauge”

§         Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility”

§         Merleau-Ponty’s “"Cézanne’s Doubt "

§         Merleau-Ponty’s “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence”

§         Merleau-Ponty’s “Eye and Mind”

§         Dufrenne’s Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience. Part I (Ch. 1, 4, 5)

§         Dufrenne’s Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience. Part III and IV

§         Derrida’s Passe-Partout”

§         Derrida’s “Restitutions”

§         Derrida’s “+R”

§         Lyotard’s “The Sublime and the Avant-Garde

§         Lyotard’s “Newman: The Instant”

§         Lyotard’s “Time Today”

§         Lyotard’s “Can Thought go on without a Body?”

§         Lyotard’s “Rewriting Modernity”

§         Lyotard’s “Representation, Presentation, Unpresentable

§         Lyotard’s “After the Sublime”

§         Nancy’s “Why are there Several Arts and Not Just One?”

§         Nancy’s “The Vestige of Art”

§         Perniola’s Art and Its Shadows



––– Highly Recommend: Read Prof. Silverman’s Textualities. Part I (Ch. 1-5) to get a better sense of deconstruction (Derrida), Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, and Saussure’s semiotics. (As a marginal note, do also look at other chapters, if you have time, because some other chapters talk about Heidegger and the Shoes, the question of enframing (Gestell), Merleau-Ponty and Cézanne, Merleau-Ponty and Derrida and so forth).   


––– Highly Recommend: Read Prof. Silverman’s forward to Perniola’s Art and its Shadows to get a sense of Perniola’s interest in aesthetics.

––– Consult the protocols. The protocols, however many are posted on the web, should supplement and not supplant the lecture delivered in class.


If you don’t know how to access the website, follow these steps and you will be able to access the protocols:


Step 1 à Type in your browser the following address:                        

Step 2 à Scroll down to and click on                                                              “Hugh J. Silverman <> Courses and Seminars”

Step 3 à You will be directed to                                                         “Undergraduate Courses and Graduate Seminars”

                             Click on Undergraduate Courses.

Step 4 à The first course is ours, PHI 381and if you scroll down you will see              “Protocols: Lecture Summaries.” Click on the link and you will be directed to the class protocols.


If you have problems, contact me.


––– Revise the quizzes, midterm, and paper. This way, you will understand, on the one hand, the type of questions that Prof. Silverman asks and on the other, what was either wrong or lacking in your answers.


––– Below is a list of the motifs that were discussed in class, which you should be familiar with:


* Disclaimer: I do not claim that this list is comprehensive. For that reason, if I fail to mention something, you should know it by now through the readings and through Professor Silverman’s lectures.


  • The question of origin(s) [Ursprung] in Heidegger.
  • Three different artworks Heidegger considered: a) Van Gogh’s painting of the shoes, b) the Greek Temple in Paestum (Italy), and c) the poem about a Roman fountain by Meyer. 
  • Hermeneutic Circle (beings-Being-Dasein)
  • Aesthetical Circle (Artist-Artwork-Art)
  • Lichtung (clearing), equipmentality, Gestell (enframing), Abgrund (abyss or without ground), Ereignis, the peasant woman in Van Gogh’s shoes, the Open, Denken (thinking), and aletheia in Heidegger
  • Heidegger’s fourfold (i.e. earth, sky, mortals, and divinities).
  • The difference between Dichtung and Poesie.
  • The role of the poets (Rilke, Trakl, and Hölderlin) for Heidegger. 
  • In Heidegger, what does it mean to say language speaks, rather than man?




  • The question of reproducibility in Benjamin.
  • Fascism’s aestheticization of politics vs. Communism’s politicization of art in Benjamin
  • What are the differences between the original and the reproduction of the work of art? (I provided about 20 or so, but there are more).
  • The aura and authenticity of the work of art in Benjamin
  • Cult value vs. Exhibition value.
  • The importance of film vis-à-vis photography and painting in Benjamin’s time.
  • The distinction between stage actor (theatrical performance) and film actor (cinematic performance). Who is the audience in each performance? What role do they play, if any?
  • Benjamin’s disapproval of Dadaism.




  • What is Merleau-Ponty’s theory of embodiment? How does this relate to the essay, “Cézanne’s Doubt”?
  • What is Merleau-Ponty’s notion of style? What does it have to do with expression, being-in-the-world [être-au-monde], embodiment, the artwork, the artist, the lived body, and the embodied world?
  • What is Cézanne’s doubt? (Hint: think of his impaired vision, his relation to his perceived world, and Descartes).
  • What does Merleau-Ponty see Cézanne is expressing in and through his paintings? 
  • What does Merleau-Ponty mean by “indirect language”? Know how it differs from “direct language”? What role does Saussure’s concept of sign (signified [concept]-signifier [word]) play in Merleau-Ponty’s view on direct and indirect language?   
  • What are some examples of indirect and direct languages?
  • How is Merleau-Ponty’s notion of style different from that of Malraux?
  • What are the views of Merleau-Ponty and Malraux on the relationship between museum and artworks?
  • What is the relationship between the visible, the invisible, and Visibility in Merleau-Ponty? [Hint: “Eye and Mind”] How is this related to Cézanne?
  • What is the difference between the Merleau-Ponty of “Cézanne’s Doubt” and that of the “Eye and Mind”?




  • What does Dufrenne mean by the sensuous [le sensible]?
  • How are Merleau-Ponty and Dufrenne similar and different in their aesthetic approaches?
  • The definitions of aesthetic object and work of art.
  • Dufrenne’s notion of the quasi-subject.
  • Who is or becomes the spectator in Dufrenne’s phenomenology of aesthetics? Is there a performance of the spectator?
  • What does Dufrenne mean when he says the for-itself-in-itself-for-us, in contradistinction to Sartre’s distinction of being-in-itself [être-en-soi] and being-for-itself [être-pour-soi]?
  • What is Dufrenne’s notion of style and expression?
  • The expressed world vs. the represented world.
  • What pivotal role does the notion of the affective a priori play in the development of Dufrenne’s aesthetic theory? How is this related to Kant? [Remember the distinction between a priori and a posteriori?].
  • How is an aesthetic object different from aesthetic object from living beings, natural objects, objects of use, and signifying objects?
  • Does an aesthetic object have a place in time and space?
  • The three moments of perception in Dufrenne: presence, representation, and reflection.
  • Three aspects of aesthetic perception: the sensuous, the represented object and the expressed world.
  • What can be bracketed [epoché] in aesthetic perception? [For example…]




  • What is meant by restitution?
  • What are the different meanings of passe-partout? How are they related to the overall book?
  • Why is Cézanne’s claim, “I owe you the truth in painting and I will tell it to you” important for Derrida?   
  • Know the different restitutions mentioned in Derrida’s essay, “Restitutions of the Truth in Pointing”?
  • What is Schapiro’s response to Heidegger’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s painting of the shoes?
  • What does Derrida mean by n + 1 voices (polylogue)?
  • What is the logic of supplementarity?
  • This is my recommendation, not a requirement: if you really want to know what Derrida means by deconstruction, read the essay, “Letter to a Japanese Friend,” which can be easily found online.
  • What is the strategy of deconstruction?
  • What does Derrida mean by hinge?
  • What is the “+R” effect?
  • The question of chi, ich, chiasm, Derrida’s Glas, and Adami’s paintings.
  • What is mise en abîme?  




  • What is the difference between the Kantian, modern, and postmodern notions of the sublime?
  • How does Kant define beauty and sublime?
  • What does Lyotard mean by the “representation of the unpresentable in presentation itself”?
  • What is the unpresentable in Newman’s sculptures?
  • What does avant-garde mean?
  • Lyotard asks the question, “Is it happening?” What does it mean? How is it related to Heidegger’s Ereignis?
  • What are Newman’s zips? Are they temporal (now, nun) or spatial (here, hic) or both? What is their function? Why are they important for Lyotard?
  • In his essay, “Representation, Presentation, Unpresentable,” Lyotard emphasizes the aesthetic importance of presentation in opposition to representation. What does he mean by this?
  • According to Lyotard, what is the relation of modernity to postmodernity?
  • What does Lyotard say about the body?




  • What is the singular plural for Nancy? What does he mean by it?
  • What does Nancy mean by the following statement, “presentation of presentation is not a representation” and how is this different from Lyotard’s “representation of the unpresentable in presentation itself”?
  • What does the muses represent and/or present in their singular plurality?
  • For Nancy, is art singular or plural?
  • What does he mean by transimmanence?
  • What does he mean by patency?
  • How is Nancy’s question, “Is it evident?” similar to and different from Lyotard’s question, “Is it happening?”
  • What does Nancy say about the [different] sense of senses?
  • What is the connection between il y a and patency?
  • What does Nancy mean by vestige? What does it have to do with art, mimesis, simulacrum, representation, presentation, and image?




  • What is the difference, if any, between Nancy’s notion of the vestige and Perniola’s notion of the remainder?
  • What is the shadow of art, according to Perniola?
  • What does he mean by the transit?
  • For Perniola, how does one feel [sentir] the difference? 



––– Another way that helps me prepare for tests is by comparing and contrasting the figures that are discussed in class. See what themes are undertaken by the philosophers heretofore studied, and then write down the differences and similarities between them on the particular themes in question. One can compare and contrast the following figures: Heidegger, Schapiro, Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Lyotard, Nancy, Perniola, Saussure, Cézanne, Trakl, Rilke, Hölderlin, Dufrenne, Malraux, Van Gogh, Adami, Kant, Newman, and many more. One can make many combinations and permutations out of these figures (philosophers, poets, painters, sculptures, etc.). For instance, Heidegger can be compared and contrasted with Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty, Schapiro, Derrida, Lyotard, Nancy, Van Gogh, and so forth.    






This review sheet to the best of my knowledge is quasi-complete, so if I have overlooked any important detail or point, you should not neglect it. These were the questions, themes, and issues I encountered in my reading. There are other themes, questions, and issues that I may have forgotten to mention. These are, after all, my suggestions, as to how you could prepare for the final exam.  


Good luck on the final exam!


Remember the final exam is on


Thursday, December 21, 2006, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm, in Room N4072, at Melville Library.


Don’t be late!!!!!!