A Preliminary Research for Yohan Zoh's Philosophy of Art
Throughout life of Yohan Zoh (1926-2002), the philosopher had released several books and essays like Philosophy of Art (1973), The Philosophy of Aristotle (1988), An Articulation of Love for Art (1993), An Articulation of Love for Philosophy (1993) and An Exploration of Korean Aesthetic Beauty (1999).
By spending his period of growth in the era of the Japanese colonization and experiencing the Korean War soon after, the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard and Karl Jaspers captured his attention, and led him to the field of existentialist theory inevitably. As a consequence, he submitted a dissertation, Kierkegaard and Existence (1954) for his BA, which denotes his future interest of Greek philosophy and Christianity toward the Eternal. Since then, Zoh submitted The Influence of Eastern Thought on Early Greek Philosophy (1958) for his master's degree and The Analytical Problem of Aristotelian Philosophy (1975) for his doctorate. Both study reveals how he the deepened philosophical relationship of his early interest by exploring its contraposition and correlation.
Despite of his philosophical subject matter in academic dissertations that he submitted, his first publication was in fact Philosophy of Art, and the last publication released three years before his death was An Exploration of Korean Aesthetic Beauty. In this respect, philosophy of art is bibliographically as important as his accomplishment in Greek philosophy or Christianity. Therefore, this preliminary study is to give a light on Zoh's achievement in art before the fully fledged research take a place.
Philosophy of Art is consist of three chapters. The first chapter, ‘The Basic Concept of Philosophy of Art’, is based on his given aesthetics talks between the 60's and the early 70's. Although the most of up to date art theories and text were yet not introduced in Korean academic field since the early death of Yu-seob Ko, the chapter is strongly anchored to the use of traditional terms of aesthetics and fine arts of time. The second and the third chapter are entitled as ‘The Task of Modern Art’ and ‘Some Problem with Art Theories’ respectively. Each chapter is written on the basis of his several texts on art, that were also produced during the same period above. On the contrast to the first, these two chapters are philosophical analyses of the Korean art praxis. His last book, An Exploration of Korean Aesthetic Beauty, thus can be seen as a conclusive answer for one of the text that is included in Philosophy of Art, ‘The Character of Korean Aesthetic Value.’As a philosopher, Zoh picked up the thread that was left out for many years, and dedicated his entire life to elucidate the spirit of Korean art. He methodologically chose comparative science of arts for his investigation, giving examples of contrasting nature between the eastern and the western aesthetic, as well as comparing Korean aesthetic value with the art of neighbor countries like China and Japan in sequence. His academic path clearly shows that his love of art and philosophy are conflated in An Exploration of Korean Aesthetic Beauty.