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Yohan Zoh's Philosophy of art and Korean Modern Aesthetics

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2012, 35(), pp.5-30
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : June 30, 2012

Ihn-Bum Lee 1

1상명대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The aim of this essay is to illuminate the philosopher Yohan Zoh (1926-2002)'s philosophy of art in the context of Korean modern aesthetics. Exceptionally, Yohan Zoh acted broadly in the region of academia about arts, religion, and philosophy in the Korea, publishing The Philosophy of Art(1973), The Heart that Loves Arts(1993), and The Illumination of Korean Aesthetics (1999). Posthumous works are Interest and Insight(2004), The Beautiful is Difficult(2005), and Relics of the Beautiful Spirit(2012). These works on aesthetics and the arts, along with The Hermeneutical Problems of the Philosophy of Aristoteles(1975), The Philosophy of Aristoteles(1988), and The Heart that Loves Philosophy(1993), show Zoh’s scholarly interests. Aesthetics and Art History in modern Korea began with Yusub Ko (1905-1944) who studied at the Keijō Imperial University and graduated the school with a submission of his thesis on Konrad Fiedler, “The Essence and Meaning of Artistic Activity.” Ko later became the director of the Kaikyung Museum of Art. Ko's untimely death caused the discontinuation and ups and downs in the development of Korean scholarships in Aesthetics and Art History. The inflow of western culture and philosophy, and Japanese colonial era resulted in cultural colonialism in Korea, separating its history from the reality of life. Yohan Zoh grew up during the Japanese colonial era. He entered the department of Philosophy at the Seoul National University after Japanese retreat. He tried to overcome the fragmented reality of Korea life through the study of the philosophy of Kierkegaard, and chose Greek philosophy and Christianity as his future focus of study. As a way of applying his philosophy to the reality of life, Zoh actively engaged with issues of art practice since the 4. 19 Revolution of 1960. Simultaneously he published The Philosophy of Art to establish the foundation of methodology for the study of aesthetics and the arts. Since then, he focused on explaining “the spirit of Korean art” and published many essays on the theme, including his last publication, The Illumination of Korean Aesthetics. The philosophy of art of Yohan Zoh had developed in accordance with his interests in Christianity and Greek philosophy. As the first scholar of Aesthetics and Art History in post- liberation Korea, Yohan Zoh inherited the scholarly task of Yusub Ko and embraced “Aesthetics as a Western Area of Study” and applied it to the reality of Korean life to explicate “the Korean Spirituality in the Arts.” His scholarly journey was interconnected with his attempts to overcome Korean’s schizophrenic and autistic cultural colonialism. Therefore, Arts-Religion-Philosophy, Art Practice-Studies of Arts, and Aesthetics-Art History all meet in Yohan Zoh's philosophy of the arts. Though Zoh's study of “Philosophy of the Arts” departed outside the field of Aesthetics, it rooted deeply in the reality of Korean life and opened a new horizon of Aesthetics and Science of Art in Korea.

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