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A study in comparative aesthetics for an investigation into the peculiarities of Korean beauty

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2014, 41(), pp.103-151
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : June 30, 2014

Lee Joo Young 1

1서원대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This research derived the peculiarities of Korean beauty by comparing the significant components of Korean aesthetics with those of Western aesthetics. In doing so, I tried to emphasize the standpoint to the nature, to the world and aesthetic consciousness of Korea. This aim required the establishment of a new set of Korean aesthetic categories. The representative aesthetic categories of Western aesthetics are Beauty, Tragic, Comic, Sublimity, Grace, Ugliness, and Characteristics. The Korean aesthetic categories Han and Humor are similar to Tragic and Comic, but the following Korean categories have no Western counterpart: Mut, Indifference, Deviation, Shinmung, Pungryu, and Shikim. The categories of Korean aesthetics circulate in both the vertical direction and the horizontal direction. Together they form a three-dimensional spherical system. In contrast, the circular categorical system of Dessoir forms a two-dimensional plane in which certain categories oppose each other. In his categorical system, the central point between opposing characteristics accentuates humanity, whereas the basis of the Korean aesthetic categories is nature. The central categories of Korean beauty exist and move in the microcosmos of the human emotional world. The microcosmos is divided into vertical and horizontal circular categories. Each of these circles is then divided into bright and dark aspects of emotion. The latter moves toward the bright aspect from the dark aspect, embracing nature as a vital power. Han, Humor, Heung, Shinmung, and Shikim are the vertical categories. Pungryu, Mut, Deviation, Archaic, and Indifference are horizontal circular categories. The vertical categories appear often in art that is based on tempo, stimulating human nature by moving emotion by the passage of time. The horizontal circular categories mainly in the formative arts, holding the floating life force of nature, are expressed by tranquil emotion. The formative arts have to embody every motive in space and the stopping moment, so they express the state of nature itself, in which extreme emotions are neutralized, and conflict and contradiction are reconciled. So in the formative arts, the contemplative sense of beauty is dominant, based on naturalness. The vertical circular categories are characterized by the emotion that arises in the relationship between individuals and society. The aesthetic characteristics of the horizontal circular categories are nearer to nature. No individual category can be divided clearly into a specific categorical domain, by reason of floating in a system of totality, but they distinctly reflect the character of their main position. To conclude, the peculiarity of Korean beauty appears as a complex aesthetic consciousness through the mutual interchange of categories. Therefore, the aesthetic consciousness deeply reflects the totality of life. In this way, the aesthetic categories circulate and melt the individual emotions into totality. Sadness and pleasure, worldliness and the divine, daily life and transcendence, beauty and ugliness; they all alternate each other together, and deepen the aesthetic dimension to reveal beauty as a whole. This unified aesthetic consciousness is circular and moving, not enclosed in a fixed system.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.