Richard Shusterman – Art, Self-fashioning, Philosophy
Philosophy can be practiced simply as an academic pursuit of theory, but it can also be practiced as an art of living. Here again, I try to combine both practices (as was common in ancient times). I write academic books and articles, but I also see my philo-sophical work in terms of an æsthetic project of em-bodied life, a Gesamtkunstwerk of engaged living in a wider social world beyond the borders of my skin and professional philosophy.
…A philosopher’s life and œuvre can be conceived, lived and assessed in terms of the way we evaluate artworks. We can appreciate its harmony, dynamics, beauty, originality, structure, development. One notices if the philosopher’s work becomes merely repetitive or whether it evolves in new, perhaps dramatically different but still coherent ways. (One thinks here of early and later Wittgenstein or early and later Heidegger or even early and later Foucault.) In the project of philosophy as a self-critical, self-perfecting, self-fashioning art of living, one is at the same time both creating an œuvre and struggling to formulate and defend the criteria by which that œuvre will be evaluated. But this is also true for great poet-critic-theorists like T.S. Eliot or great painter-theorists.