‘Art, Origins, Otherness: Between Philosophy and Art’ by William Desmond

Published by State University of New York Press in 2003. Download link updated on 30. June 2021.

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Though our time is often said to be post-religious and post-metaphysical, many continue to seek some encounter with otherness and transcendence in art. This book deals diversely with the issues of art, origins, and otherness, both in themselves and in philosophical engagements with the works of Plato, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.

Addressing themes such as eros and mania, genius and the sublime, transcendence and the saving power of art, William Desmond tries to make sense of the paradox that too much has been asked of art that now almost nothing is asked of it. He argues that there is more to be said philosophically of art, and claims that art has the power to open up mindfulness beyond objectifying knowledge, as well as beyond thinking that claims to be entirely self-determining.


William James Desmond (born 1951) is an Irish philosopher who has written on ontology, metaphysics, ethics, and religion. Desmond earned his B.A. and M.A. from University College, Cork, in 1972 and 1974; Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University in 1978.

Former president of the Hegel Society of America (1990–1992) and the Metaphysical Society of America (1995), Desmond is a professor of philosophy at the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and also at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He is a past president of the American Catholic Philosophical Association. In his trilogy, Being and The BetweenEthics and The Between, and God and The Between, Desmond works out an entirely new and complete metaphysical/ontological philosophical system based on what he calls the potencies of being and the senses of being.

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