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Abstract

There have been numerous critical articles on what really happened on the otherwise beautiful morning of 11 September 2001. Beyond doubt, the bulk of the critical responses to the terrorist attacks focused on the ethical and humanitarian, or rather the unethical and inhumane implications of the atrocious act, leaving no room for any philosophical reflection on the potential assessment or reception of the event from the perspective of art and aesthetics. The few years that have gone by since 2001 have provided us with some a sense of emotional detachment from the horror of that day, a detachment that may have awakened our aesthetic and artistic instincts with regard to the attacks themselves as well as their visual representation. Chronological distance renders an unprejudiced and independent stance more possible now than ever. It also allows us to reconsider our initial politically correct and ethically justified repulsion of the efforts made by a few artists to aestheticize 9/11. Such repulsion, however, was associated with the delusion that by denouncing aesthetics we were really securing the prevalence of politics, morality and ethical responsibility in a terror-afflicted society. My point in this paper is that there is a need for aesthetic appreciation when contemplating a violent event such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What is more, appreciation of the beautiful, even in case of a 9/11, seems necessary because it is a key to establishing an ethical stance towards terror, life, and art. It should be stressed that independent aesthetic experience is not important in itself but is a means of cultivating an authentic moral and ethical judgment.

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Esthetics Commons

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