MINDING THE GAP: DETACHMENT AND UNDERSTANDING IN ALEKSEJ LOSEV'S DIALEKTIKA MIFA

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Aleksej Losev's definition of myth centres on the concept of detachment. In modern times detachment has most often figured in the context of philosophical aesthetics, where it is a cognitive category akin to Kant's “disinterestedness” or the Russian formalists' “estrangement.” However Losev's usage also makes reference to the ontological sense of detachment as contemplative ascent (cf. Meister Eckhardt's Abgeschiedenheit). Thus, Losev's concept of myth combines both senses of detachment, binding perceptual attitude and being together in a double movement of resignation from the world and union with meaning; this movement literally makes sense out of reality. It therefore bears comparison to the treatment of distanciation in contemporary hermeneutics, where detachment is a key condition of understanding. By investigating Losev's connections to other Russian thinkers, the author makes a case for a distinct Russian tradition of hermeneutic philosophy (V. Ivanov, G. Shpet, A. Bakshy, A. Losev).

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