Art and religion

Authored by: Gordon Graham

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  April  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782869
eBook ISBN: 9780203813034
Adobe ISBN: 9781136697142


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In contemporary Western culture, science and religion are widely regarded as intellectual foes, the modern version of a much older tension between “reason” and “faith.” By contrast, art and religion are almost equally widely regarded as spiritual allies, especially in the task of “re-enchanting” a world that science has stripped of its enchantment (to use Max Weber's celebrated terminology). The supposition that there is a natural affinity between the two rests in large part on their long historical association. And it is true that the histories of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry and the history of religion are inextricably intertwined in most phases of Western culture since the advent of Christianity. Moreover, there is an even older connection between artistic creativity and religious practice. In Greece and Rome the most significant architectural constructions generally had some religious function; the ancient Hebrew psalms use poetry to extol the importance of singing as a form of worship; the Paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux in France probably had a religious purpose (or so some experts contend).

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