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Figural Philology : Panofsky and the Science of Things (Hardcover) (Adi Efal)
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Though inspired by a Panofskyan legacy, this book diverges at certain points from Erwin Panofsky's declared objectives, and calls attention to several of aspects that were until now less accentuated in his intellectual reception. Insisting on the importance of iconology as a method for art history and the humanities in general, it shows how examining this promotes a cooperation between the history of art and the history of philosophy. It discusses whether Panofsky's method could be of use for general questions in the epistemology of the historical sciences that examine human works.
How could and should one approach a historical inquiry of human-produced things, after the Kantian revolution has taken its toll on the humanities, and forbidden the approach to things “as themselves”? Within the core of the discipline of art history, and certainly in its iconological version, there is a philological kernel to be found. This could assist in addressing the historical meaning of artworks from a realist point of view. This preliminary hypothesis shows the work of Panofsky to share affinities with twentieth-century romance philology. A reading of Panofsky's work alongside the philological enterprise of Erich Auerbach and several other authors demonstrates that a proper appropriation of the philological impulse by art historical method can supply a way out of the methodological antimony still hanging between hyper-formalist and hyper-theoretical approaches to the history of art. Distilling Panofsky's writings, Efal selects the elements that could be useful for philosophy.