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Abstract

In his article "Silence, the Utmost in Ambiguity" Mario Perniola presents a historical perspective on the meanings and development of the term "ambiguity" from ancient Greek to the modern age. Perniola's perspective is not a review of different approaches and schools of thought; instead, he presents an alternative philosophical and aesthetic discourse he counter-poses to modern and contemporary cultural positions which he considers useful in order to explain the state of today's art and intellectual discourse. Perniola does so by stressing the significance of silence as the aesthetic attitude that combines contemplation and action. Drawing on the work of Pascal and Gracián and on works by the masters of modern rationalization — Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein — Perniola proposes an intellectual disposition that rejects immediate gratifications and the cacophony of today's deluge of information and thus he reclaims attention, selection, and discretion as functions relevant to aesthetic and ethical values.

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