On behalf of the members of the Korean Society for Aesthetics, I am greatly honored to hold the 20th International Congress for Aesthetics in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, under the auspices of the International Association for Aesthetics (L’Association Internationale d’Esthétique). The Congress will be held on the campus of Seoul National University from the 24th (Sunday) to the 29th (Friday) of July, 2016. SNU is the most prestigious university in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and home to the only Department of Aesthetics in the country.
The Korean Society of Aesthetics, the most authoritative nationwide society in the field, was established in September, 1968, being the first association for aesthetics in the Republic of Korea. With a 47-year tradition, the now more than 300 members of the KSA are actively engaged in a broad range of aesthetic subjects across the Asian, Analytic, and European traditions, including theories of painting, the aesthetics of music and film, and sociological aesthetics. Our members also play major roles in the various artistic and cultural fields in Korea. Many members of the KSA earned their Ph. D. degrees abroad, mainly from the USA, Germany, and France in the West, and China and Japan in the East. As a result, the academic climate of the KSA is comprehensive and well-informed, and the Society is very well-equipped to deal with aesthetics in an international context. With such broad backgrounds, we are confident in our ability to host a very successful Seoul ICA.
The theme of the Seoul Congress is “Aesthetics and Mass Culture.” The Congress will focus on the various aesthetic aspects of mass culture, which, due to the rapid development of information technology, has become one of the most prominent of contemporary cultural phenomena. We are all familiar with the idea of globalization and with developments in information technology. We have been told that, thanks to the internet and other modes of information technology, there are a few, if any, places isolated from the rest of the world today. The importance of globalization, one of whose symptoms is the overwhelming flow of information, is not just that we can learn more about other countries, other people, and other cultures, but also that we become more likely to be influenced by other cultures, especially their ways of life. To try to understand and, in some cases, to accept other cultures and life styles often results in a change of one’s own view of life, even one’s own view of the world, which also includes one’s conception of the arts and sensibilities to the aesthetic. But the revolution of information technology also raises the philosophical or aesthetic issue of mass art and mass culture, which, we think, deserves serious discussion. We hope that the Congress will achieve many fruitful results from the many urgent aesthetic questions arising as a result of these phenomena.
In addition to these questions, the Seoul Congress, as with all other Congresses, will be open to every traditional subject of aesthetics and we welcome papers and panel proposals devoted to all fields of aesthetics. The Congress will consist of several panels and round tables, along with dozens of sessions, including sessions for individual artistic genres. The Organizing Committee will choose the topics for some events, but the rest will be open to the general members of the IAA.
It is my promise that we will devote all our efforts to the success of the Seoul Congress. In the name of all the members of the Korean Society for Aesthetics, I hope to see you all in Korea next summer.
Prof. Chong-hwan Oh
(President of the Organizing Committee for 2016 ICA,
Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)