Authored by: Richard Shusterman

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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Western modernity typically defines the aesthetic in opposition to the practical, describing it in terms of disinterestedness and lack of purpose. Though pragmatist philosophy contrastingly highlights practice and functionality, it nonetheless insists that the aesthetic dimension is crucially central not only for art and culture but also for philosophy, cognition and for life in general. Pragmatist aesthetics does not present a single, uniform system of doctrines to which all pragmatists subscribe without qualification. Like pragmatism as a whole, its tradition involves a multiplicity of voices that often converge on certain key themes. Perhaps the most crucial points of convergence are the centrality of embodied aesthetic experience and the way that such perceptual experience extends well beyond the circumscribed field of fine art to pervade manifold dimensions of life, action, thought and culture. Hence for pragmatism, aesthetics cannot be narrowly equated with the philosophy of art, especially when art is understood in the modern institutional sense of the established fine arts of high culture.

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