A Social Aesthetics

John Levi Martin

in The Explanation of Social Action

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199773312
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199897223 | DOI:
A Social Aesthetics

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Chapter 6 investigates the idea of aesthetics, returning to Kant’s Critique of Judgment. The fundamental intersubjectivity of aesthetic judgment may be considered an effect of the nature of such judgment, or as its definition; Bourdieu, in his critique of Kant, proposed the latter. Without denying the sociological foundations of Bourdieu’s argument, we may still see the value in proposing that we take the fundamental Kantian framework seriously as a language for the discussion of qualities. Quality is then that attribute of objects that demands to be treated as intersubjectively valid although it cannot claim an objective ground. Classic Greek philosophy and later theories of vision were predicated on the assumption that the act of perception involved a reaching-out of similar substances from both the perceiver and the perceived, and the fusion of these likenesses. Taking this complicity between the perceived and the world seriously, we may propose that an understanding of the cognitive components to social action should treat qualities as primary, though variable. One rigorous way of doing so is to focus on the fact that qualities can vary in intensity. If we treat these qualities as that-which-calls-forth-action, then we find that any attempt to map out regularities in the social distribution of qualities implies a field theory

Keywords: Kant; aesthetics; vision; Al-Kindī; field

Chapter.  24184 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Theory

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