The Aesthetics of Everyday Life

The Aesthetics of Everyday Life

The Aesthetics of Everyday Life

The Aesthetics of Everyday Life


This book, a collection of newly commissioned essays by leading environmental philosophers, was originally to be published by Seven Bridges, a small scholarly press started by former editors at Stanford University Press. Seven Bridges is folding due to poor financing, and this book is now available. It is already in pages, with a cover design, and each chapter has been double-blind peer-reviewed and revised. Andrew Light is a professor of applied philosophy at NYU and a possible editor for a series in environmental philosophy.

The aesthetics of everyday life, originally developed by Henri Lefebvre and other modernist theorists, is an extension of traditional aesthetics, usually confined to works of art. It is not limited to the study of humble objects but is rather concerned with all of the undeniably aesthetic experiences that arise when one contemplates objects or performs acts that are outside the traditional realm of aesthetics. It is concerned with the nature of the relationship between subject and object.

One significant aspect of everyday aesthetics is environmental aesthetics, whether constructed, as a building, or manipulated, as a landscape. Others, also discussed in the book, include sport, weather, smell and taste, and food.


Our subject matter is everyday aesthetics, both as an extension beyond the traditional domain of the philosophical study of aesthetics, usually confined to more conventionally understood works of art, and as a step into a new arena of aesthetic inquiry—the broader world itself. This introduction summarizes the contents of the papers that follow, aiming to guide the reader on the common themes arising in the chapters and explaining the reasoning behind the organization of the volume.

The chapters in the first section of this book make general arguments for application of aesthetic criticism to objects and events that have been, until recently, exempt from this sort of scrutiny. In chapter one Tom Leddy offers an outline of the field of everyday aesthetics. This chapter admirably provides an overview of this topic in relation to traditional work in aesthetic theory and thus stands in for such a discussion that could have been provided in this introduction. Looking at colloquial usage of aesthetic terms, Leddy proposes that everyday aesthetics be taken to include inquiries into all aesthetic experiences that fall outside of existing domains of aesthetic theory, such as aesthetics of art, aesthetics of nature, and aesthetics of mathematics. Everyday aesthetics is not, in other words, limited to study of the aesthetic experience of humble objects and quotidian acts, although such are often of interest to everyday aesthetics. It is concerned with all of the undeniably aesthetic experiences that do arise when one contemplates objects or performs acts that are not traditionally categorized as aesthetic objects or acts, be they rare or frequent, fugitive or profound. What sets the everyday aesthetic experience apart is the fact that it seems to be prompted by something that should not be able to cause such an experience, at least according to conventional aesthetic theory. Leddy maintains that this is because the aesthetic properties of everyday aesthetic experience inhere in the fusion of sense and imagination that is the experience itself, and not in the object of the aesthetic experience. The question for everyday aesthetics therefore becomes not what are the formal properties of this object that make it . . .

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