Aesthetics as Phenomenology: The Appearance of Things

Aesthetics as Phenomenology: The Appearance of Things

Aesthetics as Phenomenology: The Appearance of Things

Aesthetics as Phenomenology: The Appearance of Things


Connecting aesthetic experience with our experience of nature or with other cultural artifacts, Aesthetics as Phenomenology focuses on what art means for cognition, recognition, and affect--how art changes our everyday disposition or behavior. Günter Figal engages in a penetrating analysis of the moment at which, in our contemplation of a work of art, reaction and thought confront each other. For those trained in the visual arts and for more casual viewers, Figal unmasks art as a decentering experience that opens further possibilities for understanding our lives and our world.


Upon completing my book Gegenständlichkeit, which appeared in 2006 [the English translation appeared as Objectivity in 2010], I decided to undertake a new, intensive engagement with art. I wanted to know in more detail how the objective itself is constituted, and I wanted to clarify this by means of artworks, the objects par excellence. The present work also became a demonstration of gratitude to all the artists and artworks that have enriched my life. I am also grateful to all who have assisted in the creation of the volume.

First in this regard is my wife Antonia Egel, without whom the book could not have begun and without whom it could not have been completed. There is not a single important idea we have not put to the test conversationally, no aspect we have not scrutinized together in its correctness and consistency. Even the experiences of art that nurture the book were made together.

My thanks also go to my friends Damir Barbarić, Rudolf Bernet, Gottfried Boehm, Donatella Di Cesare, Lore Hühn, Toshitaka Mochizuki, Dennis J. Schmidt, Manfred Trojahn, Bernhard Zimmermann, and special thanks this time to John and Jerry Sallis, who made my visit to Fallingwater possible.

An invitation from the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) to spend my winter semester 2009–2010 as a Fellow of the School for Language and Literature made it possible to complete the present work calmly. I would like to thank the other fellows in the program, especially Richard Eldridge, Rolf-Peter Janz, and Marisa Siguan, for their stimulating conversations. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the literature director of the School for Language and Literature, Werner Frick.

Finally, I would like to thank David Espinet, Tobias Keiling, and Nikola Mirković for their thorough reading and helpful responses, and Anna Hirsch and Ole Meinefeld for their careful editing of the text.

Günter Figal Freiburg im Breisgau May 2010

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