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Aesthetics of everyday life

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M068-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Article Summary

Everyday aesthetics developed as a challenge to art-centred aesthetics that dominated the twentieth century Western discourse. It aims to restore aesthetics to a study of sense and sensibility by following the original Greek term, aisthesis. The arena of aesthetics understood this way includes all sensory modes involved in perception, everything the experiencing agents interact with in their daily life, and the diverse qualities that characterise the nature of the resultant affective experiences.

These expanding reaches of aesthetics raise many issues and challenges. One controversy regards whether people can experience their mundane everyday life understood in its very ordinariness or whether it needs to be transformed into something special. Some emphasise that everyday aesthetics is continuous with art-centric aesthetics while others hold that experiencing the ordinary as ordinary defines everyday aesthetics as a new field of enquiry.

Some criticise everyday aesthetics for what they regard as an overly zealous inclusion of those affective qualities generated in response to popular culture and negative qualities in life and environment. Despite their perceived inability to elevate one’s aesthetic sophistication and refinement, advocates in support of diversifying aesthetic experiences maintain that these qualities’ unavoidable presence in everyone’s lives deserves attention because of their significant impact on the quality of life and society.

Everyday aesthetics is also criticised for deviating from the object-centred aesthetics by including atmosphere, social interactions, and activities experienced from within, thereby jeopardising intersubjectivity. Everyday aesthetics responds by pointing out that actively doing things and sharing those experiences constitute a large part of living, and aesthetic attentiveness is indispensable to the practice of good life.

Citing this article:
Saito, Yuriko. Aesthetics of everyday life, 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M068-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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