The Aesthetic Attitude in the Everyday
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This thesis takes as its starting point a body of literature focusing on what is commonly referred to as ‘everyday aesthetics’. This literature is engaged in the process of chipping away at the intuition that the artwork is the paradigmatic object of aesthetic experience. My aim is to lend support to the everyday project. The everyday aesthetician is concerned with defending the possibility of aesthetically experiencing an elegant ottoman, a luxurious car, and a stylish pair of pants. Some doubt that appreciating such everyday objects as listed above can properly be described as aesthetic. I argue that this doubt is mistaken and due to an art-centric conception of the aesthetic. I will defend the legitimacy of everyday aesthetics by appeal to aesthetic attitude theory. I argue that we can legitimately understand our everyday lives as aesthetic by appeal to a mental activity that human beings are capable of engaging in. In Chapter Two, I give a historical account of the aesthetic attitude theory as it has been traditionally conceived. I turn my attention to everyday aesthetics in Chapter Three. There is some tension between the everyday project and aesthetic attitude theory. The latter tends to recommend divorcing objects from their practical dimensions. One view on offer contends that this is a misleading strategy. To divorce the ordinary from practical considerations is to rob the experience of the very thing that gives it its everyday quality. Chapter Four introduces a philosophical compromise by way of a more nuanced version of the aesthetic attitude theory. I suggest that a plausible construal of an attitude theory should not commit it to being an unusual, infrequent, or cognitively burdensome activity. Revising these features renders the theory flexible enough to account for those ordinary everyday aesthetic experiences. Furthermore, I show how we might conceive of attitude theory without necessarily limiting the role practical considerations play in our aesthetic experiences.