The Dialectic of Presence and Interpretation in Everyday Aesthetics: Applying Heidegger and Gumbrecht to a Walk in One’s Neighborhood

Thomas Leddy


Gumbrecht’s Heidegger-inspired book, Production of Presence, provides valuable tools for resolving issues in everyday aesthetics. Gumbrecht distinguishes between “presence cultures” and “interpretation cultures.” (Gumbrecht 2004) We live in an interpretation culture, and yet even in our culture there are presence effects. Gumbrecht understands aesthetic experience in terms of the idea of presence. His paradigms are great works of art and great athletic events, all of which take us away from the everyday. I argue that his theory can be adapted, ironically, to everyday aesthetics, in particular to the experience of taking a walk. Much of what we experience aesthetically while taking a walk is experienced in the mode of silence. But, as Gumbrecht observes, there is an oscillation between presence effects and interpretation effects in aesthetic experience. I see that oscillation as something more like a dialectic. I also bring Plato’s theory of beauty and Danto’s theory of the artworld into this discussion.



Everyday Aesthetics; Presence; Gumbrecht; Heidegger; Walking

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ESPES. The Slovak Journal of Aesthetics (ISSN 1339-1119) is published biannually by Faculty of Arts, University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia

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