The Ethical Dimensions of Aesthetic Engagement

Yuriko Saito


This paper explores the ethical dimensions of aesthetic engagement, the central theme of Arnold Berleant’s aesthetics. His recent works on social aesthetics and negative aesthetics explicitly argue for the inseparability of aesthetics from the rest of life, in particular ethical concerns. Aesthetic engagement requires overcoming the subject-object divide and adopting an attitude of open-mindedness, responsiveness, reciprocity, and collaboration, as well as the willingness and readiness to expose negative aesthetics for what it is. These requirements characterize not only the nature of aesthetic experience but also, perhaps more fundamentally, our mode of being in the world and the accompanying ethical responsibility. Among the present paper’s principal aims is to show how this view of aesthetic and ethical stance is also shared by the important aspects of the Japanese worldview, aesthetics, and artistic practices.


aesthetic engagement; Arnold Berleant; Japanese aesthetics; negative aesthetics; social aesthetics

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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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