Edited By Antonio Marques and Nuno Venturinha
JEAN-PIERRE COMETTI Aesthetic Experience and Forms of Life 65
Aesthetic Experience and Forms of Life JEAN-PIERRE COMETTI Aesthetic experience was the main notion of Dewey’s book: Art as experience.1 In more general terms, it was the corner-stone of Dewey’s pragmatism. The role of experience – as Dewey con- ceived it – has recently been revitalized by Richard Shusterman in his books on “somaesthetics”. Nevertheless “experience” is an uncomfortable idea. On the one hand, it means what is happen- ing in the mind (the individual mind) and is strongly related with consciousness; on the other hand, and particularly in Dewey, it means a special and vital kind of relationship, i. e. a relationship between an organism and its surroundings. In this case, the same word belongs to a naturalistic or Darwinian way of speaking, and it contrasts with what seems to partake of the aesthetic realm. But in both cases experience appears as being self-supporting and independent of language. That is why it sounds somewhat odd and inappropriate to the ears of later post-linguistic pragmatists. From such a point of view, it seems there is no room for “ex- perience” in Wittgenstein’s philosophy. However, we need to re- member that Wittgenstein was very concerned with a special kind of understanding in fields other than language – strictly speaking – and its own rules, and this may give us reason to believe that “experience” may have a special – and rather illuminating – mean- ing in his work. From this point of view, we can find in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy an original contribution to aes- thetics that...
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