The Aesthetic Field: A Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience

Springfield, Ill., Thomas (1970)
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Abstract

The Aesthetic Field develops an account of aesthetic experience that distinguishes four mutually interacting factors: the creative factor represented primarily by the artist; the appreciative one by the viewer, listener, or reader; the objective factor by the art object, which is the focus of the experience; and the performative by the activator of the aesthetic occurrence. Each of these factors both affects all the others and is in turn influenced by them, so none can be adequately considered apart from them. Thus aesthetic appreciation, for example, has creative, objective, and performative aspects. This situation of four factors, together with social, cultural, technological, and historical influences on them, is called the aesthetic field. Although the factors are theoretically distinguishable, they are experienced as a unity. It is important, therefore, not to confound the theoretical explanation of aesthetic experience with the experience, itself. The aesthetic field has important implications for understanding the various individual arts, new developments in the arts, and the critical appraisal of the arts. Moreover, the concept transforms traditional issues in aesthetics.

Author's Profile

Arnold Berleant
Long Island University

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