John Dewey and the Prospect of Going" Beyond Aesthetics"

Aesthetic Pathways 2 (2):74-97 (2012)
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Deflationary views have emerged in many areas of philosophy over the past several decades. In the art world, one of the most significant deflationary approaches toward aesthetic experience has been taken by Noël Carroll in his collection of essays, Beyond Aesthetics (2001). The modus operandi of such an approach, according to Carroll, is to emphasize the context (historical, cultural, political, etc.) in which an art experience is embedded and explain its significance relative to a particular narrative. Interestingly, there is a precursor to this type of view that predates it by roughly eighty years. This is the account of aesthetic experience given by John Dewey. Although Carroll acknowledges Dewey’s contribution to the concept of aesthetic experience, he fails to see how Dewey laid some of the groundwork for not only his own deflationary account but also for a conception of aesthetic experience that is continuous with other facets of human experience. This paper will highlight the similarities between the two approaches with the aim of establishing Dewey’s work as a forerunner to deflationary-type approaches.


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