Arnold Berleant
Engaging Dewey - The Legacy of Dewey's Aesthetics

Uzupełniona wersja wykładu wygłoszonego przez prof. A. Berleanta w OBnP w Krakowie 15 października 2009
Revisited version of Prof. Arnold Berleant's lecture given at JDRC in Kraków, October 15, 2009


It is surprising but gratifying to see how well Dewey’s Art as Experience has survived the changes in philosophical fashion since its publication in 1934. The appearance of a work on aesthetics surprised many of Dewey’s admirers as well as his detractors. Art as Experience revealed that this philosopher, who had developed the philosophy of pragmatism so fully throughout the many domains of philosophy – metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, social and political philosophy – could work with originality and insight in a manifestly non-instrumental region of philosophical inquiry. Indeed, Dewey ideas here are so consistent with his previous work that some have considered Art as Experience the best introduction to his philosophy overall. How is it that a philosophy so directed to active practice could encompass both the intrinsic satisfactions of art and practical thought and action? And how is it that Art as Experience could withstand the many storms of philosophical fashion and remain influential in diverse philosophical sanctuaries? Further, does its continued vitality carry enough force to propel its central insights through an evolving understanding of aesthetic appreciation into a yet more expansive vision?

In this paper I would like to consider key features of Dewey’s aesthetics and identify the influence of his pragmatic orientation, showing how his notion of "an experience" has its roots in pragmatic soil. Further, I would like to re-assess Dewey’s distinctive contribution to aesthetics in the light of subsequent changes in our understanding of aesthetic experience. And most particularly, I would like to examine to what extent the concept of aesthetic engagement incorporates Dewey’s basic insights and has pragmatic significance, even if it does not have wholly pragmatic origins.

Innovation and tradition in Dewey’s aesthetics of experience.

Dewey approached aesthetic inquiry by considering questions about the meaning of art works in the context of the ordinary forces and conditions of experience, and this remained his central orientation. In contrast to theories that separate art from the world of daily life, Dewey set his task as "recovering the continuity of esthetic experience with normal processes of living."[1] Such processes necessarily involve exchanges between organism and environment, and this interaction incurs the temporal process of re-establishing an equilibrium of the live creature with its surroundings.[2] Dewey was much concerned to gain a clear understanding of this process, and he re-cast the traditional concerns and concepts of aesthetics, such as art, form, substance, sense perception, and rhythm in the context of such experience. This coalesced in his concept of "an experience." Unlike ordinary, often inchoate experience that transpires with the constant shifts and readjustments that are part of the process of living, an experience occurs "when the material experienced runs its course to fulfillment." This idea lies at the core of Dewey’s understanding of aesthetic appreciation and of his aesthetic theory.

  Further, the effects of appreciation persist past the aesthetic occasion. They work their way into consequences, and this leads to a further innovative turn in Dewey’s theory. Contrary to traditional claims that aesthetic value is wholly intrinsic, Dewey insisted that it is also extrinsic. "[T]here is no final term in appreciation of a work of art.  It carries on, and is, therefore, instrumental as well as final." Lastly, the work of art is actually art working, working in experience. Thus as "an esthetic experience, the work of art in its actuality, is perception;" and as perception, art must of necessity develop in time.[4] Dewey thus lay out a large expanse in which art works in human life.

  Just as the concept of experience is central in Dewey’s philosophy as a whole,[5] the concept of an experience underlies the elaboration of aesthetic theory in Art as Experience. Important consequences follow. Most significant is the claim that an experience is not restricted to the arts or to aesthetic occasions. For "the esthetic," Dewey affirmed, "is no intruder in experience from without... but... it is the clarified and intensified development of traits that belong to every normally complete experience."[6] Dewey’s insistence on the pervasiveness of the aesthetic throughout the full range of human experience is a likely source of the increasing attention in recent years to the presence of the aesthetic in everyday life. This unconstrained spread of the aesthetic led Dewey to reject explicitly the traditional claim of disinterested contemplation that developed in the eighteenth century and found its classical formulation in Kant.[8]

  At the same time as Dewey recast aesthetics in new ways, the influence of the traditional characterization of such experience on his thinking remained strong. Formal unity is satisfying to perceive and a trait often affirmed in aesthetics and criticism.  Dewey endorsed this and in successive chapters of Art as Experience he wrote of the importance of order and coherence and of the unity of form. Indeed, the very notion of an experience incorporates such unity.[9] Appreciative experience, he proposed, is self-sufficient, integrated and complete in itself. Moreover, "esthetic value belongs to sense qualities in and of themselves," and the experience of those qualities is immediate: "What is not immediate is not esthetic." To be sure there is enjoyment of sense qualities, but the sensation of colors, scents, taste, and touch are properties of objects, and objects, not pure sensation, must be included in all significant experience.[10]

  It reinvigorates our appreciation of the arts to translate that appreciation into a course of experience, i.e. form as experienced and not as a cognitive object. It may be easiest to recognize appreciation as a course of experience when thinking of the novel, poetry, drama, film, or dance, arts that require a length of time to be fulfilled. But with fresh attention we can recognize that the course of an experience occurs in all appreciation, in appreciating a painting as much as in a piece of  music, sculpture as well as architecture.

  Appealing to sensory experience independent of the legacy of eighteenth-century British empiricism is difficult for Western philosophers, and the influence of that tradition continued to dog Dewey’s efforts. Indeed, the task still remains of freeing our understanding of experience from its legacy of subjectivism. It was important for Dewey to set himself apart from the common understanding of experience as a subjective, even exotic occurrence and to reclaim its biological and social content as a natural activity of the human organism in the ordinary activities of living. But old views die hard, misunderstandings persist, and the dualism he rejected of experience as subjective and the material world as objective is often mistakenly imposed on his thinking still.[11]

  Debate continues on the features of perceptual experience. Is it cognitive, non-cognitive, or pre-cognitive? Whether cognitive or not, what part does knowledge play in such experience? And what is the role of sensation, of perceptual qualities? Does aesthetic perception require an attitude of separation or distancing or is it more an experience of connection or engagement? Does it consist in the relation of a perceiving subject with an art object or is there continuity among all the constituent factors in aesthetic experience? Are there conditions that must be observed for such experience to take place, as Kant claimed, such as excluding interest and desire? Finally, can such experience be judged? Are some instances of aesthetic experience more authentic or authoritative than others? Can we go beyond the disparities in aesthetic experience and divergences in critical judgment to reach common agreement? 

Reconsidering Dewey

Dewey’s approach makes a major contribution to aesthetics by leading us back to experience. It is easy for the quest to understand art to lose touch with the immediate situation that stimulated it and meander along the many tempting byways over which speculation on art has traveled over its history. Dewey was aware of this temptation and his work in every philosophical domain is filled with the insights that come from a fresh, uncommitted return to experience. We have seen how he endeavored to do this deliberately in understanding art. And by taking issue with the inheritance of conventional thinking and appealing to aesthetic experience, he seemed to do that.

  Yet Dewey was not always consistent in trusting to aesthetic experience to generate concepts for the interpretation of art, and we can recognize in his work the persistence of traditional thinking about that experience. One telling case is his frequent reference to the "interaction of perceiver and environment," a way of speaking that has overtones of subject-object thinking that is inconsistent with Dewey’s explicit rejection of such a dualism.[12] And as we shall see shortly, he abjured that kind of thinking in describing the total absorption of the appreciator in the working of art. 

  More important, we may also question whether Dewey’s principal innovation in aesthetics, the notion of "an experience," comes wholly from aesthetic experience. "An experience" bears a close resemblance to the course that the pragmatic process of problem-solving follows.[13] Is it possible that Dewey took the fulfillment that comes from resolving the felt difficulty in an indeterminate situation as aesthetic satisfaction? This could be a telling difficulty in his theory but for the fact that he constantly tested his claims against the experience of aesthetic appreciation by constant reference to the arts and to individual works, unlike the practice of some aestheticians. Centering aesthetic theory on the process of appreciative experience is an innovative and revelatory practice.

  Still, one can question Dewey’s unswerving commitment to the formal integrity of an experience. The notion of unity has a long history in aesthetic thought but it should not be accepted blindly. The formal demand that Dewey placed on aesthetic experience imposes constraints on such experience. Plausible though it be to ascribe unity (sometimes "organic" unity) to art, and recognizing the aesthetic satisfaction that comes from experiencing such unity, artists, especially in recent times, have sometimes deliberately rejected it. The works of contemporary artists are often deliberately unresolved or inconclusive. Often they do not end with the art object but deliberately spill out of the museum or theater into everyday life. Frequently they require the audience or appreciator to complete the experience of the work, sometimes explicitly as co-creator of the artistic process and sometimes by achieving understanding or resolution, which may not be immediate or even successful. 

  There is nonetheless much that is invigorating in Dewey’s emancipation of aesthetics from its traditional constraints. In spite of his bow to tradition, he persisted in affirming aesthetic experience as the ultimate source and referent of aesthetic concepts.  Aesthetics should be directed toward the qualities of experience, not of objects. "Esthetic experience has not been trusted to generate its own concepts for interpretation of art."  Such ideas as the distinction between matter and form "have been superimposed through being carried over, ready-made, from systems of thought framed without reference to art."[14] The centrality of experience, experience understood in Dewey’s sense not as an inward, subjective process but as a natural, organic occurrence that is an open activity in the normal course of human affairs, serves to place Dewey’s aesthetics on the firm ground of the biological, cultural, and temporal conditions of experience. Moreover, actual aesthetic experience, the work of art as he conceived of it, is perception.[15]

  Does Dewey’s aesthetics contain signposts for the further development of an aesthetics of experience? His work is liberating and exhilarating but it would not be in the spirit of his openness to consider his the last word in aesthetic thought. Not only are there some inadequacies in Dewey’s theory but, more important, aesthetic experience itself has continued to change. Dewey himself had been well instructed by Albert C. Barnes and his book reflects an awareness of the aesthetic significance of modern art.  However, the innovativeness of the early twentieth century has continued in unpredictable directions, and dogmatic adherence to experiential unity may be false to aesthetic appreciation. The arts have moved far beyond the modern arts that Barnes and Dewey knew. Indeed, they have gone far beyond Dada and Surrealism in rejecting artistic and aesthetic conventions, and there have been developments in the arts since the publication of Dewey’s book (in 1934) for which his theory is inadequate. Movements such as abstract expressionism and hard-edge painting that focus attention on the pictorial surface as such do not lend themselves easily to a process of experience that leads to fulfillment. True, they can be appreciated in such a way and I think it enhances them to do so, but much of their force lies in the immediate impact of the painterly surface, such as its texture, its stress on the perception of hues, and perhaps their contrast and opposition. 

  This focus on immediacy is found in other arts, as well, especially in music. In some contemporary music there is an interest in the directness and immediacy of sonority and texture for their own intrinsic interest. Then there are novels and films whose narrative is deliberately uncompleted and unresolved. Unlike earlier works that were deliberately unfinished and required the appreciator to resolve them afterwards, some recent art is deliberately designed to frustrate such attempts! Thus the appreciative experience is one of incompleteness, and this flies in the face of "an experience." Still another kind of aesthetic appreciation has also been noted sometimes called "a thousand beauties" in which aesthetic delight lies in the details, not the whole

  Coarse or repugnant materials, crass subject-matter and a camp sensibility, indiscernibility from commercial icons and popular culture, all these have transformed the workings of art into social commentary. Artistic celebrity may be more important than aesthetic accomplishment, notoriety and commercial exploitation more than aesthetic vision and artistic skill. It would distort such appreciative experience to attempt to force it into Dewey’s theory. 

  But there are other kinds of appreciative situations than the model of art: The aesthetics of nature presents a further difficulty for Dewey. While it is true that his book is concerned with art, its key concept represents appreciative experience, and nature has long been appreciated aesthetically. It was the principal subject of the aesthetics of Burke and Kant and, indeed, nature appreciation is undoubtedly far more widely experienced than art. The aesthetic experience of natural events may indeed exemplify an experience, moving over a course to consummation. But much appreciation of nature focuses on momentary events and specific details: the sight of a full moon suspended in a black sky and casting its ethereal light over the earth’s surface or the discovery in the spring of the delicate blossom of an anemone hidden amid the dead debris on the forest floor.  Experiences like these are commonly appreciated as aesthetic. There is aesthetic delight in the furry texture on the underside of a leaf or in the reticular pattern of the veins in a leaf as there is in the rich sonorities of a Brahms symphony without referring to any formalism of experience. Gazing at the sky ablaze with the light show of a setting sun is commonly appreciated as aesthetic, but so, too, is the immediate delight of an exotic bloom or the look of wonder on a child’s face, situations admired so commonly as to become photographic clichés. Even pure qualities are sometimes appreciated for their own intrinsic beauty: ripples on a pond, a dew-laden blade of grass, the shimmering after-tones of a gong, the sensuous surface of objects. Such occasions may be momentary and ephemeral, and their experience is primarily perceptual with the strong presence of sensory features. They do not exemplify the fulfilled course of an experience. 

  A persistent difficulty attaches the appreciation of form. We are accustomed to thinking of form as an attribute of objects, and it illuminates appreciation to learn to experience form, to develop a consciousness of formal development, of the sequential experience that guides the unfolding, development, and resolution of sensuous material, as in a Shakespeare sonnet or a Haydn symphony. This difficulty does not make Dewey’s theory wrong but it makes it difficult. Even though it may not be universally applicable, it is still true that appreciating an experience can enhance and even transform the quality and subtlety of aesthetic thought as well as aesthetic appreciation. But where can an aesthetics of experience take us in the present world? 

Aesthetic engagement

Dewey remained committed to aesthetic experience in its freshness and perceptual immediacy, and there are places where he anticipated future developments along the same path, although he did not carry them far. Most significant for the present discussion is his account of the felt experience for both the artist and the perceiver that he described as "a total seizure." This is the same inclusiveness that can be found in ordinary experience but intensified in the framework of a poem or painting.[16] Moreover, the appreciator makes a significant, indeed necessary contribution to the working of art:  "The product of art... is not the work of art. The work takes place when a human being cooperates with the product so that the outcome is an experience that is enjoyed because of its liberating and ordered properties."[17] This "complete absorption" in the process is characteristic of aesthetic appreciation. Even more explicit and telling is his claim that in aesthetic perception there is no distinction between self and object. It is "a new experience in which subjective and objective have so cooperated that neither has any longer an existence by itself."[18]

  Such comments as these seem to anticipate the more recent account of aesthetic appreciation described as aesthetic engagement.[19] This view elaborates an account of appreciating the arts and nature in which the active experiential involvement of the appreciator is the central feature. Like Dewey’s theory, it centers appreciation on perceptual experience but it does not impose any formal requirements on that experience. Rather it emphasizes the direct and intimate experiential involvement in the occasion. This holds for the traditional arts as well as for the contemporary, innovative ones, and for the appreciation of nature, which is in large measure a direct experience of details.[20] Not only is this the case with some works of literature and the visual arts, but it is especially common in appreciating nature, when we take delight in the fragrance of a rose and the fresh caress of a spring breeze. 

  It may help to better understand the idea of aesthetic engagement by turning to the concept of an aesthetic field, the situation in which all the forces that enter into aesthetic experience join in mutual interplay.[21] Four principal factors actively constitute the aesthetic field:  the creative, the appreciative, the focal, and the performative. Different theories of art rest on one or another of these factors, but all four are active in every aesthetic situation: the creative in bringing the conditions of appreciative experience into existence, the focal in providing an object or focus for appreciative attention, the appreciative in the experiential process itself, and the performative in activating that process. In aesthetic experience, no one of these can be understood apart from the participation of the other components in the aesthetic field.  Indeed, the conventional way of structuring appreciation as the relation of a perceiver to an art object mistakes factors in an integral situation for separate entities that enter into a relationship.

  Aesthetic engagement stresses the totalizing character of appreciative experience. It seeks to accommodate the various conditions in which appreciation occurs. There is, of course, the "classic" mode in which a viewer stands back to regard a painting or sculpture, the reader peruses a novel, a person listens to a poem or a musical composition being performed. Such situations conventionally involve the interplay of appreciator and an already constituted art object, and they lend themselves to the traditional analysis where dualistic thinking and the formal analysis of the unity of the art object seem to apply. At the same time aesthetic engagement can account for such appreciation as well or better.

  The range of the aesthetic is thus rich and varied. On conventional occasions the appreciative experience of an art object may be complete and fulfilling. But there are other works of art that end unresolved and require thoughtful consideration afterward to give them coherence and resolution. In these cases the perceiver’s contribution is necessary, not just to receive the experience but to precipitate it, to work in and on it, and eventually to complete it. The appreciator then becomes not just a receiver but an activator and a creator, and, what Is most to the point here, cannot be reckoned apart from the art object. Nor can the work itself be understood apart from its audience. 

  We might call occasions that require the active contribution of a creative perceiver "constitutive appreciation." Here the appreciator must make a substantive, determinative contribution. Architectural experience provides a clear illustration of this, for it requires the active presence of an inhabitant or user for its fulfillment. A building is not only a physical edifice. It cannot be appreciated without being experienced, and it can not be experienced simply by being viewed from the outside. The structure must enter into the various ways in which it is capable of functioning in the activities for which it was designed, and this requires the active, contributing presence of participants. Indeed, engaged experience is experience from the inside. Aesthetic engagement identifies the intense participatory processes of aesthetic appreciation and is a clear alternative to the doctrine of aesthetic disinterestedness. 

  Much has been written about the historical origins of the notion of disinterestedness and the concept has been judged critically.[22] This is not the place to revive or rehearse that discussion but some observations can indicate the difficulties and inadequacy of the idea. One is its origin in the writings of Shaftesbury, Hutchinson, and other eighteenth-century moral theorists who used the idea of disinterestedness to designate the impartiality they considered essential in moral judgment. Transferring this attitude to the appreciation of beauty seemed to preserve the integrity and purity of aesthetic appreciation from distracting purposes. Earlier still is the highest status given contemplative, theoretical knowledge by Aristotle, a value with social origins and significance in classical Greek culture that was resurrected in transferring that ideal to aesthetic contemplation.[23] These considerations exemplify Dewey’s criticism of aesthetic theory that does not derive from the experience of the arts but  has external origins.  Aesthetic engagement centers on the distinctive, self-sufficiency of aesthetic experience without excluding it from the multifarious activities and occasions of human life. This is appreciation understood from the inside, whereas aesthetic disinterestedness and distance, and even the concept of an experience, are ways of considering it from the outside.

  Aesthetic engagement reflects the perceptual integrity of engaged experience that has become increasingly significant in philosophic thought. Given preeminence by William James in his radical empiricism, we can find growing recognition of perceptual immediacy in Husserl’s notion of the phenomenological epochē in which direct, unqualified attention is given to phenomenal perception by suspending all considerations of existence. Dewey came to a similar understanding with his postulate of immediate empiricism, holding that ” things…are what they are experienced as. Hence, if one wishes to describe anything truly, his task is to tell what it is experienced as being.”[24] Among many other consequences, such an approach frees us from the common but mistaken impulse to dismiss aesthetic experience as illusory.

  Music has been characterized in various ways, sometimes eulogistically, sometimes dismissively. Yet music can provide an insight into the concept of an aesthetic field and its exemplification in the idea of aesthetic engagement. Unlike most of the other classic arts, music has no object that can be readily distinguished on which to focus attention.  It has a source, but its source is all too often taken as a focus and can easily become a distraction. It has no discrete spatial boundaries and functions differently since it is directly experiential. Music is diffuse, resonating in space-time, yet expanding as it resonates. Even temporally, music lingers on, reverberating in the air and in memory.  Because music is not an object, it cannot be clearly localized as can the plastic arts, which are so readily set in tandem with the listener. The traditional dualistic frame of appreciator and art object does not apply; instead, music exemplifies an aesthetic field.  It is not difficult to think of music as an experiential whole, as an experience of total engagement with no clear physical separation but rather as a physical and experiential unity.  Moreover, the somatic character of musical sound is important. Pitches vary in frequency, the vibration of a string or column of air increasing with the pitch. These vibrations do not end with their source; they continue in the air and perhaps along the floor to enter the body of the listener, who thus becomes physically connected with the sound.[25]

  The model of music is also useful in helping us to recognize the engaging continuities that exist in other arts and aesthetic occasions: the lens of the movie camera becoming the eye of the filmgoer’s consciousness; the reader of the novel constructing an imaginary world and becoming a virtual participant in it; the subliminal muscular reflexes and subsequent exhilaration of the dancer’s audience; the visual participation of the skilled appreciator of a painting in apprehending color relationships, the disposition of mass and space, the movement and rhythm of line, and even the connection of the body with the pictorial space; the poet’s listener progressing imaginatively through the sequence of tropes. Aesthetic engagement crosses the boundaries by which we habitually objectify the world of experience and render it distant. 

The future of aesthetic experience

It is the particular virtue of an aesthetics based on experience that it is not enclosed in a self-justifying theory. The appeal to experience makes it possible to provide a relatively independent criterion by which to evaluate an account. Of course, there is the subjectivist’s dilemma that obstructs any impersonal judgment: as the experiencing subject, only I can know what I have experienced of an object. And yet there are reasons for endeavoring to agree on what we hold experience to encompass, reasons of communicating and sharing, reasons of community as well as reasons of cognition. Thus while one must, in Deweyan fashion, begin with experience, we cannot begin with aesthetic experience simpliciter, for any mode of experience entails a metaphysics of experience. And although all experience possesses an aesthetic dimension, there is a sense in which experience stands outside of aesthetic theory and against which any such theory can be judged.[26] 

  It is the delight of the artist (to the consternation of the aesthetician) constantly to challenge convention and stretch our capacities for experience. For the artist stands in the vanguard of progressive human awareness, and this identifies the distinctive contribution that artists make. Aesthetic theory can only keep pace with such changes and must never presume to legislate them. As artists raise a constant challenge to aesthetics, so too does the larger course of social and cultural change. And since experience is never final, neither can any theory of experience be so. By the same token, an aesthetics of experience is only as good as its explanatory power. Other things being equal, the greater its scope, the more successful the explanation

  Aesthetic engagement endeavors to respond to the challenge of the enlarged scope and character of human experience. At the same time, it offers a more direct and unencumbered account of the many modes of appreciation that we call aesthetic. In carrying forward the direction Dewey marked out, aesthetic engagement can serve as the foundation of a theory of aesthetics and of the aesthetics of the individual arts. Aesthetic engagement represents the liberation of appreciation and the rejuvenation of its theory.



[1] John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Minton, Balch & Co., 1934), p.10.

[2] Ibid., pp. 13-17.

[3] Ibid., p. 35.

[4] Ibid., pp. 139, 162, 175.

[5] The most inclusive and general statement of Dewey’s theory of experience is his Experience and Nature (Chicago & London: Open Court, 1925; revised edition, New York: Norton, 1929; republished, New York: Dover, 1958).

[6] Art as Experience, p. 46.

[7] See Katya Mandoki, Everyday Aesthetics: Prosaics, the Plan of Culture and Social Identities (Ashgate, 2007; Yuriko Saito, Everyday Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), The Aesthetics of Everyday Life, ed. Andrew Light and Jonathan M. Smith (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).

[8] Op. cit., pp. 253-258.

[9] Ibid., chs. 6 and 7. Dewey earlier described such wholeness as qualitative: "The logic of artistic construction and esthetic appreciation is peculiarly significant because they exemplify in accentuated and purified form the control of selection of detail and of mode of relation, or integration, by a qualitative whole." John Dewey, "Qualitative Thought," in Philosophy and Civilization (New York: Minton, Balch & Co., 1931), p. 103.

[10] Art as Experience, pp. 55, 73, 99, 119, 125-126.

[11] "Dewey’s main theoretical move… is to overcome the aesthetic tradition’s fetishization of art objects by shifting the emphasis away from the object of aesthetic appreciation and toward the subject." Glenn Parsons and Allen Carlson, Functional Beauty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 175.

[12] Later Dewey came to prefer the term "transaction" to "interaction," for as he defined it, transaction is less dualistic. See Dewey, John, and Arthur Bentley. Knowing and the Known (Boston: Beacon Press, 1949).

[13] See David W. Ecker, "The Artistic Process as Qualitative Problem Solving," The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, XXI/3 (Spring 1963), 283-290.

[14] Art as Experience, p. 131. This is nowhere more true than in Kant’s aesthetics, the formative theory in the modern philosophy of art, which was elaborated out of the philosophical necessity of bridging the gap between his epistemological and moral theories.

[15] Ibid., p. 162.

[16] Ibid., pp. 191-192, 194, 207. "[A]rtist and perceiver alike begin with what may be called a total seizure, an inclusive qualitative whole not yet articulated, not distinguished into members." p. 191.

[17] Ibid., p. 214.

[18] Ibid., pp. 280, 287. "For the uniquely distinguishing feature of esthetic experience is exactly the fact that no such distinction of self and object exists in it…" Ibid., p. 249.

[19] See especially Arnold Berleant, Art and Engagement (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991). Also see Sensibility and Sense: The Aesthetic Transformation of the Human World (Exeter: Imprint Academic, forthcoming 2010), and Re-thinking Aesthetics, Rogue Essays on Aesthetics and the Arts (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).

[20] See my "The Aesthetics of Art and Nature," in The Aesthetics of Environment (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), ch. 11.

[21] The idea of the aesthetic field was originally developed in The Aesthetic Field: A Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience (Springfield, Ill.: C. C. Thomas l970).  Second (electronic) edition, with a new Preface, 2000 -

[22] I have developed an extensive critique of disinterestedness elsewhere. See Re-thinking Aesthetics. Also see "The Historicity of Aesthetics I," The British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Spring 1986), 101‑111; "The Historicity of Aesthetics II," The British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Summer 1986), 195‑203; "The Eighteenth Century Assumptions of Analytic Aesthetics," in V. Tejera and T. Lavine, eds., History and Anti-History in Philosophy (Kluwer, 1989), pp. 256-274.; "Beyond Disinterestedness," The British Journal of Aesthetics, 34/3 (July 1994); Art and Engagement, Ch.1, esp. n. 3, pp. 215-16. The definitive discussion of the history of this idea is Jerome Stolnitz, "On the Origins of 'Aesthetic Disinterestedness'," The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, XX, 2 (Winter 1961), 131-143. See also Arnold Berleant and Ronald Hepburn, "An Exchange on Disinterestedness,"Contemporary Aesthetics, I (2003),

[23] See G. Lowes Dickinson, The Greek View of Life, 5th ed. (New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1906) and H.D. F. Kitto, The Greeks  (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1951); also see "Beyond Disinterestedness," in Arnold Berleant Re-thinking Aesthetics.

[24] John Dewey, "The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism," in The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy (New York: Peter Smith, 1951), pp.227-241. In this connection see also Justus Buchler’s concept of ontological parity: "Whatever is discriminated in any way (whether it is 'encountered' or produced or otherwise related to) is a natural complex, and no complex is more 'real,' more 'natural,' more 'genuine, or more 'ultimate' than any other. There is no ground, except perhaps a short-range rhetorical one, for a distinction between the real and the 'really real,' between being and 'true being.'" Justus Buchler, The Metaphysics of Natural Complexes ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1966), 2d edition (State University of New York Press, 1990), p. 31.

[25] Dewey calls attention to the significance of sound and to music and to their emotional power especially in relation to the activities and circumstances of living.  Art as Experience, pp. 236-239.

[26] Sensibility and Sense: The Aesthetic Transformation of the Human World explicitly develops a theory of experience in which the aesthetic finds its place.