Aesthetic Concerns, Philosophical Fabulations: The Importance of a ‘New Aesthetic Paradigm’


“Aesthetics” is not a concern that figures prominently in Isabelle Stengers’s work and it is not difficult to find the reasons why. Reading the discipline of aesthetics through a historical and systematic perspective derived from Stengers and Alfred North Whitehead, the invention of modern aesthetics as a philosophical discipline in the 18th century can be read as the flipside to “the invention of modern science” described by Stengers in her seminal book with just this title. Understood in this historical sense as the philosophical discipline founded by Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten and Immanuel Kant, aesthetics instills and cements what Alfred North Whitehead termed “the bifurcation of nature,” the implicit distinction between a “bare nature,” object of scientific inquiry but never perceived as such, and “nature perceived” by subjects, with its qualities and values.

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