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Art between Experience and Interpretation: Dewey’s Aesthetic Theory

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Serge Grigoriev
Ithaca College, NY
United States

Dewey’s conception of aesthetic experience has been largely ignored until recently, when a pragmatist philosopher of art Richard Shusterman deployed it to reinforce his attack on what he calls the radical anaesthetization of aesthetics, referring to the intellectualist, conceptualist tendencies both in analytic philosophy of art and in the artworld itself. Shusterman takes himself to be continuing Dewey’s attack on the museum conception of art, questioning the separation of art from the interests of ordinary life. This paper focuses on Dewey’s notion of aesthetic experiences and its resources for addressing the contemporary situation in the arts. Specifically, it elaborates on the relationship between Dewey’s conception of experience in general and aesthetic experience, as well as the relationship between aesthetic and intellectual, articulated by Dewey around the distinction between expression and statement. Also discussed is the bearing of these distinctions on the conceptualist trends in art.


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