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Refiguring Art and Craft in Dewey: Aesthetics as if Practice Mattered

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To treat Dewey’s aesthetics in a newly prolific way that subverts intellectualism and aesthetic modernism, I suggest we re-read Art and Experience and Dewey’s other, related writings through a focus on the philosophy of craft. It is the aesthetic dimension of craft practices, rather than fine art, that represent “experience in its integrity” for Dewey. As an alternative to other conceptions of living "an artful life," I make a case that aesthetic experience should be widened by applying ethical norms that fall out of the careful analysis of craft practices; such research inevitably engages Deweyan aesthetics with material culture studies as well as the philosophy of craft. The transferability across cultural contexts of these normative principles and practices sets up the paradigm of “quality work for its own sake” as a complex ethical and technical standard for the further integration of aesthetic experience across different modalities of living.


Kevin S. Decker    
Eastern Washington University
United States


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