Towards a practical aesthetics: thinking WITH

  • Bernd Herzogenrath
Keywords: Aesthetics, Thinking With, Philosophy, Art, Alexander Baumgarten, Gilles Deleuze


In recent years, there has been a proliferation of approaches and formats, such as media philosophy, artistic research, the audiovisual essay, the audio paper, etc., which, although disparate, have something in common – they are grounded in what I would like to call “practical aesthetics”.  I am speculating about aesthetics as a “critical practice” that imitatively observes the practice of art in its performance, i.e. a “practical aesthetics” not as “aesthetic practice”, but as an approach that takes seriously the double coding of aesthetics as science and art, and performs it from the perspective of the philosopher, not the artist – it takes the practice of the work of art not as an object of analysis, but as its own modus operandi: this approach does not want so much to think about art in terms of external (usually rational, propositional) categories, which in most cases follow the logic of the “written word” but to think with art: with images, with sound, etc. It is not about what methods we use to understand works of art, but about how we think with works of art, how they shape both our understanding and experience of the world, how they become “accomplices” to our thinking. When a practical aesthetic carries out thinking with images, with sounds, with texts, etc., such non-propositional thinking pushes strictly representational and logocentric reflection to its limits. And if what we have on our side is an accomplice, it means to enter into a relationship with someone whose sensibility one shares, in a way that is not identical, otherwise there would be nothing more to say or do. Practical aesthetics is a mobile and dynamic approach that sees art not as an object of (external) analysis, but as a subject with its own knowledge, and establishes a “co-composing” conceptual interference pattern between theory and practice.


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How to Cite
Herzogenrath , B. (2022) “Towards a practical aesthetics: thinking WITH”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 16(2). doi: 10.4396/20221201.