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By Arnold Berleant

During this ebook, Arnold Berleant develops a daring replacement to the eighteenth-century aesthetic of disinterestedness. Centering at the thought of participatory engagement within the appreciation of paintings, he explores its visual appeal in artwork and in aesthetic belief, specifically in past times century.

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And since this art performed a variety of functions, such as contributing to religious worship or recording people and events, artists were forced to accept severe limitations on their choice of subject matter, on their ability to abstract, and on the sorts of audience responses they could evoke. At the same time the fine arts possessed a celebratory character, for they were associated with ritual and various forms of social privilege. This encouraged the development of a sharp distinction between people's practical activities, which demanded an unqualified commitment to utility, and the artistic activities of aesthetic enjoyment, which were cut offfrom practical affairs and regarded for their own intrinsic worth.

Dewey exhibits a still more explicit recognition of total organic involvement in art. The biological, evolutionary model underlies his account of experience and, when he turns to art, he employs the same factors. Whether one's interests be scientific or aesthetic, "the ultimate matter of both emphases in experience is . . " Such an occurrence is integrated and consummated in what Dewey calls" an experience," the distinguishing mark of the aesthetic. 18 Aesthetic involvement is carried further yet in Maurice Merleau-Ponty's discussion of perception as a synthesis that finds unity and wholeness in our sensory grasp of objects.

Let us see how these have come about. Copyrighted Material 31 Experience and Theory in Aesthetics CHAPTER TWO The unity of aesthetic • expenence THE ARTISTIC TRANSFORMATIONS THAT CONTRADICT THE INHER- ited aesthetic ofthe eighteenth century are no anomaly in the history of the arts. They must not be dismissed as deviant, an unhappy though temporary digression from the true and proper course of things. They move, in fact, close to the far older tradition of artistic integration that is still a vital part of non-industrial cultures.

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