Arnold Berleant
Long Island University


The aesthetic analysis of everyday life has developed an important body of work whose significance extends beyond the academy. Because of its ubiquity in experience, aesthetic sensibility has many manifestations, both overt and concealed. This paper examines some largely hidden ways in which taste and aesthetic judgment, which are manifested in sense experience, have been subtly appropriated and exploited. I identify and describe such procedures as the cooptation (or appropriation) of aesthetic sensibility, a phenomenon that has consequences damaging to health, to society, and to environment. These practices are a form of negative aesthetics that distorts and manipulates sensible experience in the interest of mass marketing and political control. Such practices have great ethical significance and carry social and political implications that suggest another role for aesthetics, a critical one: aesthetics as an instrument of emancipation in social analysis and political criticism.

aesthetic sensibility, cooptation, miseducation, profit, taste



SAJ Vol. 7, 2015, No. 1