'Being on Earth, Practice in Tending the Appearances'available via Nature Institute Specifically the articles by Georg Maier are a must for everybody who is interested in Aesthetics.
Here are two excerpts
“What were the characteristics of the new science as Baumgarten originally conceived it? Aesthetics was certainly not just a theory of art, or worse, a theory of the production of pleasing impressions. Baumgarten coined the name from aistheta, the Greek word for “sense percepts. Aesthetics as a new mode of cognition was to combine two activities: perceiving and representing. That is, Baumgarten was interested in the passive sense impression as expanded by expressive activity. In this book it has become apparent that we engage in expressive activity even while we perceive—this being the only way to grasp anything at all. In the following chapter we will begin to compare the methods of logic and aesthetics. This will lead to an assessment of stages in the process of aesthetic cognition. As it will turn out, we will also find that attending, organizing through intentionality, and then participating in the appearance are the valid realization of Baumgarten’s vision of a science based on experience.”
And in the next chapter:
“As indicated at the end of the last chapter, aesthetics as it was established and developed from 1735 on by Baumgarten was an alternative to logic. Logic is cognition based on thoughts, on ideas, on theory. Baumgarten characterized aesthetics, by contrast, as the mode of knowledge dedicated to the individual appearance itself, the aesthetician being an individual who finds the utmost truth in the specific experience and the less significant truth in generally applicable, fundamental concepts and theoretical constructions. In this chapter we will consider how to appreciate the specific appearance in an attempt to practice aesthetics in Baumgarten’s sense. In his time logic was seen as the true path to objective knowledge. It still is. And, to be sure, this path is positively “anaesthetic”—devoid of sense experience. It is taken as a matter of course in the guild. It leads to knowledge in terms of principles that in turn must be compatible with the basic beliefs of the time. These are seldom voiced explicitly, but they comprise, all the more, the current ideology.”
The book is highly recommended and it is not academic! Everybody can read it although we will have to be open minded.
'Nature’s Moods'by J.M. Howarth in British Journal of Aesthetics 1995 vol 35. Nature’s Moods
Excerpt; Extrapolating from what Merleau-Ponty says and applying it to the case of moods, children respond, by mimicking or copying, not just to other humans, but to patterns in nature. We have all encountered some version of a small child rolling and crashing round the room, knocking over the furniture and chipping the paintwork, claiming to be the sea. We have probably all at some early stage obeyed the instruction 'be a tree', or be a tree gently swaying in the breeze, or a tree battling to withstand the storm. Now be the wind, gentle, caressing; now the gale, furious, raging. Notice how extraordinary this is: one can, without the aid of mirrors, move like a tree. You know, as it were, 'from the inside', how to mimic how a tree looks or the wind feels 'from the outside'.
These are examples of producing similarities between us and nature. The ability lies not in detailed observation of nature and meticulous reproduction; but in simply being able to move like nature. Further, Merleau-Ponty would claim, it is that bodily ability which underlies our later conceptualized experi- ence of nature's patterns, atmospheres and moods. We can, of course, as with the social world, withdraw from nature as meaningful, regard it, with Descartes, as brute mechanism or as 'standing reserve' as Heidegger has it (printing error?) scientific rationality does; but it is a withdrawal, a refusal to acknowledge what is there to be experienced. Our ability to mimic nature's patterns underlies our ability to use mood words. This should be reflected in the philosophical analysis. If the philosophical analysis is taken to be an analysis of systems of representation and projection, it will lose this element of prelinguistic but meaningful interaction with a meaningful world. Phenomenology aims to make this explicit, to reveal meaningful interactions which necessarily underlie all systems of representation. And that, in a small way, is what my account of moods has been aiming to do. So, if it is to be properly understood, it must be understood as a phenomenological description not a conceptual analysis of a system of thought. In conclusion, if we are to understand the nature of our moods and the moods of nature, the significance of nature and of our relations with it, we should become phenomenologists.
'The Neglected Programme of Aesthetics'by Steffen W. Gross in British Journal of Aesthetics 2002 vol 42 The Neglected Programme of Aesthetics
Abstract; Aesthetics is today widely seen as the philosophy of art and/or beauty, limited to artworks and their perception. In this paper, I will argue that today's aesthetics and the original programme developed by the German Enlightenment thinker Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten in the first half of the eighteenth century have only the name in common. Baumgarten did not primarily develop his aesthetics as a philosophy of art. The making and understanding of artworks had served in his original programme only as an example for the application of his philosophy. What he really attempts to present is an alternative philosophy of knowledge that goes beyond the purely rationalist, empiricist, and sensualist approaches. In short, Baumgarten transcends the old opposition between rationalism and sensualism. His core theme is the improvement (perfectio) of human knowledge and cognition and the ways to reach this goal. The study of Baumgarten's foundational works on aesthetics should not be undertaken merely out of antiquarian interest. I will argue, instead, that Baumgarten's importance and contemporary relevance lies in this: that his Aesthetica may serve as a profound contribution to the philosophy of the cultural sciences and humanities.* Revisiting Baumgarten's original idea of aesthetics will lead us to a more inclusive concept of that philosophical discipline.
*Personaly I think this not only applies to cultural sciences and humanities, but also, and perhaps even more so, to natural sciences.
Wolfgang Welsch (1990) described, how in the time after Baumgarten “there was a restriction of the concept of aesthetic predominantly to art or even to only what was beautiful. That, in my opinion needs to be turned around today.” Especially the work of Hans Rudolf Schweizer has brought recognition of Baumgarten’s original aesthetic concept and paved the way to an understanding of aesthetics, not as a theory of beautiful art, but as a philosophy of sense experience. He has formulated Baumgarten’s fundamental principles, into the language of our time in the following way:
1. “Aesthetics is not a specialised area within the whole of Life’s process, but the basis for the experience of reality.
2. Aesthetics brings the unbroken phenomenality of ‘things’ to validity. It is, as ‘pure phenomena’, the unrepeatable, individual happening in time.
3. Aesthetic cognition is a purely intuitive cognition, which at first remains without conceptual
treatment. It is that knowing, which one must rely on in daily life.
4. Aesthetics is a field of relationships between the Human Being and the World, Subject and Object. If one denies it having any objective meaning whatsoever and ascribe to it a simple subjective feeling or a subjective ‘Forming power’, then one has lost its content and its being.” (Schweizer, 1976, p.74)
With this we understand, that the happening of the “conclusion” is the moment of aesthetic experience (Barth 1999, p. 111). Here there is no limitation to a specialist area; this is not only about the observation of art! Here we glimpse the existential moment of world encounter in the pure perception. We are standing at the spring for all teaching.
1 Welsch,W. (1990): Ästhetisches Denken. Stuttgart.
2 Schweizer, H.R.(1976): Vom ürsprunglichen Sinn der Ästhetik. Oberwil- Zug.
Source; Aesthetic knowledge as a source for the Main Lesson
by Peter Guttenhöfer
The next extract is from Wolfgang Welsch article "Aesthetics beyond Aesthetics "
Today, we are living amidst an aestheticization of the real world unmatched in the
past.17 Embellishment and styling are to be found everywhere. They extend from the
appearance of individuals to the ‘look’ of urban and public spheres, and from economy
through to ecology.
Individuals are engaging themselves in a comprehensive styling of body, soul,
and behavior. Homo aestheticus has become the new role model. In urban areas just
about everything has been subjected to a face-lift in recent years - at least in the
developed western countries. The economy also profits--largely from the consumers'
tendency not simply to acquire an article for use but, rather, to thereby buy into the
aesthetic lifestyle with which advertising strategies have linked the article. Even ecology
is on the way to becoming embellished as it favors styling the environment in the spirit of
such aesthetic ideals as complexity or natural beauty. And, in the end, genetic
engineering is a kind of genetic cosmetic surgery.
It is surely not necessary to expand on these tendencies towards embellishment
and globalized aestheticization in detail; the phenomena are all too obvious. I want
instead to consider the relevance of these recent developments for aesthetics.
Aesthetic activity and orientation have always borne upon the real world -
however little, on the other hand, the discipline of aesthetics may have taken this into
account. New today is the extent and the status of these aestheticizing activities.
Aestheticization has become a global and primary strategy. And this has an impact on
contemporary as well as traditional aesthetics.
Another very interesting publication from Wolfgang Welsch is "Aestheticization Processes: Phenomena, Distinctions and Prospects"