A Dialectical Approach to Berleant’s Concept of Engagement.
Authors: Leddy Thomas
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Arnold Berleant shares much in common with John Dewey. His notion of aesthetic engagement, which is central to his philosophy of art, is, like Dewey’s concept of “an experience,” an attack on dualistic notions of aesthetic experience. To the extent that Berleant and I are both Deweyans, we agree that we need to turn from the art object to art experience. Art is what it does in experience. Yet appreciative experience of art cannot happen without, at some point, focusing on the art object as such, and this means bracketing context. Engagement is important, but so too are contemplation, disinterestedness and distance. Contemplation, for example, is a moment both in the creative process and in the process of appreciation. Moreover, following Brand and Gracyk, it will be argued in the present paper that only through toggling between contemplation and engagement can we obtain a full experience of art, nature, or of the everyday.