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Irvin, Sherri, , . Scratching an itch
2008, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (1):25-35.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: In recent years, momentum has been gathering in defense of the appropriateness of aesthetic discourse in relation to a number of domains other than art and nature. Philosophers have argued that food, sports, and sex can be viewed aesthetically. It has been claimed that the “lower senses” of smell, taste, and touch may play legitimate or even exclusive roles in some aesthetic judgments. And there has been sustained criticism of the view that aesthetic judgments must be disinterested or must transport us out of the concerns of everyday life. Can this extension of the realm of the aesthetic be taken even further, so as to accommodate the idea that even the most mundane incidents of everyday life have an aesthetic character, or that there can be aesthetic experiences of such incidents? With attention to two especially hard cases, itches and scratches, I will argue that it is appropriate and worthwhile to think of even the simplest moments of everyday life in aesthetic terms. It is appropriate, because on the most plausible accounts of aesthetic experience there can be legitimate aesthetic experiences of itching and scratching; and it is worthwhile, because aesthetic attention to this domain offers the prospect of unique and significant satisfaction.

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Saito Yuriko, , . Aesthetics of the Familiar: Everyday Life and World-Making
2017, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Yuriko Saito explores the nature and significance of the aesthetic dimensions of people’s everyday life. Everyday aesthetics has the recognized value of enriching one’s life experiences and sharpening one’s attentiveness and sensibility. Saito draws out its broader importance for how we make our worlds, environmentally, morally, as citizens and consumers. Saito urges that we have a social responsibility to encourage cultivation of aesthetic literacy and vigilance against aesthetic manipulation. Yuriko Saito argues that ultimately, everyday aesthetics can be an effective instrument for directing the humanity’s collective and cumulative world-making project for the betterment of all its inhabitants.

Everyday aesthetics has been seen as a challenge to contemporary Anglo-American aesthetics discourse, which is dominated by the discussion of art and beauty. Saito responds to controversies about the nature, boundary, and status of everyday aesthetics and argues for its legitimacy. She highlights the multi-faceted aesthetic dimensions of everyday life that are not fully accounted for by the commonly-held account of defamiliarizing the familiar.

Comment: Of the three parts of the book (Concepts, Cases, Consequences), the first is the most theoretically involved. It engages with the current debates in everyday aesthetics, examining the concepts of ‘everyday’ and ‘aesthetics’, and arguing with the common drive to defamiliarize the familiar, aimed at making what is mundane stand out, turning the ordinary into something extraordinary. What is there to be gained by ‘artifying’ things, and thus making them special? Does the fact that we treat some objects as aesthetically special, not prevent us from seeing the aesthetic qualities of other things? Those questions can make for interesting topics to explore in class or to debate.

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