9Small Abstract Aesthetics

Max Bense


We interpret aesthetics to be an abstract aesthetics, which implies that it can be applied to any arbitrary field of special aesthetic objects regardless of whether it involves architecture, sculpture, painting, design, poetry, prose, dramaturgy, film, music, or events in general. This is no philosophical aesthetic as it is not embedded in a philosophical system. Rather, it is a scientific aesthetic in that it strives for the form of a theory. Accordingly, it is conceived of as research, not interpretation; it corresponds to the Galilean1 type of knowledge, not the Hegelian,2 and is more strongly oriented technologically than metaphysically. Its interest is considered a relative-objective theme, not an absolute, subjective conception of the object of investigation. It is an open, expandable, revisable theory, not a closed, postulated doctrine.

Aesthetic Condition

Its central concept is that of aesthetic condition. This is understood to include the relatively extreme and objective condition of all objects and events of greater or lesser artistic origin that are taken into consideration to the extent that it can be distinguished from the physical and semantic condition of these objects or events. The central concept of abstract aesthetics is therefore not conveyed by the term “beauty” and its philosophical or trivial derivatives, which for the most part can only be decided by subjective interpretation and not by objective determination. ...

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