According to the sociologist Max Weber, luxury is the product "of a refusal of utilitarian orientation toward use", whilst Theodor Adorno claimed that luxury is a "longing to escape the slavery of goals". In this thought-provoking book Lambert Wiesing asks simply: What is luxury? He also considers further important questions, such as whether we would we rather live in a world with or without luxury and argues that luxury is something that can be attained by anyone.
Drawing on a fascinating range of examples, Lambert Wiesing argues that luxury is an aesthetic experience. Unlike experience gained via the senses, such as seeing, hearing or tasting, he argues that luxury is achieved by possessing something – an aspect of philosophy that has been largely neglected. As such, luxury becomes a gesture of individual defiance and a refusal to conform to social expectations of restraint. An increasingly rational and goal-oriented ethos in society makes the appeal of luxury grow even stronger.
Drawing on the ideas of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, Martin Heidegger and the novelist Ernst Jünger, as well as sociologists such as Thorstein Veblen and Theodor Adorno, A Philosophy of Luxury will be of great interest to those in philosophy, art, cultural studies and literature as well as sociology.
"Luxury has a bad reputation, built on marble and gold, boutique shopping and penthouse suites. This award-winning book, finally available in English, forces us to rethink all of that. Wiesing separates luxury from vulgar displays of wealth and power. Instead, he shows that it is an important aesthetic experience, available to all of us. Erudite, accessible, and beautifully translated, Luxury promises to become a classic of philosophical aesthetics." - John V. Kulvicki, Dartmouth College, USA
Foreword to the English edition
Part 1: First play, then war, fear and drugs – and now: luxury
1. Anthropology and the Idea of self-experience
2. Aesthetics and the search for moments of self-experience
Part 2: Luxury: The Dadaism of Possession
3. The Judgment of Luxury
4. Luxury: a special aesthetic experience
5. Why Luxury?