According to the sociologist Max Weber, luxury is the product "of a refusal of utilitarian orientation toward use," whilst Theodor W. Adorno stated that art is luxury without purpose. What is luxury? Would we rather live in a world with or without luxury? Is someone who finds luxury normal really experiencing luxury? Can it be attained by anyone? In this thought-provoking and engaging book, Lambert Wiesing explores these questions and more from a philosophical standpoint.
Drawing on a fascinating range of examples, Lambert Wiesing argues that luxury is ultimately a form of aesthetic experience dependent on the observer. He explores this idea of luxury with the help 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 W. Adorno. He considers questions such as the difference between luxury and ostentation, whether luxury is a matter of ownership and possession, if luxury is a matter of defiance and transgression in common with some artistic movements, and the relationship between luxury, elegance and connoisseurship.
A Philosophy of Luxury is of great interest to those in aesthetics, 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?