1st Edition

Aesthetic Disinterestedness Art, Experience, and the Self

By Thomas Hilgers Copyright 2017
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    The notion of disinterestedness is often conceived of as antiquated or ideological. In spite of this, Hilgers argues that one cannot reject it if one wishes to understand the nature of art. He claims that an artwork typically asks a person to adopt a disinterested attitude towards what it shows, and that the effect of such an adoption is that it makes the person temporarily lose the sense of herself, while enabling her to gain a sense of the other. Due to an artwork’s particular wealth, multiperspectivity, and dialecticity, the engagement with it cannot culminate in the construction of world-views, but must initiate a process of self-critical thinking, which is a precondition of real self-determination. Ultimately, then, the aesthetic experience of art consists of a dynamic process of losing the sense of oneself, while gaining a sense of the other, and of achieving selfhood. In his book, Hilgers spells out the nature of this process by means of rethinking Kant’s and Schopenhauer’s aesthetic theories in light of more recent developments in philosophy–specifically in hermeneutics, critical theory, and analytic philosophy–and within the arts themselves–specifically within film and performance art.


    1. Introducing Disinterestedness

    2. Defending Disinterestedness

    3. Explicating Disinterestedness

    4. Generating Disinterestedness



    Thomas Hilgers is a research associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Potsdam, Germany. After completing his dissertation in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, he was a research fellow at the Free University Berlin, the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and Columbia University. He has also taught seminars in philosophy and film studies at UPenn, the Free University Berlin, the Kunstakademie, the Humboldt University Berlin, and Potsdam University. His fields of research are aesthetics, philosophy of film, philosophy of technology, metaphysics, and the history of German philosophy since Kant.

    "Thomas Hilgers's book is a distinctive and powerful contribution to an aesthetic theory of art ... Hilgers has worked out many of the details of a generally Kantian aesthetic theory of art and its value as fully as anyone, and his study significantly advances the discussion both of what art is and how and why it matters to us."  Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "Hilgers’s book is fascinating and carefully argued . . . Hilgers is widely conversant in Hermeneutics, Anglophone Philosophy, Contemporary Social theory, and the Arts. His voice is erudite and his reasoning intricate."Carol S. Gould in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

    "Hilgers’s subtle book offers theorists interested in aesthetic experience and art an opportunity to reconsider disinterest, with its potential value, and perhaps limits, anew." Samantha Matherne in Philosophy in Review

    "This challenging volume bravely addresses some relevant yet still contentious questions of aesthetics . . . [It] is sound, serious, and thoroughly grounded: well-made arguments support the author’s claims and the ideas or theories of other authors are accurately presented when defending or grounding his own approach or when assessing them critically; possible objections are constantly considered and addressed."Dan Eugen Ratiu in Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics

    "Hilgers’ book is a major new contribution to a topic that is often too quickly dismissed in current debates about the nature of aesthetic experience, namely the historical and contemporary importance of the concept of disinterestedness." – Jane Kneller, Colorado State University, USA