Photo: David Ausserhofer
This research area makes one of the basic concepts of occidental culture in general and the humanities in particular its central object of research: the notion of the aesthetic.
Viewed from a historical perspective, it is the shifting boundaries between the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic, as well as the changing qualities of aesthetic experiences over time, that will be the subjects of analysis. From a systematic perspective, the research area will take up the problem of the profile of the aesthetic: Is the aesthetic an autonomous and thus a distinct field of cultural activity, as it was first conceived in the eighteenth century, or is it, as seems more plausible from a contemporary point of view, a specific manifestation of the cultural that encompasses all fields of human activity, including politics and science?
With particular emphasis on the relevance of the concept of “aesthetics” in Western cultures, this research area will also consider similar or functionally parallel concepts in other cultures. The overarching research question of this research area pertains to the relevance of the aesthetic for the general phenomenon of cultural dynamics.