Volume 19, Issue 1, Spring 2022
Practicing Positive Aesthetics
This paper rethinks positive aesthetics as a group of aesthetic practices rather than a set of doctrines or judgments. The paper begins by setting out a general approach to aesthetic practices based on Pierre Hadot’s notion of philosophical “spiritual exercises.” Three practices of positive aesthetics are then described: focusing the beauty of each thing; envisioning the beauty of everything; and allowing the beauty of all things. The paper warns against possible dangers to which each practice may fall prey, dangers that divert the practice from its perception cultivating and enhancing potential. The paper ends by drawing out key implications of this way of considering positive aesthetics for our understanding of beauty, negativity and artificiality.