Mark C. Taylor




Mark C. Taylor

The Aesthetic Turn

Philosophy is dead. Having long modelled itself on the natural and social sciences philosophy has been supplanted by fields of scientific investigation like cognitive science and neuroscience. Rather than expanding into new areas, philosophy has contracted its focus to such an extent that it has virtually nothing to do with everyday life in contemporary network society. The way out of this self-reflexive loop is for philosophy to take an Aesthetic Turn.

The Aesthetic Turn rests upon an important distinction between thinking and apprehension, which is a mode of awareness that lies between clear and precise thought on the one hand and, on the other, obscure and inarticulate feelings. The liminal domain of apprehension can be most effectively explored by bringing together philosophy and different modes of artistic expression.

The Aesthetic Turn involves a fundamental change in the in the style of philosophical analysis and argument. The modern philosopher is unknowingly and unwittingly committed of Adolf Loos’s maxim: “Ornament is crime.” This limited approach has reached its endpoint. It is now necessary to think in and through images and sounds that shape the way we apprehend ourselves, others, and the world as a whole. Philosophy can no longer be limited to the traditional written and printed page; it is necessary to take philosophy off the page by creating works that change readers into participants whose bodily location opens more than their eyes. When thinking includes apprehension, philosophy fulfils its function of making those who take it seriously apprehensive.

Mark C. Taylor is Professor of Religion at Columbia University and is the author of thirty books on subjects ranging from religion and philosophy to art, architecture, media, technology, financial markets, and higher education.  He is a frequent contributor to publications like The New York Times and Bloomberg News.  More recently he has started creating land art, and steel, stone, and bone sculptures, which will be included in an exhibition he is co-curating at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in the summer of 2016.