Aesthetic education

The term aesthetic education, which first appeared in the 18th century, is an answer to the old question of the effect of the beautiful and is historically due to the liberation from the heteronormative determination of the aims of morality and conceptual knowledge.

This liberation also affected the position of the subject: it is the subject of an aesthetic experience to the extent that it calls forth and structures education processes. At the same time, it is also always, as part of a context or object, faced with an opposite to which it submits experientially and which it does not fully dispose of. Aesthetic experience is therefore not only an active performance in the sense of investigating, exploring, shaping or analysing world and self relations, but it is also always a “performance” in the passive sense of accepting, of happening to and becoming aware, of touching, affect, feeling and not understanding.

Related to the abstractness of scientific thought and work, this means that besides the purely cognitive orientation the physical-sensual and situative-scenic reality and practice must also be considered, and so a connection is created to the basises of all perception, remembering, understanding and conceiving. Research on aesthetic education and experience therefore contributes to Educational Sciences.  (Sources).

This general view will now related directly to three illustrative subjekts: At university, theories and methods are obtained and a basic moral, political and economic attitude is acquired.But beyond that an overall habitus of life is forged with affects the formation of taste just as much as the extent and shape of formation and self-education. Person who study at a university also and especially experiences themselves in the discussion with their own and the products and works of others, which includes both experience of safety, wholeness and completion and experiences of uncertainty, disruption and inner conflict. An answer of teaching could be e.g. the trial of new presentation and transmission forms that are inseparably connected to research and which consistently think about the conditions of the production of knowledge. If, at the end, the resistance could be brought together into a unit of action and experience, then only from the perspective that the process and the form are not precisely planned and that the result is only somewhat predictable (Sources).

Mountain- and extreme sports generally take place at the margins of culture, in nature. This spatial separation makes the planning and predictability more difficult and increases the pressure for justification. The question of judgement formation thus moves to the foreground. But safety does not occur from a judgement through the separation, but through the connection of sensual and rational capacities. Their collaboration and interaction brings forth various intensive states of presence which cannot be classified into the usual categories of body/spirit. Only when the dichotomy collapses can a maximum of safety emerge in the completion of these practices outside the ordinary. Although to be exact, in states of strong presence nothing extraordinary appears; rather the ordinary, namely the uniqueness of humans to be embodied mind. (Sources).

The third reference field is art in relation to nature in the sense of the performative production of materiality. At the centre lies the question of the conditions, possibilities, limits and effects of aesthetic experience. As a gift that gives and takes and as a rite de passage that can lead to transformations, the general question of what experience is today and could be overlays aesthetic experience. Experience, attempted to be understood as a complex event that organises the transitions from sensual and rational capacities, uses the body as medium and foundation of realisation and consistently attempts representation (Sorces).

Helga Peskoller

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