ABSTRACT. Today, humankind is being reintroduced within nature. Humankind is no longer presented as supernatural to nature. There is no longer a clear divide between animal and human. What makes us human is neither culture, nor language nor labor, nor art, but the degree of complexity those products and capabilities have reached for us as a species. Neither are love, learning, power, fantasy, communication, affection, hierarchy, strategy, altruism, community, social relations, social norms or social status the defining characteristics of humanness. All of these are to be experienced by other animal species. Today, what is regarded as the essential characteristic of humankind is the ability to use a complex articulated language, to have thoughts entailing abstraction and conceptualization. It is the ability to operate with deferred representations, the necessity to relate to inner worlds of representation, and the craving to make sense of all kinds of relations that characterizes humans. Being able to produce artworks as external representations aimed at “the other,” made of internal representations is thus essential to humanity. Human aesthetics is not so much an issue of beauty but of imagination and social creativity. Art is fundamentally about shaping visions and very closely related to this specific human ability to make projects. Especially in times of crisis, when the old sources of meaning hardly can make sense in a new context, imagination must be used in order to survive. pp. 16–41

Keywords: aesthetic; art; creativity; culture; imaginary; language; technique

How to cite: Bouchet, Dominique (2015), “The Specificity of Human Aesthetics,” Knowledge Cultures 3(3): 16–41

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University of Southern Denmark;
James Cook University

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