IAA, International Association for Aesthetics
About the Author
The main aims of the International Association for Aesthetics (IAA) is to give institutional recognition, world-wide, to aesthetics as a field of humanistic knowledge, to encourage and promote inquiry in aesthetics, and to disseminate its findings. IAA also focuses on expediting exchange between national societies and regional societies of aesthetics; to promote the creation of national societies in countries where none are in existence; to provide a forum for aestheticians who are not members of any national society. “Aesthetics” embraces all studies of the creation and appreciation of the arts, of the aesthetic values of art and nature, of industry and everyday life, and of the relations of those activities and values to economic, political, and social life and other modes of human culture.
Contribution of the International Association for Aesthetics (IAA) for the WHR European Regional Research Team
From the partner associations’ answers, compiled by
Zoltán Somhegyi, Secretary General of the IAA
Aestheticians have and continue to contribute to greater conceptual clarity and normative understanding of many important issues facing humanity today. It is essential to speak about humanities and their role in the future of humankind if we do not want to live in a world without arts and culture. If we do not want to live without literature, aesthetics, and philosophy, then we should emphasize the need for the strong representation of humanities in the curriculum. The crucial role that aesthetics and aesthetic content can play in our life has been especially perceptible
in the last months, i.e. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many creative initiatives, including different forms of mediating art, both off-line and online, have significantly helped people during these challenging times. It has made clear for many people how essential the arts truly are.
Some sub-fields where aesthetics and aestheticians can contribute on behalf of humanities in general:
- The problem of climate change (and related environmental challenges) — The field of environmental aesthetics, which started in the 1980s and is now a robust sub-field internationally in contemporary aesthetics, tackles such questions as: How far can our experience of beauty and other aesthetic values help us in our concerns for environmental protection and preservation? Many aestheticians are quite hopeful about the power of aesthetic appreciation to support environmentalism, or to motivate environmental protection. Others are more skeptical, and raise awareness about tensions between current aesthetic preferences (e.g. for ‘fast fashion’ and manicured lawns) and environmental concern. Others see aesthetic appreciation as providing us with a coping strategy rather than a source of justification for environmentalist policies. This is a very active sub-field in aesthetics, which can shed light on humanistic concerns as well as public policy debates regarding anthropogenic climate change.
2. Monuments & memorials — Regarding politically controversial statues and other commemorative artworks and symbols, it is important to consider how to balance concern to remember past figures and deeds with building more inclusive, just societies. Aestheticians have provided important contextualization, conceptual clarity, and normative guidance with respect to how commemorative artworks (monuments and memorials) function in the public sphere; how their content, scale and style emotionally affects spectators; and provides an important lens through which to view these public debates roiling many societies today.
3. Everyday aesthetics — the burgeoning field of everyday aesthetics focusses on the aesthetic aspects of ordinary life, with an eye toward fostering more mindful and positive experiences of our ordinary practices and surroundings. Drawing attention to the aesthetic dimensions of food, sport, and body ornamentation, aestheticians have enriched our understanding and appreciation of practices that have historically fallen outside of the ‘fine art’ purview of philosophical aesthetics. The field has also broadened the discourse of aesthetic qualities to include ‘pretty’, ‘messy’, ‘organized’, ‘gaudy’, and ‘monotonous’, among others that pervade normal life. This field of aesthetics has also sparked greater attention to the negative aesthetic aspects that pervade people’s lives, in order to pose the ethical challenge of how best to improve the aesthetic well-being of all people.
- There are several other sub-fields, research areas and focal points in contemporary aesthetics that have broad societal relevance, as well as primary and direct connections to other areas of humanities research, including for example aesthetics of the media, digital aesthetics, aesthetics of postcolonial studies as well as the relationship of aesthetics to critical theory and cultural studies, aesthetics and the body etc.