Cover of Aesthetic Action by Florian Klinger
Aesthetic Action
Florian Klinger

January 2024
386 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503636972



In this new book, Florian Klinger gives readers a basic action-theoretical account of the aesthetic. While normal action fulfills a determinate concept, Klinger argues, aesthetic action performs an indeterminacy by suspending the action's conceptual resolution. Taking as examples work by Tino Sehgal, Kara Walker, Mazen Kerbaj, Marina Abramović, Cy Twombly, and Franz Kafka, the book examines indeterminacy in such instances as a walk that is at once leisurely and purposeful, a sound piece that is at once joyous and mournful and mechanical, or a sculpture that at once draws one in and shuts one out. Because it has irresolution as its point, aesthetic action presents itself as an unsettling of ourselves, our ways, our very sense of who we are. As performers of such action, we don't recognize one another as bearers of a shared human form as we normally would, but find ourselves tasked anew with figuring out what sharing a form would mean.

In conversation with philosophers such as Kant, Hegel, Wittgenstein, and Anscombe; political thinkers such as Marx and Lorde; and contemporary interlocutors such as Michael Thompson, Sebastian Rödl, and Thomas Khurana, Klinger's book makes a case for a conception of the human form that systematically includes the aesthetic: an actualization of the form that is indeterminate and nevertheless rational. The book gives the project of Western philosophical aesthetics a long-overdue formulation for our present that aims to do justice to contemporary aesthetic production as it actually exists. It will appeal to those working in philosophy, art, and political thought.

About the author

Florian Klinger is Associate Professor in Germanic Studies and the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Theory of Form: Gerhard Richter and Art in the Pragmatist Age (2022).