Grounding Aesthetic Preference in the Bodily Conditions of Meaning Constitution

Alfonsina Scarinzi


Mark Johnson’s work The Meaning of the Body presents John Dewey’s pragmatism and pragmatist aesthetics as the forerunners of the anti-Cartesian embodied enactive approach to human experience and meaning. He rejects the Kantian noncognitive character of aesthetics and emphasizes that aesthetics is the study of the human capacity to experience the bodily conditions of  meaning constitution that grows from our bodily conditions of life. Using Mark Johnson’s view as a starting-point, this paper offers the beginning of an enactive approach to aesthetic preference  contributing to bringing human aesthetic behavior research closer to the enactive approach to human experience. Following enactive studies on bodily sense-making and embodied emotions, I identify the bodily conditions of meaning constitution in which aesthetic preference is grounded with the subject’s self-regulatory visceral embodied constitution of viable degrees of value of the environmental factors according to her bodily structure. Unlike mainstream aesthetic preference research in empirical aesthetics, I claim that the subject’s aesthetic preference constitution requires the lived experience of the bodily conditions of meaning constitution through the conscious experience of the subjectively aroused lived body. The implausibility of the mind/body dichotomy of current aesthetic preference research is highlighted.


Pragmatist aesthetics, enactivism, Mark Johnson, John Dewey, embodiment, lived body, phenomenology

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ISSN: 2000-9607

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