Attention and Aesthetic Value


  • Morten Kyndrup



Attention, Autonomy, Poiesis versus Aesthesis, Kant


We are capable of engaging in different kinds of relations with objects and situations we meet. Any relation is, in principle singular and thus einmalig, unique. Still, certain general types of relationality do exist. Relations may be established with focus (“attention”) on usability, truth, ethics, power, authenticity—and of course, on “beauty,” on aesthetic value. This differentiation is an invention of the Modern world and in itself subject to historical change. In terms of “discursive areas” it has been theorized in varying keys—including quite many universalist ones. We are free to choose our modes of attention. Still, institutionalized discourses in practice pre-configure these modes. Especially when it comes to art and Modernity’s “great divide” between poiesis and aesthesis, the conditions for attentional approaches appear largely pre-figured. The article discusses this pre-configuration and the institutionalized “freedoms” of art and its audience, respectively—including current calls to abolish such differentiations and to transgress the discursive boundaries of art.

Author Biography

Morten Kyndrup

Morten Kyndrup, dr.phil., is professor of Aesthetics and Culture at Aarhus University since 1995. He has been Executive Director of AIAS, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies 2012-19 and Head of The Doctoral School of Art and Aesthetics, Aarhus University 2001-11. He was president of The Nordic Society of Aesthetics 2007-17.


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Morten Kyndrup, “Aesthetics and Judgment: ‘Why Kant Got It Right’”, Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, no. 54 (2018): 75–85.




How to Cite

Kyndrup, M. (2023). Attention and Aesthetic Value. The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, 32(65).