The Aesthetic as an Aspect of Praxis

- Architectural design as a cooperative endeavor

  • Erik Axel Roskilde University
  • Janni Berthou Hermansen Department of Communication and Arts (DCA), Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark
  • Peter Holm Jacobsen
Keywords: The aesthetic, perceptual systems, aesthetic experience, praxis, contradiction, coordination, design


Commonly the aesthetic is understood as sensuous private pleasure, which other people cannot experience, but maybe talk about, and on the other hand as created by individual artists' talents. We will attempt to bring the aesthetic back into praxis by arguing that aesthetic experience is tied to Gibson’s notion of perceptual systems. The article builds on observations of a design project for a community center in a Danish village. We argue that the aesthetic is shared pleasure resulting from struggles by participants in praxis, where aesthetic, material, functional, ethical, political, and economic aspects are formed by each other in a dialectic process. The struggles are found in the community council's reasons for starting the process, in the design and construction process and the use of the results. This means that descriptions of the aesthetic appearance of buildings should incorporate relevant discussions and struggles of the design, construction and use of the building, and that aesthetic experience is enriched the more aesthetic experience it is based on. It also means that the key to a fruitful ongoing collaborative process producing good aesthetic designs comes from managing together the many aspects of praxis in an open way.


Axel, E. (2002). Regulation as productive tool use. Copenhagen: Roskilde Universitetsforlag.
Axel, E. (2003). Theoretical Deliberations on "Regulation as Productive Tool Use". Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 5(1), 31-46.
Axel, E. (2011). Conflictual cooperation. Nordic Psychology, 63(4), 56.
Axel, E., & Højholt, C. (forthcoming) Subjectivity, Conflictuality and Generalization in Social Praxis. In: Højholt,C. & Schraube, E. (Eds), Subjectivity and Knowledge: Generalization in the Psychological Study of Everyday Life. New York. Springer
Beardsley, M.C., 1958, Aesthetics, Indianapolis: Hackett.
Beardsley, M.C., 1982, The Aesthetic Point of View, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press
Bernstein, R. J. (1971). Praxis and action: Contemporary philosophy of human activity. University of Pennsylvania Press.
Beckman, A. (2012). Studebaker's last dance: The Avanti. South Bend: Studebaker National Museum,.
Bonsall, Th. (2000). More Than They Promised - The Studebaker Story. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Bourdieu, Pierre, (1996). Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Dreier, O. (2008). Psychotherapy in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Farrell, Frank B. (1994). Subjectivity, Realism and Postmodernism - The Recovery of the World in Recent Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Funch, B.S. (1997). The Psychology of Art Appreciation. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press
Gadamer, Hans-Georg (1964). Aesthetics and Hermeneutics. In: Linge, David E. (ed): Hans-Georg Gadamer - Philosophical Hermeneutics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gherardi, S. (2009). Practice? It’s a matter of taste! Management Learning, 40(5), 535-550.
Hansson, Sven Ove (2005). Aesthetic Functionalism, Contemporary Aesthetics Vol. 3. Retrieved May 25, 2016 from
Hermansen, Janni Bertou (2015). Borders of Discourse? Psychology & Society, Vol. 7 (2), 40 - 57. Retrieved May 25, 2016 from
Holzkamp, Klaus, (1983): Grundlegung der Psychologie. Frankfurt /New York: Campus Verlag.
Ingold, T. (2000). The perception of the environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London & New York: Routledge.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lock, M. M., & Farquhar, J. (2007). Beyond the body proper: Reading the anthropology of material life. Durham: Duke University Press.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1962). Phenomenology of Perception. (Colin Smith, trans.) New York: Humanities Press, and London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
Munro, T. & Scruton, R. Aesthetics - Philosophy Retrieved August 31, 2018 from
Ollman, Bertell (2015): Marxism and the philosophy of internal relations; or, How to replace the mysterious ‘paradox’ with ‘contradictions’ that can be studied and resolved, Capital & Class, Vol. 39(1) 7–23.
Ollman, Bertell (2003). Dance of the Dialectic - Steps in Marx' Method. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Richards, J.M., (1958). The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings. London: Architectural Press.
Rybczinski, Witold (2015). The Biographer's Elusive Quest Architect. The Journal of American Institute of Architects, Book Review. Retrieved nov 2015 from .
Shelley, J. The Concept of the Aesthetic. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved August 31 from
Toker, Franklin (2005). Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E. J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House. New York: Knopf Publishing Group.
How to Cite
Axel, E., Hermansen, J., & Jacobsen, P. (2019). The Aesthetic as an Aspect of Praxis. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 20(1), 26-46. Retrieved from