Aesthetics Equals Politics

Aesthetics Equals Politics

New Discourses across Art, Architecture, and Philosophy

Edited by Mark Foster Gage

How aesthetics—understood as a more encompassing framework for human activity—might become the primary discourse for political and social engagement.





How aesthetics—understood as a more encompassing framework for human activity—might become the primary discourse for political and social engagement.

These essays make the case for a reignited understanding of aesthetics—one that casts aesthetics not as illusory, subjective, or superficial, but as a more encompassing framework for human activity. Such an aesthetics, the contributors suggest, could become the primary discourse for political and social engagement. Departing from the “critical” stance of twentieth-century artists and theorists who embraced a counter-aesthetic framework for political engagement, this book documents how a broader understanding of aesthetics can offer insights into our relationships not only with objects, spaces, environments, and ecologies, but also with each other and the political structures in which we are all enmeshed.

The contributors—philosophers, media theorists, artists, curators, writers and architects including such notable figures as Jacques Rancière, Graham Harman, and Elaine Scarry—build a compelling framework for a new aesthetic discourse. The book opens with a conversation in which Rancière tells the volume's editor, Mark Foster Gage, that the aesthetic is “about the experience of a common world.” The essays following discuss such topics as the perception of reality; abstraction in ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics as the “first philosophy”; Afrofuturism; Xenofeminism; philosophical realism; the productive force of alienation; and the unbearable lightness of current creative discourse.

Contributors Mark Foster Gage, Jacques Rancière, Elaine Scarry, Graham Harman, Timothy Morton, Ferda Kolatan, Adam Fure, Michael Young, Nettrice R. Gaskins, Roger Rothman, Diann Bauer, Matt Shaw, Albena Yaneva, Brett Mommersteeg, Lydia Kallipoliti, Ariane Lourie Harrison, Rhett Russo, Peggy Deamer, Caroline Picard

Matt Shaw, Managing Editor


$34.95 T ISBN: 9780262039437 328 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 44 b&w illus.


Mark Foster Gage

Mark Foster Gage is Associate Professor and Assistant Dean at the Yale School of Architecture. A practicing architect, he is the subject of the monograph Mark Foster Gage: Projects and Provocations, editor of Aesthetic Theory: Essential Texts for Architecture and Design and The Space of Social Equity and the author of Designing Social Equality: Architecture, Aesthetics and the Perception of Democracy, and other books. His design work has been exhibited in such venues as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Venice Biennale.


  • At a time of rapid technological change, increasing economic inequality, and looming climate catastrophe, our usual concepts and categories no longer seem adequate. When our intuitions and experiences outrun our understanding, we can only turn to aesthetics. This volume examines, from a variety of perspectives, the new urgency of aesthetic speculation in architecture, in the arts more generally, and indeed in everyday life.

    Steven Shaviro

    DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University

  • Fashioning a provocative cultural Velcro that locks into place the politics of awareness, this book contains writing by some of our most insightful thinkers and innovators. It's great reading for anyone who might once have asked if the mouse and mouse trap are one and the same object.

    Charles Ray