Aesthetics and mediation | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1757-1952
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1960


This article reflects on the role of aesthetic concepts for cultural and social analysis. More specifically it addresses the fundamental ambiguity that surrounds the discussion of aesthetics as being both the poison and cure for a critique of contemporary society. Aesthetic concepts often figure as a reservoir of resistance and transformation while simultaneously constituting a crucial affirmative force of the existing social order. This ambiguity then results in unfruitful oscillations between either hailing the critical potential of aesthetics or lamenting its conservative momentum. In order to address this paradoxical situation, it will be argued that these opposed usages of aesthetics can be unfolded through the concept of ‘mediation’. Drawing on postmodern art and the aesthetics of the sublime (Lyotard, Deleuze), as well as on cybernetics and systems theory (Luhmann), enables us to understand difference as both aesthetic sensibility and as dynamic principle. It therefore becomes clear that the singularity of aesthetics is at the same time a constitutive, productive force and as such intimately tied to the existing (social) order. Understanding mediation and aesthetics as two sides of the same coin may lay an untapped potential for critical analysis of the social.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): aesthetics; affect; difference; mediation; noise
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