Aesthetics as ecological perception

Prof. Dr. Nicola Perullo
Aesthetics as ecological perception

Block seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Thursday, 28.4., 14-20 h, Friday & Saturday, 29./30.4., 10-18 h, Hardenbergstr. 33, room 150,
Panel discussion: Wednesday, 27.4., 19:30 h, Hardenbergstr. 33, room 110

The term aesthetics was especially lucky in relation to the sense of sight and sometimes, in common parlance, this is also associated with the derogatory meaning of superficiality. However, aesthetics has a different history and perspective. In these meetings we will trace aesthetics to its origin as a theory of perception that concerns all the senses (and we will focus in particular on taste and smell), and we will show that aesthetics today can be an important contribution to ecological thinking.

I will introduce and discuss the following topics, through selected readings and passages from both classical sources (from Plato to Dewey) and contemporary ones.

Section I: How Aesthetics was born? Why sight has been considered the most prominent sense? The hierarchy of the senses. Aesthetics as philosophy of art versus aesthetics as philosophy of perception? Relational philosophy and ecological aesthetics.
Section II: Food, Aesthetics and Art: some questions for ecological aesthetics. Taste and smell beyond subjective/objective model. Can cooking be art? – or rather: When is cooking art?

Essential bibliography:
J. Dewey, Art as Experience (1934)
J. J. Gibson, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (1966)
N. Perullo, Taste as Experience (2016)
The Taste of Art. Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practicesedited by S. Bottinelli and M. D’Ayala Valva (2017)

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credits: regular and active participation in class readings and discussions.

Nicola Perullo is Professor of Aesthetics and a pioneer of Aesthetics of food. Around 2002 he joined the University of Gastronomic Sciences and started his research on the philosophical and aesthetics bases of food and taste. Perullo got his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 2001 at the University of Pisa with a dissertation on Giambattista Vico, under the guidance of Leonardo Amoroso. He translated and edited Derrida’s works for Raffaello Cortina Limited Inc. in 1997, and wrote numerous essays for the Journal aut-aut. His first publication on the Aethtetics of taste (Per un’estetica del cibo, Aeshetica Edizioni, 2006) opened up the way to new researches (L’altro gusto, ETS, 2008; Filosofia della gastronomia laica, Meltemi, 2010). His work Il gusto come esperienza, 2012 was translated in English by Columbia University Press in 2016 (Taste as Experience). Another field of study has been ‘food and art’: In 2013, La cucina è arte? Filosofia della passione culinaria, Carocci was published. In the last eight years, his research focusses on proposing a participatory and implicative model of knowledge. One case for it was wine, chosen as an example to practice an ecological paradigm of appreciation. The two books Epistenologia. Il vino e la creatività del tatto (Mimesis, 2016) and Il gusto non è un senso ma un compito, Mimesis, 2018) face this issue, and they became points of reference in the field (in English: Epistenology. Wine as Experience, Columbia University Press, 2020). His latest book is Estetica ecologica. Percepire saggio, vivere corrispondente (Mimesis, 2020), in which it is presented the theory of the ecological perception as a phenomenology of relationship. Perullo is also the author of more than fifty essays and papers.