Going Global: A Cautiously Optimistic Manifesto

Going Global: A Cautiously Optimistic Manifesto

Bence Nanay


In this article I aim to identify a number of points at which Western[1] aesthetics is atypical in comparison to almost all other aesthetic traditions. If we take the pull of global aesthetics seriously, then we need to be extremely skeptical towards these often unquestioned concepts and assumptions that are unique to the Western aesthetic tradition. I will analyze eight such assumptions: (1) the primacy of judgment, (2) the primacy of beauty, (3), the primacy of aesthetic properties, (4) the primacy of aesthetic contexts and situations, (5) the primacy of objects, (6) the underappreciation of social aspects of aesthetic engagement, (7) the unimodal nature of aesthetic engagement, and (8) the emphasis on (intersubjective) normativity.

Key Words
global aesthetics; Japanese aesthetics; Rasa theory; Chinese aesthetics; Yoruba aesthetics; Islam aesthetics


1. The conflicting demands of global aesthetics

Art is not a Western monopoly. Nor is aesthetics. Too much of our thinking about art and aesthetics has been either limited to the West or has been some form of extrapolation of what we know about the West to other parts of the world. This does not do justice to the vast majority of art production in the world and the different forms aesthetic engagement can take.

The primacy of Western art has been challenged in recent art history, especially by scholars who describe themselves as “global art historians.”[2] But it still dominates everyday conceptions of art and aesthetics and also curatorial work in most museums.

Global art history is an important and timely project. But it does not go far enough. If we want to stop privileging European art over any other kind of art, we need a much more radical shift. We need not only global art history but also global aesthetics.

Here is the most important challenge. When we talk about non-Western art, we should not use Western aesthetics. Doing so would amount to exporting Western concepts and Western value biases alien to the artworks we are trying to understand. But then what should we use?

Suppose that I am trying to understand the history of kanga patterning in southeastern Tanzania. Using Riegl or Panofsky would amount to a colonizing attitude. An obvious option would be to just use a conceptual framework that is rooted only in the way people in southeastern Tanzania talk about kanga patterns. And this is exactly the route some global art historians have recommended.

While this undoubtedly avoids the colonizing attitude of simply exporting Western aesthetics, it has a major problem: it fragments both art history and aesthetics. It would lead to a completely different vocabulary for describing art in different parts of the world. And while this could be seen as progress compared to aesthetic colonization, it is unacceptable as methodology, given the vast and increasing number of cross-cultural interactions between different centers of art production. We cannot understand such cross-cultural interactions, and the current biennial culture of intense global cultural exchange, without having some common denominator in our understanding of art in different parts of the world. Fragmentation is not an option.

The main challenge of global aesthetics is to find a way between the Scylla of colonization and the Charybdis of fragmentation.[3] On the one hand, we should not assume that art is produced and consumed in ways we are familiar with from the West in all other parts of the world.[4] So we need to be anti-universalist to resist this colonizing attitude.

But we also need a universalist pushback. Otherwise aesthetics would turn into incommensurable fragments where there would be no way of talking about, say, Oceanian art and Maya art using the same conceptual framework – and, as a result, also no way of talking about the interaction between the two. We need a unified — albeit not West-centered — way of talking about all artworks regardless of where they were created. Meeting these double demands and thereby avoiding colonization and fragmentation is the challenge any attempts at a global aesthetics will face.

The ideal endpoint of the endeavor of global aesthetics would be a theory that is general and neutral enough that it can be applied to all art production in the world, including Flemish art, Oceanian art, and Maya art, while being specific enough to be a helpful means to understanding the aesthetic activities of these cultures. There is an obvious tension here: if we abstract away from the specifics of one aesthetic tradition, the danger is that the resulting theory will be too general to be fruitfully applied in any context. And conversely, if we want an aesthetic theory to be sensitive to the specifics of the details of one aesthetic context, the danger is that it is not going to be neutral enough so that it can be applied in another aesthetic context.

In order to clear the way to make truly global aesthetics possible, we need to let go of our West-centric aesthetic prejudices. My aim in this paper is to identify a number of points at which Western aesthetics is atypical in comparison to almost all other, aesthetic traditions. If we take the pull of global aesthetics seriously, then we need to be extremely skeptical towards these often unquestioned concepts and assumptions that are unique to the Western aesthetic tradition.

I will analyze eight such assumptions: (1) the primacy of judgment, (2) the primacy of beauty, (3) the primacy of aesthetic properties, (4) the primacy of aesthetic contexts and situations, (5) the primacy of objects, (6) the underappreciation of social aspects of aesthetic engagement, (7) the unimodal nature of aesthetic engagement, and (8) the emphasis on (intersubjective) normativity.

In all these cases, there has been some kind  of recent – or not so recent – move away from these concepts and assumptions in the Western aesthetic tradition itself. But looking at other aesthetic traditions and appreciating just how isolated and idiosyncratic the Western tradition is can help us become even more skeptical towards these assumptions.

There is some disparity between the eight categories I will talk about. In some cases, for example, (6) the underappreciation of social aspects of aesthetic engagement, while there may have been a time when this was a firm assumption in Western aesthetics, this is no longer so. In other cases, for example, (8) the emphasis on normativity, this is still a firm assumption.

I should also warn that there is no such thing as non-Western aesthetics: the differences between, say, Japanese and Rasa aesthetics are as significant as the ones between Western and Japanese aesthetics. Further, each non-Western aesthetic tradition itself is non-monolithic. The aim is not to replace Western aesthetics with some fictional non-Western one, but rather to acknowledge the diversity of aesthetic thought within the many diverging traditions that fall under the umbrella term “non-Western aesthetics” and even within each such non-Western tradition.

I will not be able to give a full treatment to all of these concepts here, and these concepts themselves obviously don’t have one fixed meaning in the Western aesthetic tradition. Doing this would require a book-length study (which is exactly what I do in my forthcoming book Global Aesthetics).[5]

2. The primacy of aesthetic judgment 

The Western aesthetic tradition is obsessed with aesthetic judgment. This may seem odd, and I will argue that it indeed is: aesthetic engagement is a complex mental state that comprises the functioning of a number of different mental facilities. Taking aesthetic judgment out of this mix and setting it up as the holy grail of aesthetics may seem and, in fact, is just plain random. Nonetheless, Western aesthetics is primarily about aesthetic judgment, arguably as a result of the two most influential historical figures of this tradition, David Hume, whose famous essay focuses on interpersonal variability in aesthetic judgment, and Immanuel Kant, whose grand oeuvre is an analysis of the judgment of taste. It may also be the result of twentieth-century analytic philosophers’ obsession with propositional attitudes, as judgment is a propositional attitude.

I argued in previous work that the vast majority of aesthetic traditions outside the West are not too concerned with aesthetic judgments at all.[6] They are concerned with the way our emotions unfold, the way our perception is altered, and the way aesthetic engagement interacts with social engagement. My most salient extreme example is Islamic aesthetics, especially Islamic aesthetics in the Sufi tradition. One way in which Islamic aesthetics is different from the aesthetic traditions of the West is in its emphasis on the ever-changing nature of the world in general and our experience of artworks in particular.[7] Part of what is special about our engagement with art is our appreciation of these ever-changing, flickering experiences, for example, the deliberately different views certain architectural features offer as we move around them, often further underlined by their fleeting reflections in water. This tradition is very much interested in beauty, although not with judgments about beauty but rather with the ways in which beauty can be explained with regard to the working of our perceptual system. Its emphasis on the ever-changing, flickering nature of our experience makes any attempt at a fixed judgment impossible.

But the same attitude exists in almost all non-Western aesthetic traditions, from rasa theory to Igbo aesthetics, where an often-cited (for example, by Chinua Achebe) proverb states, “The world is a dancing masquerade. If you want to understand it, you can’t remain standing in one place.”[8] Finally, to give a somewhat obscure example, in Assyro-Babylonian aesthetics, the key concept of Tabritu is often translated as admiration and awe, but it is very clearly identified as the perceptual experience of the work, which involves “repeated and continuous looking” — again, unfolding experience, not judgment.[9] The fact that in our Western tradition aesthetic judgment has played such an important role is little more than a historical curiosity.

3. The primacy of beauty

Aesthetics, so the standard story would go, is about beauty. This gives aesthetics as a discipline quite a cachet: the Good is what ethics is about, the True is what metaphysics and epistemology are about, and the Beautiful is what aesthetics is about. So, we’re up there with the most central of philosophical disciplines!! While the concept of beauty may have become less popular in understanding philosophy of art, given that in recent decades (centuries?) art does not primarily trying to capture beauty, as long as we make a distinction (as we should) between aesthetics and philosophy of art, beauty is safely put on the aesthetics side as its central concept.[10]

While there are attempts to find a concept in all global aesthetic traditions that would roughly correspond to the concept of beautiful, this papers overs crucial differences. My go-to example here is Yoruba aesthetics, where there is a concept, namely ewa, that has been widely translated as beautiful. But the way the concept of ewa differs from the concept of beauty is very telling.[11]

The central tenet of Yoruba aesthetics is that ewa is the expression of iwa. Iwa is something like self-identity. So those objects (and people) who have iwa are the ones that we experience as ewa (as beautiful, the translation would go). The problem is that iwa has little to do with appearances. A piece of pottery can look pretty, but if it is made of mud, which dissolves in the rain, it has no iwa. So we don’t experience it as ewa. And some downright terrifying-looking faces can have iwa.

And it is not just Yoruba aesthetics that works with a very different central concept than beauty. It has been a platitude about Japanese aesthetics that instead of one concept of beauty, it has a number of them, including wabi, sabi, mono no aware, yugen, and so on. But none of these even roughly map onto the Western concept of beauty.[12] At this point, the proponent of the concept of beauty may argue that while the specific aesthetic property of beauty may not have cross-cultural equivalents, we can still save the general approach, as other aesthetic traditions have different aesthetic properties that their aesthetic theories consider. This is the topic I now turn to.

4. The primacy of aesthetic properties

A standard way of widening the scope of aesthetics from the study of beauty is to broaden its subject matter in a way that admits other aesthetic properties (like graceful or ugly). So a slight change to the understanding of aesthetics: maybe aesthetics is not all about beauty. But it is all about aesthetic properties, which includes the property of being beautiful. This move would sidestep some worries inspired by non-Western aesthetic traditions: even if ewa or wabi-sabi are very different from beauty, they are nonetheless aesthetic properties. So, aesthetics – Western and non-Western – is all about aesthetic properties.

The original classic list of aesthetic properties was famously put together by Frank Sibley. He went through very much Western pieces of art criticism and collected the adjectives.[13] This will clearly not lead to a workable set of aesthetic properties that would be applicable in a non-Western context. But there is a much more serious problem with attributing too much importance to aesthetic properties.

Sibley’s general idea, and one that is the most fundamental assumption of all the discussion of aesthetic properties that followed, is that aesthetic properties enjoy some kind of priority when it comes to aesthetic engagement. There are two kinds of properties: aesthetic and non-aesthetic ones, and we easily can keep them separate. Being beautiful or being graceful are aesthetic properties. Being a chair, being edible, or being turquoise are non-aesthetic properties. We can sort these in two piles and get two separate sets of properties. Aesthetic engagement is all about aesthetic properties and blatantly not about non-aesthetic properties.

The problem is that this way of thinking about aesthetic properties is a Western curiosity. In the vast majority of non-Western aesthetic traditions, there is no restriction on the kinds of properties that would be the ones aesthetic engagement is about. In Japanese aesthetics, for example, there is a special emphasis on aesthetically appreciating features of things that would not count as aesthetic properties under any account of aesthetic properties, like, to use the example from the thirteenth-century Dogen Zenji, the donkey’s jaw or the smell of excrement.[14] More generally, all properties are potentially aesthetic properties.[15] To return to the Yoruba example, anything with any kind of properties can have iwa; thus, anything with any kind of properties can trigger experiences of ewa.[16] But if so, then there is no defensible divide between aesthetic and non-aesthetic properties. Every property can be aesthetically relevant.[17]

5. The primacy of aesthetic contexts and situations

Another widespread assumption in Western aesthetics is that some contexts and situations are more aesthetic than others. Being in a museum or a concert hall are conducive of aesthetic engagement. Being in the museum toilet or waiting for the tram after the concert are not.

There have been some changes in this general picture with the increasing visibility of what is commonly referred to as “everyday aesthetics.” Everyday aesthetics is about aesthetic engagement with objects that are not produced for the purposes of aesthetic engagement and in contexts/situations that do not have the function to facilitate aesthetic engagement.

Everyday aesthetics is clearly a move in the direction of some non-Western aesthetic traditions, where there is no strict (or even non-strict) division between aesthetic and non-aesthetic contexts and situations. In fact, one important motivation behind everyday aesthetics is exactly a more serious engagement with non-Western (especially Japanese) aesthetic traditions.[18]

But appending everyday aesthetics to mainstream Western aesthetics can leave the primacy of aesthetic contexts and situations in place. In some Western thoughts about everyday aesthetics, while it is acknowledged that aesthetic engagement can happen in non-aesthetic contexts, aesthetic engagement of this kind is nonetheless deemed to be secondary or derivative. In fact, some of the most influential appeals to everyday aesthetics in Western thought — for example, Marcel Proust’s description of how looking at Elstir’s paintings transformed his perception of the table and the arrangement of utensils on it in the dining hall — very explicitly take everyday aesthetic engagement to piggyback on the aesthetic engagement in aesthetic contexts.[19]

But this does not do justice to the non-Western way of thinking about this issue. For example, Japanese aesthetics is extremely explicit about the unimportance of the division between aesthetic and non-aesthetic contexts and situations.[20] The vast majority of the aesthetic experiences reported in Sei Shōnagon’s Pillow Book, the most important source of aesthetic sensibility in tenth-century Japan, happen in non-aesthetic contexts or situations. And if there is supposed to be a hierarchy between aesthetic and non-aesthetic contexts and situations, it is fairly clear that she prefers non-aesthetic ones. For example, chapter 74 lists things that lose by being painted, balanced by chapter 75, which lists things that gain by being painted; but in chapter 147, she argues that one gets bored with something painted more easily than with something seen face to face.[21]

More generally, a central concept of Japanese aesthetics is that of kire, which can be translated as “cut.”[22] Aesthetic contexts are, often quite literally, cut off from the hustle and bustle of the world around it. Ikebana arrangements consist of cut flowers, cut from their natural habitat. And the tea hut is cut off from the noisy world by various natural features. This may suggest that there is a crucial and essential divide between aesthetic and non-aesthetic context, in fact, a cut between the two. But the most important feature of kire is that it is cut, but continuous: the ikebana is arranged in a way that seems alive; the tea hut and the street next to it are continuous, something emphasized by the gradual approach of the tea hut. In short, the very idea of kire works against any kind of strict divide between aesthetic and non-aesthetic contexts and situations.

6. The primacy of aesthetic objects

Perhaps the most explicit and also the most idiosyncratic assumption of Western aesthetics is that aesthetics is all about objects: paintings, sculptures, and, if we leave the sphere of art behind, landscapes, driftwood, the random arrangement of bottles on the table. In fact, this focus on objects may be an important motivation for a number of central questions in the philosophy of art about the ontology of artworks.

Again, in a wide variety of non-Western aesthetic traditions, this assumption is not shared. In these aesthetic traditions, aesthetics is not about objects, but about processes. This difference is not merely a difference in the temporal thickness of the aesthetic engagement. A process does not need to be long, and one can engage with an aesthetic object for a long time – Richard Wollheim famously spent about two hours in front of a painting. The difference is a metaphysical one.

A fair amount has been written about how Japanese aesthetics is all about processes – the processes of wrapping or unwrapping a gift, the tea ceremonies, and so on.[23] But the same emphasis on processes is equally strong in Rasa aesthetics[24] and in Islamic aesthetics,[25] where the very idea of an unchanging object is either somehow metaphysically impossible (the Sufi tradition) or deprive the aesthetic engagement from its very essence (the general take in Rasa aesthetics; see the example of how unchanging lighting conditions, of electric light rather than candlelight, destroys the puppet theatre performance in Bali).[26]

7. The underappreciation of social aspects of aesthetic engagement

Aesthetic engagement is often not a solitary activity. Western aesthetics also acknowledges this, as it would be difficult to deny. We watch movies together, go to concerts with our friends, and very few theater productions have one person as their audience. Nonetheless, aesthetic engagement is described as something one person does. The social context may modify this solitary aesthetic engagement, but the unit of explanation is the aesthetic engagement of one person (with one object).

This is not the way many non-Western aesthetic traditions think of aesthetic engagement. Aesthetic engagement, in these traditions, is essentially social. So, it does not make sense to decompose it to the aesthetic engagement of single persons and then aggregate these. Just like joint action – for example, two people carrying a long ladder or dancing the tango – can’t be explained as the concatenation of individual actions, aesthetic engagement can’t be explained this way, either.

Now, Western aesthetics is quite keen on one social aspect of the aesthetic domain, namely aesthetic agreement and disagreement. But this is a prime example of the solipsistic understanding of aesthetic engagement. I make an aesthetic judgment, all alone. And you make another aesthetic judgment, all alone. And then the question is how the two relates to one another. Granted, often aesthetic agreements and disagreements happen in social contexts, like in bars or book clubs. Nonetheless, there is nothing essentially social in the very act of making a judgment and comparing it to someone else’s — or even in arguing about it. It is a social activity, to be sure, but your aesthetic judgment does not constitutively involve the aesthetic judgment you are agreeing or disagreeing with.

But when it comes to non-Western aesthetic traditions, the social aspect of aesthetic engagement plays a much more central, often even constitutive, role. Aesthetic engagement would not be the same and often would not even take place if it did not happen in a certain kind of social context. It is not possible to perform a Japanese tea ceremony by oneself, to take an extreme example. Aesthetic engagement, like joint action, presupposes, and often even constitutively relies on, some form of collaboration from others.

8. The unimodal nature of aesthetic engagement

In contemporary (Western) philosophy of perception, it is a commonplace that all discussions of perception are visuocentric. Humans are visual creatures, and the vast majority of discussion about perception is, in fact, about visual perception. The very few exceptions are almost all about audition, leaving the other senses almost completely marginalized.

What goes for perception, in general, also goes for aesthetic perception. Western aesthetics is about visual and, much more rarely, auditory  experiences. The vast majority of examples of aesthetic experience are from vision, again with a minority from audition. No other sense modalities are taken seriously. Crucially, these sense modalities are treated in separation. Even when analyzing aesthetic engagement that happens in more than one sense modalities, like watching a (non-silent) film, one sense modality is singled out and the others are ignored.[27]

This is something that many non-Western aesthetic traditions vehemently deny. Separating out, say, the visual sense modality from the mixture of the senses that are involved in aesthetic experiences seems, from the point of view of many non-Western aesthetic traditions, random and unmotivated.[28] This is probably the clearest in the very concept of Rasa, the key concept of Indian and also South East Asian and East African aesthetics, which literally means the multimodal experience of the flavor of something.[29] Here, the concept of “flavor”  is not a mere metaphor: the Rasa tradition takes the different sense modalities, and also our emotional palette, to contribute to the experience of Rasa in a way where the contribution of these various sense modalities is difficult to discern.

And here perceptual psychology sides with the non-Western traditions. We now know that perception, in general, is normally multimodal: what happens in one sense modality influences and often completely transforms the perceptual processing in another sense modalities.[30] The different sense modalities already are intertwined at the earliest level of sensory processing. The same is true of aesthetic experiences. Here, just like in perception in general, unimodal experiences are the exception, not the rule.

9. The emphasis on (interpersonal) normativity

In the Western tradition, aesthetics is very often compared to ethics. Aesthetics is about aesthetic values; ethics is about moral values. Ethics is about moral reasons and normativity; aesthetics is about aesthetic reasons and normativity. Both philosophical subfields are in the domain of “ought,” not of “is.” They are not about how things are, but about how things should be.

Aesthetic normativity has become quite a popular term in contemporary analytic aesthetics.[31] This centrality of aesthetic normativity also often leads to some form of interpersonal normativity. So, when I have an aesthetic reason to do something, for example, engage aesthetically with an object in a certain way, this is not just an aesthetic reason for me. It is also, or at least should be, an aesthetic reason for everyone else – so the Kantian line of argument goes.[32]

The first thing to note when we consider non-Western aesthetic traditions is that the very idea of normativity is not at all central in many of these traditions. In Chinese aesthetics, for example, arguably following Zhuangzi’s extreme skepticism about the very idea of normativity, aesthetic normativity is systematically ignored, dismissed, or, at the very least, downplayed.[33] Islamic aesthetics is a through-and-through descriptive exercise about how our sense organs and mind produce certain effects. It is not about what we should or ought to do or what experiences we should or ought to have.[34] This is even more explicit in the amazingly non-judgmental and non-prescriptive Yoruba tradition.[35]

But it is undeniable that many aesthetic traditions use (often overuse) terms like “should.” Japanese aesthetics is a case in point.[36] But the normativity in these traditions is very different from normativity in the Western traditions. Let’s go back to Sei Shōnagon’s Pillow Book. It is full of normative claims. In fact, most of its famous “lists” implicitly, or sometimes explicitly, give normative claims about how “oxen should have very small foreheads” or are lists about “things that should be short,” “things that should be large,” and so on. But it is very clear, from a number of passages, that these normative claims apply to one person and one person only: Sei Shōnagon. They are not expected to apply to anyone else.[37]  So, while the normativity is undeniable, this is not intersubjective normativity. She writes on a number of occasions that her normative claims explicitly contradict what is fashionable, or even fashionable in good society. Interpersonal normativity is not something many of the non-Western aesthetic traditions endorse.

10. Conclusion

We can think of the eight issues above as marking an eight-dimensional space where we can place any aesthetic tradition. The crucial point is that Western aesthetics is far out in one corner of this eight-dimensional space. Maybe some other aesthetic traditions, like Japanese aesthetics, for example, are also far out in the opposite corner. There are many aesthetic traditions in between that fall on different points of the spectrum in the eight variables I considered above. But aesthetics should not be restricted to one or another corner of this entire eight-dimensional space. It encompasses the whole eight-dimensional space.

Given that these eight assumptions interact in various interesting ways, this is not a mix and match kind of situation: in some sense, Western aesthetics is a Gestalts or package deal. This Western Gestalt focuses on beauty and aesthetic properties, which are taken to be neatly detachable from non-aesthetic ones, and our judgments about these, which are taken to have some sort of normative force. The focus is on objects that are detachable from social context and that we find in privileged aesthetic contexts or situations, which are easy to keep apart from non-aesthetic contexts and situations. The stereotypical example is standing in a museum by myself looking at a painting, making a normatively binding aesthetic judgment about its beauty.

This may sound like a caricature of Western aesthetics, and to a certain extent it is. In the last couple of decades, aesthetics as a discipline has moved away from this general picture. But in some ways the departures from this general picture have been piecemeal and relatively minor.

I want to argue that if we take global aesthetics seriously, we need to do a much more fundamental revision to this picture. This does not mean replacing the Western Gestalt with another, globally inspired Gestalt, which would focus on multimodal experiences that allow for any kind of contexts and situations and any kind of features of processes (not objects) to count as aesthetic. So the aim is not to pit a different paradigm example against the lonesome judgment-pronouncer in the museum — say, the example of watching fireworks as part of a big celebration, or the tea ceremony, with its temporally unfolding multisensory process, which draws our attention to a large selection of non-aesthetic properties. The lonesome museumgoer, the tea ceremony, and the fireworks should be thought of as being on equal footing. All of these activities are aesthetic activities. And a lot more.

The subtitle of this piece is, “A cautiously optimistic manifesto.” This is a play on an old article by Gregory Currie,[38] but there are indeed reasons for cautious optimism. More and more articles about non-Western aesthetic traditions make it into major academic journal, and within Western aesthetics we can see some movement away from the Western corner along all the eight dimensions I talked about.

Why did Western aesthetics turn out to be so limited to this one corner of the eight-dimensional space? This is not a question I can answer here, although the answer must have to do with the unquestioned influence of a small number of thinkers both within and outside aesthetics. But putting Western aesthetics in touch with non-Western aesthetic traditions can help us to broaden, or to speed up the already ongoing broadening of, the scope, and also the relevance, of Western aesthetics.


Bence Nanay

Bence Nanay is professor of philosophy and BOF research professor at the University of Antwerp. He published three monographs with Oxford University Press (Between Perception and Action, 2013, Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception, 2016, Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction, 2019) with seven more under contract. He has won the prestigious Bessel Award of the Humboldt Foundation, Germany. He is the principal investigator of a €2,000,000 ERC grant and the director of the European Network for Sensory Research.

Published November 29, 2022.

Cite this article: Bence Nanay, “Going Global: A Cautiously Optimistic Manifesto,” Contemporary Aesthetics, Special Volume 10 (2022), 20 Years of CA, accessed date.



[1] It should be clear throughout this article that Western is used as a conceptual, rather than a geographical, term.

[2] See, e.g., James Elkin, ed., Is Art History Global? (London: Routledge, 2006).

[3] For a similar trade-off, see Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973).

[4] Bence Nanay, “The history of vision,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (2015), 259-271; Bence Nanay, “Perceptual learning, the mere exposure effect and aesthetic antirealism,” Leonardo 50 (2017), 58-63.

[5] Bence Nanay, Global Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2024).

[6] Bence Nanay, “Against aesthetic judgment,” in Jennifer McMahon, ed., Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment (London: Routledge, 2018a), pp. 52-65; Bence Nanay, Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press., 2019).

[7] Jale N. Erzen, “Islamic aesthetics: An alternative way to knowledge,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65 (2007), 69-75; Valerie Gonzales, Beauty and Islam (London: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2001).

[8] Chinua Achebe, “The Igbo World and Its Art,” in his Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays (London: Heinemann, 1988); Ulli Beier, “The world is dancing a mascaraed: Interview with Chinua Achebe,” Art Africa 7 (2017), np.

[9] Irene J. Winter, “The Eyes Have lt: Votive Statuary, Gilgamesh’s Axe, and Cathected Viewing in the Ancient Near East,” in Robert S. Nelson, ed., Visuality Before and Beyond the Renaissance: Seeing as Others Saw (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 22-44.

[10] Dominic McIver Lopes, Being for Beauty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

[11] Rowland Abiodun, Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), esp. Chapter 8.

[12] T. Izutsu and T. Izutsu, The Theory of Beauty in the Classical Aesthetics of Japan (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981).

[13] Frank Sibley, “Aesthetic concepts,” Philosophical Review 68 (1959), 421-450.

[14] Zenji Dogen, Shobogenzo: The Eye and Treasury of the True Law (Tokyo: Nakayama Shobo, 1986).

[15] Yuriko Saito, “The Japanese Aesthetics of Imperfection and Insufficiency,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 55:4 (1997), 377-85.

[16] Abiodun, Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art.

[17] See Bence Nanay, Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

[18] Yuriko Saito, Everyday Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[19] Bence Nanay, “Aesthetic experience of artworks and everyday scenes,” The Monist 101 (2018c), 71-82.

[20] Yuriko Saito, “The Japanese appreciation of nature,” British Journal of Aesthetics 25 (1985), 239-251; Yuriko Saito, “Japanese aesthetics of packaging,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57 (1999), 257-265.

[21] The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967).

[22] See, e.g., Nishitani Keiji, “The Japanese art of arranged flowers,” in Robert. C. Solomon and Kathleen. M. Higgins, eds., World Philosophy (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995).

[23] Saito, “Japanese aesthetics of packaging.”

[24] Kathleen. M. Higgins, “An Alchemy of Emotion: Rasa and Aesthetic Breakthroughs,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65:1 (2007), 43-54.

[25] See Erzen, “Islamic aesthetics.”

[26] Stephen Davies, “Balinese aesthetics,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65: (2007), 21-29.

[27] Bence Nanay, “The multimodal experience of art,” British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (2012), 353-363.

[28] See Erzen, “Islamic aesthetics on multimodality in Islamic aesthetics,” and Saito, “Japanese aesthetics of packaging on multimodality in Japanese aesthetics,” for example.

[29] Sheldon Pollock, ed., A Rasa Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016).

[30] Paul Bertelson and Beatrice de Gelder, “The psychology of multimodal perception,” in C. Spence and J. Driver, eds.,  Crossmodal Space and Crossmodal Attention,(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 141–177; Bence Nanay, “Multimodal mental imagery,” Cortex 105 (2018b), 125-134.

[31] Robbie Kubala, “Aesthetic practices and normativity,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 103 (2) (2020),408-425.

[32] As Kant says:

[…] when [a man] puts a thing on a pedestal and calls it beautiful, he demands the same delight from others. He judges not merely for himself, but for all men, and then speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things. Thus he says that the thing is beautiful; and it is not as if he counts on others agreeing with him in his judgment of liking owing to his having found them in such agreement on a number of occasions, but he demands this agreement of them. He blames them if they judge differently, and denies them taste, which he still requires of them as something they ought to have; and to this extent it is not open to men to say: Every one has his own taste. [I. Kant, Critique of Judgment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1790/1928), p. 52.]

While this line of thinking is associated with Kant [see Samantha Matherne, “Kant on aesthetic autonomy and common sense,” Philosophers’ Imprint 19 (24) (2019)], it goes back at least to David Hume’s “Of the Standard of Taste” and is still the dominant view in contemporary (Western) aesthetics (see Malcolm Budd, “The intersubjective validity of aesthetic judgments,” British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (2007), 333-371, for an especially clear statement, and Barbara Herrstein Smith, Contingencies of Value (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), for an argument about the deeply seated Kantian roots of all Western aesthetics).

[33] Chad Hansen, A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophical Interpretation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

[34] Gonzales, Beauty and Islam.

[35] Abiodun, Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art.

[36] See Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, The Transformation of Nature in Art (New York: Dover, 1934/1956), but see also Higgins, “An Alchemy of Emotion,” for some wrinkles. Another example is Rasa, where similar arguments apply.

[37] See, for example, chapter 170, about Shōnagon’s dislike of women wearing sleeves with unequal width.

[38] Gregory Currie, “The film theory that never was: A nervous manifesto,” in Richard Allen and Murray Smith, eds., Film Theory and Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 42-57.