The Aesthetic Sense of Life is a fast-moving book about how to see the world and get value from living every day with the "everyday." Do the infinite number of sensations we're surrounded with every day have intrinsic value? If not, what gives them value? Who appreciates the sunrise if we don't? Is it enough for just us to appreciate it? Or do we have to share it? The Aesthetic Sense of Life considers and answers to questions such as these in clear, readable prose, offering a way of looking at life that makes clear its value and its meaning. The aesthetic sense of life is neither the viewpoint of the saints-for whom the sensations of the world are mere murmuring and illusion-nor the viewpoint of those completely fulfilled by their things, their gadgets, the particulars of their own lives. Most of us fall in the middle between these two extremes: we appreciate, say, a good cup of coffee, a power tool, a new set of towels, or a juicy steak, but don't think the answer to the riddle of existence is to be found in any of these. We appreciate them without thinking them sufficient. What's missing from them? What's missing is this: a sense that they can give meaning to life.
Bruce Fleming is a professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis. His most recent works include Annapolis Autumn: Life, Death and Literature at the U.S. Naval Academy (New Press, 2005) and Why Liberals and Conservatives Clash (Routledge, 2006). He has won an O. Henry award for short fiction and the Antioch Review Award for Distinguished Prose, a career award. Fleming is the author of a dozen books including the experimental novel Twilley, which critics compared to works by T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Proust, Thoreau, and David Lynch, and of a collection of dance essays called Sex, Art and Audience. His books for University Press of America include Art and Argument; Science and the Self; Sexual Ethics; and The New Tractatus, among others. He is a graduate of Haverford College, with subsequent degrees from the University of Chicago and Vanderbilt University.
Part 1 Preface Chapter 2 I: Individual and General Chapter 3 II: The Aesthetic Sense Inside Chapter 4 III: Public Rhythms Chapter 5 IV: The Aesthetic Sense Outside Chapter 6 V: Transitions Chapter 7 VI: Religion, Science, and the Aesthetic Sense Chapter 8 VII: Modernity and the Aesthetic Sense Chapter 9 VIII: Achieving Goals, Sort Of Part 10 Index Part 11 About the Author