Aesthetic luck

The idea that some aesthetic experiences and some aesthetic judgments are not open to all aesthetic subjects seems to be the kind of claim that only a cultural snob would make. Yet, on (loose) analogy with the notion of moral luck in ethics, the aesthetic experiences and judgments available to a given individual are frequently beyond her control. While in ethics the issue is one of moral assessment of one’s actions, in aesthetics it concerns the character and value of one’s aesthetic experiences and judgments and, ultimately, the possibilities for aesthetic value in one’s life. If there is a phenomenon of aesthetic luck, then (1) all beauty is not open to us, and there is little we can do about it, and (2) our aesthetic subjectivity and notions of beauty are threatened. Attempts to overcome the vicissitudes of aesthetic luck land us in paradox or circularity. One may have to accept one’s aesthetic fate, and the restrictions it places on one’s potential for an aesthetically valuable life. [WC: 168].
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