Sapientia Lecture Series

Dartmouth Events

Sapientia Lecture Series

Lambert Wiesing. "Luxury: The Dadaism of Possession." Free & open to all. Reception follows

Friday, October 5, 2018
103 Thornton Hall
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Abstract: Luxury is almost always either harshly condemned or energetically defended. But do the many critics and apologists of luxury actually know what they are talking about?  For there is currently no systematic, especially no philosophical effort to determine what luxury actually is, quite apart from how it is valued.  So the apparently simple question “What is luxury?” remains unanswered. 

The talk develops a decisive phenomenological contribution. Luxury has to be categorically differentiated both from comfort and conspicuous consumption. The main thesis is, that luxury cannot be a characteristic of things or of actions, but that it arises through a private aesthetic experience: the experience of owning something that fulfils a purpose, but that also does more. If an autonomous subject possesses something exaggeratedly, superfluously or irrationally elaborate, and if that subject further experiences his ownership as liberation from the forceful demands of goal-oriented rationality and utilitarian thinking, then that something is a luxury.


Lambert H. Wiesing is Professor of Comparative Picture Theory and Phenomenology at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. He is the author of numerous books, including Artificial Presence: Philosophical Studies in Image Theory (Stanford University Press, 2009) and The Philosophy of Perception: Phenomenology and Image Theory (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014). As the Harris Distinguished Visiting Professor at Dartmouth, he is co-teaching Phil. 28.02, Phenomenology & Mimetic Arts, with Professor John Kulvicki in the Fall Term, 2018.

The Sapientia Lecture Series is funded by the Mark J. Byrne 1985 Fund in Philosophy.

For more information, contact:
Marcia Welsh
(603) 646-3738

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.