Right from the beginning the term „aesthetics“ comprehends a tension of meaning which became more and more clear throughout the past decades. On the one hand it means a specific theoretical discipline, established in the middle of the 18th century, being busy with the clarification of the concepts of beauty, sublime, art, and ugliness (deformity). On the other hand it means a general theory of perception („aisthesis“) that can be used as a counter model or a counterpart to a scientific or cognitivist model of knowledge. It is possible to use aesthetics as criticism of, but also in alliance with cognitivism. As it is possible to use it as criticism of, but also in alliance with ethics and politics.
Of central relevance to this constellation are questions like: Which cultural (epistemic, social) structures made the rise of aesthetics as a discipline possible? Which structures are determining our age? How can we rethink the relation of art and politics, above all under conditions of a globalized world? Which possibilities does the recent development within the natural and technological sciences offer to art and “aesthetic thought”? Are there, especially, new ways of cooperation between certain technological media and cultural sciences?