Thomas Docherty
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Aesthetic education and the demise of experience

Culture' would now be the name that we give to the inhabiting of the potentiality; and intrinsic to the culture would be a fundamental aesthetic education. For Montesquieu, education depends on the aesthetic experience. In his famous 'Theses on the philosophy of history', Walter Benjamin proposed what has become a major insight for contemporary criticism, when he indicates the doublesided nature of 'cultural treasures' that embody what we call 'civilisation'. The text 'always-already-read' by elders/teachers such as F. Jameson is the text paralysed; and it is also the reader/student blinded, the cultural event or history arrested. Play is seen as a waste of time by politicians who regard children simply as fodder for political statistics or the achievement of targets. Isobel Armstrong considers childhood play, in which 'things lose their determining force', or, where things become pure potentiality.

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