Sebastian Mühl

Doctorate and research assistant

Vertretung Prof. Dr. Juliane Rebentisch

Dirk Setton ist Philosoph und lebt in Frankfurt. Im Sommer 2018 vertritt er die Professur für Philosophie und Ästhetik an der Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach. Zuvor war er als Postdoktorand im Exzellenzcluster „Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen“, als Professor für Rhetorik an der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg sowie als wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Sonderforschungsbereich „Ästhetische Erfahrung im Zeichen der Entgrenzung der Künste“ an der Freien Universität Berlin und am Institut für Philosophie der Universität Potsdam beschäftigt. Er arbeitet zu Kants kritischer Philosophie, zum Verhältnis von Freiheit und Normativität, zu Theorien des Bildes und der Einbildungskraft, zur Relation von Ästhetik und Wissen sowie zu den Begriffen der Irrationalität und des Selbstbewusstseins. Er ist zudem Mitbegründer und Beiratsmitglied des August Verlags Berlin. Zuletzt ist von ihm erschienen: Unvermögen. Die Potentialität der praktischen Vernunft (2012); Willkür. Freiheit und Gesetz II (als Herausgeber gemeinsam mit Juliane Rebentisch, 2011).


Doctoral candidates

Helene Deutsch

Über Humor in der zeitgenössischen Kunst

Betreuende: Prof. Dr. Juliane Rebentisch, Prof. Susanne Winterling

Ul­rich Gebert

Other-worldly things. Photography, New Objectivity and relationship to the world

Tutor: Prof. Juliane Rebentisch

Craig Leonard

Aesthetics After Marcuse: What's Left of Anti-Art?

Tutors: Prof. Heiner Blum, Prof. Juliane Rebentisch

Sebastian Mühl

Concepts of utopia an contemporary art

Tutors: Prof. Dr. Juliane Rebentisch, Prof. Dr. Beatrice von Bismarck, Prof. Rotraut Pape

Mathias Windelberg

Cabinets of showing

Institutional critique in expanded cinema Expanded cinema in institutional critique

Tutors: Prof. Rotraut Pape, Prof. Juliane Rebentisch

Further information

Gegenwart 4

Gegenwart der Gegenwartskunst

Lecture series

Poster design: Sascha Lobe

Today, aesthetics faces especial challenges, as the boundaries of what classifies as aesthetics are becoming increasingly blurred. This is evidenced by the talk among art critics of the “transgression of art and the arts” and among cultural critics of the “aestheticization of the lifeworld”. The mention of the transgression of the arts is meant to indicate that today we increasingly face hybrid works that can no longer be duly explained by relying on the development logic of a specific genre. Moreover, art has ever more absorbed elements alien to art, has opened itself out to everyday life. Both trends emphasis the fundamental issue: What is art? And this issue has always been connected with other fundamental questions: Is there an intrinsic logic of the aesthetic that can be distinguished from that of the non-aesthetic in the first place? And if so, what does this imply for the talk among cultural critics of an aestheticization of the lifeworld? For this relates to a diagnosis that perfectly complements that of the transgression of art and the arts. Aestheticization refers to a process in which formerly non-aesthetic areas, such as ethics and politics, are changed by aesthetics making pronounced inroads into them. And, or so the critics suggest, this is not just beneficial: because aestheticization by no means merely refers to a surface phenomenon. On the contrary, the process in question is assumed to affect the deeper structure of our ethical view of ourselves and our political culture. Ethics thus gives way to an individualistic aesthetics of existence; politics is replaced by its spectacular performance. The concept of aestheticization thus designates a profound transformation of ethics and politics, namely a transformation that alienates ethics and politics from themselves by dint of being aesthetic. Here, the aesthetic does not seem to be a threat from the outside and instead a form of distortion that undermines ethics and politics from within, gnawing away at their normative substance.

While the diagnosed transgression of the arts thus questions the line dividing the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic as regards the field of the aesthetic, the diagnosed aestheticization of the lifeworld focuses on the line dividing the aesthetic from the non-aesthetic as regards the field of the non-aesthetic. This also means that the two can clearly not just be juxtaposed at the external level. This does not, however, render the question on the relationship between the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic obsolete. Far from it, it simply reframes it: The thrust must now be on gaining from these two diagnoses a better understanding of how they differ.

A closer look is therefore required. As in both debates, the aesthetic functions as the superordinate concept for highly different phenomenon, whose interrelationships bear examining. For example, and this is reinforced by the reciprocal transgression, the question needs to be asked as to the relationship now between art and design. How do these two forms of aesthetic practice relate to each other? Is there a unique politics of art, and one for design that is somehow complementary? As regards the cultural critics’ talk of aestheticization, we need by contrast to establish whether the designation aesthetic does not at times simply get used as a rhetoric device to exclude elements from politics and ethics that are not originally aesthetic anyway. To clarify this not only must we take a careful look at all the purportedly aesthetic phenomena that are discussed under the label of aestheticization. One must also examine the ethical-political problems that prompt the critique and highlight the linkage between the highly different motivations involved. Finally, the current debates on transgression need to be put in an historical perspective. Are these really new phenomena? And is this true of both critical contexts? If so, then what role do technological and economic factors play in each of the two trends?

Depending on how one approaches these questions, and so much is obvious, then the impact this has on how aesthetic practice should see itself today is immense. I see my role at the HfG Offenbach not least to entail encouraging such fundamental debate and contributing to it. Put differently, I believe the oblique stroke between philosophy and aesthetics in the professorship’s description (Philosophy/Aesthetics) is a permeable membrane. For given the current issues of the limits of the aesthetic what we encounter is something that has always been the case: One cannot conduct a meaningful aesthetics if one refuses to include issues from the fields of theoretical and practical philosophy. This also applies conversely in that key ideas from theoretical and practical philosophy would get ignored if one did not explore the aesthetic dimensions to our theoretical and practical relationship to the world. My work is interested in exchange with others in both respects and therefore seeks to prevent any self-curtailing of philosophy such as arises by its customary division into specialist fields.


  • Gegenwart 3

    Gegenwart der Gegenwartskunst

    Lecture series

    Poster design: Sascha Lobe

  • Gegenwart 1

  • Gegenwart 2

Gegenwart der Gegenwartskunst

Lecture series

Poster design: Sascha Lobe



Annual conference Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt / HfG Offenbach / Hessische Film- und Medienakademie, October 4, 2012

Poster design: Jan Münz und Benjamin Franzki, Photo: Patrick Raddatz


Geniale Dilletanten

Event with Rotraut Pape

Plakat kuratoren

Kuratoren: Künstler, Kritiker, Kollaborateure?

Lecture series together with Julika Rudelius

Poster Design: Eike König


14 April 2015
14 April 2015 Tuesday

Theorie im Sommer

02:00 PM, Hauptgebäude, Raum 101
Vorstellung theorie lv
Dgae logo rgb
3 years ago

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ästhetik

For the next three years Offenbach University of Art and Design will be the seat of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ästhetik.