Richard Shusterman

Richard Shusterman

Richard Shusterman is an American pragmatist philosopher, currently the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University. He is internationally known for his contributions to philosophical aesthetics.

Biography and career

Richard Shusterman was born December 3, 1949, to a Jewish family living in Philadelphia, USA. At age 16 he left his home and went to Israel, where he continued his education, studying English and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from which he received his B.A. degree in English and Philosophy, and M.A. degree in philosophy (all awarded magna cum laude). He also served in Israeli Military Intelligence (1973-1976) achieving the rank of first lieutenant. During his Israeli education he got interested in analytic philosophy and this stage of his intellectual development culminated in the doctoral dissertation "The Object of Literary Criticism" which he wrote under the supervision of J. O. Urmson at St John's College, Oxford and defended in 1979 (it was published under the original title in 1984). After teaching at different Israeli academic institutions, receiving tenure at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (with an episode as a visiting fellow at St. John’s College, Oxford University during academic year 1984/85) in 1987 he became an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Temple University (tenured in 1988), where he was promoted to full professor in 1991 and became a chair of the Philosophy Department (1998-2004). In 1988, as a result of both the evolution of his philosophical interests (as evidenced in his second book "T. S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism", 1988) and personal experiences, [See the preface to R. Shusterman, "Pragmatist Aesthetics. Living Beauty, Rethinking Art" (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), p. xvii.] Shusterman made a conversion from analytic philosophy to pragmatism and started his own project of developing John Dewey’s aesthetics. The third book he authored, "Pragmatist Aesthetics" (1992) was a big breakthrough in his academic career. The original approach to the problems of the definition of art, organic wholes, interpretation, popular art and the ethics of taste he presented there brought him international fame (which is clearly evidenced by the fact that "Pragmatist Aesthetics" has already been translated into 12 languages). Shusterman’s position was only strengthened by his next works: "Practicing Philosophy" (1997), "Performing Live" (2000) and "Surface and Depth" (2002) in which he continued the pragmatist tradition, raising significant interest, provoking numerous critiques and stimulating debates not only among professional philosophers. In 2004 Richard Shusterman left Temple University to become the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.

Richard Shusterman is a member of many editorial boards: e.g. "The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism", "Metaphilosophy", "Poetics Today", "Journal of Speculative Philosophy", "Theory, Culture, and Society", Body and Society, Akademie Verlag (Berlin) series in Philosophische Anthropologie. He has also received important grants and fellowships, e.g. Senior National Endowment for the Humanities and Fulbright Fellowships; and his current research in somaesthetics is supported by an Alexander Humboldt Foundation Transcoop Grant (2006-2009).

One should also mention that one of the important factors influencing Shusterman's philosophy has been his internationalist career: for instance, his work in France (with Pierre Bourdieu and with the College International de Philosophie) has allowed his pragmatism to engage and deploy the contemporary French philosophical tradition, while his Fulbright Professorship in Berlin enabled his pragmatism to intersect more closely with contemporary German philosophy. Similarly, his year as a visiting research professor in Hiroshima helped introduce him to Asian philosophy and Zen practice. To complete the picture, it has to be underlined that Shusterman’s activity is not confined to the professional academic life: in 1995 he was a delegate member of the UNESCO project Philosophy and Democracy in the World and for several years he directed the UNESCO project MUSIC: Music, Urbanism, Social Integration and Culture; in the period 1998 – 2004 he hosted “Dialogues on the Square”, a philosophy discussion series at Barnes and Noble, Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia. As a somatic educator and therapist, he is also a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais method.

He lives in South Florida with his second wife and a daughter. He has two sons and a daughter from his first marriage.

Key ideas

husterman's place in the Contemporary Pragmatism

It is widely agreed that contemporary pragmatism divides into at least two currents: the neo-classical and the neo-analytical [See, e.g., T. Rockmore, “On Classical and Neo-Analytic Forms of Pragmatism”, "Metaphilosophy" vol. 36, no. 3, April, 2005.] .

The latter, best exemplified by Richard Rorty, can be roughly described as an amalgam of the elements of classical pragmatism and analytic philosophy, which is sometimes supplemented, especially in Rorty’s case, by the ideas of continental thinkers (Martin Heidegger, e.g.) [See, e.g., R. Rorty, “Truth without Correspondence to Reality”, in "Philosophy and Social Hope" (London: Penguin 1999), p. 24-27.] .The former, represented, among others, by Susan Haack, is more conservative in its development of the classical tradition and adopts a critical stance toward Rorty’s interpretation thereof. [Cf. S. Haack, “Pragmatism, Old and New”, "Contemporary Pragmatism", vol. 1, no. 1, June, 2004.]

Assuming this description is correct, we would have to locate Shusterman’s pragmatism somewhere in the middle between the above mentioned positions. Although his analytic background and acceptance of some of Rorty’s ideas (he even subsumes his and Rorty’s thought under a common category of “reconstructivist genealogical-poetic pragmatism” [R. Shusterman, “Pragmatism and Culture: Margolis and Rorty”, in "Surface and Depth. Dialectics of Criticism and Culture", (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002).] )seemingly makes him a neo-analytic pragmatist, the stress he puts on the importance of the notion of experience, which Rorty would like to substitute with the notion of language, chimes perfectly with the neo-classical stance. Besides classical pragmatism and analytic philosophy among Shusterman’s inspirations there are many different traditions and disciplines: continental sociology (Pierre Bourdieu [See, e.g., R. Shusterman, “Cultural Analysis and the Limits of Philosophy: The Case of Bourdieu” in "Surface and Depth".] )and philosophy (Michel Foucault, Michel de Montaigne,Friedrich Nietzsche [R. Shusterman, “Somaesthetics and Care of the Self: The Case of Foucault”, "Monist", 83, 2000; R. Shusterman “Entertainment: A Question for Aesthetics”, "British Journal of Aesthetics", 43, 2003.] ), American body therapy (Moshe Feldenkrais, F. Matthias Alexander [R. Shusterman, “The Somatic Turn” in "Performing Live" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000).] ) as well as East-Asian thought (Confucius) [R. Shusterman, “Pragmatism and East-Asian Thought”, "Metaphilosophy", 35, 2004; R. Shusterman, “Pragmatist Aesthetics and East-Asian Philosophy”, "Naked Punch" (online edition), May, 2006;] . It is worth noticing that this diversity of inspirations finds its reflection in the scope of Shusterman’s philosophical work which embraces not only aesthetics, but also metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of language, political theory as well as metaphilosophy in which latter field he advocates the idea of philosophy as the art of living.


Despite the fact that experience serves as a basic category in Shusterman’s pragmatism, both in terms of methodology (the pragmatist should always work from experience [See R. Shusterman, "Performing Live", p. 96.] ) as well as ontology or epistemology (experience “is a transactional nexus of interacting energies connecting the embodied self and its environing world” [R. Shusterman, “Intellectualism and the Field of Aesthetics”, "Revue Internationale de Philosophie", 220, 2002).] ), Shusterman, contrary to his philosophical hero John Dewey, practically does not engage in constructing a general metaphysical conception thereof. He has, however, made considerable efforts to refine Dewey’s insights [R. Shusterman, “Pragmatism Between Aesthetic Experience and Aesthetic Education”, "Studies in Philosophy and Education", 22, 2003.] and to defend the latter’s idea of immediate, nondiscursive experience against the criticism put forward by Richard Rorty. [See R. Shusterman, "Somatic Experience. Foundation or Reconstruction?", in "Practicing Philosophy: Pragmatism and the Philosophical Life" (New York: Routledge,1997).]

While Rorty shares Dewey’s commitment to debunk epistemological foundationalism, he believes that the notion of language is better suited to achieve this goal than the notion of immediate, nondiscursive experience preferred by Dewey. Moreover, according to Rorty, Dewey’s theory itself collapses into a version of foundationalism where immediate, nondiscursive experience serves as justificational evidence for particular knowledge claims. To this Shusterman replies that: (a) the antifoundationalist thrust of the notion of language is not as clear as Rorty sees it (in fact language has been frequently used as a foundationalist category); (b) Dewey never really intended his theory of experience to be a kind of epistemological foundationalism, but rather wanted to celebrate the richness and value of immediate experience, including “the immediate dimension of somatic experience” and to emphasize the positive role such experience can play in improving the quality of human life. (The inspiration of body theorist-therapist F. M. Alexander is important here). Although he argues that Dewey’s theory was ultimately spoiled by a kind of foundationalism (not the one Rorty accuses Dewey of but rather one asserting that the specific quality of immediate experience is the glue that makes coherent thought possible), Shusterman believes that the philosophical value of experience can and should be reaffirmed in an antifoundationalist form. He also underlines that even if, as Rorty claims, Wilfrid Sellars’s critique of the myth of the given proves that immediate, nondiscursive somatic experience cannot be integrated into epistemology, it does not preclude that this experience may be usefully deployed in philosophy as such, because to think otherwise would be to wrongly conflate all philosophy with one of its subdisciplines, i.e. theory of cognition. And the fact that we can hardly imagine any form of application of the immediate somatic experience in the realm of philosophy is not a proof that this is impossible, but rather indicates that our conception of philosophy is dominated by an idealistic paradigm, naturally hostile to the body as such. The will to change this situation has been one of the reasons why Shusterman has introduced a new philosophical subdiscipline devoted to the body and its experience: somaesthetics.

Definitions of art

Shusterman has contributed to the philosophical problem of defining art by presenting both metatheoretical insights as well as definitions of his own coinage.

On the metatheoretical level he criticizes essentialist, classificatory definitions of art (preferred by the traditional analytic philosophy) which he calls “wrapper definitions” since they aim “at the perfect coverage” of the logical extension of the notion of art. [See R. Shusterman, Surface and Depth, p. 179-181] Shusterman (a) finds these definitions problematic given art’s contested value and nature as well as its unpredictable development in the future; and (b) argues that there is a goal for art definitions which is more important than the conceptual coverage: namely a directional/transformational one of “illuminating the special point and value of art or […] improving art’s appreciation”. [R. Shusterman, “Pragmatism Between Aesthetic Experience and Aesthetic Education”, p. 405.]

It has to be understood that according to Shusterman these two goals may indeed converge, but since they may as well not he finds it unacceptable to exclude any definitions only on the basis that they do not satisfy the standards of taxonomical validity, like e.g. evaluative definitions which nevertheless can be useful in their own way. Besides discussing the issue of wrapper definitions in general, Shusterman has also criticized particular definitions of that kind invented by George Dickie and Arthur Danto. [See R. Shusterman, "Pragmatist Aesthetics" (2000), p. 38-44. Cf. R. Shusterman, “Art in a Box: Danto” (chapter 10 of "Surface and Depth").]

Shusterman advocates a definition of art as experience he has adopted from Dewey, albeit not without making some important corrections to it. While Shusterman accepts the majority of the elements central to the Dewey’s conception of this experience (e.g., that it cannot be reduced to the private mental world of the subject being rather an interaction between the subject and the object), there are some he finds questionable (e.g. Dewey’s insistence on the unity and coherence of aesthetic experience which Shusterman would like to supplement with aesthetics of rupture and fragmentation). Secondly, he claims that Dewey was wrong to treat his definition of art as experience as a traditionalist wrapper definition, thus making it vulnerable to the valid charges that it is both too narrow and too wide (there are some artworks which do not engender aesthetic experiences and, conversely, in some cases aesthetic experience accompanies phenomena which simply cannot be redefined as art, like natural beauty, e.g.). What he should have done instead was to assign to it the directional and transformational role mentioned above. Conceived this way, Shusterman argues, the definition of art as experience has an undeniable value because even though it cannot embrace the whole extension of the concept of art it “underlines a crucial background condition, direction, and valued goal of art” (i.e. aesthetic experience) and also helps to widen “the realm of art by challenging the rigid division between art and action that is supported by definitions that define art as mimesis, poiesis, or the narrow practice defined by the institutional art world". [R. Shusterman, “Pragmatism and Criticism: A Response to three critics of "Pragmatist Aesthetics"”, "Journal of Speculative Philosophy", 16, 2002, p. 29.]

Shusterman also advocates a definition of art as dramatization, which supplements the definition he has inherited from Dewey not only by illuminating art’s nature from a slightly different angle, but also by serving a different, yet equally important purpose – the reconciliation of two prominent and at the same time conflicted aesthetic accounts of art: historicism and naturalism. Since the notion of dramatization involves and harmonizes two important moments: of putting something into a formalized frame (e.g. “the frame of a theatrical performance” [ R.Shusterman, “Art as Dramatization,” in "Surface and Depth".] ) and of intense experiential content that is framed, it presents itself as a potential synthesizing formula for historicism and naturalism which, as Shusterman argues, can be reduced to emphasizing the formal institutional frame of art (historicism) or experiential intensity that characterizes art as such (naturalism). Both of Shusterman’s definitions have become the subject of many commentaries and criticisms. [E.g., Thomas Leddy and Paul C. Taylor defend Dewey’s original theory of art as experience against Shusterman’s criticism, while Ranjan Ghosh points out that the definition of art as dramatization is significantly consonant with the Indian concept of Rasa (see the secondary literature listed above). Cf J. J. Stuhr, "Practice, Semiotics, and the Limits of Philosophy", "Journal of Speculative Philosophy", vol. 19, no. 1, 2005, p. 79-80.]


Among the many debates galvanizing contemporary humanities one of the most important (if not the most important) is devoted to the problem of interpretation. Shusterman has participated in it by co-editing a fundamental anthology "The Interpretive Turn", as well as by voicing his own opinions which will be discussed in this section.

Shusterman’s account of interpretation is constructed in opposition to both analytic aesthetics and deconstruction, which are often said to constitute two opposite poles of the contemporary interpretive theory. As he claims, both of them share “a picture of understanding as the recapturing or reproducing of a particular […] [“separate and autonomous”] meaning-object”, yet they differ as to whether such act is possible. Deconstructionists, assuming their protean vision of language as “systematic play of differences”, claim it is not, and hence deem every reading a “misreading”, while analytic aestheticians think otherwise, usually construing the objective work-meaning as “metaphysically fixed in the artwork” and identifying it with the intention of the artist or “semantic features of the work itself” [R. Shusterman, "Surface and Depth", p. 67.] .To avoid both these extremes Shusterman proposes a conception of textual meaning inspired by late Wittgenstein(and his notion of language games) in which meaning is thought of as a correlate of understanding, the latter term being conceived as “an ability to handle or respond to [something] in certain accepted ways” [R. Shusterman, "Pragmatist Aesthetics" (2000), p. 90.] which, although shared and legitimized by the community, can be quite different and constitute many diverse “interpretation games”. Interpretation, thus, is not an act (be it successful or inherently condemned to failure) of discovering the meaning of text, but rather of constructing it, or, as Shusterman would like to put it, of “making sense’” of text. One of the corollaries of this account is that correctness of interpretation is always relative to the “rules” (typically implicit) of a given interpretation game. Since there are many different incommensurable games existing at the same time and since some of them have undergone some significant changes over history (and some may even have disappeared from use), we can speak of a plurality of correct interpretations of the same text both in synchronic and diachronic dimensions. Another consequence of this theory is Shusterman’s logical pluralism which claims not only that there can be different (even contradictory), yet equally true interpretations (that would be only a cognitive pluralism), but also that there are legitimate forms of approaching texts which do not even aim at interpretational truth or plausibility, but rather aim at other useful goals (e.g., providing pleasure or making an old text more relevant to contemporary readers) [See R. Shusterman, “Logics of Interpretation: The Persistence of Pluralism”, in "Surface and Depth", p. 49.] .

Another of Shusterman’s contributions to the theory of interpretation is his critique of a widely held view he calls ‘hermeneutic universalism’ and attributes to Hans-Georg Gadamer, Alexander Nehamas and Stanley Fish, among others. Agreeing with basic antifoundationalist thrust of the hermeneutic universalists’ position, Shusterman simultaneously rejects their thesis that “to perceive, read, understand, or behave at all intelligently […] must always be to interpret” and seeks to refute it with many original arguments. He also insists that the notion of interpretation needs a contrasting category to guarantee its own meaningfulness. If everything is interpretation then the concept loses its point. Shusterman argues that immediate, non-interpretive understanding can serve that role of contrast. Hence, inspired by late Wittgenstein and Heidegger’s theory of hermeneutic circle, Shusterman proposes to distinguish (while underlining the functional rather than ontological character of this distinction) between

“the immediacy of uninterpreted understandings of language (as when I immediately understand simple and pertinent utterances of a language I know well) and the mediacy of interpretations (as when I encounter an utterance or text that I do not understand in terms of word-meaning or contextual relevance and then have to figure out what is meant)” [R. Shusterman, "Pragmatism and Criticism", p. 32.] .

Among Shusterman’s achievements in the theory of interpretation there are also the accounts of literary criticism he created in his earlier, analytic period , as well as his pragmatist arguments against interpretational intentionalism and his genealogical critique of deconstructionist (Harold Bloom’s, Jonathan Culler’s), analytic (Joseph Margolis’) and neopragmatist (Richard Rorty’s, Stanley Fish’s, Walter Benn Michaels and Steven Knapp’s) literary theories which, as he claims, are all governed at their core by an ideology of professionalism.

Popular art

According to Shusterman, one of the most pressing sociocultural problems of today is the aesthetic legitimation of popular art. Although popular art may now seem to be socially justified, its artistic value is still questioned which is the constant cause of the following problems:
*popular art is “deprived of artistic care and control” which could protect it against the negative influence of the market, and, as a result, it often becomes “brutally crude in sensibility” [R. Shusterman, "Pragmatist Aesthetics" (2000), p. 168.] ;
*satisfactions provided by this kind of art cannot be full since they are diminished by a sense of humiliation which is induced in its audience by official art institutions’ explicit disapproval of popular art forms.
*this situation in turn “intensifies painful divisions in society and even in ourselves” [R.Shusterman, “Popular Art and Education”, "Studies in Philosophy and Education", 13, 1995, p. 203.] .A sincere advocate of popular aesthetics, Shusterman is nevertheless careful to distinguish his stance from one-sided apologia and he would rather characterize it as ‘melorism’ which “recognizes popular art’s flaws and abuses but also its merits [while also holding] that popular art should be improved because it can and often does achieve real aesthetic merits and serve worthy social ends” [R.Shusterman, “Popular Art and Education”, p.204.] .Putting his meliorism into practice, Shusterman seeks to win aesthetic legitimation for popular art in two ways:
*on a general theoretical level:
**he promotes the definition of art as experience, assuming that it could “effect the artistic legitimation” of popular art (e.g., “rock music”) “which affords such frequent and intensely gratifying aesthetic experience to so many people from so many nations, cultures, and classes” [R. Shusterman, "Pragmatist Aesthetics" (2000), p. 58.] ;
**provides counterguments to the most influential criticisms of popular art (e.g., Theodor W. Adorno’s and Allan Bloom’s [See chapter 7 of "Pragmatist Aesthetics" (2000).] );
**analyzes (both on conceptual-etymological as well as genealogical level) the phenomenon of entertainment to highlight the crucial positive role it plays in human existence [R. Shusterman, "Entertainment: A Question for Aesthetics", "British Journal of Aesthetics", 43, 2003.] ;
*Shusterman also engages in the aesthetic criticism of particular genres of popular arts and of its concrete works, arguing for artistic value of country music and rap [R. Shusterman, “Affect and Authenticity In Country Musicals” in "Performing Live" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000); “The Fine Art of Rap” in "Pragmatist Aesthetics" (2000); “Art in Action, Art Infraction. Goodman, Rap, Pragmatism (New Reality Mix)” in "Practicing Philosophy: Pragmatism and the Philosophical Life"; "Pragmatism, Art, and Violence: The Case of Rap”, in T. Yamamoto (ed.), "Philosophical Designs for a Socio-Cultural Transformation" (Tokyo and Boulder: E.H.E.S.C. and Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).] .What is worth stressing, Shusterman was probably the first art philosopher ever to write about rap [His „Fine Art of Rap” was first published in 1991: "New Literary History", 22, 1991, p. 613-632.] , and despite the fact that the accuracy of his treatment of this music genre is sometimes questioned [See T. Brennan, “Off the Gangsta Tip: A Rap Appreciation, or Forgetting about Los Angeles”, "Critical Inquiry", 20, 1994; G. C. Maher, “Brechtian Hip-Hop. Didactics and Self-Production in Post-Gangsta Political Mixtapes”, "Journal of Black Studies", vol. 36, no. 1, September, 2005.] , his groundbreaking role in this regard cannot be denied and it has been appreciated worldwide.


Somaesthetics’ is a term coined by Richard Shusterman to denote a new philosophical discipline he has invented as a remedy for the following problems:

*According to Shusterman our culture’s growing preoccupation with the body has not yet found an appropriate response in the realm of philosophy which simply neglects the somatic or textualizes it or reduces it to gender or racial difference, and thus is unwilling or unable to counteract the negative aspects of the current body boom (such as the tendency that “contemporary aesthetic ideals of body remain enslaved by shallow and oppressive stereotypes that serve more to increase profits for the cosmetics industries than to enrich our experience of the varieties of bodily charms” [R. Shusterman, “Somaesthetics and the Revival of Aesthetics”, "Filozofski Vestnik", vol. XXVIII, no. 2, 2007.] ).
*Despite the relative abundance of humanist disciplines devoted to the body they lack
**a conceptual framework that could integrate their efforts (and also allow for their better cooperation with natural sciences and various somatic methods);
**“a clear pragmatic orientation, something that the individual can directly translate into a discipline of improved somatic practice” [R. Shusterman, “Somaesthetics and the Body/Media Issue” in "Performing Live", p. 141.] .
*Philosophical aesthetics has paid very little attention to the body as a result of “the willful neglect of the body in Baumgarten’s founding text of modern aesthetics, an omission reinforced by subsequent intellectualist and idealist theories (from Kant through Hegel and Schopenhauer and on to contemporary theories that emphasize disinterested contemplation)” [R. Shusterman, “Somaesthetics and the Revival of Aesthetics”] .

The above mentioned conditions have determined the nature of somaesthetics as a grounded in philosophical aesthetics yet interdisciplinary project of theory and practice which can be defined as:

To clarify the terminological issues one needs to mention that Shusterman has intentionally put the term ‘soma’ (instead of the more familiar ‘body’) in the name of his disciplinary proposal to emphasize one important feature of his conception of corporeality. For Shusterman, who is a true disciple of Dewey in this regard, bodily and mental (as well as cultural and biological) dimensions of human being are essentially inseparable and to signify this unity (this “sentient perceiving «body-mind»”) he prefers to use the term ‘soma’ which, unlike ‘body’, does not automatically connote passive flesh contrasted to dynamic soul or mind.

Although Shusterman’s project may at the first glance seem utterly innovatory and even iconoclastic, its various elements, as Shusterman himself admits, can be traced to many respected traditions: ancient Greek philosophy and the later Western philosophies (Michel de Montaigne, John Dewey, Michel Foucault), but also East-Asian wisdom such as Confucianism. Somaesthetics divides into three fundamental branches:

*"analytical somaesthetics" which is a “descriptive and theoretical enterprise devoted to explaining the nature of our bodily perceptions and practices and their function in our knowledge and construction of the world. Besides the traditional topics in philosophy of mind, ontology, and epistemology that relate to the mind-body issue and the role of somatic factors in consciousness and action, analytic somaesthetics also includes the sort of genealogical, sociological, and cultural analyses advanced by Beauvoir, Foucault [and] Pierre Bourdieu” [R. Shusterman, “Somaesthetics and The Second Sex: A Pragmatist Reading of a Feminist Classic”, "Hypatia" 18, 2003, p. 112.] ;
*"pragmatic somaesthetics" which (in “contrast to analytic somaesthetics, whose logic is essentially descriptive”) “has a distinctly normative, often prescriptive, character because it involves proposing specific methods of somatic improvement or engaging in their comparison, explanation, and critique” ["Ibidem", p. 112.] ;
*"practical somaesthetics" which “involves actually engaging in programs of disciplined, reflective, corporeal practice aimed at somatic self-improvement” ["Ibidem", p. 114.] .

Shusterman himself works in all three somaesthetic subdisciplines:

*within the analytic field he theorizes body’s status as the basic medium of human existence and the fundamental role it plays in the realm of cognition, ethics, politics and aesthetics [R. Shusterman, “Somaesthetics and the Body/Media Issue”] ;
*in pragmatic somaesthetics
**he analyzes different somatic disciplines (e.g., Feldenkrais method, Alexander Technique, Bioenergetics) [R. Shusterman, “The Somatic Turn: Care of the Body in Contemporary Culture”, chapter 8 of "Performing Live".] ;
**criticizes different thinkers, such as Edmund Burke, William James, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Simone de Beauvoir and Michel Foucault, for either neglecting or misconceiving the value of various forms of somatic care [See e.g., R. Shusterman, “Somaesthetics and Burke’s Sublime”, "British Journal of Aesthetics", 45, 2005;“William James, Somatic Introspection, and Care of the Self”, "Philosophical Forum", 36, 2005; "The Silent, Limping Body of Philosophy”, in T. Carman and M. Hansen (eds.), "The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).] ;
**scrutinizes the issue of Asian erotic arts [“Asian Ars Erotica and the Question of Sexual Aesthetics”,"Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism", vol. 65, no. 1, 2007.] ;
**discusses the value of somaesthetics for education in the humanities [R.Shusterman,“Somaesthetics and Education: Exploring the Terrain”, in Liora Bressler (ed.), "Knowing Bodies, Moving Minds: Towards Embodied Teaching and Learning" (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2004); “Thinking Through the Body: Educating for the Humanities”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 40, no. 1, 2006.] ;
*As a certified practitioner of Feldenkrais Method and a somatic therapist he gives workshops on somaesthetics that include practical exercises and demonstrations, but also has experience in treating different cases of somatic disabilities.

While undeniably a new phenomenon, somaesthetics, which by now forms the center of Shusterman’s philosophical inquiries, has already influenced many scholars working in fields as diverse as philosophy, art education, dance theory, health and fitness studies [Cf. the secondary literature listed above] .

Books by Richard Shusterman (selection)

*"The Object of Literary Criticism" (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1984).
*"T. S. Eliot and Philosophy of Criticism" (London and New York: Duckworth and Columbia University Press, 1988).
*"Analytic Aesthetics" (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989) – editor.
*"The Interpretive Turn: Philosophy, Science, Culture" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991) - edited with D. Hiley and J. Bohman.
*"Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living beauty, Rethinking Art" (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992) – translated into 12 languages: Chinese, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Finnish, Spanish, Romanian, Hungarian, Slovakian, French and Polish.
*"Practicing Philosophy: Pragmatism and the Philosophical Life" (New York: Routledge,1997) – translated into German, French, Chinese and Polish.
*"Interpretation, Relativism, and the Metaphysics of Culture" (New York: Humanity Books, 1999) – edited with Michael Krausz.
*"Bourdieu: A Critical Reader" (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999) – editor.
*"La fin de’l experience esthetique" (Pau: Presse Universitaire de Pau, 1999).
*"Performing Live" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000) - translated into German.
*"Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art", 2nd edition with a special introduction and a new chapter, (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).
*"Surface and Depth: Dialectics of Criticism and Culture" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002).
*"The Range of Pragmatism and the Limits of Philosophy" (Oxford: Blackwell,2004) – editor.
*"Body Consciousness: A Philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics" (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008) - translated into French.

econdary literature

*Abrams, J. J., “Pragmatism, Artificial Intelligence, and Posthuman Bioethics: Shusterman, Rorty, Foucault,” "Human Studies", 27, 2004.
*Abrams J. J., “Aesthetics and Ethics: Santayana, Nietzsche and Shusterman”, "The Modern Schoolman", vol. LXXXI, no. 4, May, 2004.
*Altieri Ch., “Practical Sense – Impractical Objects: Why Neo-Pragmatism Cannot Sustain an Aesthetics”, "REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature", vol. 15, 1999.
*Arnold P. J., “Somaesthetics, Education, and the Art of Dance”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 39, no. 1, Spring, 2005.
*Bourmeau S., “Le corps au coeur”, "Les Inrockuptibles", no. 629, 18 Dec. 2007.
*Ghosh R. K., “Art as Dramatization and the Indian Tradition”, "The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism", vol. 61, no. 3, Summer, 2003.
*Grabes H., “The Revival of Pragmatist Aesthetics”, "REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature", vol. 15, 1999.
*Guerra, G., “Practicing Pragmatism: Richard Shusterman’s Unbound Philosophy”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 36, no. 4, 2002.
*Haskins C., “Enlivened Bodies, Autheniticity, and Romanticism”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 36, no. 4, Winter, 2002.
*Higgins, K., “Living and Feeling at Home: Shusterman’s Performing Live”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 36 no. 4, 2002.
*Jay M., “Somaesthetics and Democracy: Dewey and Contemporary Body Art”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 36, no. 4, Winter, 2002.
*Johnston J. S., “Reflections on Shusterman’s Dewey”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 38, no. 4, Winter, 2004.
*Leddy, Th., “Moore and Shusterman on Organic Wholes”, "Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism", vol.49, no.1, Winter, 1991.
*Leddy Th., “Shusterman’s Pragmatist Aesthetics”, "The Journal of Speculative Philosophy", vol. 16, no.1, 2002.
*Maher G. C., “Brechtian Hip-Hop. Didactics and Self-Production in Post-Gangsta Political Mixtapes”, "Journal of Black Studies", vol. 36, no. 1, September, 2005.
*Maleuvre D., “Art and Criticism: Must Understanding Be Interpretive?” , "Substance", vol. 30, no. 3. (rev. of "Pragmatist Aesthetics").
*Mullis E. C., “Performative Somaesthetics: Principles and Scope”, "Journal of Aesthetic Education", vol. 40, no. 4, Winter, 2006.
*Nehamas A., “Richard Shusterman on Pleasure and Aesthetic Experience”, "The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism", vol. 56, no. 1, Winter, 1998.
*Rorty R., “Response to Richard Shusterman”, in M.Festenstein and S.Thompson (eds.) "Richard Rorty. Critical Dialogues" (Cambridge: Polity Press 2001).
*Säätelä S., “Between Intellectualism and «Somaesthetics»”, XIVth International Congress of Aesthetics, Proceedings Part II, ed. A. Erjavec, L. Kreft and M. Bergamo, "'Filozofski Vestnik", 2/1999.
*Soulez A., “Practice, Theory, Pleasure, and the Problems of Form and Resistance: Shusterman’s "Pragmatist Aesthetics"”, "The Journal of Speculative Philosophy", vol. 16, no.1, 2002.
*Taylor P. C., “The Two-Dewey Thesis, Continued: Shusterman’s Pragmatist Aesthetics”, "The Journal of Speculative Philosophy", vol. 16, no.1, 2002.
*Tupper, K.W. [$26+Education--JDEA+2003.pdf “Entheogens & education: Exploring the potential of psychoactives as educational tools”] , "Journal of Drug Education and Awareness", vol.1, no.2, 2003.
*Welsch W., “Rettung durch Halbierung? Zu Richard Shsutermans Rehabilitierung ästetischer Erfahrung”, "DzPhil, Berlin" 47 (1999)1.
*Zerbib D., “Richard Shusterman: les effets secondaires d'une philosophie douce”, "LE MONDE DES LIVRES" 29.11.07.
*Zerbib D.,“Richard Shusterman: intelligence du corps”, "LE MONDE DES LIVRES" 29.11.07 (a review of Richard Shusterman's "Conscience du corps: pour une soma-esthétique").


External links

* - Richard Shusterman’s university site: contains complete bio-bibliographical profile and many articles and essays, as well as some multimedia material.
* - Richard Shusterman’s official independent site.
* - The Center for Body, Mind, and Culture at FAU, directed by Richard Shusterman.
* - a 45-50 minute recent radio interview (in French) with Richard Shusterman; it concerns mostly Professor Shusterman's latest book "Body Consciousness", translated into French as "Conscience du corps: pour une soma-esthétique".
* - "Richard Shusterman, philosophe nomade", an interview (in French) with Richard Shusterman, published in "Le Point" (December 13th, 2007).
* - "Biological Aesthetics", an interview with Richard Shusterman, published in "02" (No. 46, Summer 2008).
* - "Soma Holiday", an interview with Richard Shusterman, published in "artUS"(No. 21, 2008).

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