Dieter Mersch, what is aesthetic thinking?
“Aesthetic thinking” has two meanings: “the aesthetics of thinking” and “thinking the aesthetic.” The former refers to poetics, to thinking involving rhetorical devices or to artful, elaborate speech. The latter, “thinking the aesthetic,” is more interesting, yet also more controversial, because philosophical thinking is always associated with assertion, argumentation and justification, which in turn refer to discourse. Positing that any such thing as thinking the aesthetic exists refutes the claim of scientific discourse to be the sole mode of representation. It also assumes that we can argue, judge or do research in and with other forms and media: colours, sounds and silences, acoustic sequences, designs, animations or scenes and the like — in other words, that designs are not only ways of expressing ourselves but also produce insights. In this context, we need to take “aesthetic thinking” literally: aesthetics, from Greek aisthēsis, “perception.” Thus it is not a matter of thinking in words that say something, but of ways of thinking in visible, audible or tangible terms that show something and thus always show themselves.