The Art of Living

Aesthetics of the Ordinary in World Spiritual Traditions

By Crispin Sartwell

Subjects: Aesthetics
Paperback : 9780791423608, 177 pages, March 1995
Hardcover : 9780791423592, 177 pages, March 1995

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Table of contents



Part One: Opening the Concept of Art

1. Process and Product

2. Zen and the The Art of Living

3. Art and War: Paradox of the Bhagavad-Gita

Part Two: Aesthetic Reintegration

4. The Future of Art

5. Art and Tradition in American Popular Music

6. The Art of Knowing

7. The Tao of Technology

Concluding Remarks


This is a multicultural philosophy of art applied to common American and European experience and discussed in relation to Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, and African traditions.


The Art of Living: Aesthetics of the Ordinary in World Spiritual Traditions is the first truly multi-cultural philosophy of art. It develops a new theory of what art is, and discusses it in relation to Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism, as well as Native American, African, and African-American traditions.

Crispin Sartwell is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama.


"This is a refreshing book, engaging in its style and imaginative in the unusual range of materials, from the great spiritual traditions to popular American culture, that Sartwell weaves into the texture of his argument. Reading it was both stimulating and enlightening in surprising ways. Outstanding. " — Arnold Berleant, Long Island University

"Aesthetics has traditionally taken pride in not being very useful, in existing, like art, for its own sake, and mainly for intellectuals. However, I think Sartwell is showing that art and aesthetics are relevant to everyday life and vital to quality of life, not only for intellectuals and elites but for everyone.

"The work is commendable for its attention to the experience of women, minorities, and world traditions, but seems to transcend any mechanical adherence to 'political correctness. '" — Renee Lorraine, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

"This book is a joy to read—well-argued, logical, careful, with illuminating examples and counter-examples. It's bold; Sartwell doesn't shrink from the full consequences of his arguments. It integrates several non-Euro-American perspectives and bodies of work. The Art of Living is hugely important. " — Mara Miller, Drew University