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Invitation to the Defense of Elisabeth Makovec und Bernd Haberl

Organisational Units
Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Location Description
Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, roomM20

The Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna kindly invites you to the defense of Elisabeth Makovecs' und Bernd Haberl's dissertation project

The Examination Panel is made up of: Doz. Mag. Dr. Assoc. Prof. Axel Stockburger (chair), Ruth Sonderegger (1st supervisor), and Prof. Dr. Josef Früchtl (external appraiser, Universiteit van Amsterdam).

Sensual metaphysics – Alexander Gottlieb Baumgartens system of aesthetics as a formal epistemology of sensual processes and as an empirical theory of artistic action and perception

Dissertation at the academy of fine arts vienna – Bernd Haberl, Part 2 of the joint dissertation project with Elisabeth Makovec

Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten's metaphysics marks the climax and at the same time the end point of a tendency in philosophical rationalism to strengthen sensuality as a legitimate source of knowledge against Cartesian skepticism. While Descartes sees sensuality as a source of delusion and error, Leibniz already emphasizes the epistemological importance of the “confused ideas” and thus opens up a kind of inner-rationalistic empiricism that Baumgarten pushes to it’s climax in his metaphysics. For Baumgarten, sensuality is not only a source of knowledge, sensuality is knowledge in itself. For Baumgarten, misperceptions are merely wrong conclusions from "true" perceptions
On this point, Baumgarten differs from positions in philosophical empistemology following Kant, that refuse to accept the sensual faculties as a source of knowledge in their own right. The question is whether Baumgarten is right and Kantian epistemology is missing something essential about sensual experience? A specific sensorium for the uniqueness of what we perceive.
Another question is whether Baumgartens approach is consistently thinkable outside rationalist reasoning? I will show that this is the case if one reads what Baumgarten calls “ontology” as a formal system in the modern sense, which in itself does not make any ontological commitments beyond the principle of non-contradiction.
Accepting this interpretation of Baumgartens approach leads to interesting consequences regarding methodology and scope of philosophical aesthetics: What is aesthetically certain – not just possibly or empirically true – is not a matter of judgement but can only be conveyed by demonstrating, by showing, by working, by producing. For Baumgarten the difference between experience and action, perception and (artistic) activity becomes blurred. I consider it as a great strength of Baumgarten's theory, not seeing any essential differences here.

Curriculum Vitae Bernd Haberl

Ongoing: work on doctoral thesis in philosophy, founder and board member of Lekton eG
2018/2019 Foundation of the cooperative Lekton eG – Graphic design & Software development (, member of Rückenwind (
2017: Enrolment as a doctoral student in Aesthetics at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (supervised by Ruth Sonderegger)
2012 - 2013: Quiew - Quick review: Research project funded by the Vienna Business Agency on semantic analysis of of online review texts. In collaboration with the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence ( and doloops
2010 - 2011: Member of the Sparkling Science-Research Project "Facing the Differences", Institute for Education in the Arts, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
2010 - 2018: Formation of and Work for Lekton – framework for graphic design, research and open-source-development on semantics and knowledge visualization.
2009 - 2011: Associate Lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (Pedagogy, Arts and Culture, Scientific methodology)
2007: Completion of diploma programme Philosophy and Sociology (with distinction)
2001-2010: Self-employed. as a graphic designer and trainer for graphic design and web programming
1999 - 2000: Research Year at the University of Paris VII - Diderot/Jussieu
1996 - 1999: Collaborator (and 1998 - 1999) Speaker of the Austrian National Student Union at the University of Vienna. Deputy student speaker in the Senate of the University of Vienna
1994: Enrolment at Vienna University (Philosophy, combined with Sociology and Political Science)
Born on November 10th 1975 in Villach

An aesthetics of artistic production - the describable and the indescribable

Dissertation at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna – Elisabeth Makovec, Part 2 of the joint dissertation project with Bernd Haberl

Western aesthetics in its main tradition focuses on the artwork and on its reception. Examinations of the artistic production are rarely to be found. This is not solely, but in essence, due to Kant's decisive influence on the development of modern aesthetics: the autonomy of art postulated by him, which completely separates art, and thus also artistic action, from epistemological questions. Art and, above all, the process of art production follows exclusively aesthetic criteria and can not be understood by means of knowledge nor can it therefore be described adequately in epistemological terms.
This has not always be seen that way: Just 40 years before Kant published his Critique of Judgment Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, who founded modern aesthetics as a philosophical discipline, describes art as a particular form of knowledge, as sensual cognition, which together with rational cognition forms the human cognitive faculty. Art production, as a special kind of knowledge production, thus plays a central role in his theory. The innovative power of Baumgarten's concept of sensual cognition has not yet been satisfactorily worked out for it is embedded in a metaphysical theory, which today is considered to be outdated and obsolete.
I start from the hypothesis that a contemporary interpretation of Baumgarten's theory is possible, since the concepts developed there, can be understood as a formal theory of aesthetics that can be detached from its metaphysical context without essential loss. In a second step, the concepts obtained are applied to an aesthetics of production.

Curriculum Vitae Elisabeth Makovec

Ongoing: Work on doctoral thesis in philosophy (supervised by Ruth Sonderegger), Associate Lecturer at the University of Art and Design Linz
2021 Science grant by Literar-Mechana
2011-2019 Kunstraum Niederoesterreich: Concept development, curating und art education. As part of these activities, numerous cooperations with art universities (University of Applied Arts Vienna, University of Art and Design Linz, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Department of Art History at the University of Vienna)
2016 Associate Lecturer at the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna): On aesthetic judgment (Baumgarten, Kant, Arendt, Dewey)
2015/16 Art didactic training in order to obtain the academic teaching qualification as part of the lecturer program at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, including a lectureship and guest courses)
2009-2014 Lectureships at the Academy of Fine Arts: Seminars in art and cultural education on the topics: drawing, art and language as well as artistic activity. Workshops and lectures in the master class for graphics and printmaking techniques
2009-2011 One-year research grant from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research (Project title „drawing“)
2008/2009 Diploma in fine arts at the Academy of Fine Arts, Laško - development of a new swimming style (with distinction and honorary prize)
2004 Diploma in German Philology/Philosophy at the University of Vienna: On the topic of trust at Heinrich von Kleist
Born on February 12th 1975 in Vienna

Please join us for the defense at Schillerplatz, room M20.

We are looking forward to welcoming you.