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3 The Aesthetic Spirit of Modern Capitalism

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Chapter Summary

Modern capitalism succeeded because it absorbed a certain 'poetic' capacity. Modern capitalism produces such prodigious wealth in no small part because it coupled itself with the advancement of the arts and sciences. Modern capitalism is an aesthetic mode of production but this aesthetic mode of production is not a knowledge economy. Modern capitalism is built on the art of abstraction. Abstraction unlocks the power of design. It harnesses its spirit. In doing so, it unlocks power of aesthetic economy. Capital-A art is the alliance of aesthetics and economics, design and industry, beauty and society that sets apart the capitalism of the last two centuries. Value freedom does not mean to describe things while being agnostic about their worth. Value freedom is not a freedom from norms. Rather value freedom means the capacity to unite the warring Gods of reason and mysticism, worldliness and other-worldliness, asceticism and hedonism, bourgeois and bohemian.

Keywords: aesthetic spirit; asceticism; bohemian; bourgeois; hedonism; modern capitalism

10.1163/9789004274723_005
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