chapter
10 Pages

Introduction

WithLambert Wiesing

David Hume published the essay “Of Luxury” in 1752. In short, from looking over the literature on luxury, one could diagnose an “ambivalence toward excess in the modern period,” as is aptly suggested in the subtitle of Christine Weder and Maximilian Bergengruen’s 2011 anthology Luxus. Opinions diverge on the question of whether luxury is to be judged good or bad. Luxury is always something for someone—and more specifically for someone whose possession of that something is bound up with a particular kind of experience. The approach to the description of luxury just suggested has been known in aesthetics for a long time. A luxury is a phenomenon in the specifically phenomenological sense of the word: A something that is for someone. The phenomenology of luxury makes an effort to expose possession as a mental condition that has a capacity to be modified into a genuine aesthetic experience of autonomy.