chapter  3
32 Pages

The judgment of luxury

WithLambert Wiesing

Someone who reads the question about luxury intensionally, as a question of content, is not interested in luxury objects themselves, but in the relationship of the concept of luxury to other concepts. Working on a concept of luxury recalls Immanuel Kant’s view in his Critique of Judgment. One suggestion for a definition of luxury has become famous: It comes from Werner Sombart. In luxury, notions of what a person actually needs and must have to live are deliberately transgressed. Luxury is consciously extravagant, unrestrained and irrational, and, as such, very definitely always the opposite of simple, economical, objective, efficient and modest. The relationship between the concepts of luxury and comfort is the theme of Horst Muhlmann’s eponymous doctoral dissertation in linguistics of 1975. The interim result seems to be: Luxury is the product of an interpretation of something technically not necessary, as something unnecessary for human beings, which then, in a given situation, is interpreted further as good or bad.