Art and the aesthetic have an intrinsic empowering effect—based on their sensory/imaginative transformations of how the world is experienced. Questions of empowerment are usually tied to ‘political art’, but the oppositional power of political art has been neutralized in the postmodern era. The politics of aesthetic phenomena, nevertheless, is still in play. For the idea of art as, itself, an empowering force must now be won back. This means resisting both a philistine neo-liberal establishment that treats art as a mere commodity, and pseudo ‘activists’ (with Trump-like powers of reason) who dismiss it as the product of dead white European males. The Introduction explores these claims in greater detail, by developing ideas from Walter Benjamin concerning the relation between political correctness and artistic form, and also by using Theodor Adorno’s notions of the ‘non-identical’ and ‘second reflection’. It is argued that, in order for the intrinsically empowering features of different art forms to become accessible, aesthetics must undertake a second reflection that reveals what is experientially unique to the making and appreciation of such forms.