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Stuttgart Incentives

Programming beauty

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United Secondary and Vocational School Vocational School Polytechnical School Polytechnic Royal College of Technology College of Technology Universität Stuttgart

Numerical aesthetics and semiotics in Stuttgart

Bense's many years of renown were due not least of all to his lively, anti-academic style of lecturing, which he underlined with a great deal of gesticulation before audiences consisting of a colourful mixture of intellectuals and lay philosophers from all walks of life. "But first and foremost it was probably the intellectual systematicity behind the obsessive gestures during Bense's performance that fascinated many people, the lack of respect for established conceptual clichés and lofty words."

Like Vischer 100 years previously, Bense's lectures brought a large audience to Stuttgart College of Technology. His exemplary academic research into semiotics and numerical aesthetics was in one sense an attempt to unite the natural sciences and the humanities. The semiotics of Charles Sanders Pierce, which Max Bense, Elisabeth Walther-Bense and their many students had expanded upon, were the real research focus at the Stuttgart institute from the late 1950s onwards. This led to a large number of international contacts and, importantly, to the foundation of the "Semiosis" journal for aesthetics and semiotics.

Many other of Bense's countless achievements for Universität Stuttgart could be mentioned – the following may serve as an illustration:

  • In 1950 he was one of the main figures to found the General Studies programme, an institution which also allowed engineers to broaden their horizons and to take a peek at other university disciplines.
  • In 1956 he supported efforts for the introduction of the right to award Philosophy doctorates at Stuttgart Technical College, which then allowed the College of Technology to be made into a university in 1967.


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How "Beauty" came to Stuttgart
Friedrich Theodor Vischer ... in Tübingen
... in Stuttgart
... and aesthetics
Käte Hamburger: ... Epic preterite
... Aesthetic truth
Max Bense: ... Programming beauty
  Bense moves to Stuttgart College
  Numerical aesthetics and semiotics
  Beauty is taken into the outside world
  The second Bense affair
... Aesthetics and technology
The legacy of aesthetics
Biography: Friedrich Theodor Vischer
Biography: Käte Hamburger
Biography: Max Bense
Incentive timeline