Functionalism vs Aestheticism

What do I have of value? The answer to this is hard to accept: my mind.

And not in the "they-make-take-my-body-but-not-my-mind" way: my value comes not from what my mind may tell my body to do, but how my mind views life. In other words, I bring an aesthetic value to life, despite my repeated wants to have provided something functional.

What is the difference between functionalism and aestheticism?

The former is what makes the world go 'round (literally): the engineers, the architects, the producers of objects and ideas that may be tools for others' production. Imagine the Swiss Army Knife: these functionalists are the knives and corkscrews and spoons and portable scissors. And why literally? Because it is within the confines of the physical sciences that these creators may utilize, like gravity or sound vibrations or electrical signals.

Even the least visual aspects of functionalism may be mythologized by photography and film: the conceptual mathematician can be found in front of their chalkboard, strewn with equations and numbers and signifiers like a maze of the human consciousness. From there, we find the fruits of functionalist works in everything that we touch, whether plastic, wood or metal.

For being called aesthetics, the latter type of producer has rather few visual aids. At best, one could take a picture of an aesthetician in front of a shelf of books; but these books are not produced by the aesthetician, and nor can we see what may be depicted within each one. The aesthetician hides behind closed doors and only leaves with abstractions; this is why there are so few philosophers that one could film with sensory delight. Rather, the aesthetician may be filmed as they become blank in the face, or scratching a brief note in a notebook, with long pauses in between. The romanticism of the aesthetician is limited.

Then what does the aesthetician produce? As said before: what may be abstracted from functional objects. Whereas the aerospace engineer revels in gravitational pulls, the aesthetician may see gravity in its most metaphorical: the tethers of mankind. For a graphic, should one just place a leash on a human and encapsulate that within an aesthetician's thought bubble? It may be more complex - the aesthetician does not perceive the literalness of the leash, but rather what a rope may mean in psychological terms. However, the functionalist will only understand the aesthetician's work through these literalisms; the chasm grows with each attempted metaphorical bridge.

What does the aesthetician produce? Imagine again the Swiss Army Knife, decked out with those knives and spoons and forks. But how do these knives look? What does the handle feel like? Imagine the mediocrity of this Swiss device if the functionalists had their whole way with it: it would precisely do what it's supposed to do, but without touches of ergonomics and flare. It would feel culturally barren. I don't know if I would even call it Swiss. The tool would exist, but it would do little to inspire others with magnificence. The aesthetician determines a sense of life for functionalist products, which further inspire functionalist innovation.

To extend upon this: the functionalist seeks existence, and the aestheticist - eminence. This dualism oversimplifies the real experience of the two terms - a foggy mix of both within each person. But one must prioritize over the other, a decision derived from their own sense of life: to be useful, or to be enacting. It is not surprising that the former is paid so well. But it is not surprising that the latter has so much power. My own fears come from a lower-middle-class culture to be useful. But as I get to know myself, I would rather enact a future rather than be practical for it.

P.S. These definitions are produced by myself. I am not referencing the Aesthetic Movement of the 19th century. It should be better interpreted as an opposite but complementing force to functionalism.