Art can provide us with a sensory experience that provokes us to reconfigure how we think about our world and ourselves. Theories of art have often sought to find some feature of art that isolates it from the rest of experience. Keith Lehrer argues, in opposition, that art is connected, not isolated, from how we think and feel, represent and react. When art directs our attention to sensory exemplars in aesthetic experience of which we become conscious in a special way, it also shows us our autonomy as we represent ourselves and our world, ourselves in our world, and our world in ourselves. This form of representation, exemplar representation, uses the exemplar as a term of representation and exhibits the nature of the content it represents in terms of itself. It shows us both what our world is like and how we represent the world thereby revealing the nature of intentionality to us. Issues of general interest in philosophy such as knowledge, autonomy, rationality and self-trust enter the book along with more specifically aesthetic issues of formalism, expressionism, representation, artistic creativity and beauty.
The author goes on to demonstrate how the connection between art and broader issues of feminism, globalization, collective wisdom, and death show us the connection between art, life, politics and the self. Drawing from Hume, Reid, Goodman, Danto, Brand, Ismael and Lopes, Lehrer argues here that the artwork is a mentalized physical object engaging us philosophically with the content of exemplar experience. The exemplar representation of experience provoked by art ties art and science, mind and body, self and world, together in a dynamic loop, reconfiguring them all as it reconfigures art itself.