Jauss's work in the late seventies, gathered in his ´Ästhetische Erfahrung und literarische Hermeneutik in 1982 (the first part was issued in 1977 and translated into English as Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics in 1982), moved toward a more hermeneutical interest in the aesthetic experience itself. Jauss distinguishes three basic experiences: a productive aesthetic praxis (poiesis), a receptive praxis (aisthesis), and a communicative praxis (katharsis), and he claims that a detailed study of these three elements can help literary history steer a course between an exclusively aesthetic and an exclusively sociological perspective. Central in this new phase of Jauss's thinking is the third, communicative aesthetic praxis, which is defined as "the enjoyment of the affects as stirred by speech or poetry which can bring about both a change in belief and the liberation of his mind in the listener or the spectator" Important here is both the active part of the recipient of the aesthetic object and the two opposites this definition avoids: the unmediated losing oneself in the object and the sentimental self-indulgence by the subject in itself. The aesthetic experience can have three functions in society: it can create norms, simply pass on existing norms, or refuse to conform to the existing norms. Both bourgeois and (neo-)Marxist literary theories have failed to see the continuum between a progressive change of horizons and the adaptation to existing norms. Whereas Jauss seems to have moved closer to Iser's insistence on the role of the individual reader, quite a number of his younger colleagues in Germany have concentrated on the sociological and empirical considerations of his early essays. On the basis of a "constructive functionalism" not unrelated to Habermas's communicative rationalism and to Imre Lakatos's critical rationalism, Norbert Groeben and Siegfried J. Schmidt have developed a theory of literature that opposes to the hermeneutical schools an empirical and functional view of literature.
"Is not all life the struggle of experience, naked, unarmed, timid but immortal, against generalised thought?" (W.B.Yeats)