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{{short description|Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste}}{{redirect|Aesthetic|the 19th century art movement|Aestheticism|the cosmetology term|Cosmetology#Esthetician|the music genre|Vaporwave}}{{Use dmy dates|date=July 2012}}{{EngvarC|date=September 2016}}{{Philosophy sidebar |Branches}}Aesthetics, or esthetics ({{IPAc-en|ɛ|s|ˈ|θ|ɛ|t|ɪ|k|s|,_|i:|s|-|,_|æ|s|-}}) is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste and with the creation or appreciation of beauty.MERRIAM-WEBSTER, Aesthetics, In its more technical epistemological perspective, it is defined as the study of subjective and sensori-emotional values, or sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste.Zangwill, Nick. "Aesthetic Judgment", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 02-28-2003/10-22-2007. Retrieved 07-24-2008. Aesthetics studies how artists imagine, create and perform works of art; how people use, enjoy, and criticize art; and what happens in their minds when they look at paintings, listen to music, or read poetry, and understand what they see and hear. It also studies how they feel about art — why they like some works and not others, and how art can affect their moods, beliefs, and attitude toward life.Thomas Munro, "Aesthetics", The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, ed. A. Richard Harmet, et. al., (Chicago: Merchandise Mart Plaza, 1986), p. 80 The phrase was coined in English in the 18th century.More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature".Kelly (1998) p. ixJOURNAL, Review of Encyclopedia of Aesthetics 4 vol. Michael Kelly, Tom, Riedel, Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 18, 2, Fall 1999, 48, 10.1086/adx.18.2.27949030, In modern English, the term aesthetic can also refer to a set of principles underlying the works of a particular art movement or theory: one speaks, for example, of the Cubist aesthetic.WEB,weblink aesthetic – Definition of aesthetic in English by Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford Dictionaries - English, 22 October 2017,


The word aesthetic is derived from the Greek (aisthetikos, meaning "esthetic, sensitive, sentient, pertaining to sense perception"), which in turn was derived from αἰσθάνομαι (aisthanomai, meaning "I perceive, feel, sense" and related to (aisthēsis, "sensation").{{OEtymD |aesthetic}} Aesthetics in this central sense has been said to start with the series of articles on “The Pleasures of the Imagination” which the journalist Joseph Addison wrote in the early issues of the magazine The Spectator in 1712.WEB,weblink Aesthetics, Slater, Barry Hartley, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The term "aesthetics" was appropriated and coined with new meaning by the German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten in his dissertation Meditationes philosophicae de nonnullis ad poema pertinentibus ("Philosophical considerations of some matters pertaining the poem") in 1735;BOOK, Guyer, Paul, Values of Beauty: Historical Essays in Aesthetics, 2005, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-60669-1,weblink Baumgarten chose "aesthetics" because he wished to emphasize the experience of art as a means of knowing. Aesthetics, a not very tidy intellectual discipline, is a heterogeneous collection of problems that concern the arts primarily but also relate to nature.{{Citation | first = George | last = T. Dickie | title = aesthetics | work = Encyclopedia Americana | volume = 1 | editor1-first = Barbara | editor1-last = Letta Cole | display-editors= et al. | place = Danbury | publisher = Grolier | year = 1993 | page = 234}}. even though his later definition in the fragment Aesthetica (1750) is more often referred to as the first definition of modern aesthetics.{{Citation | first = N | last = Wilson | url =weblink | title = Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece | page = 20 | publisher = Routledge | date = 31 Oct 2013 | isbn = 978-1-136-78800-0 | accessdate = 2015-05-12}}.

Aesthetics and the philosophy of art

{{quotation|Aesthetics is for the artist as Ornithology is for the birds.|Barnett NewmanBarnett Newman Foundation, Chronology, 1952 Retrieved 30 August 2010The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art, By Arthur Coleman Danto, p.1, Published by Open Court Publishing, 2003, {{ISBN|0-8126-9540-2|978-0-8126-9540-3}}}}Some separate aesthetics and philosophy of art, claiming that the former is the study of beauty while the latter is the study of works of art. However, most commonly Aesthetics encompasses both questions around beauty as well as questions about art. It examines topics such as aesthetic objects,  aesthetic experience, and aesthetic judgments.{{Citation|last=Shelley|first=James|title=The Concept of the Aesthetic|date=2017|url=|work=The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy|editor-last=Zalta|editor-first=Edward N.|edition=Winter 2017|publisher=Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University|access-date=2018-12-09}} For some, aesthetics is considered a synonym for the philosophy of art since Hegel, while others insist that there is a significant distinction between these closely related fields. In practice, aesthetic judgement refers to the sensory contemplation or appreciation of an object (not necessarily an art object), while artistic judgement refers to the recognition, appreciation or criticism of art or an art work.Philosophical aesthetics not only has to speak about art and to produce judgments about art works, but also has to give a definition of what art is. Art is an autonomous entity for philosophy, because art deals with the senses (i.e. the etymology of aesthetics) and art is as such free of any moral or political purpose. Hence, there are two different conceptions of art in aesthetics: art as knowledge or art as action, but aesthetics is neither epistemology nor ethics.Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert, Introduction to Aesthetics (Einführung in die Ästhetik), Munich, Wilhelm Fink, 1995, p. 7.Aestheticians compare historical developments with theoretical approaches to the arts of many periods. They study the varieties of art in relation to their physical, social, and culture environments. Aestheticians also use psychology to understand how people see, hear, imagine, think, learn, and act in relation to the materials and problems of art. Aesthetic psychology studies the creative process and the aesthetic experience.Thomas Munro, "aesthetics", The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, ed. A. Richard Harmet, et. al., (Chicago: Merchandise Mart Plaza, 1986), p. 81.

Aesthetic judgment, universals and ethics

Aesthetic judgment

Aesthetics examines our affective domain response to an object or phenomenon. Judgments of aesthetic value rely on our ability to discriminate at a sensory level. However, aesthetic judgments usually go beyond sensory discrimination.For David Hume, delicacy of taste is not merely "the ability to detect all the ingredients in a composition", but also our sensitivity "to pains as well as pleasures, which escape the rest of mankind."David Hume, Essays Moral, Political, Literary, Indianapolis: Literary Fund, 1987. Thus, the sensory discrimination is linked to capacity for pleasure.For Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgment, 1790), "enjoyment" is the result when pleasure arises from sensation, but judging something to be "beautiful" has a third requirement: sensation must give rise to pleasure by engaging our capacities of reflective contemplation. Judgments of beauty are sensory, emotional and intellectual all at once. Kant (1790) observed of a man "If he says that canary wine is agreeable he is quite content if someone else corrects his terms and reminds him to say instead: It is agreeable to me," because "Everyone has his own (sense of) taste". The case of "beauty" is different from mere "agreeableness" because, "If he proclaims something to be beautiful, then he requires the same liking from others; he then judges not just for himself but for everyone, and speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things."Viewer interpretations of beauty may on occasion be observed to possess two concepts of value: aesthetics and taste. Aesthetics is the philosophical notion of beauty. Taste is a result of an education process and awareness of elite cultural values learned through exposure to mass culture. Bourdieu examined how the elite in society define the aesthetic values like taste and how varying levels of exposure to these values can result in variations by class, cultural background, and education.Bourdieu, Pierre (1984). Distinction. Routledge. {{ISBN|0-674-21277-0}} According to Kant, beauty is subjective and universal; thus certain things are beautiful to everyone.WEB,weblink Aesthetic Judgment, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, Zangwill, Nick, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 26 August 2014, Zalta, Edward N., In the opinion of Władysław Tatarkiewicz, there are six conditions for the presentation of art: beauty, form, representation, reproduction of reality, artistic expression and innovation. However, one may not be able to pin down these qualities in a work of art.BOOK, Władysław, Tatarkiewicz, A History of Six Ideas: an essay in aesthetics, 1980,weblink PWN/Polish Scientific Publishers,

Factors involved in aesthetic judgment

File:Double-alaskan-rainbow.jpg|thumb|RainbowRainbowJudgments of aesthetical values seem often to involve many other kinds of issues as well. Responses such as disgust show that sensory detection is linked in instinctual ways to facial expressions, and even behaviours like the gag reflex. Yet disgust can often be a learned or cultural issue too; as Darwin pointed out, seeing a stripe of soup in a man's beard is disgusting even though neither soup nor beards are themselves disgusting. Aesthetic judgments may be linked to emotions or, like emotions, partially embodied in our physical reactions. For example, the awe inspired by a sublime landscape might physically manifest with an increased heart-rate or pupil dilation; physiological reaction may express or even cause the initial awe. As seen, emotions are conformed to 'cultural' reactions, therefore aesthetics is always characterized by 'regional responses', as Francis Grose was the first to affirm in his ‘Rules for Drawing Caricaturas: With an Essay on Comic Painting’ (1788), published in W. Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, Bagster, London s.d. (1791? [1753]), pp. 1–24. Francis Grose can therefore be claimed to be the first critical 'aesthetic regionalist' in proclaiming the anti-universality of aesthetics in contrast to the perilous and always resurgent dictatorship of beauty.BOOK, Yvonne, Bezrucka, The Invention of Northern Aesthetics in 18th-Century English Literature, 2017,weblink 'Aesthetic Regionalism' can thus be seen as a political statement and stance which vies against any universal notion of beauty to safeguard the counter-tradition of aesthetics related to what has usually been considered and dubbed un-beautiful just because one's culture does not contemplate it, e.g. E. Burke's sublime, what is usually defined as 'primitive' art, or un-harmonious, non-cathartic art, camp art, which 'beauty' posits and creates, dichotomously, as its opposite, without even the need of formal statements, but which will be 'perceived' as ugly. BOOK, Yvonne, Bezrucka, "The Well Beloved: Thomas Hardy's Manifesto of 'Regional Aesthetics'", 2008,weblink
Likewise, aesthetic judgments may be culturally conditioned to some extent. Victorians in Britain often saw African sculpture as ugly, but just a few decades later, Edwardian audiences saw the same sculptures as being beautiful. Evaluations of beauty may well be linked to desirability, perhaps even to sexual desirability. Thus, judgments of aesthetic value can become linked to judgments of economic, political, or moral value.Holm, Ivar (2006). Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial design: How attitudes, orientations, and underlying assumptions shape the built environment. Oslo School of Architecture and Design. {{ISBN|82-547-0174-1}}. In a current context, one might judge a Lamborghini to be beautiful partly because it is desirable as a status symbol, or we might judge it to be repulsive partly because it signifies for us over-consumption and offends our political or moral values.BOOK, Korsmeyer, Carolyn, Aesthetics: The Big Questions, 1998, Wiley-Blackwell, 978-0-631-20594-4, Aesthetic judgments can often be very fine-grained and internally contradictory. Likewise aesthetic judgments seem often to be at least partly intellectual and interpretative. It is what a thing means or symbolizes for us that is often what we are judging. Modern aestheticians have asserted that will and desire were almost dormant in aesthetic experience, yet preference and choice have seemed important aesthetics to some 20th-century thinkers. The point is already made by Hume, but see Mary Mothersill, "Beauty and the Critic's Judgment", in The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics, 2004. Thus aesthetic judgments might be seen to be based on the senses, emotions, intellectual opinions, will, desires, culture, preferences, values, subconscious behaviour, conscious decision, training, instinct, sociological institutions, or some complex combination of these, depending on exactly which theory one employs.A third major topic in the study of aesthetic judgments is how they are unified across art forms. For instance, the source of a painting's beauty has a different character to that of beautiful music, suggesting their aesthetics differ in kind.Consider Clement Greenberg's arguments in "On Modernist Painting" (1961), reprinted in Aesthetics: A Reader in Philosophy of Arts. The distinct inability of language to express aesthetic judgment and the role of Social construction further cloud this issue.

Aesthetic universals

The philosopher Denis Dutton identified six universal signatures in human aesthetics:Denis Dutton's Aesthetic Universals summarized by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate
  1. Expertise or virtuosity. Humans cultivate, recognize, and admire technical artistic skills.
  2. Nonutilitarian pleasure. People enjoy art for art's sake, and do not demand that it keep them warm or put food on the table.
  3. Style. Artistic objects and performances satisfy rules of composition that place them in a recognizable style.
  4. Criticism. People make a point of judging, appreciating, and interpreting works of art.
  5. Imitation. With a few important exceptions like abstract painting, works of art simulate experiences of the world.
  6. Special focus. Art is set aside from ordinary life and made a dramatic focus of experience.
Artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn have indicated that there are too many exceptions to Dutton's categories. For example, Hirschhorn's installations deliberately eschew technical virtuosity. People can appreciate a Renaissance Madonna for aesthetic reasons, but such objects often had (and sometimes still have) specific devotional functions. "Rules of composition" that might be read into Duchamp's Fountain or John Cage's 4′33″ do not locate the works in a recognizable style (or certainly not a style recognizable at the time of the works' realization). Moreover, some of Dutton's categories seem too broad: a physicist might entertain hypothetical worlds in his/her imagination in the course of formulating a theory. Another problem is that Dutton's categories seek to universalize traditional European notions of aesthetics and art forgetting that, as André Malraux and others have pointed out, there have been large numbers of cultures in which such ideas (including the idea "art" itself) were non-existent.Derek Allan, Art and the Human Adventure: André Malraux's Theory of Art. (Amsterdam: Rodopi. 2009)

Aesthetic ethics

Aesthetic ethics refers to the idea that human conduct and behaviour ought to be governed by that which is beautiful and attractive. John DeweyDewey, John. (1932)'Ethics', with James Tufts. In: The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882–1953 Edited Jo-Ann Boydston: Carbonsdale: Southern Illinois University Press. p. 275. has pointed out that the unity of aesthetics and ethics is in fact reflected in our understanding of behaviour being "fair"—the word having a double meaning of attractive and morally acceptable. More recently, James PagePeace Education – Exploring Ethical and Philosophical Foundations infoagepub.comBOOK,weblink Peace Education : Exploring Ethical and Philosophical Foundations, Page, James, S., 2017,, 22 October 2017, 978-1-59311-889-1, has suggested that aesthetic ethics might be taken to form a philosophical rationale for peace education.

New Criticism and "The Intentional Fallacy"

During the first half of the twentieth century, a significant shift to general aesthetic theory took place which attempted to apply aesthetic theory between various forms of art, including the literary arts and the visual arts, to each other. This resulted in the rise of the New Criticism school and debate concerning the intentional fallacy. At issue was the question of whether the aesthetic intentions of the artist in creating the work of art, whatever its specific form, should be associated with the criticism and evaluation of the final product of the work of art, or, if the work of art should be evaluated on its own merits independent of the intentions of the artist.In 1946, William K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley published a classic and controversial New Critical essay entitled "The Intentional Fallacy", in which they argued strongly against the relevance of an author's intention, or "intended meaning" in the analysis of a literary work. For Wimsatt and Beardsley, the words on the page were all that mattered; importation of meanings from outside the text was considered irrelevant, and potentially distracting.In another essay, "The Affective Fallacy," which served as a kind of sister essay to "The Intentional Fallacy" Wimsatt and Beardsley also discounted the reader's personal/emotional reaction to a literary work as a valid means of analyzing a text. This fallacy would later be repudiated by theorists from the reader-response school of literary theory. One of the leading theorists from this school, Stanley Fish, was himself trained by New Critics. Fish criticizes Wimsatt and Beardsley in his essay "Literature in the Reader" (1970).Leitch, Vincent B., et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001.As summarized by Berys Gaut and Livingston in their essay "The Creation of Art": "Structuralist and post-structuralists theorists and critics were sharply critical of many aspects of New Criticism, beginning with the emphasis on aesthetic appreciation and the so-called autonomy of art, but they reiterated the attack on biographical criticisms' assumption that the artist's activities and experience were a privileged critical topic."BOOK, Gaut, Berys, Livingston, Paisley,weblink The Creation of Art, 3, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 978-0-521-81234-4, These authors contend that: "Anti-intentionalists, such as formalists, hold that the intentions involved in the making of art are irrelevant or peripheral to correctly interpreting art. So details of the act of creating a work, though possibly of interest in themselves, have no bearing on the correct interpretation of the work."Gaut and Livingston, p. 6.Gaut and Livingston define the intentionalists as distinct from formalists stating that: "Intentionalists, unlike formalists, hold that reference to intentions is essential in fixing the correct interpretation of works." They quote Richard Wollheim as stating that, "The task of criticism is the reconstruction of the creative process, where the creative process must in turn be thought of as something not stopping short of, but terminating on, the work of art itself."

Derivative forms of aesthetics

A large number of derivative forms of aesthetics have developed as contemporary and transitory forms of inquiry associated with the field of aesthetics which include the post-modern, psychoanalytic, scientific, and mathematical among others.

Post-modern aesthetics and psychoanalysis

File:Duchamp Fountaine.jpg|thumb|left|Example of the Dada aesthetic, Marcel DuchampMarcel DuchampEarly-twentieth-century artists, poets and composers challenged existing notions of beauty, broadening the scope of art and aesthetics. In 1941, Eli Siegel, American philosopher and poet, founded Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy that reality itself is aesthetic, and that "The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites."JOURNAL, Green, Edward, Donald Francis Tovey, Aesthetic Realism and the Need for a Philosophic Musicology, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, 36, 2, 227–248, 2005, 30032170, JOURNAL, Siegel, Eli, Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 14, 2, 282–283, 1955, 425879, Various attempts have been made to define Post-Modern Aesthetics. The challenge to the assumption that beauty was central to art and aesthetics, thought to be original, is actually continuous with older aesthetic theory; Aristotle was the first in the Western tradition to classify "beauty" into types as in his theory of drama, and Kant made a distinction between beauty and the sublime. What was new was a refusal to credit the higher status of certain types, where the taxonomy implied a preference for tragedy and the sublime to comedy and the Rococo.Croce suggested that "expression" is central in the way that beauty was once thought to be central. George Dickie suggested that the sociological institutions of the art world were the glue binding art and sensibility into unities.WEB, The Aesthetic Attitude,weblink King, Alexandra, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Marshall McLuhan suggested that art always functions as a "counter-environment" designed to make visible what is usually invisible about a society.BOOK, Grosswiler, Paul, Transforming McLuhan: Cultural, Critical, and Postmodern Perspectives, 2010, Peter Lang Publishing, 978-1-4331-1067-2, 13,weblink 10 March 2015, Theodor Adorno felt that aesthetics could not proceed without confronting the role of the culture industry in the commodification of art and aesthetic experience. Hal Foster attempted to portray the reaction against beauty and Modernist art in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Arthur Danto has described this reaction as "kalliphobia" (after the Greek word for beauty, κάλλος kallos).'Kalliphobia in Contemporary Art' in Art Journal v. 63 no. 2 (Summer 2004) pp. 24–35 André Malraux explains that the notion of beauty was connected to a particular conception of art that arose with the Renaissance and was still dominant in the eighteenth century (but was supplanted later). The discipline of aesthetics, which originated in the eighteenth century, mistook this transient state of affairs for a revelation of the permanent nature of art.Derek Allan, Art and the Human Adventure, André Malraux's Theory of Art (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009) Brian Massumi suggests to reconsider beauty following the aesthetical thought in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.Massumi, Brian, (ed.), A Shock to Thought. Expression after Deleuze and Guattari. London & NY: Routeledge, 2002. {{ISBN|0-415-23804-8}} Walter Benjamin echoed Malraux in believing aesthetics was a comparatively recent invention, a view proven wrong in the late 1970s, when Abraham Moles and Frieder Nake analyzed links between beauty, information processing, and information theory. Denis Dutton in "The Art Instinct" also proposed that an aesthetic sense was a vital evolutionary factor.Jean-François Lyotard re-invokes the Kantian distinction between taste and the sublime. Sublime painting, unlike kitsch realism, "... will enable us to see only by making it impossible to see; it will please only by causing pain."Lyotard, Jean-Françoise, What is Postmodernism?, in The Postmodern Condition, Minnesota and Manchester, 1984.Lyotard, Jean-Françoise, Scriptures: Diffracted Traces, in Theory, Culture and Society, Volume 21, Number 1, 2004.Sigmund Freud inaugurated aesthetical thinking in Psychoanalysis mainly via the "Uncanny" as aesthetical affect.Freud, Sigmund, "The Uncanny" (1919). Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Work of Sigmund Freud, 17:234–236. London: The Hogarth Press Following Freud and Merleau-Ponty,Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1964), "The Visible and the Invisible". Northwestern University Press. {{ISBN|0-8101-0457-1}} Jacques Lacan theorized aesthetics in terms of sublimation and the Thing.Lacan, Jacques, "The Ethics of Psychoanalysis" (The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book VII), NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992.The relation of Marxist aesthetics to post-modern aesthetics is still a contentious area of debate.

Recent aesthetics

Guy Sircello has pioneered efforts in analytic philosophy to develop a rigorous theory of aesthetics, focusing on the concepts of beauty,Guy Sircello, A New Theory of Beauty. Princeton Essays on the Arts, 1. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975. loveGuy Sircello, Love and Beauty. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989. and sublimity.Guy Sircello, "How Is a Theory of the Sublime Possible?" The Journal of Aesthetics and Art CriticismVol. 51, No. 4 (Autumn, 1993), pp. 541–550 In contrast to romantic theorists Sircello argued for the objectivity of beauty and formulated a theory of love on that basis.British philosopher and theorist of conceptual art aesthetics, Peter Osborne, makes the point that "'post-conceptual art' aesthetic does not concern a particular type of contemporary art so much as the historical-ontological condition for the production of contemporary art in general ...".Peter Osborne, Anywhere Or Not At All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art, Verso Books, London, 2013. pp. 3 & 51 Osborne noted that contemporary art is 'post-conceptual' in a public lecture delivered in 2010.Gary Tedman has put forward a theory of a subjectless aesthetics derived from Karl Marx's concept of alienation, and Louis Althusser's antihumanism, using elements of Freud's group psychology, defining a concept of the 'aesthetic level of practice'.Tedman, G. (2012) Aesthetics & Alienation, Zero BooksGregory Loewen has suggested that the subject is key in the interaction with the aesthetic object. The work of art serves as a vehicle for the projection of the individual's identity into the world of objects, as well as being the irruptive source of much of what is uncanny in modern life. As well, art is used to memorialize individuated biographies in a manner that allows persons to imagine that they are part of something greater than themselves.Gregory Loewen, Aesthetic Subjectivity, 2011 pp. 36–37, 157, 238)

Aesthetics and science

File:Mandel zoom 00 mandelbrot set.jpg|thumb|The Mandelbrot setMandelbrot setThe field of experimental aesthetics was founded by Gustav Theodor Fechner in the 19th century. Experimental aesthetics in these times had been characterized by a subject-based, inductive approach. The analysis of individual experience and behaviour based on experimental methods is a central part of experimental aesthetics. In particular, the perception of works of art,Kobbert, M. (1986), Kunstpsychologie ("Psychology of art"), Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt music, or modern items such as websitesThielsch, M.T. (2008), Ästhetik von Websites. Wahrnehmung von Ästhetik und deren Beziehung zu Inhalt, Usability und Persönlichkeitsmerkmalen. ("The aesthetics of websites. Perception of aesthetics and its relation to content, usability, and personality traits."), MV Wissenschaft, Münster or other IT productsHassenzahl, M. (2008), Aesthetics in interactive products: Correlates and consequences of beauty. In H.N.J. Schifferstein & P. Hekkert (Eds.): Product Experience. (pp. 287–302). Elsevier, Amsterdam is studied. Experimental aesthetics is strongly oriented towards the natural sciences. Modern approaches mostly come from the fields of cognitive psychology or neuroscience (neuroaestheticsMartindale, C. (2007), Recent trends in the psychological study of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts. In Empirical Studies of the Arts, 25(2), p. 121–141.).In the 1970s, Abraham Moles and Frieder Nake were among the first to analyze links between aesthetics, information processing, and information theory.A. Moles: Théorie de l'information et perception esthétique, Paris, Denoël, 1973 (Information Theory and aesthetical perception)F Nake (1974). Ästhetik als Informationsverarbeitung. (Aesthetics as information processing). Grundlagen und Anwendungen der Informatik im Bereich ästhetischer Produktion und Kritik. Springer, 1974, {{ISBN|3-211-81216-4|978-3-211-81216-7}}In the 1990s, Jürgen Schmidhuber described an algorithmic theory of beauty which takes the subjectivity of the observer into account and postulates: among several observations classified as comparable by a given subjective observer, the aesthetically most pleasing one is the one with the shortest description, given the observer's previous knowledge and his particular method for encoding the data.JOURNAL, 1576418, Low-Complexity Art, Jürgen, Schmidhuber, 22 October 1997, Leonardo, 30, 2, 97–103, 10.2307/1576418, WEB,weblink Theory of Beauty – Facial Attractiveness – Low-Complexity Art,, 22 October 2017, This is closely related to the principles of algorithmic information theory and minimum description length. One of his examples: mathematicians enjoy simple proofs with a short description in their formal language. Another very concrete example describes an aesthetically pleasing human face whose proportions can be described by very few bits of information,WEB, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Jürgen, Schmidhuber, Facial beauty and fractal geometry, Cogprint Archive,weblink no,weblink" title="">weblink 30 November 2012, 7 June 1998, J. Schmidhuber. Simple Algorithmic Principles of Discovery, Subjective Beauty, Selective Attention, Curiosity & Creativity. Proc. 10th Intl. Conf. on Discovery Science (DS 2007) p. 26–38, LNAI 4755, Springer, 2007. Also in Proc. 18th Intl. Conf. on Algorithmic Learning Theory (ALT 2007) p. 32, LNAI 4754, Springer, 2007. Joint invited lecture for DS 2007 and ALT 2007, Sendai, Japan, 2007. {{arxiv|0709.0674}} drawing inspiration from less detailed 15th century proportion studies by Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer. Schmidhuber's theory explicitly distinguishes between what's beautiful and what's interesting, stating that interestingness corresponds to the first derivative of subjectively perceived beauty. Here the premise is that any observer continually tries to improve the predictability and compressibility of the observations by discovering regularities such as repetitions and symmetries and fractal self-similarity. Whenever the observer's learning process (which may be a predictive artificial neural network; see also Neuroesthetics) leads to improved data compression such that the observation sequence can be described by fewer bits than before, the temporary interestingness of the data corresponds to the number of saved bits. This compression progress is proportional to the observer's internal reward, also called curiosity reward. A reinforcement learning algorithm is used to maximize future expected reward by learning to execute action sequences that cause additional interesting input data with yet unknown but learnable predictability or regularity. The principles can be implemented on artificial agents which then exhibit a form of artificial curiosity.J. Schmidhuber. Curious model-building control systems. International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, Singapore, vol 2, 1458–1463. IEEE press, 1991J. Schmidhuber. Papers on artificial curiosity since 1990:weblinkJ. Schmidhuber. Developmental robotics, optimal artificial curiosity, creativity, music, and the fine arts. Connection Science, 18(2):173–187, 2006WEB, Schmidhuber's theory of beauty and curiosity in a German TV show,weblink, German, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 3 June 2008, dmy, 2018-01-03,

Truth in beauty and mathematics

Mathematical considerations, such as symmetry and complexity, are used for analysis in theoretical aesthetics. This is different from the aesthetic considerations of applied aesthetics used in the study of mathematical beauty. Aesthetic considerations such as symmetry and simplicity are used in areas of philosophy, such as ethics and theoretical physics and cosmology to define truth, outside of empirical considerations. Beauty and Truth have been argued to be nearly synonymous,Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry, Ian Stewart, 2008 as reflected in the statement "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" in the poem Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats, or by the Hindu motto "Satyam Shivam Sundaram" (Satya (Truth) is Shiva (God), and Shiva is Sundaram (Beautiful)). The fact that judgments of beauty and judgments of truth both are influenced by processing fluency, which is the ease with which information can be processed, has been presented as an explanation for why beauty is sometimes equated with truth.Reber, R, Schwarz, N, Winkielman, P: "Processing fluency and aesthetic pleasure: Is beauty in the perceiver's processing experience?", Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8(4):364–382 Indeed, recent research found that people use beauty as an indication for truth in mathematical pattern tasks.Reber, R, Brun, M, Mitterndorfer, K: "The use of heuristics in intuitive mathematical judgment", Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15(6):1174–1178 However, scientists including the mathematician David OrrellBOOK, Orrell, David, Truth or Beauty: Science and the Quest for Order, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2012, 978-0-300-18661-1, and physicist Marcelo GleiserBOOK, Gleiser, Marcelo, A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe, Free Press, 2010, 978-1-4391-0832-1, have argued that the emphasis on aesthetic criteria such as symmetry is equally capable of leading scientists astray.

Computational approaches

In 1928, the mathematician George David Birkhoff created an aesthetic measure M = O/C as the ratio of order to complexity.BOOK, Akiba, Fuminori, Preface: Natural Computing and Computational Aesthetics, Natural Computing and Beyond, 6, 2013, 117–118, 10.1007/978-4-431-54394-7_10, Proceedings in Information and Communications Technology, 978-4-431-54393-0, Since about 2005, computer scientists have attempted to develop automated methods to infer aesthetic quality of images.CONFERENCE, R., Datta, D., Joshi, J., Li, J., Wang, Studying aesthetics in photographic images using a computational approach, Europ. Conf. on Computer Vision, 2006, Springer,weblink, CONFERENCE, L.-K., Wong, K.-L., Low, Saliency-enhanced image aesthetic classification, Int. Conf. on Image Processing, 2009, IEEE,weblink CONFERENCE, Y., Wu, C., Bauckhage, C., Thurau, The good, the bad, and the ugly: predicting aesthetic image labels, Int. Conf. on Pattern Recognition, 2010, IEEE,weblink BOOK, Faria, J., Bagley, S., Rueger, S., Breckon, T.P., Challenges of Finding Aesthetically Pleasing Images, Proc. International Workshop on Image and Audio Analysis for Multimedia Interactive Services, 2013, IEEE,weblink 19 June 2013, Typically, these approaches follow a machine learning approach, where large numbers of manually rated photographs are used to "teach" a computer about what visual properties are of relevance to aesthetic quality. The Acquine engine, developed at Penn State University, rates natural photographs uploaded by users.WEB,weblink Aesthetic Quality Inference Engine – Instant Impersonal Assessment of Photos, Penn State University, 21 June 2009,weblink" title="">weblink 9 May 2009, no, There have also been relatively successful attempts with regard to chess{{explain|date=October 2018}} and music.Manaris, B., Roos, P., Penousal, M., Krehbiel, D., Pellicoro, L. and Romero, J.; A Corpus-Based Hybrid Approach to Music Analysis and Composition; Proceedings of 22nd Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-07); Vancouver, BC; 839–845 2007. A relation between Max Bense's mathematical formulation of aesthetics in terms of "redundancy" and "complexity" and theories of musical anticipation was offered using the notion of Information Rate.Dubnov, S.; Musical Information Dynamics as Models of Auditory Anticipation; in Machine Audition: Principles, Algorithms and Systems, Ed. W. Weng, IGI Global publication, 2010.

Evolutionary aesthetics

Evolutionary aesthetics refers to evolutionary psychology theories in which the basic aesthetic preferences of Homo sapiens are argued to have evolved in order to enhance survival and reproductive success.BOOK, Shimura, Arthur P., Palmer, Stephen E., Aesthetic Science: Connecting Minds, Brains, and Experience, 2012, Oxford University Press, 279, One example being that humans are argued to find beautiful and prefer landscapes which were good habitats in the ancestral environment. Another example is that body symmetry and proportion are important aspects of physical attractiveness which may be due to this indicating good health during body growth. Evolutionary explanations for aesthetical preferences are important parts of evolutionary musicology, Darwinian literary studies, and the study of the evolution of emotion.

Applied aesthetics

As well as being applied to art, aesthetics can also be applied to cultural objects, such as crosses or tools. For example, aesthetic coupling between art-objects and medical topics was made by speakers working for the US Information AgencyJOURNAL, Giannini AJ, Tangential symbols: using visual symbolization to teach pharmacological principles of drug addiction to international audiences, Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 33, 12, 1139–1146, December 1993, 7510314, 10.1002/j.1552-4604.1993.tb03913.x, 1991JClP...31..928S, Art slides were linked to slides of pharmacological data, which improved attention and retention by simultaneous activation of intuitive right brain with rational left. It can also be used in topics as diverse as mathematics, gastronomy, fashion and website design.Moshagen, M. & Thielsch, M.T. (2010). Facets of visual aesthetics. In: International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 68 (10), 689–709.BOOK,weblink Visual Aesthetics,, 31 July 2012, Lavie, T. & Tractinsky, N. (2004). Assessing dimensions of perceived visual aesthetics of web sites. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 60, 269–298.


The philosophy of aesthetics as a practice has been criticized by some sociologists and writers of art and society. Raymond Williams, for example, argues that there is no unique and or individual aesthetic object which can be extrapolated from the art world, but rather that there is a continuum of cultural forms and experience of which ordinary speech and experiences may signal as art. By "art" we may frame several artistic "works" or "creations" as so though this reference remains within the institution or special event which creates it and this leaves some works or other possible "art" outside of the frame work, or other interpretations such as other phenomenon which may not be considered as "art".{{citation needed|date=August 2018}}Pierre Bourdieu disagrees with Kant's idea of the "aesthetic". He argues that Kant's "aesthetic" merely represents an experience that is the product of an elevated class habitus and scholarly leisure as opposed to other possible and equally valid "aesthetic" experiences which lay outside Kant's narrow definition.{{citation needed|date=August 2018}}Timothy Laurie argues that theories of musical aesthetics "framed entirely in terms of appreciation, contemplation or reflection risk idealizing an implausibly unmotivated listener defined solely through musical objects, rather than seeing them as a person for whom complex intentions and motivations produce variable attractions to cultural objects and practices".NEWS, Music Genre As Method, Timothy, Laurie, Cultural Studies Review, 2014,weblink 20 (2), pp. 283–292.

See also



Further reading

  • Mario Perniola, 20th Century Aesthetics. Towards A Theory of Feeling, translated by Massimo Verdicchio, London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2013, {{ISBN|978-1-4411-1850-9}}.
  • BOOK, Creativity and Taoism, A Study of Chinese Philosophy, Art, and Poetry, Chung-yuan, Chang, 1963–1970, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 978-0-06-131968-6,
  • Handbook of Phenomenological Aesthetics. Edited by Hans Rainer Sepp and Lester Embree. (Series: Contributions To Phenomenology, Vol. 59) Springer, Dordrecht / Heidelberg / London / New York 2010. {{ISBN|978-90-481-2470-1}}
  • Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
  • Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature, New York, NY, New American Library, 1971
  • weblink" title="">Derek Allan, Art and the Human Adventure, Andre Malraux's Theory of Art, Rodopi, 2009
  • Derek Allan. weblink" title="">Art and Time, Cambridge Scholars, 2013.
  • Augros, Robert M., Stanciu, George N., The New Story of Science: mind and the universe, Lake Bluff, Ill.: Regnery Gateway, 1984. {{ISBN|0-89526-833-7}} (has significant material on Art, Science and their philosophies)
  • John Bender and Gene Blocker Contemporary Philosophy of Art: Readings in Analytic Aesthetics 1993.
  • René Bergeron. L'Art et sa spiritualité. Québec, QC.: Éditions du Pelican, 1961.
  • Christine Buci-Glucksmann (2003), Esthétique de l'éphémère, Galilée. (French)
  • Noël Carroll (2000), Theories of Art Today, University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Mario Costa (1999) (in Italian), L'estetica dei media. Avanguardie e tecnologia, Milan: Castelvecchi, {{ISBN|88-8210-165-7}}.
  • Benedetto Croce (1922), ''Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic.
  • E.S. Dallas (1866), The Gay Science, 2 volumes, on the aesthetics of poetry.
  • Danto, Arthur (2003), The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art, Open Court.
  • Stephen Davies (1991), Definitions of Art.
  • Terry Eagleton (1990), The Ideology of the Aesthetic. Blackwell. {{ISBN|0-631-16302-6}}
  • Susan L. Feagin and Patrick Maynard (1997), Aesthetics. Oxford Readers.
  • Penny Florence and Nicola Foster (eds.) (2000), Differential Aesthetics. London: Ashgate. {{ISBN|0-7546-1493-X}}
  • Berys Gaut and Dominic McIver Lopes (eds.), Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. 3rd edition. London and New York: Routledge, 2013.
  • Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert (1995), Einführung in die Ästhetik, Munich, W. Fink.
  • David Goldblatt and Lee B. Brown, ed. (2010), Aesthetics: A Reader in the Philosophy of the Arts. 3rd edition. Pearson Publishing.
  • Theodore Gracyk (2011), The Philosophy of Art: An Introduction. Polity Press.
  • Greenberg, Clement (1960), "Modernist Painting", The Collected Essays and Criticism 1957–1969, The University of Chicago Press, 1993, 85–92.
  • Evelyn Hatcher (ed.), Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art. 1999
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1975), Aesthetics. Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T.M. Knox, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Hans Hofmann and Sara T Weeks; Bartlett H Hayes; Addison Gallery of American Art; Search for the real, and other essays (Cambridge, Massachusetts, M.I.T. Press, 1967) {{OCLC|1125858}}
  • Michael Ann Holly and Keith Moxey (eds.), Art History and Visual Studies. Yale University Press, 2002. {{ISBN|0-300-09789-1}}
  • Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher (eds.), Women Artists at the Millennium. Massachusetts: October Books/MIT Press, 2006. {{ISBN|0-262-01226-X}}
  • Kant, Immanuel (1790), Critique of Judgement, Translated by Werner S. Pluhar, Hackett Publishing Co., 1987.
  • Kelly, Michael (Editor in Chief) (1998) Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press. 4 vol. pp. xvii–521, pp. 555, pp. 536, pp. 572; 2224 total pages; 100 b/w photos; {{ISBN|978-0-19-511307-5}}. Covers philosophical, historical, sociological, and biographical aspects of Art and Aesthetics worldwide.
  • Alexander J. Kent, "Aesthetics: A Lost Cause in Cartographic Theory?" The Cartographic Journal, 42(2) 182–188, 2005.
  • Søren Kierkegaard (1843), Either/Or, translated by Alastair Hannay, London, Penguin, 1992
  • Peter Kivy (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics. 2004
  • Carolyn Korsmeyer (ed.), Aesthetics: The Big Questions. 1998
  • Lyotard, Jean-François (1979), The Postmodern Condition, Manchester University Press, 1984.
  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1969), The Visible and the Invisible, Northwestern University Press.
  • David Novitz (1992), The Boundaries of Art.
  • Mario Perniola, The Art and Its Shadow, foreword by Hugh J. Silverman, translated by Massimo Verdicchio, London-NewYork, Continuum, 2004.
  • Griselda Pollock, "Does Art Think?" In: Dana Arnold and Margaret Iverson (eds.) Art and Thought. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2003. 129–174. {{ISBN|0-631-22715-6}}.
  • Griselda Pollock, Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive. Routledge, 2007. {{ISBN|0-415-41374-5}}.
  • Griselda Pollock, Generations and Geographies in the Visual Arts. Routledge, 1996. {{ISBN|0-415-14128-1}}.
  • George Santayana (1896), The Sense of Beauty. Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory. New York, Modern Library, 1955.
  • Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just. Princeton, 2001. {{ISBN|978-0-691-08959-1}}
  • Friedrich Schiller, (1795), On the Aesthetic Education of Man. Dover Publications, 2004.
  • Alan Singer and Allen Dunn (eds.), Literary Aesthetics: A Reader. Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2000. {{ISBN|978-0-631-20869-3}}
  • Jadranka Skorin-Kapov, The Intertwining of Aesthetics and Ethics: Exceeding of Expectations, Ecstasy, Sublimity. Lexington Books, 2016. {{ISBN|978-1-4985-2456-8}}
  • WÅ‚adysÅ‚aw Tatarkiewicz, A History of Six Ideas: an Essay in Aesthetics, The Hague, 1980. {{ISBN|978-90-247-2233-4}}
  • WÅ‚adysÅ‚aw Tatarkiewicz, History of Aesthetics, 3 vols. (1–2, 1970; 3, 1974), The Hague, Mouton.
  • Markand Thakar Looking for the 'Harp' Quartet: An Investigation into Musical Beauty. University of Rochester Press, 2011.
  • Leo Tolstoy, What Is Art?, Penguin Classics, 1995.
  • The London Philosophy Study Guide offers many suggestions on what to read, depending on the student's familiarity with the subject: Aesthetics
  • John M. Valentine, Beginning Aesthetics: An Introduction To The Philosophy of Art. McGraw-Hill, 2006. {{ISBN|978-0-07-353754-2}}
  • von Vacano, Diego, "The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory," Lanham MD: Lexington: 2007.
  • Thomas Wartenberg, The Nature of Art. 2006.
  • John Whitehead, Grasping for the Wind. 2001.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures on aesthetics, psychology and religious belief, Oxford, Blackwell, 1966.
  • Richard Wollheim, Art and its objects, 2nd edn, 1980, Cambridge University Press, {{ISBN|0-521-29706-0}}
  • JOURNAL, Wallace Dace, The Concept of "Rasa" in Sanskrit Dramatic Theory, Educational Theatre Journal, 15, 3, 249–254, 1963, 3204783, 10.2307/3204783, harv,
  • BOOK, René Daumal, Rasa, or, Knowledge of the self: essays on Indian aesthetics and selected Sanskrit studies,weblink 1982, 978-0-8112-0824-6,
  • JOURNAL, Natalia Lidova, Oxford University Press, 2014, 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0071, Natyashastra, harv,
  • BOOK, Natalia Lidova, Drama and Ritual of Early Hinduism,weblink 1994, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1234-5,
  • BOOK, harv, Ananda Lal, The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre,weblink 2004, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-564446-3,
  • BOOK, harv, Tarla Mehta, Sanskrit Play Production in Ancient India,weblink 1995, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1057-0,
  • BOOK, harv, Lewis, Rowell, Music and Musical Thought in Early India,weblink 2015, University of Chicago Press, 978-0-226-73034-9,
  • BOOK, harv, Emmie Te Nijenhuis, Indian Music: History and Structure,weblink 1974, BRILL Academic, 978-90-04-03978-0,
  • BOOK, Farley P. Richmond, Darius L. Swann, Phillip B. Zarrilli, Indian Theatre: Traditions of Performance,weblink 1993, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0981-9,
  • BOOK, Kapila Vatsyayan, Bharata, the Nāṭyaśāstra,weblink 2001, Sahitya Akademi, 978-81-260-1220-6,
  • BOOK, Kapila Vatsyayan, Indian classical dance, 1974, Sangeet Natak Akademi, 2238067,
  • BOOK, Kapila Vatsyayan, Aesthetic theories and forms in Indian tradition, 2008, Munshiram Manoharlal, 286469807, 978-81-87586-35-7,

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