aesthetics
The study of the feelings, concepts, and judgements arising from our appreciation of the arts or of the wider class of objects considered moving, or beautiful, or sublime. Aesthetic theory concerns itself with questions such as: what is a work of art? What makes a work of art successful? Can art be a vehicle of truth? Does art work by expressing the feelings of the artist, communicating feeling, arousing feeling, purging or symbolizing feeling? What is the difference between understanding a work of art, and failing to do so? How is it that we take aesthetic pleasure in surprising things: tragedies, or terrifying natural scenes? Why can things of very different categories equally seem beautiful? Does the perception of beauty have connections with moral virtue, and with seeing something universal or essential, and is the importance of aesthetic education and practice associated with this? What is the role of the imagination in the production or appreciation of art? Are aesthetic judgements capable of improvement and training, and thence of some kind of objectivity ?
The classical origin of many of these questions is found in Plato . The dialogues Ion, Symposium, and Phaedrus are centrally concerned with the place of beauty in the order of things, and the preoccupation surfaces in many other places, including in the context of Plato's famous dismissal of artists from the ideal Republic (see mimesis ). Aristotle's discussion in the Poetics centres on the nature of tragedy, and engendered the idea of catharsis, or the purging of emotion as the deep effect of witnessing tragic drama. In the modern period aesthetics emerged as a separate topic in the work of Baumgarten, Lessing, Hutcheson, Hume, and especially Kant . In the Critique of Judgement Kant addresses the question of how judgements of beauty are possible, when they are incapable of proof or of any reduction to rule, and are so intimately concerned to express the pleasure of the subject. His solution lies in the consciousness of the harmony of understanding and imagination, and, since this harmony can be felt by any rational being, judgements of taste can be demanded of others. They thereby achieve their necessary objectivity.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • Aesthetics — or esthetics (also spelled æsthetics) is commonly known as the study of sensory or sensori emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. [Zangwill, Nick. [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aesthetic judgment/ Aesthetic… …   Wikipedia

  • Aesthetics —     Æsthetics     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Æsthetics     Æsthetics may be defined as a systematic training to right thinking and right feeling in matters of art, and is made a part of philosophy by A.G. Baumgarten. Its domain, according to Wolff …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • AEsthetics — [AE]s*thet ics, Esthetics Es*thet ics (?; 277), n. [Gr. ? perceptive, esp. by feeling, fr. ? to perceive, feel: cf. G. [ a]sthetik, F. esth[ e]tique.] The theory or philosophy of taste; the science of the beautiful in nature and art; esp. that… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • aesthetics — (n.) 1803, from AESTHETIC (Cf. aesthetic) (also see ICS (Cf. ics)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • aesthetics — (US also esthetics) ► PLURAL NOUN (usu. treated as sing. ) 1) a set of principles concerned with the nature of beauty, especially in art. 2) the branch of philosophy which deals with questions of beauty and artistic taste …   English terms dictionary

  • aesthetics — [es thet′iks] n. [< AESTHETIC] the study or theory of beauty and of the psychological responses to it; specif., the branch of philosophy dealing with art, its creative sources, its forms, and its effects …   English World dictionary

  • aesthetics — /es thet iks/ or, esp. Brit., /ees /, n. (used with a sing. v.) 1. the branch of philosophy dealing with such notions as the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comic, etc., as applicable to the fine arts, with a view to establishing the… …   Universalium

  • aesthetics — (‘ilm al jamal, lit. ‘science of beauty’)    Neoplatonism had a lasting influence on Islamic aesthetics during the classical period. Al Kindi argued that beauty must be linked with perfection, and since God is the most perfect being, He must also …   Islamic philosophy dictionary

  • aesthetics —    This word (from the Greek aisthētikos, meaning perceptive ) is used in art to refer to principles for appreciating beauty; similarly in philosophy, aesthetics is the study of the nature of beauty. In theology, aesthetics is concerned with… …   Glossary of theological terms

  • aesthetics — [[t]iːsθe̱tɪks, AM es [/t]] N UNCOUNT Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy concerned with the study of the idea of beauty. (in AM, also use esthetics) …   English dictionary

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