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WILLIAM FLEMING - 1890 - Table of contents

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H- I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W  

Diccionario filosófico
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden


Vocabulary of Philosophy, Psychological, Ethical, Metaphysical
William Fleming

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt


A Short History of Philosophy





ÆSTHETICS (αἴσθησις,) feeling as dependent on physical sensibility, perception by the senses,—applied by Plato (Phœdo, CXI.) to vision of an intellectual order, αἴσθησις τῶν θεῶν. (1) Commonly, the science of the beautiful, or philosophy of the fine arts. (2) In the philosophy of Kant it is kept to its primary meaning, as concerned with knowledge obtained through the sensory.


Æsthetics is the science of the beautiful or the philosophy of the fine arts. Philosophy deals with the principles of all experience and activity; and, as concerned with the experience of the beautiful and with its representation or creation in works of arts, it is called Æsthetics. Its sphere is, in one sense, a subdivision of the province of Psychology, which deals with all forms of experience. And, indeed, æsthetical investigations form no small part of many psychological treatises, e.g., the works of Stewart, Reid, and Hamilton.

 Properly, however, the point of view of æsthetics is different from that of psychology. The latter regards æsthetic experience as one among other forms of human experience, to be classified accordingly. Æsthetics, on the other hand, seeks for a philosophy of this particular form of experience, seeks, on the one hand, to account for its subjective nature as experience, by tracing the principles that underlie it; and, on the other, to answer the question whether there is an objective correlate to the experiences,—whether there is or is not an absolute beauty. It is only recently however, and especially in Germany, that the province of Æsthetics has been clearly defined. Baumgarten was the first definitely to limit its sphere.

Here, as elsewhere, it is to Aristotle that we owe the elements of subsequent teaching. He laid the foundation of Æsthetics in his Rhetoric and Poetics. Plato had not distinguished the Æsthetical from the Ethical, but had found the two in his corruption of καλοκάγαθία. He had also, in his Republic, cast discredit upon the work of the artist, which he regarded as mere imitation. He had, however, maintained the existence of an absolute beauty—αὐτὸ τὸ καλόν—the archetypal idea in which all beautiful things participated. Aristotle, on the contrary, distinguished carefully between the conceptions of the beautiful and the good, defended the calling of the artist, and denied the existence of an absolute good.

In modern times, the greatest work on Æsthetics is Kant's Critique of Judgment, which is an account of the necessary and universal principles of æsthetic experience, an application of the critical or transcendental principle to the particular form of experience. Kant has been followed by Schelling and Hegel, and by the transcendental school generally. Besides discussions specifically philosophical, there is a great deal of æsthetical investigation in the works of Lessing (who, in his critical accounts of individual works of art, has emphasised general æsthetic principles), Goethe, Schiller, Jean Paul, and in England in the writings of Ruskin. Bain and Spencer have applied the principle of evolution to Æsthetics (Baumgarten's Æsthetica, 2 vols., Frankfort, 1750-8; Burke, The Sublime and Beautiful; Alison, On Taste; Lord Jeffrey, art. "Beauty," Ency. Brit., 8th ed.; Bain, Emotions and Will; Cousin, True, Beautiful, and Good; Spencer, Principles of Psychology, II. 627; Sully, Outlines of Psychology, p. 531, and art. "Æsthetics," Ency. Brit., 9th ed., Danieron, Cours de Æsthetique; M'Vicar, The Philosophy of the Beautiful. For an account of the various theories: Bain, Mental and Moral Science; and for German theories, Lotze, Geschichte der Æsthetik Deutschlands).

The term TRANSCENDENTAL ÆSTHETIC is used by Kant in its etymological sense, to denote the science of the à priori conditions of sensuous experience, i.e. of perception. This is the title of the first part of the Critique of Pure Reason, where is an account of the principles which make perception possible, viz., Space and Time. Kant says:—"The science of all the principles of sensibility, à priori, I call transcendental æsthetic" (Critique of Pure Reason, pt. I., note; Meiklejohn, p. 22). By transcendental æsthetic, Kant means all that is essential to the action of the sensory, distinct from physical, sensibility, and the sensation consequent upon impression made on the sensory organ. What is involved besides he designates "the pure forms of sensuous intuition,"—these are space and time.



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