An Introduction to Aesthetics

An Introduction to Aesthetics

An Introduction to Aesthetics

An Introduction to Aesthetics

Excerpt

This book aims to present the accepted theoretical principles of aesthetics and to illustrate them by a discussion of artistic motives. Aesthetics as discussed in the following chapters is primarily the systematic analysis of man's urge to create, preserve, and understand what is conventionally called beauty or the beautiful. That part of human experience which involves contact with the beautiful is normally composed of rare and seemingly unrelated moments which appear to stand out from everyday existence. The book attempts to examine these aesthetic experiences for their common characteristics and to set them in order by considering what they are, what types of value they contain, and how these values are created.

The analysis begins with a discussion of the observer's mental attitude in aesthetic experience. The experience itself is presented as the perception of pleasing relations among various elements in the object, scene, or event observed. This perceptual process is distinguished from simple sensation on the one hand and intellectual appreciation on the other. Distinctions are also drawn between purely aesthetic experience and the related experiences of a cultural, emotional, or moral nature with which it is often confused.

Having established what the aesthetic experience is and what it is not, the book classifies aesthetic values in terms of types, sources, and subjective or objective status. This arrangement was adopted for the purpose of clarifying the whole field of aesthetics for beginners. It permits students of the subject to approach it by means of first defining the field and then dividing it into its component parts for discussion.

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