Philosophic Thought in France and the United States: Essays Representing Major Trends in Contemporary French and American Philosophy

By Marvin Farber | Go to book overview

PRESENT TENDENCIES IN AMERICAN ESTHETICS

Thomas Munro*


1. INTERNATIONALISM.

DURING the past decade, even under war conditions, there has been a notable growth of interest in esthetics in the United States. One indication of this is the establishment in 1941 of the Journal of Aesthetics, and of the American Society for Aesthetics in the following year. College courses and published articles in the field are increasing in numbers. But unsettled conditions, at home and abroad, are slowing the advance. High printing costs obstruct the publication of scholarly books and magazines, and college students are under strong pressure to study practical, vocational subjects.

In spite of these obstacles, leaders in various countries are reviving communication, and making esthetics once more an international subject. Important publications in each country are noted elsewhere, and international meetings are again being held. A new generation of American scholars is taking an active part in the revival of esthetics on a world scale. Cooperation is especially active between the American and French groups, now that the latter has revived its own Société d'esthétique, and begun publication of its Revue d'esthétique.

The past leadership of Germany in esthetics has been outstanding, from the first recognition of the subject as a branch of philosophy in the early eighteenth century, down almost to 1939. It was ably carried on by such contemporary figures as Max Dessoir, Emil Utitz, and Richard Müller-Freienfels, in the rich pages of the Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, and in an output of books and articles on the subject which overshadowed that of all other countries put together. A series of international congresses on esthetics was held in Germany and France, with one in Paris in 1937. Since the recent war, the leadership

____________________
*
Born in 1897. Ph.D., Columbia University, 1920. Formerly lecturer in Philosophy at Columbia University, and professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. Curator of Education, Cleveland Museum of Art; professor of art and chairman of the Division of Art, Western Reserve University. Editor of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

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