Pain, Pleasure, and Aesthetics: An Essay concerning the Psychology of Pain and Pleasure, with Special Reference to Aesthetics

By Henry Marshall Rutgers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE FIELD OF ÆSTHETICS

Introductory Summary

A GREAT deal of attention has been given by thinkers in the past to the subject of Æsthetics, but for all that we find ourselves to-day without any Science of Æsthetics, and without any Philosophy of Art which is comprehensive and widely acknowledged as valid. This is probably due principally to the fact that thinkers of importance have found themselves called upon to deal primarily with theories of knowledge and of activity in relation to their fellows; and have turned to the discussion of Æsthetics with preconceived notions and settled formula, to which they have subordinated the facts forced upon them from the realm of art.

Attempts have been made by many writers, who have taken example from Aristotle, to discover some special qualities in beautiful objects which determine their beauty (p. 115 ff.). These efforts have invariably failed. The same objective tendency is observed in the many efforts made by the best of thinkers to describe and account for certain absolutes or universals of beauty to which our individual experiences relate (p. 116 ff.). No agreement between thinkers in this direction has been reached, however, and we must acknowledge that no satisfactory resting-place for art theory has thus been attained.

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