IN recent writing on aesthetics there has been a tendency to discard the word beauty as too abstract or too identified with value supposedly already given and there in the world, instead of needing to be worked out in a work of art. Also against using beauty as the term for what is sought in art is the fact that art may present something painful or ugly, even when successful and admired. The beautiful then may seem to belong with the pretty, the sweet, the weak, rather than with the impact of art. Sometimes beauty means simply what is good in art, however divorced from what is appealing in life at first hand. But the fact that concern with aesthetics continues to be regarded as interest in beauty as well as in art, suggests that a distinction between them still holds, and that it indicates a break or bridge between value in and value out of art. Yet aesthetics is chiefly occupied with art, because beauty found elsewhere seems relatively easy and obvious, answering automatically to the fancy of the natural man or the conventional mind. Beauty aside from art becomes important to the aesthetician then only secondarily to questions of art, when he is struck by aspects of nature or life as analogous to what is of interest in art.
This essay consequently will focus on art, with the help of some of those who have been thinking most effectively about it. The conviction here is that the value of art is closely related to what is valued in life, that art is an enhancement of the heightening that gives zest to living in any case.
The organic unity of art must be acknowledged first and last. But understanding of it is helped by analytical distinctions that do not constitute or even correspond to existential cleavages. When the work of art is theoretically split into sensuous stuff, formal arrangement, and association, the emphasis may be put upon any of the three divisions, though some account must be given of the other two. The first has been stressed by Guyau,