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The Principles of Aesthetics   By: (1885-1949)

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This book has grown out of lectures to students at the University of Michigan and embodies my effort to express to them the nature and meaning of art. In writing it, I have sought to maintain scientific accuracy, yet at the same time to preserve freedom of style and something of the inspiration of the subject. While intended primarily for students, the book will appeal generally, I hope, to people who are interested in the intelligent appreciation of art.

My obligations are extensive, most directly to those whom I have cited in foot notes to the text, but also to others whose influence is too indirect or pervasive to make citation profitable, or too obvious to make it necessary. For the broader philosophy of art, my debt is heaviest, I believe, to the artists and philosophers during the period from Herder to Hegel, who gave to the study its greatest development, and, among contemporaries, to Croce and Lipps. In addition, I have drawn freely upon the more special investigations of recent times, but with the caution desirable in view of the very tentative character of some of the results. To Mrs. Robert M. Wenley I wish to express my thanks for her very careful and helpful reading of the page proof.

The appended bibliography is, of course, not intended to be in any sense adequate, but is offered merely as a guide to further reading; a complete bibliography would itself demand almost a volume.


CHAPTER I. Introduction: Purpose and Method

CHAPTER II. The Definition of Art

CHAPTER III. The Intrinsic Value of Art

CHAPTER IV. The Analysis of the Aesthetic Experience: The Elements of the Experience

CHAPTER V. The Analysis of the Aesthetic Experience: The Structure of the Experience

CHAPTER VI. The Problem of Evil in Aesthetics, and Its Solution through the Tragic, Pathetic, and Comic

CHAPTER VII. The Standard of Taste

CHAPTER VIII. The Aesthetics of Music

CHAPTER IX. The Aesthetics of Poetry

CHAPTER X. Prose Literature

CHAPTER XI. The Dominion of Art over Nature: Painting

CHAPTER XII. The Dominion of Art over Nature: Sculpture

CHAPTER XIII. Beauty in the Industrial Arts: Architecture

CHAPTER XIV. The Function of Art: Art and Morality

CHAPTER XV. The Function of Art: Art and Religion





Although some feeling for beauty is perhaps universal among men, the same cannot be said of the understanding of beauty. The average man, who may exercise considerable taste in personal adornment, in the decoration of the home, or in the choice of poetry and painting, is at a loss when called upon to tell what art is or to explain why he calls one thing "beautiful" and another "ugly." Even the artist and the connoisseur, skilled to produce or accurate in judgment, are often wanting in clear and consistent ideas about their own works or appreciations. Here, as elsewhere, we meet the contrast between feeling and doing, on the one hand, and knowing, on the other. Just as practical men are frequently unable to describe or justify their most successful methods or undertakings, just as many people who astonish us with their fineness and freedom in the art of living are strangely wanting in clear thoughts about themselves and the life which they lead so admirably, so in the world of beauty, the men who do and appreciate are not always the ones who understand.

Very often, moreover, the artist and the art lover justify their inability to understand beauty on the ground that beauty is too subtle a thing for thought. How, they say, can one hope to distill into clear and stable ideas such a vaporous and fleeting matter as Aesthetic feeling? Such men are not only unable to think about beauty, but skeptical as to the possibility of doing so, contented mystics, deeply feeling, but dumb... Continue reading book >>

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