Aesthetics (/ɛsˈθɛtɪks/; also spelled æsthetics and esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature."

More specific aesthetic theory, often with practical implications, relating to a particular branch of the arts is divided into areas of aesthetics such as art theory, literary theory, film theory and music theory. An example from art theory is aesthetic theory as a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement: such as the Cubist aesthetic.

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  • 1. [Immanuel Kant] Immanuel Kant (German: [ɪˈmaːnu̯eːl kant]; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that fundamental concepts structure human experience, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to have a major influence in contemporary thought, especially the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.
  • 2. [Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel] Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (German: [ˈɡeɔɐ̯k ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈheːɡəl]; August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, and a major figure in German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.
  • 3. [Epistemology] Epistemology (/ɨˌpɪstɨˈmɒlədʒi/ from Greek ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning "knowledge, understanding", and λόγος, logos, meaning "study of") is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and is also referred to as "theory of knowledge". It questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired, and the extent to which knowledge pertinent
  • 4. [Beauty] Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture. An "ideal beauty" is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection.
  • 5. [Postmodernism] Postmodernism is a late-20th-century movement in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism. Postmodernism includes skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism. It is often associated with deconstruction and post-structuralism because its usage as a term gained significant popularity at the same time as twentieth-century post-structural thought.
  • 6. [Sublime (philosophy)] In aesthetics, the sublime (from the Latin sublīmis) is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual, or artistic. The term especially refers to a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement, or imitation.
  • 7. [Theodor W. Adorno] Theodor W. Adorno (/əˈdɔːrnoʊ/; German: [aˈdɔʀno]; born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund; September 11, 1903 – August 6, 1969) was a German sociologist, philosopher and musicologist known for his critical theory of society.
  • 8. [Modernism] Modernism is a philosophical movement that, along with cultural trends and changes, arose from wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the factors that shaped Modernism was the development of modern industrial societies and the rapid growth of cities, followed then by the horror of World War I. Modernism also rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking, and many modernists rejected religious belief.
  • 9. [Ontology] Ontology is the study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.
  • 10. [Art] Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities; this article focuses primarily on the visual arts, which includes the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media. Architecture is often included as one of the visual arts; however, like the decorative
  • 11. [Arthur Schopenhauer] Arthur Schopenhauer [ˈaʁtʊʁ ˈʃɔpənˌhaʊ̯ɐ] (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, The World as Will and Representation (German: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung), in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction. Influenced by Eastern philosophy, he
  • 12. [Critique of Judgment] The Critique of Judgment (German: Kritik der Urteilskraft), or in the new Cambridge translation Critique of the Power of Judgment, also known as the third critique, is a 1790 philosophical work by Immanuel Kant. In it, Kant lays the foundations for modern aesthetics.
  • 13. [Ludwig Wittgenstein] Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. From 1929–1947, Wittgenstein taught at the University of Cambridge. During his lifetime he published just one slim book, the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
  • 14. [Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten] Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (July 17, 1714 – May 26, 1762) was a German philosopher.
  • 15. [Formalism (art)] In art history, formalism is the study of art by analyzing and comparing form and style—the way objects are made and their purely visual aspects. In painting formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape and texture rather than iconography or the historical and social context. At its extreme, formalism in art history posits
  • 16. [Literary theory] Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However, literary scholarship since the 19th century often includes—in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense—considerations of intellectual history, moral philosophy, social prophecy, and other interdisciplinary themes which
  • 17. [Dada] Dada /ˈdɑːdɑː/ or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century. Many claim Dada began in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916, spreading to Berlin shortly thereafter but the height of New York Dada was the year before, in 1915. To quote Dona Budd's The Language of Art Knowledge,
  • 18. [Marxist aesthetics] Marxist aesthetics is a theory of aesthetics based on, or derived from, the theories of Karl Marx. It involves a dialectical and materialist, or dialectical materialist, approach to the application of Marxism to the cultural sphere, specifically areas related to taste such as art, beauty, etc. Marxists believe that economic and social conditions, and especially
  • 19. [Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling] Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (27 January 1775 – 20 August 1854), later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Johann Gottlieb Fichte, his mentor in his early years, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, his former university roommate, early friend, and later rival. Interpreting Schelling's philosophy is regarded as difficult because of its apparently ever-changing nature.
  • 20. [Walter Benjamin] Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (German: [ˈvaltɐ ˈbɛnjamiːn]; 15 July 1893 – 26 September 1940) was a German literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist. Combining elements of German idealism or Romanticism, historical materialism and Jewish mysticism, Benjamin made enduring and influential contributions to aesthetic theory and Western Marxism. He is associated with the Frankfurt School.
  • 21. [Jean-François Lyotard] Jean-François Lyotard (French: [ʒɑ̃ fʁɑ̃swa ljɔtaʁ]; 10 August 1924 – 21 April 1998) was a French philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist. His interdisciplinary discourse spans such topics as knowledge and communication, the human body, modernist and postmodern art, literature and critical theory, music, film, time and memory, space, the city and landscape, the sublime, and
  • 22. [Abraham Moles] Abraham Moles (1920 – 22 May 1992) was an engineer of electrical engineering and acoustics, and a doctor of physics and philosophy. He was one of the first researchers to establish and analyze links between aesthetics and information theory.
  • 23. [Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert] Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert (born 1945) is a professor of philosophy at the University of Hagen, Germany.
  • 24. [Clement Greenberg] Clement Greenberg, occasionally writing under the pseudonym K. Hardesh, (January 16, 1909 – May 7, 1994) was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century. In particular, he is best remembered for his promotion of the abstract expressionist movement and was among the first published critics to praise the work of painter Jackson Pollock.
  • 25. [Art movement] An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, (usually a few months, years or decades) or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years. Art movements were especially important in modern art, when each consecutive movement was considered as a new avant-garde.
  • 26. [Plato] Plato (/ˈpleɪtoʊ/; Greek: Πλάτων, Plátōn, "broad"; 428/427 or 424/423 BC – 348/347 BC) was a philosopher, as well as mathematician, in Classical Greece and an influential figure in philosophy, central in Western philosophy. He was Socrates' student, and founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with
  • 27. [Neuroesthetics] Neuroesthetics (or neuroaesthetics) is a relatively recent sub-discipline of empirical aesthetics. Empirical aesthetics takes a scientific approach to the study of aesthetic perceptions of art and music. Neuroesthetics received its formal definition in 2002 as the scientific study of the neural bases for the contemplation and creation of a work of art. Neuroesthetics uses neuroscience
  • 28. [Subjectivity] Subjectivity is the condition of being a subject: i.e., the quality of possessing perspectives, experiences, feelings, beliefs, desires, and/or power. Subjectivity is used as an explanation for what influences and informs people's judgments about truth or reality. It is the collection of the perceptions, experiences, expectations, personal or cultural understanding, and beliefs specific to a
  • 29. [Arthur Danto] Arthur Coleman Danto (January 1, 1924 – October 25, 2013) was an American art critic and philosopher. He is best known for having been influential, long-time art critic for The Nation and for his work in philosophical aesthetics and philosophy of history, though he contributed significantly to a number of fields, including the philosophy of
  • 30. [Peter Osborne (writer and academic)] Peter Osborne (born 1958) is Professor of Modern European Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University, London. He is also an editor of the British journal Radical Philosophy.
  • 31. [David Hume] David Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May [O.S. 26 April] 1711 – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and scepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.
  • 32. [George Dickie (philosopher)] George Dickie (born 1926 in Palmetto, Florida) is a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at University of Illinois at Chicago. His specialties include aesthetics, philosophy of art, & Eighteenth Century theories of taste.
  • 33. [Gary Tedman] Gary Tedman is an English artist and writer.
    He is a graduate of Fine-Art from Portsmouth Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art where he completed an MA in Cultural History.
    Enabling parallels between Marx's work/working conditions (means of production) and modern media;
  • 34. [Monroe Beardsley] Monroe Curtis Beardsley (/ˈbɪərdzli/; December 10, 1915 – September 18, 1985) was an American philosopher of art. He was born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and educated at Yale University (B.A. 1936, Ph.D. 1939), where he received the John Addison Porter Prize. He taught at a number of colleges and universities, including Mount Holyoke College
  • 35. [Peter Kivy] Peter Kivy (born October 22, 1934) is a professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. He studies aesthetics and the philosophy of art, particularly the philosophy of music.
  • 36. [Stephen Davies (philosopher)] Stephen Davies is a Distinguished Professor of philosophy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He mainly writes on aesthetics, particularly the philosophy of music but also works on political philosophy. He is a past president of the American Society for Aesthetics (2007–2008), and the New Zealand division of the Australasian Association of Philosophy (2001).
  • 37. [Taste (sociology)] In sociology, taste is an individual's personal and cultural patterns of choice and preference. Taste is drawing distinctions between things such as styles, manners, consumer goods and works of art and relating to these. Social inquiry of taste is about the human ability to judge what is beautiful, good and proper.
  • 38. [Cubism] Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, joined by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Henri Le Fauconnier, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture. Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of
  • 39. [Symbol] A symbol is an object that represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, visual image, belief, action, or material entity. Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, or visual images and are used to convey ideas and beliefs. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture
  • 40. [Fine art] Fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics, distinguishing it from applied art that also has to serve some practical function.
    Historically, the five main fine arts were painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry, with performing arts including theater and dance. Today, the fine arts commonly include additional forms, such as film, photography, conceptual art, and
  • 41. [Truth] Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.
    The commonly understood opposite of truth is falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts,
  • 42. [Film theory] Film theory, or cinema studies, is an academic discipline that aims to explore the essence of the cinema and provides conceptual frameworks for understanding film's relationship to reality, the other arts, individual viewers, and society at large. Film theory is not to be confused with general film criticism, or film history, though there can be some crossover between the three disciplines.
  • 43. [Guy Sircello] Guy Sircello (1936–1992) was an American philosopher best known for his analytic approach to philosophical aesthetics.
  • 44. [Either/Or] In philosophy, Either/Or (original Danish title: Enten ‒ Eller) is an influential book written by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard published in two volumes in 1843, exploring the aesthetic and ethical "phases" or "stages" of existence. Either/Or was Kierkegaard's first published book; it was released under the pseudonym Victor Eremita, Latin for "the victorious hermit".
  • 45. [Mario Perniola] Mario Perniola (born May 20, 1941, in Asti, Italy) is an Italian philosopher, professor of aesthetics and author. Many of his works have been published in English.
  • 46. [Work of art] A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an aesthetic physical item or artistic creation. Apart from "work of art", which may be used of any work regarded as art in its widest sense, including works from literature and music, these terms apply principally to tangible, portable forms of visual art:
  • 47. [Lectures on Aesthetics] Lectures on Aesthetics (German: Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik) is a compilation of notes from university lectures on aesthetics given by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in Heidelberg in 1818 and in Berlin in 1820/21, 1823, 1826 and 1828/29. It was compiled in 1835 by his student Heinrich Gustav Hotho, using Hegel's own hand-written notes and notes his students took during the lectures, but Hotho's work may render some of Hegel's thought more systematic than Hegel's initial presentation.
  • 48. [Conceptual art] Conceptual art, sometimes simply called Conceptualism, is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Many works of conceptual art, sometimes called installations, may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions. This method was fundamental to American artist Sol LeWitt's definition of Conceptual art, one of the first to appear in print:
  • 49. [Christine Buci-Glucksmann] Christine Buci-Glucksmann is a French philosopher and Professor Emeritus from University of Paris VIII specializing in the aesthetics of the Baroque, Japan and computer art. Her best-known work in English is Baroque Reason: The Aesthetics of Modernity.
  • 50. [Marcel Duchamp] Marcel Duchamp (French: [maʁsɛl dyʃɑ̃]; 28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968) was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Dadaism and conceptual art, although not directly associated with Dada groups. Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who
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