Aesthetics (/ɛsˈθɛtɪks/; also spelled æsthetics and esthetics also known in Greek as Αισθητική) 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 (/kænt/; 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 (/ˈhɡəl/; German: [ˈɡeɔɐ̯k ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈheːɡəl]; August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher who was a major figure in German idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy and served as an important precursor to Continental philosophy, Marxism and historism.
  • 3. [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.
  • 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. [Epistemology] Epistemology (/ɨˌpɪstɨˈmɒləi/; 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". Put concisely, it is the study of knowledge and justified belief. It questions what knowledge is and how
  • 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. [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 were 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.
  • 8. [Theodor W. Adorno] Theodor W. Adorno (/əˈdɔːrn/; 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.
  • 9. [Arthur Schopenhauer] Arthur Schopenhauer (German: [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. Independently arriving at many
  • 10. [Ontology] Ontology is the philosophical 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
  • 11. [Critique of Judgment] The Critique of Judgment (German: Kritik der Urteilskraft, KdU), 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.
  • 12. [Art] Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities, usually involving imaginative or technical skill. In their most general form these activities include the production of works of art, the criticism of art, the study of the history of art, and the aesthetic dissemination of art. This article focuses primarily
  • 13. [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
  • 14. [Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten] Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (July 17, 1714 – May 27, 1762) was a German philosopher.
  • 15. [Ludwig Wittgenstein] Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (/ˈvɪtɡənˌstn/; German: [ˈvɪtgənˌʃtaɪn]; 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
  • 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. Dada in Zurich, Switzerland, began in 1916, spreading to Berlin shortly thereafter, but the height of New York Dada was the year before, in 1915. The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp around
  • 18. [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
  • 19. [Clement Greenberg] Clement Greenberg (/ˈɡrnbɜrɡ/), 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.
  • 20. [Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling] Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (German: [ˈʃɛlɪŋ]; 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.
  • 21. [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.
  • 22. [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
  • 23. [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.
  • 24. [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
  • 25. [David Hume] David Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish historian, philosopher, economist, diplomat and essayist known today especially for his radical philosophical empiricism and scepticism.
  • 26. [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
  • 27. [Cubism] Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement 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 the 20th century. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of art produced in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending through the 1920s.
  • 28. [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
  • 29. [Subjectivity] Subjectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to consciousness, agency, personhood, reality, and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Three common definitions include that subjectivity is the quality or condition 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. [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.
  • 32. [Plato] Plato (/ˈplt/; Greek: Πλάτων, Plátōn, "broad"; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BCE) was a philosopher, as well as mathematician, in Classical Greece. He is considered an essential figure in the development of philosophy, especially the Western tradition, and he founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along
  • 33. [Walter Benjamin] Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (German: [ˈvaltɐ ˈbɛnjamiːn]; 15 July 1892 – 26 September 1940) was a German philosopher and cultural critic. An eclectic thinker, combining elements of German idealism, 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. He was also related by marriage to German political theorist Hannah Arendt through her first marriage to his cousin, Günther Anders.
  • 34. [William Kurtz Wimsatt, Jr.] William Kurtz Wimsatt, Jr. (November 17, 1907 – December 17, 1975) was an American professor of English, literary theorist, and critic. Wimsatt is often associated with the concept of the intentional fallacy, which he developed with Monroe Beardsley in order to discuss the importance of an author's intentions for the creation of a work of art.
  • 35. [Either/Or] Either/Or (Danish: Enten – Eller) is the first published work of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Appearing in two volumes in 1843 under the pseudonymous authorship of Victor Eremita (Latin for "victorious hermit") it outlines a theory of human development in which consciousness progresses from an essentially hedonistic, aesthetic mode to one characterized by ethical imperatives arising from the maturing of human conscience.
  • 36. [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.
  • 37. [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.
  • 38. [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).
  • 39. [Fine art] In Western European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics, distinguishing it from applied art that also has to serve some practical function.
  • 40. [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.
  • 41. [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:
  • 42. [Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert] Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert (born 1945) is a professor of philosophy at the University of Hagen, Germany.
  • 43. [Guy Sircello] Guy Sircello (1936–1992) was an American philosopher best known for his analytic approach to philosophical aesthetics.
  • 44. [What Is Art?] What is Art? (Russian: Что такое искусство? Chto takoye iskusstvo?) is a book by Leo Tolstoy. It was completed in Russian in 1897 but first published in the English due to difficulties with the Russian censors.
  • 45. [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
  • 46. [Søren Kierkegaard] Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (/ˈsɔrən ˈkɪərkɨɡɑrd/ or /ˈkɪərkɨɡɔr/; Danish: [ˈsɶːɐn ˈkiɐ̯ɡəɡɒːˀ]; 5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and the philosophy of religion, displaying
  • 47. [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,
  • 48. [Lectures on Aesthetics] Lectures on Aesthetics (LA; 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.
  • 49. [Realism (arts)] Realism (or naturalism) in the arts is the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements.
  • 50. [Authorial intent] In literary theory and aesthetics, authorial intent refers to an author's intent as it is encoded in their work.
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