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7. Aesthetics

SEBASTIAN GARDNER


Subject Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art » Aesthetics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631219088.2002.00012.x


Extract

The experiences that we have when we listen to music, read poetry and look at paintings or scenes in nature, have a distinctive immediate, emotional and contemplative character, and lead us to describe what we experience in a special vocabulary, and to use terms such as ‘beautiful’, ‘exquisite’, ‘inspiring’, ‘moving’ and so on. Philosophy employs the term ‘aesthetic’ to circumscribe this kind of experience. The appreciation of art provides the most complex and intense form of aesthetic experience, in which we are set apart from the real world and our powers of imagination are fully engaged, in dramatic contrast with everyday practical life. A less marked form of aesthetic awareness suffuses our perception of the world. Some degree of aesthetic receptivity is shown by the quiet influence that architecture exerts on our feelings, and the choices that we make daily in designing our environment manifest aesthetic preferences. The ability to respond aesthetically and the opportunity to appreciate art, are important components of well-being. A world without aesthetic qualities would be an inferior, if not uninhabitable, world, and a person without any capacity for aesthetic response, if imaginable, would not qualify as a fully developed human being. Many questions naturally occur to us in the course of thinking about and discussing works of art. What makes an object qualify as a work ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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