Aesthetics is the philosophical study of art and the aesthetic. The aesthetic comprises, among other things, aesthetic properties (for example, beauty), aesthetic judgments, aesthetic concepts, aesthetic experiences, aesthetic pleasure, and aesthetic sensitivity or taste. Alexander Baumgarten (1714-1762) is usually credited for having given the name ‘aesthetics’ to this field of inquiry, but the field itself is approximately as old as philosophy.
The two pre-20th century works that have had the greatest impact on contemporary discussions in aesthetics probably are Hume 1757 and Kant 2005. 20th century works that have had a considerable impact include Goodman 1968, Wollheim 1971, Walton 1970, Scruton 1983, and Walton 1990, as well as the essays posthumously collected in Sibley 2001. Excerpts and chapters from these works are included in Lamarque & Olsen 2004, an excellent anthology that also includes influential papers by Monroe Beardsley, Malcolm Budd, Arthur Danto, George Dickie, Peter Kivy, and Jerrold Levinson. A comparable anthology is Cahn & Meskin 2008. Other useful (but less comprehensive) anthologies are Janaway 2005 and Ridley & Neill 2007.
|Introductions||For a short introduction to the general field of aesthetics, see Malcolm Budd's entry on aesthetics in Edward 1998, Jerrold Levinson's introduction to Levinson 2003, and Anna Christina Ribeiro's introduction to Ribeiro 2012. Recent book-length introductions include Budd 1996, Dickie 1997, Carroll 1999, Graham 2000, Stecker 2005, Davies 2006, and Gracyk 2014. For an overview of topics and areas in aesthetics, see Stephen Davies et al 1996 and Lopes 2013, as well as the aforementioned companions and handbooks.|