Edited by Rafael De Clercq (Lingnan University)
About this topic

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.

Key works

The two pre-20th century works that have had the greatest impact on contemporary discussions in aesthetics probably are Hume 1875 and Kant 1911. 20th century works that have had a considerable impact include Goodman 1968, Wollheim 1968, 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 2003, an excellent anthology that also includes influential papers by Monroe Beardsley, Malcolm Budd, Arthur Danto, George Dickie, Peter Kivy, Jerrold Levinson, and Jenefer Robinson. 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 Craig 1996, 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 1997, Stecker 2005Davies 2006, and Gracyk 2012. 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.
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