In search of the aesthetic

British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (3):232-250 (2007)
Is there such a subject as aesthetics? The lack of any pre-philosophical route to its subject matter, the historicity of its favoured concepts and artefacts, and the ideological character of its inception all suggest that the aesthetic is an invented category, which identifies no stable or universal feature of the human condition. Against this I argue that ordinary practical reasoning leads of its own accord to aesthetic judgement, and that the experience in which this judgement is founded is rooted in our nature as rational beings. I go on to give a partial characterization of the experience, and to argue that our inherited concept of art, in which pictures, poems, works of music, and works of imaginative prose all count as works of art, can be vindicated, once we see art as a functional kind, whose function is to elicit aesthetic experiences.
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/aym004
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