What Is Aesthetics?
Aesthetics has a long history, but the modern study of beauty is only its recent emergence. While medieval and Renaissance philosophers often wrote of beauty without reference to art, the discipline of aesthetics really took shape during the eighteenth century, with the writings of philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles Batteux, Johann Winckelmann, and Archibald Alison. Although this tradition is still important to this day, modern aesthetics is not a complete replacement for philosophy.
The term aesthetic has many different meanings, and it can be applied to nearly anything. Although different people have different meanings for the word, a common denominator among the two is that the term “beautiful” is a manifestation of a positive attitude. Furthermore, the term beautiful may have no sense in and of itself, except in the context of an attitude. However, these differences do not necessarily diminish the quality of art.
The notion of aesthetics is often elusive because it is so difficult to understand. Whether a painting is a painting or a guerrilla is largely a matter of how it is perceived by the viewer. Many of the most famous works of art are inherently aesthetic. It is these aesthetic qualities that make a work valuable. This makes the aesthetic value of a work dependent on how it is perceived in a particular category.
Kant’s idea of aesthetics was more broadly rooted than the one proposed by Sibley. The immediacy thesis is supported only when the person reading the work is fully aware of its immediacy. For example, a person reading “The Pleasures of the Imagination” may be aware of the immediacy of the image without fully grasping the significance of the artwork. Ultimately, aesthetics is a more comprehensive idea than a superficial examination of aesthetics can reveal.