A History of Six Ideas: An Essay in Aesthetics by W. Tatarkiewicz

By W. Tatarkiewicz

The background of aesthetics, just like the histories of different sciences, will be taken care of in a two-fold demeanour: because the heritage of the boys who created the sector of research, or because the historical past of the questions which have been raised and resolved during its pursuit. the sooner historical past of Aesthetics (3 volumes, 1960-68, English-language variation 1970-74) by means of the writer of the current booklet used to be a historical past of fellows, of writers and artists who in centuries previous have spoken up relating attractiveness and artwork, shape and crea­ tivity. the current ebook returns to a similar topic, yet treats it otherwise: because the historical past of aesthetic questions, ideas, theories. the problem of the 2 books, the former and the current, is partially an identical; yet basically partly: for the sooner e-book ended with the seventeenth century, whereas the current one brings the topic as much as our personal occasions. And from the 18th century to the 20 th a lot occurred in aesthetics; it was once basically in that interval that aesthetics accomplished popularity as a separate technology, bought a reputation of its personal, and produced theories that early students and artists had by no means dreamed of.

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The theory of the fine arts voiced by Batteux boiled down to the assertion 22 I. ART that the feature common to them all is their imitation of reality. He would seem to have been travelling an old, indeed a very old, route, one well known since antiquity. However, only ostensibly: for ever since antiquity (more precisely, since Plato and Aristotle) the arts had been divided into the original and the imitative, and all the discussions of mimesis, or imitatio, over the course of more than 2000 years had pertained exclusively to the 'imitative' or 'mimetic' arts, to painting, sculpture and poetry, and not to architecture or to music.

ART The third answer is an admission of ignorance. It is a skeptical answer. Recalling Quintilian's words that "the learned are familiar with the theory of art, the profane with the pleasure that art affords" (Docti rationem artis intelligunt, indocti voluptatem: Inst. or. 1117,42), the skeptic will say: We have found no theory of art and must do without one - enough for us that we find pleasure in art. Century after century contented themselves with these replies - with the first, the second or the third.

5) The distinguishing feature of art is that it produces aesthetic experience. This definition, in turn, concentrates on the effect a work of art has on the recipient. The shift of emphasis is typical of papers on the subject which originated about the turn of the century. The definition is similar to that which sees the distinguishing feature of art in beauty. It says, in effect, that art is capable of producing the experience of beauty. And the difficulties are the same as before. The term 'aesthetic experience' is no more clear and unambiguous than the term 'beauty'.

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