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

By W. Tatarkiewicz

The historical past of aesthetics, just like the histories of different sciences, should be handled in a two-fold demeanour: because the historical past of the boys who created the sphere of analysis, or because the heritage of the questions which have been raised and resolved during its pursuit. the sooner historical past of Aesthetics (3 volumes, 1960-68, English-language version 1970-74) via the writer of the current publication was once a background of fellows, of writers and artists who in centuries prior have spoken up referring to attractiveness and artwork, shape and crea­ tivity. the current ebook returns to an identical topic, yet treats it differently: because the background of aesthetic questions, techniques, theories. the problem of the 2 books, the former and the current, is partially an identical; yet simply partially: for the sooner ebook ended with the seventeenth century, whereas the current one brings the topic as much as our personal instances. And from the 18th century to the twentieth a lot occurred in aesthetics; it used to be basically in that interval that aesthetics completed reputation as a separate technological know-how, acquired a reputation of its personal, and produced theories that early students and artists had by no means dreamed of.

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The term 'fine arts' entered into the speech of 18th-century scholars and was preserved in the next century as well. It was a term with a clear range: Batteux listed five fine arts painting, sculpture, music, poetry and dance - plus two related ones, architecture and eloquence. This list came to be universally accepted, and not only was the concept of the fine arts established but so was their roster, the system of the fine arts - after the annexation of architecture and eloquence, seven in number.

After Batteux the denotation was fixed, comprising the seven particular arts, no more and no less. This stabilisation, however, proved to be illusory. In the nineteenth century a number of controversial areas emerged which might, or again might not, be included in the concept of art. For instance, is photography an art? Photographs are clearly just as much products of a machine as of man. But art is supposed to be an exclusively human activity resulting in purely human products. Later the same doubts appeared with regard to cinematography.

And the difficulties are the same as before. The term 'aesthetic experience' is no more clear and unambiguous than the term 'beauty'. As it stands, the definition is obviously too broad because aesthetic experience may be produced by other things besides art. g. that art not only produces aesthetic experience but is intended to produce it. This, however, is of doubtful value. From another point of view the definition appears too narrow, and it is from this point of view that it has been criticised in the twentieth century.

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