Aesthetics: The Best Introductory Resources

What is Aesthetics? This series aims to make learning about philosophy as easy as possible by bringing together the best videos, podcasts, and articles from across the internet and allowing you to choose the type of content that best suits your learning style. Simply choose one of following links to get started:

If you want a comprehensive overview of the idea of aesthetics:

“Beauty is an important part of our lives. Ugliness too. It is no surprise then that philosophers since antiquity have been interested in our experiences of and judgments about beauty and ugliness. They have tried to understand the nature of these experiences and judgments, and they have also wanted to know whether these experiences and judgments were legitimate. Both these projects took a sharpened form in the 20th century, when this part of our lives came under a sustained attack in both European and North American intellectual circles. Much of the discourse about beauty since the 18th century had deployed a notion of the “aesthetic”, and so that notion in particular came in for criticism. This disdain for the aesthetic may have roots in a broader cultural Puritanism, which fears the connection between the aesthetic and pleasure. Even to suggest, in the recent climate, that an artwork might be good because it is pleasurable, as opposed to cognitively, morally or politically beneficial, is to court derision. The 20th century was not kind to the notions of beauty or the aesthetic. Nevertheless, there were always some thinkers — philosophers, as well as others in the study of particular arts — who persisted in thinking seriously about beauty and the aesthetic. In the first part of this essay, we will look at the particularly rich account of judgments of beauty given to us by Immanuel Kant. The notion of a “judgment of taste” is central to Kant’s account and also to virtually everyone working in traditional aesthetics; so we begin by examining Kant’s characterization of the judgment of taste. . . .”

If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and and more engaging introduction:

If you’d prefer a video introduction:

If you prefer audio and podcasts:

If you’d just like to casually browse a few quotes:

And if you like to learn more:

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