What Is Aesthetics?

The present task of art is to make the feeling of brotherhood and love of one's neighbor... the customary feeling, even the instinct, of all human beings.

- Leo Tolstoy, What Is Art?, XX

Podcast of the Day

Peacocks have tails; we have art. Dennis Dutton, Professor of Philosopher at the University of Canterbury, argues that art is a form of costly display designed to attract members of the opposite sex. But there's more to it than that: the arts take us into the minds of the people that made them and so they're an aspect of social life that is beneficial to human beings. This week, we explore a subtle, Darwinian approach to the painting of paintings and the telling of tales.

Listen to the Philosopher's Zone episode on The Art Instinct - evolution and aesthetics

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

In every culture on Earth, people decorate their possessions and themselves, and enjoy visual art. They stare in awe at vast landscapes and the starry sky, and they sing and dance, and make instrumental music. Why? The answer seems obvious: it gives them pleasure. But why should it? What benefit does the capacity for aesthetic pleasure bestow on the human organism?

We know that aesthetic pleasure isn’t just a drive, like hunger or sexual desire...

Continue reading Mohan Matthen's article: How did evolution shape the appreciation of beauty?

Further Reading

Aesthetics may be defined narrowly as the theory of beauty, or more broadly as that together with the philosophy of art. The traditional interest in beauty itself broadened, in the eighteenth century, to include the sublime, and since 1950 or so the number of pure aesthetic concepts discussed in the literature has expanded even more. Traditionally, the philosophy of art concentrated on its definition, but recently this has not been the focus, with careful analyses of aspects of art largely replacing it. Philosophical aesthetics is here considered to center on these latter-day developments...

Continue reading the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Aesthetics by Barry Hartley Slater

Bonus Webcomic

The Beautiful and the Sublime - Existential Comics

Related Topics

 Literature | Poetry

Want to learn more? Sign up via email to get the best resources on a new topic each day. Or you can follow on Twitter or Facebook.

Leave a Reply