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Why do people read novels, go to the theater, or listen to beautiful music? Do we seek out aesthetic experiences simply because we enjoy them—or is there another, deeper, reason we spend our leisure time viewing or experiencing works of art? Aesthetics, the first short introduction to the contemporary philosophy of aesthetics, examines not just the nature of the aesthetic Why do people read novels, go to the theater, or listen to beautiful music? Do we seek out aesthetic experiences simply because we enjoy them—or is there another, deeper, reason we spend our leisure time viewing or experiencing works of art? Aesthetics, the first short introduction to the contemporary philosophy of aesthetics, examines not just the nature of the aesthetic experience, but the definition of art, and its moral and intrinsic value in our lives. Anne Sheppard divides her work into two parts: In the first, she summarizes the major theories defining art and beauty; in the second, she explores the nature of aesthetic evaluation and appreciation. As Sheppard explains, there are three main approaches to defining art, all focused on what art objects share. One proposes that all art imitates something in life, another that it expresses something (such as anger or ecstasy), still another suggests that all art has formal qualities. There is also a fourth which offers that all art shares the quality of beauty. In the second part, which concentrates on literary art, Sheppard explores such philosophic topics as critical judgment, meaning and truth in literature, and the relationship between art and morals. She raises such questions as whether there is one correct interpretation of a work of art and whether art has a moral effect on its audience and, citing specific examples, explores the views that have been put forth. A wide-ranging, intriguing book, which assumes no formal knowledge on the part of its readers, Aesthetics opens the door to a greater understanding and appreciation of art.


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Why do people read novels, go to the theater, or listen to beautiful music? Do we seek out aesthetic experiences simply because we enjoy them—or is there another, deeper, reason we spend our leisure time viewing or experiencing works of art? Aesthetics, the first short introduction to the contemporary philosophy of aesthetics, examines not just the nature of the aesthetic Why do people read novels, go to the theater, or listen to beautiful music? Do we seek out aesthetic experiences simply because we enjoy them—or is there another, deeper, reason we spend our leisure time viewing or experiencing works of art? Aesthetics, the first short introduction to the contemporary philosophy of aesthetics, examines not just the nature of the aesthetic experience, but the definition of art, and its moral and intrinsic value in our lives. Anne Sheppard divides her work into two parts: In the first, she summarizes the major theories defining art and beauty; in the second, she explores the nature of aesthetic evaluation and appreciation. As Sheppard explains, there are three main approaches to defining art, all focused on what art objects share. One proposes that all art imitates something in life, another that it expresses something (such as anger or ecstasy), still another suggests that all art has formal qualities. There is also a fourth which offers that all art shares the quality of beauty. In the second part, which concentrates on literary art, Sheppard explores such philosophic topics as critical judgment, meaning and truth in literature, and the relationship between art and morals. She raises such questions as whether there is one correct interpretation of a work of art and whether art has a moral effect on its audience and, citing specific examples, explores the views that have been put forth. A wide-ranging, intriguing book, which assumes no formal knowledge on the part of its readers, Aesthetics opens the door to a greater understanding and appreciation of art.

30 review for Aesthetics: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    Parsa

    It is what the title says it is: An "introduction". It does just that, and very little more. The criticism made against different schools of thought seemed to me very unjust at times. Anne Sheppard is frequently too quick to dismiss entire ideologies, followed by assertions of obviously personal claims. Logical fallacies were aplenty and the loosely based arguments made the read boring at times. The author’s biased mentality is most prominent in that the book decides (and admits) to put its empha It is what the title says it is: An "introduction". It does just that, and very little more. The criticism made against different schools of thought seemed to me very unjust at times. Anne Sheppard is frequently too quick to dismiss entire ideologies, followed by assertions of obviously personal claims. Logical fallacies were aplenty and the loosely based arguments made the read boring at times. The author’s biased mentality is most prominent in that the book decides (and admits) to put its emphasis on “literature”, a limited genre of art. Towards the final chapters, the flow shifts from an inclination to talk mostly of literature close to a full-blown literary theory that is practically inapplicable to the other fields of art. The book is not as much an introduction to “philosophy” as it is a brief "history" however inseparable these might be. The chapters are wisely clear cut and their order follows a reasonable pattern, although the criticism gets increasingly heavier and the author is explicitly suggesting an evolutionary view, of predecessor philosophers being inferior and of latter modifications to the same views as superior and closer to the “truth” that we seek. The read was worthwhile, however. If you are looking for an easy-to-read reference on different views concerning art and aesthetics, how we come to appreciate art and natural beauty, how morals can be integrated with or kept at a distance from art, how critics interpret and evaluate works of art and most importantly, why human beings tend to bother with art, Anne Sheppard provides a collection of some of the most important, however incomplete, threads for you to embark on your journey on fuller understandings of each of these questions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    zhixin

    This introduction provided context for some main threads of thought with regards to 1. What is art's purpose, 2. What is beauty, 3. What yardsticks can we actually use to evaluate if an art piece is better than another, complete with even briefer examples using art and literature. It starts off with Plato's scale of ideal forms > sense experience as a copy > art as even further imitation, hence carrying with it a value judgement, and compares that to Wittgenstein's theory that the satisfaction o This introduction provided context for some main threads of thought with regards to 1. What is art's purpose, 2. What is beauty, 3. What yardsticks can we actually use to evaluate if an art piece is better than another, complete with even briefer examples using art and literature. It starts off with Plato's scale of ideal forms > sense experience as a copy > art as even further imitation, hence carrying with it a value judgement, and compares that to Wittgenstein's theory that the satisfaction of art arises from making the link across the gap between the medium itself, replete with conventions eg a halo around religious figures' heads, and the reality it is representing. We then go forward to the Romantics, in which Tolstoy brings our attention to the expression of art by the artist, vs the evoking of emotion from that expression, and asserts that the quality of art correlates to the quality of feelings it invokes in the audience (more specifically, that moralistic feelings are the most superior of all). In response to Tolstoy, Sheppard makes a distinction between having moral characters in an art piece, vs the moral effects it invokes in the audience (which might be achieved with immoral characters), and questions the supposed moral effects of art, if it merely inspires a passive reflecting attitude within the reader/audience, as opposed to an active do-good call to action. A difference is highlighted between art as representative -- we are given a situation to imagine ourselves experiencing -- and art as expressive, which stimulates us to imagine a situation for ourselves, eg with a slower tempo and minor scale in music. What is the origin of artistic convention? I found Kant's theory that true aesthetic appreciation comes from a place of disinterest -- in the sense that there is no desire to make practical use of the object, only to contemplate it -- interesting: did this come about because art has traditionally been associated with the upper classes, ie did the definition come after the fact? Sheppard ultimately believes, I think, that the richness of interpretation is the key factor in a work's value (the question of judgement: what makes a work better), how long it lasts. She spends the last part of the book arguing for ways to support a particular interpretation of a text, including looking at other works in the same genre, other works by the same author, the original audience's expectations, and the author's intentions, which might not be fully conscious to the author. The arguments Sheppard puts forth in response to each of the theories she covers often verge on being overly simplistic, especially when she uses literature and/or art as supporting examples. This could be a result of the breadth and brevity of coverage, which does not permit for greater depth and hence insight. As a result I felt a certain sense of wanting more, a deeper dive beyond what frequently seemed like assertions. More analysis, in a nutshell. Perhaps this is unreasonable to expect from an introduction. I did appreciate the clarity in illuminating the nuances of judging and interpreting art, coming from a certain earnestness in making sure every example was understandable by the most art-obtuse of readers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cris

    This is a good basic intro to the best know theories of aesthetics in general, mostly organized in a historical manner. The book focuses more narrowly on writting in part II, which has its pros and cons. The author makes certain prescriptive assumptions about aesthetics, which visual artists and philosophers in general may not agree with, but its a good basic indexing tool. The book is colored by a lot of unexamined assumptions that run rampart through the art world today. That's okay because I This is a good basic intro to the best know theories of aesthetics in general, mostly organized in a historical manner. The book focuses more narrowly on writting in part II, which has its pros and cons. The author makes certain prescriptive assumptions about aesthetics, which visual artists and philosophers in general may not agree with, but its a good basic indexing tool. The book is colored by a lot of unexamined assumptions that run rampart through the art world today. That's okay because I was not looking for actual analysis as much as a compendium.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Felix Thompson

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rik Mets

  6. 5 out of 5

    Okafor Chukwunonso

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maia

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linus Ragnhage

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sunrisedahlia

  10. 5 out of 5

    Einu

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Spencer

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Ansari

  15. 5 out of 5

    Natalie B

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  17. 4 out of 5

    Woutervangysel

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristupas Čeilutka

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marc Lorenz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sogol

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fatbirdsdontfly

  22. 4 out of 5

    Petr Z

  23. 5 out of 5

    Parnian Amini

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kasraa Memari

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  26. 5 out of 5

    Russell Ko

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Mccauley

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Maloney

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rasmus

  30. 5 out of 5

    Akhil John

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