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Aesthetics in Europe and the Americas

Eighteenth-century Foundations, Classical Anticipations, The Growth Of Modern Aesthetics, Contemporary Trends And Issues

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy concerned with aesthetic experience and the fundamental principles of art and criticism. It is distinct from the history of art and the practice of art criticism, although its own history follows a path parallel to both. It is not an empirical study of the psychology or sociology of art, nor is it the same as aestheticism, which names a particular attitude to aesthetic matters, exemplified by the fin-de-siècle "art for art's sake" movement. There is no need to be an "aesthete" to engage in aesthetics. In what follows, a brief history of the subject will be outlined from its eighteenth-century foundations, back through earlier anticipations from the classical period, and on to the modern legacy. Then an analytical survey of contemporary trends and current issues will be offered.

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