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Aesthetic attitude

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M002-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

Article Summary

It is undeniable that there are aesthetic and non-aesthetic attitudes. But is there such a thing as the aesthetic attitude? What is meant by the aesthetic attitude is the particular way in which we regard something when and only when we take an aesthetic interest in it. This assumes that on all occasions of aesthetic interest the object attended to is regarded in an identical fashion, unique to such occasions; and this assumption is problematic. If an attitude’s identity is determined by the features it is directed towards; if an aesthetic interest in an object is (by definition) an interest in its aesthetic qualities; and if the notion of aesthetic qualities can be explained in a uniform manner; then there is a unitary aesthetic attitude, namely an interest in an item’s aesthetic qualities. But this conception of the aesthetic attitude would be unsuitable for achieving the main aim of those who have posited the aesthetic attitude. This aim is to provide a definition of the aesthetic, but the aesthetic attitude, understood as any attitude focused upon an object’s aesthetic qualities, presupposes the idea of the aesthetic, and cannot be used to analyse it. So the question is whether there is a characterization of the aesthetic attitude that describes its nature without explicitly or implicitly relying on the concept of the aesthetic. There is no good reason to suppose so. Accordingly, there is no such thing as the aesthetic attitude, if this is an attitude that is both necessary and sufficient for aesthetic interest and that can be characterized independently of the aesthetic.

Citing this article:
Budd, Malcolm. Aesthetic attitude, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M002-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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