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Aesthetics and the senses

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M060-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved July 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Modern aesthetics derived its name from the Greek term for sense perception and it is not surprising that the role of the senses in relation to reason and imagination in aesthetic experience has remained important for the philosophical discipline. Section 1 traces the eighteenth-century differences between those like Burke, Mendelssohn, and Herder, who made sensory experience central to aesthetics and Kant, Hegel and their nineteenth- and twentieth-century successors, who made sensory experience subservient to intellect. Section 2 traces a parallel division over the importance of the proximal (touch, taste, and smell) and the distal (vision and hearing) senses, with Kant, Hegel and their inheritors rejecting the aesthetic and artistic relevance of the proximal senses and Burke, Mendelssohn, Herder and their successors affirming the importance of the proximal senses. Section 3 traces the revaluation of the proximal senses from the end of the twentieth century to the present, focusing on taste and smell. Section 4 discusses the importance of both the empirical sciences and the philosophy of perception for rethinking the issue of aesthetics and the senses with particular attention to touch and to multi-modal experience.

Citing this article:
Shiner, Larry. Aesthetics and the senses, 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M060-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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