Hutcheson and Hume

Authored by: James Shelley

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  April  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782869
eBook ISBN: 9780203813034
Adobe ISBN: 9781136697142


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Modern aesthetics owes its defining concepts — at least the concepts that have preoccupied it most — to the eighteenth century. These are the concepts of art and of the aesthetic. It is true that the term “art” was long in use before then, but it was not until the eighteenth century that the art forms now included in what Paul Oskar Kristeller famously calls “the modern system of the arts” began to be grouped together, and that the term thus became linked with the concept that now governs it (Kristeller 1951). The reverse is true of the concept of the aesthetic: though it was not until the nineteenth century that the term began to be linked, in the English-speaking world at least, with the concept that now governs it, that concept first took on recognizable shape early in the eighteenth century (Stolnitz 1961: 142–43). It is with justice, therefore, that we regard the eighteenth century as the formative period of modern philosophical aesthetics, since it was only then that its defining concepts assumed recognizable form, and only then, therefore, that the modern discipline itself assumed recognizable form.

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