Aesthetic Appreciation


Aesthetic appreciation is a positive response that occurs in the senses or imagination, which makes us feel good about things we have seen or listened to. It can involve anything that is aesthetically pleasing to the senses, whether that’s an artwork, a beautiful landscape, a delicious dish or a musical score.

A ‘beautiful’ object can be an art work, a song, or even just something that someone has made that they’re proud of. A work of art can be a painting, a sculpture, a piece of jewelry, or an actual building. The beauty of the art can be a combination of qualities like form, color, and composition.

The concept of beauty has been a source of much debate and controversy throughout the world’s history, both philosophically and artistically. Many philosophers have argued that it is an objective quality, and can be found in the qualities of the object that is considered to be beautiful. Others argue that it is a subjective experience, and can be found in the feelings that someone feels when they see or hear about something that they consider to be beautiful.

Until the eighteenth century, most philosophical accounts of beauty treated it as an objective quality: they located it in the beautiful object itself or in the qualities of that object. Augustine’s account in De Veritate Religione, for example, asks explicitly whether things are beautiful because they give delight, or whether they give delight because they are beautiful; he emphatically opts for the second (Augustine, 247)

In the twentieth century, however, philosophers started to reinterpret the concept of beauty. George Santayana, for instance, proposed a very subjective account of beauty in his book The Sense of Beauty.

For Santayana, beauty is ‘objectified pleasure,’ and the judgment of something that it is beautiful responds to the fact that it induces a certain sort of pleasure. The pleasure that is attributed to something is then ‘ascribed to the object, as though it itself were having subjective states’ (Santayana 2002, 191).

This approach may seem like a regressive position. But it is a necessary one because of the ways in which we experience the world through our senses. A person with color-blindness, for example, will allegedly perceive the same objects in different colors depending on their environment or at certain times of day.

Other people, on the other hand, might be able to feel the same things with their senses but not have a subjective experience of them. This is because their brains process them differently.

These differences can be observed in the way that we react to a particular person or an image. They can be based on gender, age, race, bone structure, body shape, weight or any other characteristic that makes that person or object ‘beautiful’ in our mind and heart.

As a result, the concept of beauty has been very important to Western philosophy and aesthetic traditions. It has helped to define what we think about art and how we view the world around us. It has also shaped the way in which we see other human beings and our relationships with them, and how we value and understand them.