Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 5-8

Contents

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pp. 9-12

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Preface

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pp. 13-16

For the purposes of this history of aesthetics, it is probably not necessary to be extremely scrupulous in marking the boundaries of the subject. A certain measure of generosity in conceiving its scope seems appropriate to so variously mapped a field. But a few preliminary distinctions may be helpful. ...

General Bibliography

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pp. 17-20

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I. First Thoughts

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pp. 21-29

Though we cannot say when men first began to reflect philosophically on the arts, we can get some glimpses of the stages that must have preceded the appearance of aesthetics in the full sense. For one thing, works of art, or the activities that produce them, would have to be distinguished, however vaguely, from other things. ..

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II. Plato

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pp. 30-53

From the numerous passages in Plato's dialogues where aesthetic matters are broached we can guess that some of these matters were familiar topics of intellectual conversation among his contemporaries. Educated Athenians, not only the rhetoricians and rhapsodes, must often have engaged in lively disputes over the truthfulness and authority of Homer, ...

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III. Aristotle

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pp. 54-68

The little book, or collection of lecture notes, that has come down to us as Aristotle's Poetics was probably written about 347-42 B.C., but revised at some later date either by Aristotle or by an apt pupil. Despite all the lacunae in the argument and all the corruptions of the text, its influence and authority in succeeding centuries has been out of all proportion to its length. ...

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IV. The Later Classical Philosophers

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pp. 69-88

It is remarkable that Aristotle's Poetics had practically no ancient history-that it does not seem to have been available to most of those who carried on the study of poetics in the next centuries. What was known of it by later Greeks and Romans came indirectly, for instance through the writings of Aristotle's favorite pupil, Theophrastus (about 372-287 B.C.). ...

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V. The Middle Ages

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pp. 89-116

The early Fathers of the Christian Church were too deeply absorbed in their immense theological tasks to be drawn into speculative or analytical inquiries that could not be brought directly to bear on their immediate concerns ...

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VI. The Renaissance

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pp. 117-139

During the two hundred years that may, somewhat arbitrarily, be marked off as the Renaissance—say, from the birth of Nicholas of Cusa (1401) to the death of Giordano Bruno (1600)—there was no great philosopher to turn his mind to the problems of aesthetics, and no single thinker made systematic contributions to its progress. ...

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VII. The Enlightenment: Cartesian Rationalism

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pp. 140-165

It is no doubt a little ironic that we must begin our examination of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century aesthetics by recalling the philosophy of Descartes, whose volumes of writings nowhere present even the sketch of an aesthetic theory. ...

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VIII. The Enlightenment: Empiricism

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pp. 166-208

Valid objections can no doubt be raised against an over-tidy imposition of the rationalism-empiricism dichotomy upon the fluid and complex movements of modern thought. And certainly it is a serious mistake to use this distinction as a kind of spatula for separating two groups of thinkers, since it is tendencies of thought, ...

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IX. German Idealism

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pp. 209-243

The great flowering of German thought in the latter part of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had a profound effect upon the history of aesthetics. Rich in epistemological and metaphysical explorations on the one hand, and in practical and theoretical criticism on the other, ...

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X. Romanticism

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pp. 244-282

The history of aesthetic thinking in the nineteenth century has a markedly different character from that in the preceding century. As we have seen, philosophic concern with aesthetic problems persisted in Germany, among the Hege1ians and semi-Hegelians, and also among those "formalistic" professors whose rebellion against Hegelianism helped foster the rise of experimental psychology in aesthetics. ...

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XI. The Artist and Society

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pp. 283-316

The nineteenth century brought radical changes in the political, economic, and social position of the artist, and posed unprecedented problems, both practical and theoretical, about the artist's relation to his art and to his fellow-men. ...

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XII. Contemporary Developments

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pp. 317-398

When the historian, picking his way carefully through the varied remains of human thought and activity that mark the centuries past, comes within hailing distance of his own time, his determination to keep hold of a proper perspective becomes more desperate than ever. ...

Index

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pp. 399-414