The Principles of Aesthetics can be considered the definitive work on aesthetics, the philosophy of art, beauty, and taste. It is the result of a series of lectures given by Dewitt H. Parker, and gives a comprehensive review of a truly extensive subject. Every person has some sense of the beautiful and the ugly. We all admire certain images, combinations of sound, taste, smell, or feeling. But where does this enjoyment come from? If our tastes were all alike, we could find precise formulae that define the beautiful and discover the keys to the nature of art. But our tastes differ from one person to the next, and even from one moment to the next. This is what makes beauty a mystery. Art is a grasping at the intangible reality that surrounds and transcends our attempts to order the world. This is what makes the philosophy of aesthetics so fascinating. At the very least, it gives us insight into our nature as human beings. At best, it can let us glimpse the nature of truth beyond reason and intention.
It has been said that art imitates nature. Perhaps some ephemeral quality of the natural world is reflected in our sense of beauty and taste. The philosophy of aesthetics is focused on these questions. It delves into the mysterious pool from which artists and poets derive their inspiration. With this piece, Dewitt H. Parker gives us a beautiful and thorough introduction into a field that points towards the mysteries of the human experience. A summary precedes the full narration, giving a biography of the author, as well as an overview, synopsis, and analysis of the work.
The summary is capped by a brief look at the historical context of Dewitt's work, as well as the criticism and social impact it evoked.
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