Is esthetics the means by which the mind contemplates that “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”? If so, is esthetics itself something of which we cannot speak and therefore how is it meaningful as a branch of philosophy? Is “beauty” the esthetics equivalent of “truth” in logic? Are art and science distinct or do they overlap in esthetic creativity? Is art a social construct distinct from practical reality? Or, is it an individual construct that gives meaning to individual life?  Through philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, how has esthetics been able to become a defining source of meaning for the modern world? These questions and more will be considered in this contemplation of the history and substance of esthetics. Esthetics is traditionally the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and appreciation of art, beauty, and creativity. The word “aesthetics” derives from the Greek “aisthetikos”, meaning “of sense perception”. However, in the modern world, it has become to mean good taste as defined by those with the power to define good taste. How has this transition in meaning affected and how will it affect the artists and art of the working class who lack the power to define good taste and thus to define art, beauty, and creativity?

“Sand Pebbles” music courtesy the film, Sand Pebbles, music by Jerry Goldsmith.

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