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There was a problem loading comments right now. I especially beg the reader not to be overcome by dulness, but to read these extracts through, or, still better, to read some one of the erudite aesthetic authors. It is necessary to read one of the learned aesthetic writers in order to form at first-hand a conception of the variety in opinion and the frightful obscurity which reigns in this region of specula- tion; not, in this important matter, trusting to another's report.
This, for instance, is what the German sesthetician Schasler says in the preface to his famous, voluminous, and detailed work on aesthetics: A style of exposition that falls into none of these three- defects but it is truly concrete, and, having important matter, expresses it in clear and popular philosophic language, can nowhere be found less frequently than in the domain of SBsthetics.
I shall not quote the definitions of beauty attributed to the ancients, — Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. Schasler, Kritische Oeschichte der Aesthetik, , vol. From Plato down to the received doctrines of our day, people have made of art a strange amalgam of quintessential fancies and transcendental mysteries, which find their supreme exi ression in the conception of an absolute ideal Beauty, immutable and divine prototype of actual thiugs.
Beauty is the Perfect the Absolute , recog- nised through the senses ; Truth is the Perfect perceived through reason ; ' Goodness is the Perfect reached by moral will. Beauty is defined by Baumgarten as a correspondence, i.
The aim of beauty itself is to please and excite a desire, " Wohlgefallen und Erregung eines Verlangens. This position also is directly contradicted by the conclusions of the latest sestheticians. Passing over the unimportant followers of Baumgarten, — Maier, Eschenburg, and Eberhard, — who only slightly modified the doctrine of their teacher by dividing the pleasant from the beautiful, I will quote the definitions given by writers who came immediately after Baumgarten, and defined beauty quite in another way.
These writers 1 Schasler, p. They, iu con- tradiction to Baumgarten's main position, recognise as the aim of art, not beauty, but goodness. Thus Sulzer says that only that can be considered beautiful which contains goodness.
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According to his theory, the aim of the whole life of humanity is welfare in social life. This attained by the education of the moral feelings, to IS Beauty is that which end art should bo subservient, which evokes and educates this feeling. Beauty is understood almost in the same way by Mendelssohn According to him, art is the carrying forward of the beautiful, obscurely recognised by feeling, till it becomes the true and good. The aim of art is moral perfection. So that these cestheticians completely wipe out Baumgarten's division of the Perfect the Absolute , into the three forms of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty ; and Beauty is again united with the Good and the True.
But this conception is not only not maintained by the later sestheticians, but the cesthetic doctrine of Winckelmann arises, again in complete opposition. This divides the mission of art from the aim of goodness in the sharpest and most positive manner, makes external beauty the aim of art, and even limits it to visible beauty.
According to the celebrated work of Winckelmann , the law and aim of all art is beauty only, beauty quite separated from and independent of goodness. There are three kinds of beauty: Native ceathetic theories arose during this period in England, France, Italy, and Holland, and they, though not taken from the German, were equally cloudy and contra- dictory.
In England, almost simultaneously with Baumgarten, even a little earlier, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Home, Burke, Hogarth, and others, wrote on art. According to Shaftesbury , "That which is beautiful is harmonious and proportionable, what is har- monious and proportionable is true, and what is at once both beautiful and true is of consequence agreeable and good.
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God is fundamental beauty; beauty and goodness proceed from the same fount. So that, although Shaftesbury regards beauty as being something separate from goodness, they again merge into something inseparable. According to Hutcheson — "Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue" , the aim of art is beauty, the essence of which consists in evoking in us the perception of uniformity amid variety.
In the recogni- tion of what is art we are guided by "an internal sense. So that, according to HutchcHon, beauty does not always correspond with goodness, but separates from it and is sometimes ccmtrary to it. Therefore beauty is defined by taste alone. The standard of true taste is that the maximum of richness, fulness, strength, and variety of impression should be contained in the narrowest limits. That is the ideal of a perfect work of art.
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According to Burke — "Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful " , the sublime and beautiful, which are the aim of art, have their origin in the promptings of self-preservation and of society. These feelings, examined in their source, are means for the maintenance of the race through the individual. The first self-preservation is attained hy nourishment, defence, and war ; the second society by intercourse and propagation.
Therefore self-defence, and war, which is bound up with it, is the source of the sublime ; sociability, and the sex-instinct, which is bound up with it, is the source of beauty. During that period, in France, jthe writers on art were P6re Andr6 and Batteux, with Diderot, D'Alembert, and, to some extent, Voltaire, following later. I The French writerH, like tlio Miif,'lish, consider that it ia taste that tleciilos wliat is beautiful.
And tlio laws of taste are not only not laid down, but it is granted that thoy cannot be settled. The same view was held by D'Alenibert and Voltaire. Among Dutch ' writers, Hemsterhuis , who had an influence on the German oestheticians and on Goethe, is remarkable.
According to him, beauty is that which gives most pleasure, and that gives most pleasure which gives us the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time. Enjoy- ment of the beautiful, because it gives the greatest quantity of perceptions in the shortest time, is the highest notion to which man can attain. In Germany, after Winckelmann, there again arose a completely now sesthetic theory, that of Kant , which more than all others clears up what this con- ception of beauty, and consequently of art, really amounts to.
The aesthetic teaching of Kant is founded as follows: In nature, outside himself, he seeks for truth ; in himself he seeks for goodness. The first is an affair of pure reason, the other of practical reason free-will. This capacity is th basiH of rcsthetic feeling. IJcauty, according to Kant, in its subjective meaning is that whicli, in general and necessarily, without reasonings and without practical advantage, pleases.
In its objective meaning it is the form of a suitable object in so far as that object is perceived without any conception of its utility. So that art may be called a game, not in the sense of an unimportant occupation, but in the sense of a manifestation of the beauties of life itself without other aim than that of beauty. Fichte says that perception of th' beautiful proceeds from this: In the first aspect the world is limited, in the second aspect it is free.
Fichte, depends on the point of view of the observer. Beauty therefore exists, not in the world, but in the beautiful soul schuner Geist. Art is the manifestation of this beautiful soul, and its aim is the education, not only of the mind — that is the business of the savant ; not only of the heart — that is the aflfair of the moral preacher ; but of the whole man.
And so the characteristic of beauty lies, not in anything external, but in the presence of a beautiful soul in the artist. According to Schlegel , beauty in art is understood too incompletely, one-sidedly, and disconnectedly. Beauty exists not only in art, but also in nature and in love ; so that the truly beautiful is expressed by the union of art, nature, and love.
Therefore, as inseparably one with aesthetic art, Schlegel acknowledges moral and philosophic art. A world in which all contradictions are harmonised is the highest beauty. Every work of art is a reproduction of this universal harmony. According to Schelling's philosophy, art is the production or result of that conception of things by which the subject becomes its own object, or the object its own subject. Beauty is the perception of the infinite in the finite.
And 1 Schasler, pp.