General Information about Aesthetics

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of taste, beauty and art. Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, a German philosopher, was the first individual to define this term. More than that, he helped establish the study of this branch as a separate field of philosophy.

From a more scientific point of view, this term refers to the study of sensory values, often called judgments of taste or sentiment. Scholars also define it as the critical reflection of nature, culture and art.

It is to be noted that there are several categories in this field, such as music theory, film theory, literary theory and art theory.


This term can be used in two different ways: as a noun or as an adjective. When used as a noun, this word makes references to the senses. The artistic judgment of an individual is essential in defining his or her artistic taste. For example, someone who wears red clothes, drives a red vehicle and has his bedroom painted in the same color has particular or personal principles of beauty.

As an adjective, the main meaning of this term can be emphasized by comparing it to its antonym, which is anaesthetic.


The word aesthetics comes from the Greek aisthetikos (αἰσθητικός), which means sensitive, aesthetic. At its turn, it is derived from aisthanomai (αἰσθάνομαι), meaning 'I feel, I sense, I perceive.' As mentioned above, this term was established with the new meaning by the German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten in 1735.


The aesthetic doctrines behind the production and interpretation of art in prehistoric times are not known. However, ancient art was largely based in several ancient civilizations:

  • Egyptian
  • Mesopotamian
  • Persian
  • Greek
  • Chinese
  • Roman
  • Indian
  • Celtic
  • Mayan

Philosophy of Art

Some scholars consider that the term 'aesthetics' is synonymous with the term 'philosophy of art,' while others strongly believe that there is a big difference between these two fields.

On the one hand, aesthetic judgment makes reference to the appreciation or contemplation of an object, which does not necessarily need to be an art object. On the other hand, the philosophy of art deals with the criticism, appreciation and recognition of works of art.

As compared to the philosophy of art, aesthetics does not deal only with the value and the nature of art, but also with our responses to any object that can be described as ugly or beautiful.