To What Does the Word 'Beauty' Refer?

James Kirwan


Beauty is a particular kind of aesthetic experience. Aesthetic experience can be divided into various categories according to the kind of aesthetic property (beautiful, sublime, elegant, cool, profound, etc.) that is attributed to the object. The phenomenal bases of these different properties are the objective qualities shared by the objects to which the category is attributed. That is, objects that are, for example, perceived as sublime can be shown to have certain objective qualities in common. This holds true of all nameable aesthetic properties except for beauty. Even within the same class of objects, there are no discoverable common objective qualities that are necessarily present in every attribution of beauty. This lack of content to beauty has led to the word being used informally as a blanket term for aesthetic value. However, where this use has entered aesthetics (as the philosophy of art), obfuscation has resulted.


Beauty; Definition; Aesthetic Experience; Aesthetic Categories; Art

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ESPES. The Slovak Journal of Aesthetics (ISSN 1339-1119) is published biannually by University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia. Registration number of the journal in the Register of Periodical Publications of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic: EV173/23/EPP.

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