Sense of Beauty : Being the Outline of Aesthetic Theory

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The author of the introduction to this new edition, John McCormick, reminds us that The Sense of Beauty is the first work in aesthetics written in the United States. Santayana was versed in the history of his subject, from Plato and Aristotle to Schopenhauer and Taine in the nineteenth century. Santayana took as his task a complete rethinking of the idea that beauty is embedded in objects. Rather, beauty is an emotion, a value, and a sense of the good. In this aesthetics was unlike ethics: not a correction of evil or pursuit of the virtuous. Rather it is a pleasure that residues in the sense of self. The work is divided into chapters on the materials of beauty, form, and expression. A good many of Santayana’s later works are presaged by this early effort. And this volume also anticipates the development of art as a movement as well as a value apart from other aspects of life.

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