What is aesthetic value? A property in an object? An experience of a perceiving person? An ideal object existing in a mysterious sphere, inaccessible to normal cognition? Does it appear in one form only, or in many forms, perhaps infinitely many? Is it something constant, immutable, or rather something susceptible to change, depending on the individual, the cultural milieu, or the epoch? Is a rational defence of aesthetic value judgements possible, or is any discussion of this topic meaningless? The above questions arise out of the most complicated philosophic problems. Volumes have been written on each of them. The discussions which continue over the centuries, the plurality of views and suggested solutions, indicate that all issues are controversial and contestable. Each view can adduce some arguments supporting it; each has some weaknesses. Another source of difficulty is the vagueness and ambiguity of the language in which the problems are discussed. This makes it hard to understand the ideas of particular thinkers and sometimes makes it impossible to decide whether different formulations express the actual divergence of views or only the verbal preferences of their authors.
Let us add that this imperfection does not simply spring from inaccuracy on the part of scholars, but also results from the complexity of the problems themselves. The matter is further complicated by important factors of a social character.
I. Subjectivism.- II Objectivism.- III. Relationism.- IV. Panaestheticism.- V. Relativism and Universalism.- VI. Monism and Pluralism.- VII. Aesthetic Values in Avant-Garde Art.- VIII. Performance.- Selected Bibliography.