Why do people read novels, go to the theater, or listen to beautiful music? Do we seek out aesthetic experiences simply because we enjoy them--or is there another, deeper, reason we spend our leisure time viewing or experiencing works of art? Aesthetics, the first short introduction to the contemporary philosophy of aesthetics, examines not just the nature of the aesthetic experience, but the definition of art, and its moral and intrinsic value in our lives.
Anne Sheppard divides her work into two parts: In the first, she summarizes the major theories defining art and beauty; in the second, she explores the nature of aesthetic evaluation and appreciation. As Sheppard explains, there are three main approaches to defining art, all focused on what art objects share. One proposes that all art imitates something in life, another that it expresses something (such as anger or ecstasy), still another suggests that all art has formal qualities. There is also a fourth which offers that all art shares the quality of beauty.
In the second part, which concentrates on literary art, Sheppard explores such philosophic topics as critical judgment, meaning and truth in literature, and the relationship between art and morals. She raises such questions as whether there is one correct interpretation of a work of art and whether art has a moral effect on its audience and, citing specific examples, explores the views that have been put forth. A wide-ranging, intriguing book, which assumes no formal knowledge on the part of its readers, Aesthetics opens the door to a greater understanding and appreciation of art.
'a stimulating appetizer...Dr Sheppard writes lucidly and succeeds in presenting most of the perennial problems of aesthetics...a well-written, accessible introduction to a difficult subject.' Frances Berenson THES
`contains a prodigious amount of thorough and convincing argument, and the orderly manner in which the topics for discussion follow one another is aesthetically as well as philosophically admirable`
The Heythrop Journal
'Sheppard's Aesthetics was written essentially to enrich our response to art, literature and music; and it fulfills its primary objective admirably.' RSA Journal
'A long due introduction to the central puzzle of aesthetics - well presented ... essential reading for undergraduates.' M. Lewis, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Sheffield. 'This is the most lucid introduction to Aesthetics that I have come across. It explains the issues, examines the theories and analysis some of their difficulties with the minimum of distortion.' Dr D. AS. Whodell, University of Durham.
'Anne Sheppard has succeeded in a difficult task, that of writing an introduction to the philosophy of art which, by virtue of its clarity and cogency, is both genuinely introductory and philosophically genuine.'
British Journal of Aesthetics
'a good introduction to problems of aesthetics'
Bernard Riches, Brasenose College, Oxford, Review of English Studies