Cover image for Aesthetics
Lyas, Colin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, [1997]

Physical Description:
xii, 239 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.

Format :


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Material Type
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BH39 .L93 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The book includes engaging discussions of all of the areas central to aesthetics: aesthetic experience, representation, expression, the definition and ontology of art, evaluation, interpretation, truth, and morality. As well as providing a solid grounding in the seminal theories of Plato, Immanuel Kant, and Benedetto Croce, it presents the ideas of contemporary analytic thinkers, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Nelson Goodman, and the iconoclastic views of continental theorists, such as Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. Concerned throughout with enhancing the reader's response to art, Colin Lyas brings his theoretical discussions to life with a wealth of topical examples of human creativity that are familiar to young people: Bowie as well as Beethoven, Warhol as well as Whistler. With comprehensive, up-to-date guides to further reading, Aesthetics is an invaluable introduction for students taking philosophy of art courses and essential reading for anyone who wishes to be informed and inspired to think about and experience art in a new way.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is a concise, engaging introduction to the field of aesthetics. Uncluttered by excessive terminology, it does not presuppose extensive background in philosophy. It is intended both as a general overview and as a textbook for college courses. Its ten chapters fulfill this goal quite well. Each concludes with a helpful three- or four-page bibliographical discussion of possible further reading. Lyas (Univ. of Lancaster), author of Philosophy and Linguistics (CH, Sep'72), offers a wealth of examples from both contemporary and traditional literature and art. He makes clear at the outset that philosophical discussions of art do not so much give access to artworks themselves as reflect on the experience of artworks. He covers the major contemporary Anglo-American and traditional arguments in aesthetics and often sheds helpful light on logical problems in these. Lyas's perspective and the bibliographical references remain quite British. True, he discusses Plato, Kant, Croce, Barthes, and Derrida in some detail, but he gives little attention to 19th- or 20th-century German aesthetics. Schiller, Hegel, Nietzsche, or Heidegger, for instance, do not figure substantively in his discussions, although they are occasionally suggested for further reading. Hermeneutics or critical theory, Gadamer or Adorno, and phenomenologists like Roman Ingarden or Michel Dufrenne are not mentioned. Still, the book has a plenitude of lively, concrete examples and good bibliographical discussions that point out sources for further exploration. General; undergraduate. R. E. Palmer; MacMurray College

Table of Contents

Part 1 Stories: nature's mirror - imitation, representation and imagination
Anglo-Kantian attitudes
""Ne'er so well expressed""
Tales from the Vienna woods - Wittgenstein and after
After the Holocaust - Adorno's challenge and Beuys' answer
Part 2 Problems: the proof of the pudding: subjectivism confronted
The empty tomb - authors and meaning
Helen Schlegel's Beethoven - morals and truths
Conclusions - the point of it all