What are the main issues in aesthetics? From superficially browsing the

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What are the main issues in aesthetics? From superficially browsing the internet, it would seem that most of the debate centers around the question of what counts as art; surely an entire branch of philosophy can't be built on a question about the classification of cultural products. What other issues, besides the criteria for membership in the category "art", are dealt with in aesthetics?

The question 'What is art?' has the form of a classical philosophical question--questions of that form were raised by Socrates in 'early' dialogues such as the Euthyphro--and although this question has received considerable attention from philosophers, it's not universally accepted that this question is indeed well-formed. (It has been claimed, for example, that the concept 'art' is a 'family resemblance concept' that does not admit of a characterization in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions for falling under that concept and, hence, that much of traditional aesthetics, has rested on a mistake.) So the question of whether the question, 'What is art?' is indeed a genuine philosophical question is also a philosophical question!! Even if one were to conclude, however, that the question, 'What is art?' does indeed rest on a mistake, it should not therefore be concluded that reflection on the nature of art is not philosophically or artistically illuminating: it might well be argued that artists themselves push their media in new directions by expanding the concept of that particular art.

While the issue of the nature of art has been taken to be paradigmatic of a question in aesthetics, perhaps because philosophers of art have long sought to raise questions that are not related to any particular artistic medium, but other similarly general questions, such as questions about the nature of artistic representation and the nature of the interpretation of art, have long been and continue to be raised by philosophers. For what it's worth, however, I myself think that the most fruitful philosophical inquiries into art are likely to come from consideration of issues internal to a particular art or artistic practice. Such questions would, I think, be more closely engaged with actual artistic practice and thus be more engaging for all those interested in that practice. But if this is correct, then one can't specify in advance just what questions will count as questions in aesthetics, and so for meta-philosophical reasons, I would want to resist answering your question.

My admittedly contentious view aside, however, if one wants to get a sense for the range of questions that have traditionally taken to fall within the purview of aesthetics, one would do well to consider one of the handbooks or reference guides that have recently appeared on the topic, such as the Routledge Companion to Aesthetics.,

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