A. G. Baumgarten. Aesthetics - Reader in Philosophy

A. G. Baumgarten. Aesthetics

BAUMGARTEN Alexander Gottlieb (1714-1762) was born in Berlin. His father was an assistant to the theologian and teacher Franke. Alexander Baumgarten was the fifth child in the family.

His brother, Jakob Sigmund, was a famous theologian and a church historian. Baumgarten studied philosophy and theology in Halle from H. Wolff. In 1735, after receiving a master's degree, he was appointed professor at the University of Halle and in 1738 became a professor. Since 1740 Baumgarten became a professor at the University of Frankfurt-on-Oder, where he worked until his death. Entered the term aesthetics & quot ;.

§ 1. Aesthetics (the theory of free arts, inferior gnoseology, the art of fine thinking, the art of the analog of reason) is the science of sensory cognition.

§ 2. The natural step of the lower cognitive abilities, perfected by the mere application of them, without training, can be called a natural aesthetics and divided in the same way as is usually divided by natural logic, i.e. on the born, or the born fine gift, and acquired, and this latter, in turn, on the theoretical (docens) and applied (utens).

§ 3. The most important practical application of artificial aesthetics, existing along with natural, is: 1) to deliver good material for the sciences, comprehended primarily by the intellect; 2) prinovarovat scientifically-cognized to any understanding; 3) to expand the improvement of knowledge beyond the limits clearly perceived by us; 4) to supply with good principles increasingly refined occupations and free arts;

5) in the hostel, in the case of other equal conditions, give an advantage in the performance of any cases.

§ 4. From here particular applications of it: 1) in philology, 2) in hermeneutics, 3) in exegesis, 4) in rhetoric, 5) in homiletics, 6) in poetics, 7) in music theory, etc. .

§ 5. Against our science can object, first, that it is too vast and it can not be exhausted in one book, in one course. Answer: I agree, but anything is better than nothing. Secondly, they may object that it is the same as rhetoric and poetics. The answer is: a) it is wider;

6) it covers what is common to these two, so to them and other arts, and if you look at this in the right place once, then any art will be able to later successfully develop your site, without unnecessary tautologies. Thirdly, they may object: it is the same as criticism. Answer: a) there is also a logical criticism; b) a certain kind of criticism is part of aesthetics; c) for such criticism, some preliminary knowledge of the other parts of aesthetics is absolutely essential, unless it wants to turn into a simple dispute about tastes when judging about beautiful thoughts, words, or writings.

§ 6. Against our science may object, fourthly, that it is not worthy of attention of philosophers and that objects of sensations, imaginations, and also inventions (fabulae), vicissitudes of passions, etc. are below the philosophical horizon. The answer is: a) the philosopher is the same person as the others, and he has no right to shy away from such a vast field of human knowledge; b) in this case confuse the general theory of the perfectly conceivable with the practice and the realization of the individual.

§ 7. They may argue, fifthly: confusion (confusio) - the mother of mistakes. The answer: a) nevertheless, it is an indispensable condition for finding the truth where nature does not make jumps in the transition from darkness to distinctness; by noon they come from the night through the dawn: (b) it is precisely because of this that attention should be paid to the vagueness, so that errors do not result from this, the quantity and magnitude of which depend on the degree of our inattention; c) not confusion itself is approved, and cognition is corrected, as soon as a certain amount of confusion is added to it, if necessary.

§ 8. There may be objection, sixthly: distinct knowledge is superior. The answer: a) the final spirit - only in more important things; b) the assumption

one does not exclude the other; c) and following the clearly-known rules, we first go along the straight path to the well-known prophetic, and only then the more clearly the distinctness is revealed through them.

§ 9. May argue, Seventh: if you cultivate an analogue of the mind, you need to be wary of how the territory of reason and seriousness has suffered damage. The answer: (a) This argument is one that proves too much, for the same danger exists whenever there is a need for some kind of complex perfection that induces action and does not incline to disregard the perfection of the genuine; b) An ill-conceived (incultum) and even damaged analogue of the mind in no small measure promotes reason and strict seriousness.

§ 10. It may be objected, eighth, that aesthetics is art, not science. Answer: a) these abilities are not opposites; because how many arts once existed, which are now both sciences? b) that our art is susceptible to proof, experience will confirm, and this is clear a priori, for psychology and other sciences provide it with reliable principles; and that it deserves to be raised to the level of science, show its practical applications mentioned in other paragraphs.

§11. May argue, ninth: aesthetics, like poets, are born, and not done. The answer is Horace. The art of poetry, verse 408; Cicero. About the speaker, book. II, ch. 60; Bilfinger in Explained § 268; Breitinger. About the assimilations, p. 6. A more complete theory, more approved by the authority of the mind, more accurate, less vague, more reliable, less shaky, helps the natural aesthetics.

§ 12. Can argue, in the tenth: inferior abilities, the flesh should be suppressed rather than excite and reinforce. Otpet: a) dominance over the lower abilities, but not tyranny over them; b) aesthetics leads to such naturally acquired domination as if by the hand; c) aesthetics should not excite and support inferior abilities as perverse, but must guide them so that they are not damaged even more from their harmful use, or that, on the pretext of avoiding abuse, the pretext that covers laziness, the use of this talent should not be abolished altogether .

§ 13. Our aesthetics, like its older sister, logic, is divided, firstly, into a theoretical, teaching, general, giving instructions: 1) about things and objects of thought, heuristics, 2) about a clear order, methodology , 3) on the signs of perfectly conceivable and perfectly disposed objects, semiotics, and secondly, on the practical, applied, special. In both:

If someone chooses the subject by themselves, neither order nor clarity will leave it: the expression will be free.

Thing let the first be, the second let be the order,

The signs will take their third place.


§ 14. The purpose of aesthetics is the perfection of sensory cognition as such and this is beauty. Moreover, one should beware of its imperfections as such, which is ugliness.

§ 15. The aesthetic as such has no concern for the perfection of sensory cognition, so deeply hidden that they either remain for

we are completely dark, or can be discerned only by using the intellect.

§ 16. The aesthetic as such has no concern for imperfections of sensory cognition, so deeply hidden that they either remain completely dark for us, or can be detected only by judging the intellect.

§ 17. Sensory cognition, in its main meaning, is a complex of representations that are below the threshold of difference. If we were to contemplate at once, comprehending by the mind either only its beauty and grace, or only its ugliness, as sometimes the observer with developed taste does, then the necessary distinction for science would be lost, as if suppressed by a multitude of charms and spots at various stages of their generality - generic, species or individual. Therefore, first consider beauty insofar as it is common to almost every sensationally beautiful cognition, universal and universal, together with its opposite.

§ 18. The beauty of sensory cognition in the universal meaning is 1) the mutual agreement of thoughts, correlated with one thing and being a phenomenon, and in this case we are distracted from the order of these thoughts and signs. The beauty of things and thoughts should be distinguished both from the beauty of knowledge, the first and main part of which it is, and from the beauty of objects and matter, with which it is often mixed incorrectly because of the entrenched meaning of the term. Ugly objects as such can be thought of perfectly, and beautiful ones are ugly.

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