Customer Reviews: Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology
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Like most of the Blackwell anthologies I have experience with, this is very well put together and is a thorough (if not fully comprehensive) introduction to the most important and influential thinkers in aesthetics. I use it, along with some supplementary readings, in my aesthetics class, and focus there on the classical and modern readings - but I find it helpful that the book includes both a historical and a topical table of contents, so that you can read the selections chronologically or according to topics like "beauty" or "definitions of art" or "expression and emotion in the arts."

When it comes to contemporary aesthetics, this book covers a wide range of the most influential thinkers in English-speaking and analytic aesthetics, while almost completely ignoring the work of Continental thinkers (apart from a few selections from critical theory and hermeneutics, which is treated here as "historical" and not contemporary). The most glaring omission is that there is nothing here from Derrida, who did, after all, write a number of important and highly influential pieces on aesthetics (not to mention Deleuze, or Lyotard, or Baudrillard, or Ranciere...). Still, this is the most thorough text of its kind that I've seen and I wouldn't necessarily argue for omitting anything that is here in order to include those other things (since to do them justice would probably require another kind of book - best to consider this an "Anglo-American and Analytic Approaches to Aesthetics and their Historical Predecessors" anthology).

Another thing that would make it more helpful as a textbook would be to have a very brief introduction to each selection, outlining the issues and the central contributions made within the selection to the field of aesthetics. In my class I tend to assign readings first and then have lectures and discussions, and brief introductions would help to orient my students better before we meet to discuss. In lieu of that, I try to say something briefly before the reading, but it would be helpful for them to be able to turn back to the summaries during and after each reading, and it would be helpful for them to get a different take on the overall importance of the reading than I have to offer. There are broad essays introducing each period (e.g. a brief essay on "the classical period" - from Plato to Kant, and a brief essay on "modern theories" from Schiller to Gadamer), but that's not quite the same, and not as useful, as quick intros to each reading selection.
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on April 14, 2012
Overall, this anthology leaves very little to be desired by way of an introduction to Aesthetics. I will give a brief review as another reviewer has already provided the majority of what I would like to say:


+ The anthology covers many of the historical works (including some that were heavily influential but left out of other anthologies). I include works by philosophers such as Schopenhauer, whose work primarily served to influence Nietzsche, but also contributes far more than Nietzsche cares to use.

+ The length of the works in this anthology is an important detail. This anthology tries to provide a sample of each of the historical works so as to translate their main ideas. Yet, works such as Art as Experience and The Critique of Judgment have slightly longer lengths -- both because their authors were more prolific and because their ideas were not proposed concisely. Anyone with experience reading Kant understands that 10 pages of his critiques may as well be 40 pages of another book. The anthology does well to ensure that the reader has enough of each author to understand the primary (and numerous secondary) points of his or her work.

+ Medieval aesthetics are included among the historical section. I have enjoyed previous aesthetics anthologies (here, I am thinking of Art and Its Significance), but they have not included medieval works nor as many contemporary commentaries. The anthology presents both very well.


- There is nothing by Derrida. Deconstruction was a very important shift in aesthetic and literary theory. It is a shame that the anthology left his work out. As another reviewer noted, the book leans more toward analytic philosophy than continental, so I am sure that played a role in leaving "Of Grammatology", for instance, out.

- The anthology does not cover a lot about metaphysics of art. What is the difference between two numerically distinct yet qualitatively identical (to the very atom -- except for the fact that one was made by the artist and the other is a reproduction) works of art? This is a fascinating topic in aesthetics, and it is not adequately captured within this book.

Overall, I would rate the work an 8.5 / 10. I would gladly recommend this anthology to anyone who wishes for an introduction to aesthetics, and I may use it in my courses on aesthetics in the future.
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on March 11, 2015
If you've ever wondered what makes art art, and what philosophers have to say about it (throughout history), then this is a book for you! Plato! Aristotle! Some dude from the 1700's you've never heard of but somehow 98% agree with! Aesthetics versus fine art! It's organized, thoughtful, and contains art-related excerpts from philosophical and sometimes borderline sarcastic authors (that Plato is a hoot when he writes as the endlessly sassy "Socrates")! The binding is tough, so even when I bend the pages all the way back to keep it open during class it stays strong and doesn't look bent when closed! And you can use the half-page-ish space at the beginning and end of each excerpt to take notes! There are two columns on each page - double the art fun! If you're getting this for a class, have no fear, you might actually like it, and you're getting it because you want it, then I recommend reading something and instigating an art discussion to show off your mad philosophy skills at your next luncheon! Okay, that's all. Have a lovely day.
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on March 12, 2014
I am currently enrolled in a philosophy of art class, this book was required. I rated it a five star because, it is meeting my expectations. It is very helpful and I like how it bends even though it is a very this book. I strongly recommend this book for those who are studying philosophy of art.
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on February 16, 2013
One of the best books on the subject, as the contents show at first sight. Beautifully bound, Norton-like, comprehensive, definitely worth reading!
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on April 4, 2014
It is as it says, a comprehensive anthology on aesthetics. It covers the full gambit on the authorities on Aesthetics from the beginning.
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on September 2, 2014
great condition and great textbook
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on January 17, 2015
have,nt finished it yet
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on March 13, 2015
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on September 16, 2015
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