aesthetics gk 'things perceptible to the sense', 'sensory impressions' late 18th c., narrowed to 'perception of beautiful' late 19th c., 'good taste' melded with 'the sublime' and 'the beautiful'
art also process of narrowing its meaning first French/Latin ars/artis meaning skill, craft, techique (artisan) included husbandry (farming and housekeeping) to writing and building techne seven arts of medieval universitites - Seven Libral Arts no distinction between sciences on one hand, arts and humanities on other Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric (trivium) - Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy (quadrivium) all were 'arts' as they required technical knowledge mid 19th c., art used as singular, and with a capital letter also, distinction between fine arts and practical arts architecture/building, sculpture/carving, poetry/verse and song, literature/writing pure and applied science (physics/engineering)
Longinus (1st c. AD) Five elements of the sublime: 1) "the power of forming great conceptions";2) "vehement and inspired passion";3) "the due formation of figures";4) "noble diction";5) "dignified and elevated composition."
Edmund Burke, Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757 • "The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature . . . is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other."
“Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt” ― Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition • The sublime is that which evokes a contradictory feeling, "a strong and equivocal emotion: it carries both pleasure and pain...in it pleasure derives from pain" (77). Lyotard describes this Kantian sublime as "when the imagination fails to present an object which might, if only in principle, come to match a concept" (78).
Historian of the postmodern Johannes Bertens argues that, for Lyotard, the sublime "does not lead towards a resolution; the confrontation with the unpresentable leads to radical openness"
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) • Oscar Wilde prefaces his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, with a reflection on art, the artist, and the utility of both. After careful scrutiny, he concludes: “All art is quite useless” (Wilde 4). In this one sentence, Wilde encapsulates the complete principles of the Aesthetic Movement popular in Victorian England. That is to say, real art takes no part in molding the social or moral identities of society, nor should it. Art should be beautiful and pleasure its observer, but to imply further-reaching influence would be a mistake. The explosion of aesthetic philosophy in fin-de-siècle English society, as exemplified by Oscar Wilde, was not confined to merely art, however. Rather, the proponents of this philosophy extended it to life itself…. – PatrickDuggan
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) • Here, aestheticism advocated whatever behavior was likely to maximize the beauty and happiness in one’s life, in the tradition of hedonism. To the aesthete, the ideal life mimics art; it is beautiful, but quite useless beyond its beauty, concerned only with the individual living it. Influences on others, if existent, are trivial at best. Many have read The Picture of Dorian Gray as a novelized sponsor for just this sort of aesthetic lifestyle. However, this story of the rise and fall of Dorian Gray might instead represent an allegory about morality meant to critique, rather than endorse, the obeying of one’s impulses as thoughtlessly and dutifully as aestheticism dictates. – PatrickDuggan
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) • “Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing…A new Hedonism-that is what our century wants.”Advice given to Dorian by Lord Henry
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) Beauty if a form of Genius […] People say sometimes that Beauty is only superficial. That may be so. But at least it is not so superficial as Thought is. To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible… - Lord Henry