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Aesthetics (or esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the definition of beauty. The word aesthetics was first used by German philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, who helped to establish the study of aesthetics as a separate philisophical field of study.

The word aesthetic can be used as a noun meaning "that which appeals to the senses." Someone's aesthetic has a lot to do with their artistic judgement. For example, an individual who wears flowered clothing, drives a flowered car, and paints their home with flowers has a particular aesthetic.

Some of the meaning of aesthetic as an adjective can be illuminated by comparing it to anaesthetic, which is by construction an antonym of aesthetic. If something is anaesthetic, it tends to dull the senses or cause sleepiness. In contrast, aesthetic may be thought of as anything that tends to enliven or invigorate or wake one up.

Table of contents
1 The Philosopy of Aesthetics
2 Aesthetics in Art
3 Aesthetics in Music
4 Aesthetics in Architecture
5 Aesthetics in the Performing Arts
6 Aesthetics in Literature
7 Aesthetics in Landscape Design
8 Culinary Aesthetics
9 Disclaimer

The Philosopy of Aesthetics

This study of aesthetics is well-developed in theology, e.g. "water, greenery, and a beautiful face" were identified by Muhammad, founder and Prophet of Islam, as the key things that any person could differentiate from the background.

It is particularly important to the study of the individual's moral core, which is formed by epigenetics and examples through his or her lifetime, but has a common human foundation explored in cognitive science, anthropology and primatology.

Since actions or behavior can be said to have beauty beyond sensory appeal, aesthetics and ethics often overlap to the degree that this impression is embodied in a moral code or ethical code.

See also morality, ethics, aestheticism.
Compare surrealist automatism.

The elements that contribute to the aesthetic appeal of an object depend upon the medium under design; some elements are listed below.

Aesthetics in Art

Of course art appreciation is in the eyes of the beholder, although there are certain elements that we can define across a group of paintings that can be generalized or delineated, and hence discussed and analyzed on their own mertis.

Generally, art adheres to the aesthetic principles of symmetry/asymmetry, focal point, pattern, contrast, perspective, 3D dimensionality, movement, rhythm, unity/Gestalt, and proportion.

You can't take a sample of artwork, lay it down, critique it across aesthetic dimensions, and reach some kind of quantitative judgement as to its quality. Great paintings touch our souls; they may violate some guidelines or lend different weights to various aesthetic principles (sometimes a piece of art veers violently from an aesthetic principle specifically for effect). Yet the principle of aesthetics gives us a basis for discussion.

Saw: Design Notes
Krouth: Art Curriculum

Aesthetics in Music

Music has the ability to affect our emotions, intellect, and our psychology; lyrics can assuage our loneliness or incite our passions. As such music is a powerful art form, and it's aesthetic appeal is highly dependent upon the culture where it is practiced.

Some of the aesthetic elements expressed in music include lyricism, harmony, hypnotism, emotiveness, temporal dynamics, resonance, playfulness, and color.

Norton: Musical Materials
Malloy: Music Outline

Aesthetics in Architecture

Applying aesthetics to buildings and related architectural structures is complex, as factors extrinsic to visual design (such as structural integrity, cost, the nature of building materials, and the functional utility of the building) contribute heavily to the design process.

Notwithstanding, architectural designers can still apply the aesthetic principles of ornamentation, edge deliniation, texture, flow, solemnity, symmetry, color, granularity, the interaction of sunlight and shadows, transcendance, and harmony.

Lee/Stroik: Christian Architecture
Salingaros: Life and Complexity in Architecture

Aesthetics in the Performing Arts

Performing artists appeal to our aesthetics of storytelling, grace, balance, class, timing, strength, shock, humor, costume, irony, beauty, and sensuality.

Poddubiuk: Costume Design
Sardo: Theatrical Costume
Morden: Storytelling

Aesthetics in Literature

Encompassing poetry, short stories, novels, and non-fiction, authors use a variety of techniques to appeal to our aesthetic values. Depending on the type of writing an author may employ rhythm, illustrations, structure, time shifting, juxtaposition, dualism, imagery, fantasy, suspense, analysis, humor/cynicism, and thinking aloud.

Aesthetics in Landscape Design

Landscape designers use natural and artificial materials scaling from the size of a person to the expanse of a golf course. They may employ water (in pools, streams, or fountains), color, plants, reflection, seasonal variance, stonework, fragrance, variance of viewing expansiveness (depth of field?), exterior lighting, repetition, statues, and lawns as aesthetic elements.

Culinary Aesthetics

Although food is a basic and frequently experienced commodity, careful attention to the aesthetic possibilities of foodstuffs can turn eating into dining. Chefs inspire our gastronomy with regionalism, spices, diversity/contrast, anticipation, seduction, and decoration/garnishes.

Uhl: Ethnic Entrees
English: To Eat is Human

below here is still under construction; see Talk:Aesthetics


A craftsperson or artisan differs from an artist in how they approach their creative activities. Learn what values of each aesthetic element appeals to those people in the culture you are touching: this makes you a better artisan. An artist, however, creates from a different foundation; sometimes they are driven by a muse, they often experiment like children, can be overtaken by their imagination, they disturb, and they use their art to liberate their own souls from the slings and arrows of their own personal life.

If you are an artist visiting this page, you might also like to read the WikiPedia pages about a, b, c, d, e, and f. You might also visit some of these external links:

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