Systematic Aesthetics

Richard Dien Winfield

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"A closely reasoned account defining, arranging, and systematically explicating some of the major concepts of aesthetics. Winfield's system has range and power such that it will invite a variety of commentary and discussion among those scholars who take a serious interest in the concepts analyzed in this kind of philosophical endeavor."--David A. White, DePaul University

"A clear and comprehensive exposition, critical analysis, and defense of Hegel's aesthetics in relation to some of its most significant competitors in the history of Western thought."--Robert E. Wood, University of Dallas

Systematic Aesthetics rehabilitates and develops the approach to aesthetics pioneered by Hegel, showing how it overcomes the dilemmas undermining the two other basic options in aesthetic theory, the metaphysical (pioneered by Plato and Aristotle) and the transcendental (initiated by Hume and Kant and dominating contemporary theory).
By demonstrating the pitfalls of these other approaches, Winfield frees aesthetics from the appeal to privileged givens and determining processes of reception that obscure the individuality underlying all aspects of fine art.
Systematic Aesthetics provides a thorough account of the concept of beauty, of the type of truth suited for artistic construal, and of the special transfiguration of content in art--how the unity of meaning and configuration affects the physical being of the artwork and its relation to its audience, how artistic creation operates, and how the reception of art involves both catharsis and aesthetic judgment--without succumbing to arbitrary interpretation.
In the course of providing an independent theory of his own, Winfield engages in a critical dialogue with classic and contemporary figures in the philosophy of art, from Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger to Luk√°cs, Szondi, Derrida, Goodman, and Danto. Both in the breadth of debate that it enters and in the scope of the issues that it addresses, Systematic Aesthetics stands apart. Paving the way for further exploration of particular art forms, Winfield presents a radical challenge to the dogmas of tradition and of postmodernism alike.

Richard Dien Winfield is professor of philosophy at the University of Georgia. His previous books include The Just Economy; Reason and Justice; Overcoming Foundations; Freedom and Modernity; and Law in Civil Society.

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