Edited by Sebastian Tomasz Kołodziejczyk
Part III Towards a Theory of Values
On the Concepts of Beauty “For recently, my most excellent friend, as I was finding fault with some things in certain speeches as ugly and praising other things as beautiful, a man threw me into confusion by questioning me very insolently somewhat after this fashion: “How, if you please, do you know, Socrates,” said he, [286d] “what sort of things are beautiful and ugly? For, come now, could you tell me what the beautiful is?” (Plato, Greater Hippias, translated by W.R.M. Lamb) “Therefore do not rely upon this argument, which would go to prove the unity of the most extreme opposites.” (Plato, Philebus, translated by B. Jowett, M.A) The term “beauty” usually appears to us as a name of a fairly homogenously described or – to put it more carefully – homogenously “sensed” value. However, when we attempt to resolve certain traditional problems of aesthetics, asking, in particular, what the essential features of beauty are or what it actually is, it turns out that this semantic homogeneity is merely apparent, and at a closer analysis the word “beauty” itself breaks into several senses, which are sometimes related to one another and sometimes completely different and extremely distant from each other. At least since the 18th century thinkers have realized that in aesthetics we use not one, but two aesthetic values. I am referring to beauty and sublimity, which were probably first indicated by Edmund Burke, and which were later included by Kant in his theory of aesthetics. As a result of the...
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