"Beardsley's book accomplishes to perfection what the writer intended. It illuminates an area of history from a certain perspective as was never done before. . . . The distinguishing feature of his book is a n excitement over everything I aesthetics that has to do with symbols, meanings, language, and modes of interpretation. And this excitement has brought to light facets of the history f the subject never noticed before, or at least, not so clearly." -The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism
Part 1 First thoughts. Part 2 Plato: art and imitation; beauty; morality; bibliography. Part 3 Aristotle: the proper pleasure of tragedy; Aristotle's answer to Plato. Part 4 The later classical philosophers: Hellenism and Roman Catholicism; Plotinus. Part 5 The Middle Ages: St Augustine; St Thomas Aquinas; the theory of interpretation. Part 6 The Renaissance: Neoplatonism; theory of painting; music and poetry. Part 7 The Enlightenment: Cartesian rationalism: poetics; theory of painting and music; toward a unified aesthetics. Part 8 The Enlightenment: empiricism - imagination and artistic creation; the problem of taste - Shaftsbury to Hume; the aesthetic qualities - Hogarth to Alison. Part 9 German idealism: Immanuel Kant; objective idealism. Part 10 Romanticism: the aesthetics of feeling; theories of the imagination; Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Part 11 The artist and society: art for art's sake; realism; social responsibility. Part 12 Contemporary developments: Croce and the metaphysicians; Santayana and Dewey; semiotic approaches; Marxism-Leninism; phenomenology and existentialism; empiricism.