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Aesthetics from Classical Greece to the Present: A Short History (Studies in the Humanities: No. 13) Paperback – 30 Apr 1976

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Product details

  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Alabama Press (30 April 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817366237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817366230
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 661,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"The depth of Beardsley's scholarly competence . . . speaks from every page. He makes a masterful analysis of Aristotle's concepts . . . Then follows his chapter on the Middle Ages, which is outstanding. . . . And so the book goes forward with penetrating analysis and unexpected relevancies."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"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Kennard on 17 April 2009
Format: Paperback
A great introduction to aesthetics as philosophical category. It is easy to read considering the heavy subject. It serves as an excellent companion to the History of Art student wishing to enhance his academic weight.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great on the Classics and up to German Idealism ... but weaker after that. 22 Mar. 2012
By ZizekLacan - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm a professor of literature and philosophy, and I've been using Beardsley's text for almost twenty years. It is very, very strong on classical literary criticism, as well as very strong on Kant and German Idealism. And, understandably enough, it's quite strong concerning formalist or New Criticism (a view which Beardsley was central in articulating). I tend to use this text for its coverage of Aristotle and Plato (you cannot do better than this one for a junior/senior level survey in this context). And he handles Romanticism pretty well, though so much has changed in contemporary understandings of the mode of thinking that it's really hard to say how each reader will receive the text. Beardsley's analyses of more contemporary critical schools -- psychoanalysis and neo-Marxism, most notably -- are pretty weak. But the text is some thirty or forty years old, and Professor Beardsley is no longer with us, so we can't hold it against him for failing to discuss, say, Zizek. Beardsley also fails to mention folks like Adorno (who he clearly could have engaged) or any of the French postmoderns. It's just not on his radar, and that's not really a critique. Times change.

Again, a great text for the groundwork. If you want another great text on psychoanalytic criticism, you can't be Elizabeth Wright's text of that name. It's a masterful intro.

Hope this helps the aesthetic theorists out there!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great reference 12 July 2005
By Bernie Koenig - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am currently working on my own project in aesthetics and hope to teach a course next year. Beardsley's book is a great reference, though I would not use it for a text unless I provided supplements to the class. One needs to see and hear examples of the art being discussed. His discussion of the figures is excellent, yet for an introductory course, one may want to have original sources to read.
What Beardsley does so well is to present every important view in historical context so that the reader gets a good idea of not only what the different views on art are, but why they were developed.
While it may not be a great text, it is a great resource.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Useful Introduction 1 Sept. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I disagree with the previous reviewer. Although it might be possible to write a book that covered only the Major figures in aesthetics--Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, etc--I found this book very useful in getting a grasp of what has been said in the field of aesthetics throughout history, particularly medieval aesthetics, upon which it is very difficult to find information. In some cases, I don't quite agree with Beardsley's interpretation, but again, this is best read as an introduction to more serious studies in Aesthetics. Ultimately, only the primary sources are going to give you an understanding of their contents.
6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Painfully cluttered 18 Feb. 2000
By R. Miller - Published on
Format: Paperback
I used this as a text for an undergraduate course in aesthetics. I would never use it again. Beardsley seems to not understand that one need not include EVERY detail regarding EVERY person who ever made a comment on some issue of aesthetics. The result is a confusing and cluttered read that drowns one in a myraid of loosely related facts. A bigger problem is: I'm not sure that anyone else tries to do what Beardsley does - present a survey, with analysis, of the history of western aesthetics.
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