An Introduction to Modern Aesthetic Theory

Beauty is generally defined as the aesthetic quality of certain objects which makes those objects aesthetically pleasant to see. Such objects may be nature, humans, landscapes and art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is the prevailing theme of aesthetics, among the various branches of natural philosophy. philosophers like Aristotle defined beauty and the others like Kant defined art and beauty.


Modern aesthetics has become a very broad branch of Philosophy dealing with the appreciation of beauty. It includes aesthetic judgment as regards the visual or aesthetic sense and the mental state associated with it, but modern aesthetics also takes into consideration the extent of aesthetic understanding, as well as the methods used in its apprehension. The history of aesthetic ideas can be traced back to Plato who regarded beauty as the ultimate good and the object of intellectual desire. Later, Descartes elevated aesthetics to the status of a philosophical study, while rejecting the necessity of a God-based aesthetic sense.

However, there are two broad theories on the question of what makes a beautiful object. The first one is that beauty is something independent of human needs and desires, a possession independently of the human subject. On the other hand, the second theory is that beauty is an effect of the relation between the object and our inner aesthetic consciousness, an effect produced by an inner faculty that is guided by aesthetic objects and feelings. Modern aesthetics thus combines the idea of beauty with that of the need to create a satisfying aesthetic experience.