Benedetto Croce is one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. His work in aesthetics and historiography has been controversial, but enduring. When the first edition of ^Esthetic appeared in 1902, Croce was seen as foremost in reasserting an idealistic philosophy, which despite its source in continental idealists from Descartes to Hegel, offers a system that attempts to account for the emergence of scientific systems. Croce thus combines scientific and metaphysical thought into a dynamic aesthetic.
Croce regards aesthetics not merely as a branch of philosophy, but as a fundamental human activity. It is inseparable from historical, psychological, political, economic, and moral considerations, no less than a unique frame of artistic reference. Aesthetic is composed of two parts: Part One concentrates on aesthetic theory and practice. Among the topics it covers are: intuition and expression, art and philosophy, historicism and intellectualism, and beauty in nature and in art. Part Two is devoted to the history of aesthetics. Croce analyzes such subjects as: aesthetic ideas in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Giambattista Vico as the inventor of aesthetic science, the philosophy of language, and aesthetic psychologism.
In his new introduction to a classic translation, John McCormick assesses Croce's influence in aesthetic theory and historiography. He notes that the republication of this work is an overdue appreciation of a singular effort to resolve the classic questions of the philosophy of art, art for its own sake and art as a social enterprise; both find a place in Croce's system.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For Croce, there are two kinds of knowledge: logical knowledge, intuitive knowledge. What Croce did at the beginning of the 20th century was posing Aesthetics as the science of "intuitive knowledge". Aesthetics is the logic of intuitive knowledge, as logic is the building blocks of logical knowledge, which can briefly be described as science and mathematics. Furthermore, he claims that intution and expression is the same thing and beauty is successful expression or just expression "since unsuccessful expression is not an expression".
The treatise in the first part is so simple, yet so deep. It's lucid and brilliant. There are no references in this part. The second part deals with the history of aesthetics and this is I think a much better reference for an aesthetic reader. Croce, does not only cite the references from antique Greek to Post-Kantians and German Idealists; he makes ingenious comments on them, which is quite thought provoking.
If you are interested in aesthetics, this is an essential. I am doing research on the German Enlightenment, and only Croce offers a detailed discourse on thinkers whose importance only matches their obscurity. The first half of this book presents Croce's own aesthetic theory: an atheistic theory with a Hegelian twist (he wrote what is living and what is dead of Hegel) that is spiritual without being religious. The second half of the book is the real gem. This is a detailed history of aesthetics, in all its obscurantist glory! Do not deny yourself a book that is both an illuminating introduction to aesthetics via its history, a penetrating theory of aesthetics, and a great reference book for an aesthetician. The man who coined the term aesthetics, Alexander Baumgarten, is developed in this book ... one of the few books that goes beyond mentioning his name and importance.
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