Approach to Aesthetics by Frank Sibley

If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on when you’re appreciating art and beauty, this could be the book for you. In theory of art and beauty Frank Sibley (1923-1996) is especially well known for his attempts to distinguish the domains of aesthetic and non-aesthetic. His 1959 paper ‘Aesthetic Concepts’ is referred to as one of the landmarks of 20th century aesthetics ( in the tradition of analytic philosophy. The paper is rich in themes, but the main line of thought suggest that aesthetic concepts cannot be reduced to non-aesthetic concepts, or sufficiently defined in terms of non-aesthetic concepts. This led Sibley to believe that grasping properties of given items requires the capability to exercise taste or aesthetic sensibility. That in turn suggests that some people may have a greater sensibility for appreciating art, and that their taste may be superior (an unfashionable view).

This book is a complete collection of Sibley’s articles on philosophical aesthetics, including five remarkable papers written in Sibley’s later years. It addresses many topics, among them the nature of aesthetic qualities versus non-aesthetic qualities, the relation of aesthetic description to aesthetic evaluation, the different levels of evaluation, and the objectivity of aesthetic judgement. The later papers constitute both a significant development of Sibley’s individual approach to aesthetics, such as his discussion of the distinction between attributive and predicative uses of adjectives and of the aesthetic significance of tastes and smells, a topic Sibley considered to be much neglected.

This book will certainly be on the shelves of any serious student of aesthetics. Check if it is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at

292 pages in Oxford University Press

First published 2001

ISBN  978-0198238997  

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