The Value Of The Aesthetic Viewpoint -- By: George B. McCreary

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 085:339 (Jul 1928)
Article: The Value Of The Aesthetic Viewpoint
Author: George B. McCreary


The Value Of The Aesthetic Viewpoint

George B. McCreary, Ph.D.

The ways of viewing life are many and various. Practically, this signifies that with reference to the discovery and conservation of its possible values there are divers approaches to the areas of interest and equally diverse methods of calculation according to the need or inclination of the individual. Without undertaking a systematic or complete survey of doctrines and theories, it is well to note that any attempt in this field is impulsed either by a desire for guidance with reference to future activities, or by the wish to place a true estimate on that which is historic or complete. The one is a priori, the other is a posteriori in its logical procedure.

In examining the Aesthetic viewpoint, we shall find that it serves in both directions. It evaluates past achievement, and it supplies principles for future direction.

Naturally, we must begin our discussion with the inquiry, Wherein consists the aesthetic point of view? This demands a review of the theory of beauty, even though the diversity of opinion encountered tends to confusion.

Socrates identified beauty and goodness,—a Hebrewlike doctrine in its simplicity and austeric tendency.

Plato made beauty the conformity to preexistent types, an absolute and abstract conception.

Aristotle separated beauty from goodness, distinguishing it from essential activity and also from that which is useful or desired. It involves symmetry, definiteness and limited magnitude.

The foregoing marks the progress made toward the precise delimitation of the sphere of aesthetics in ancient thought.

Modern discussion has added more particulars to the generic idea, some by way of exclusion, and some in the direction of completion.

Baumgarten considers art the imitation of nature, and makes the aesthetic judgment a strictly intellectual affair without feeling.

Michael Angelo, from the standpoint of religious idealism, says art is a copy of the divine perfection.

Immanuel Kant defines beauty as the quality in an object which fits it to please when regarded as an object of pure contemplation. He also says that the highest significance of beauty is to symbolize moral good.

The diversity of these representative opinions may be accounted for in accordance with the remark of Hartman that the formulas of art are concerned with three points: its nature, its origin, and its value. These three aspects have been very unequally stressed, with the result that the utmost diversity and contradiction have appeared in the th...

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