chapter  2
7 Pages

The Phantom Aesthetic State

All modern aesthetics rests upon an assumption which has been strangely little discussed, the assumption that there is a dis­ tinct kind of mental activity present in what are called aesthetic experiences. Ever since ‘the first rational word concerning beau­ ty’ 1 was spoken by Kant, the attempt to define the ‘judgement of taste’ as concerning pleasure which is disinterested, universal, unintellectual, and not to be confused with the pleasures of sense or of ordinary emotions, in short to make it a thing sui generis, has continued. Thus arises the phantom problem of the aesthetic mode or aesthetic state, a legacy from the days of abstract inves-[12] tigation into the Good, the Beautiful, and the True.