Postwar attempts to give a general account of art have tried to move away from the traditional approaches of Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer. This chapter refines the idea of an aesthetic attitude still further by paying attention to the central difficulty that has beset aesthetic attitude theories hitherto: the role which propositional beliefs and personal experience can play in appreciation of art. The aesthetic attitude is not a feeling or an emotion but is rather a mode of attention or contemplation of an object of sight, hearing or touch. Empiricism – of which the New Critics were a particularly extreme manifestation – has always been wary of the notion that historical beliefs are necessary for aesthetic understanding, fearing that this would collapse literary criticism into history, sociology, or biography. But such suspicion is misplaced, and the idea that one should not talk about originality, intention, use contemporary philosophical or political thought to obtain insight into character is quite absurd.