A Work in Progress
The following draft is for local critique and discussion.

A Critique of Art and Aesthetics

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that examines the nature of art and our experience of it. It emerged during the 18th century in Europe and developed in England as philosophers grouped together such fields as poetry, sculpture, music, and dance. They classified all the arts into one category and called them les beaux arts or the fine arts. 

 Philosophers began to say that reason by itself could not explain beauty. Beauty may have some rational properties, such as “order, symmetry, and proportion,” but it is really an experience not explained by reason alone. It is understood through intuition and experienced with human feeling and emotion. An aesthetic experience could include a mixture of feeling, such as pleasure, rage, grief, suffering, and joy.

Immanuel Kant interpreted aesthetics as a field giving priority to form over function. Beauty, he said, was independent of any particular figure with which it was attached. A horse might be beautiful apart from whether it raced well. He asserted that knowledge is not something that is created merely by outside institutions but also by our natural constitution. The seat of judgement now moved from medieval reasoning toward the idea that human intuition could be a source of knowing. And aesthetics began to develop as a university discipline.

But in the minds of many critics today aesthetics does not belong as a university discipline. Art historians have claimed that there is no such thing as art, there are only artists. And postmodernists question whether aesthetics should exist as a university subject, whether it is a legitimate inquiry. As we shall see, some would deny that any universal criteria exist for judging art in all cultures and historical epochs. 

Many questions are under scrutiny by postmodernists and other critics.

 What is art? What is an aesthetic experience? How can an aesthetic value be distinguished? What is so important about this experience? Why does an object become beautiful? How do we define beauty? How is art to be judged? How is a judgement the expression of an epoch? Is art independent of politics? How is a work of art produced? 

Is aesthetics a legitimate discipline for the university? This is the subject of our inquiry. We will suggest that the answers come slowly as we learn more about our nature and the universe.
First, we will look at a critique of aesthetics from the standpoint of race, class, and gender. The critique below proposes to eliminate aesthetics as a subject in the university.

Second, we will examine how a new aesthetics could be constructed as a university discipline. We will set forth a basis for its new agenda. The agenda begins with what we call theoretical and general aesthetics.

Third, we will conclude that art is a vital discipline for development in civil society.

1. The Artists and Athletes Alliance provides top-line educational information to artists and athletes through one-on-one meetings, private briefings, roundtable discussions, forums and other related events on the specific public policies and issues of interest to them.

2. The Artists and Athletes Alliance engages in productive dialogue with lawmakers, policymakers and opinion-leaders so the voices of the artistic and athletic community can be heard on the many important issues facing our nation.