A Note about Selections

The reading selections in this collection of papers often have considerable deletions of text im passim; additionally, the ideas of the writers are examined out of their precise literary and historical context. Many university professors will find our practice unacceptable and will choose to seek complete, unabridged texts for their students.[1] Obviously, there is much to be gained by that approach—especially for students seeking a career in philosophy. A second serious shortcoming of our text is that the core set of readings presently precludes Eastern philosophy. Perhaps, this second deficiency can be corrected in future versions. A third shortcoming, of course, is the lack in readings in contemporary ęsthetics due to copyright restrictions.

The main focus for our approach to ęsthetics in the present offering, however, is not so much on the historical understanding of one or two ęstheticians as it is on the presentation of different germinal ideas from a wider range of thinkers in order to spark thinking about some significant issues in the philosophy of art.

In general, the difficulty of the reading selections is mitigated by the arbitrary division of the abridged readings into short sections. Specially constructed editorial headings are framed by braces (i.e., […]) and are inserted into the abridged texts. It's important for readers to note that these headings are not part of the original sources. Additionally, questions at the beginning of each reading selection in effect outline the key ideas of the philosophers excerpted. Finally, questions at the end of each reading selection are designed to encourage a bit more thought—perhaps these questions may be found useful for position papers or class discussion.

Several sources on the Internet deserve special mention for authoritative and insightful analysis and commentary on ęsthetics. Readers who wish to be conversant fully with the edited readings will wish to consult the following etexts.

  1. Dictionary of the History of Ideas.[2] Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas, edited by Philip P. Wiener, was published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, in 1973-74. Now out of print, the Dictionary is published online with the help of Scribner's and the Electric Text Center at the University of Virginia. The Dictionary includes articles on the historical development of a broad spectrum of ideas in philosophy, religion, politics, literature, and the biological, physical, and social sciences.

  2. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[3] This site (subtitled "A Field Guide to the Nomenclature of Philosophy") consists of regularly updated original articles by fifteen editors, one hundred academic specialists, and technical advisors. The articles are authoritative, peer-reviewed, and available for personal and classroom use. The general editors are James Fieser and Bradley Dowden. The site is most useful for students in obtaining secondary source information on the key terms and personages of philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy can also be recommended for obtaining an overview of the problems of philosophy for background readings for lectures and papers. In general, the articles are well researched and are accessible by undergraduates.

  3. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism.[4] The electronic version of the well-known guide to literary theory has hyperlinked cross-references, names, topics, and subject entries as well as full text search capability. The work, edited by Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth, includes references to the social and physical sciences as well as connections to historical, philosophical, and cultural theories.

  4. Meta-Encyclopedia of Philsophy.[5] A dynamic resource by Andrew Chrucky accesses the following sources: Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy, 1942, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Dictionary of the Philosophy of Mind, The Ism Book, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), and A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names.

  5. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[6] This continuously updated reference work is a publishing project of the Metaphysics Research Lab at the Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) at Stanford University. The general editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia is Edward N. Zalta. Authors of subject entries are well-known scholars in their fields; even so, the subjects discussed are authoritative and well balanced. The Encyclopedia is the most scholarly general source for philosophy on the Internet and is essential as a starting point and background research for philosophy term papers.

  6. Thoemmes Encyclopedia.[7] This free biographical and bibliographical database including major figures in the history of ideas includes a search function as well as a list of key personages. Thoemmes Press (pronounced as "Thomas") originated from Thoemmes Antiquarian Books and specializes in publishing the scholars of intellectual history. The biographical sources on this site are authoritative, accurate, and helpful background summaries of the life and thought of important figures in the Western intellectual tradtion.

  7. The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.[8] The 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica contains articles from experts in their fields is still a widely used reference and a classic resource for the state of knowledge in 1911.

Our first consideration for the selection of readings in this book is to make primary sources accessible to a wide variety of readers—including readers curious about the subjects presented, readers with disabilities, readers in developing countries, as well as college, high school, and homeschooling students on a budget. In addition to the core set of readings presented here, supplementary readings in history of ęsthetics are in process.

Please send questions or inquiries of interest to the "Editors" at



For university study, a number of texts available provide more complete as well as more recent readings in traditional book form than that provided here. The following collections, although somewhat dated, are mentioned here as they were helpful for the selection of some of the readings in our text: (1)Hazard Adams, Ed. Critical Theory Since Plato. New York: Harcourt Brace. 1971. (2) Melvin Rader, Ed. A Modern Book of Esthetics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1965.