Topics Worth Investigating

  1. Santayana argues that artistic experience is a positive pleasure of intrinsic value. Ęsthetic pleasure is not an independent part of the quality of things: "A beauty not perceived is a pleasure not felt, and a contradiction." He points out that we have the tendency to attribute the psychological effects of a thing to its conceived nature. Do you think Santayana would believe that Francis Hutchenson makes a similar mistake when he argues that differing ęsthetic judgments are often due to the confusion of inner and outer senses:

    [W]e have got distinct names for the external senses, and none, or very few, for the internal, and by this are led … to look upon the former as some way more fixed and really and natural than the latter. The sense of harmony has got its name, viz. a good ear; and we are generally brought to acknowledge this natural power of perception or a sense some way distinct from hearing.[1]

    Does Santayana hold that beauty is experienced as the quality of a thing by inner rather than outer sense? Does "inner sense" entail a kind of reflective consciousness of the quality of a thing for Santayana?

  2. Compare Santayana's distinction between work and play as the same distinction between ęsthetic and moral values with Frederich Schiller's distinction between the sensuous and the formal impulse. For Schiller, the synthesis of these impulses is the play impulse (Spieltrieb). Just as the sensuous impulse seeks out life, and the form impulse seeks shape, the play impulse seeks beauty or life-form.[2]

  3. Explain whether Santayana would agree that the "well known psychological phenomenon" upon which the claim to universality in ęsthetic judgments is based, is an example of Alfred North Whitehead's "Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness."? Whitehead defines this fallacy as "neglecting the degree of abstraction involved when an actual entity is considered merely so far as it exemplifies certain categories of thought."[3] In particular, would Santayana agree that "among the primary elements of nature as apprehended in our immediate experience, there is no element whatever which possess this character of"[4] beauty?

  4. In our reading, Santayana argues that ęsthetic pleasure need not have a disinterested character, although in a sense, all pleasure is disinterested:

    It is not sought with ulterior motives, and what fills the mind is no calculation, but the image of an object or event, suffused with emotion.

    Nevertheless, compare Santayana's view that disinterested ęsthetic judgments lack universal agreement with Kant's view that the disinterested character of ęsthetics is the basis for universally shared values:

    The result is that the judgement of taste, with its attendant consciousness of detachment from all interest, must involve a claim to validity for all men, and must do so apart from universality attached to objects, i.e., there must be coupled with it a claim to subjective universality.[5]

    On what basis does Santayana disagree with Kant's analysis?



Francis Hutchenson. An Inquiry Concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design. London: J. Barby, et. al. 1725. Section VI. IX.


Frederich Schiller, Letters on the Ęsthetic Education of Man. 1794. Translated by Tapio Riikonen and David Widger. In Literary and Philosophical Essays: French, German and Italian.New York: Collier. 1910. Letters XV-XVI.


Alfred North Whitehead. Process and Reality. New York: Harper. 1929. 11.


Alfred North Whitehead. Science and the Modern World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1925. 72.


Immanuel Kant. The Critique of Judgment. Tran. by James Creed Meredith. 1790. Section 1. Book 1. ¶ 6.