Rebuttal to the Layman challenges on aesthetics


BANSI LAL MALLA accurately puts it: “Aesthetics is not an independent system of Indian philosophy (Darshan). The former is regarded as the kingdom of the heart and the latter as the realm of the head.”

And as Chris Angel puts it: “The modern usage of the term “aesthetics” was appropriated and coined with new meaning in the German form Æsthetik (modern spelling Ästhetik) by a German philosopher called Alexander Baumgarten in 1735.”. The enormous amount of research finding in the field of aesthetics suggests its hidden worth and enigma within those words perfectly framed in the pages of ancient theories which have been harmoniously created by the philosopher to whom, the so-called layman has avidly criticized in fullest potential. This article draws the attention of the readers towards the fact that how we can rescue out of the bitter remarks that have been leveled against philosophers in general and project of discourse on aesthetics, artist in particular by the ordinary layman interpretation of these texts.

Main Body:
It could be argued in the following manner that the points that have been raised by the ordinary person while criticizing the philosopher project of having a philosophical discourse on the concept of beauty or art that all of these things make this pleasures able and enjoyable movement devoid of the exact excitement and to derive the happiness out of it it will only make this exciting and adrenaline driven activity, dull void, and vague; but this is absolutely false primarily because of the reason that all the academic discourse is are meant for robust and critical analysis of the subject matter and they tend to be very cumbersome, delicate as well as complex in their very nature. We can take the examples of the deliberation that have happened in any other subject matters as political science, history, or geography, for example, all of those things are very important as well as very essential for the human being and even they tend to be distant from the rudimentary and material level of pleasure which is understood by the ordinary person, but that doesn’t mean that all of these subjects are worthless and we should not study or have a thorough research over them. Same goes in the case of the subject of beauty and aesthetics.  

If you believe that just the layman is bestowed with the right to talk, explain and enjoy beauty or artwork in the way singularly how they wanted to be. Then this becomes a problematic situation because as much as this ordinary person is having the ultimate freedom to enjoy or talk about our similarities, this is the case with the philosopher as well.

He’s a free being. He’s a free man and a human being of the status of a philosopher in the position of ultimately penetrating deep into the very essence of the creativity into the ontology of the artwork as well as into the very atom, logical census that could be driven by the peace of our present at hand. All of these things do not make a philosopher deprived of his right to understand and take a deliberate course of communicating the work of art in a philosophically constructive manner.

As far as it is concerned with the art, historian or art critique, then these people are also relying on the philosopher in such a manner that is that these people execute their work of determining the development as well as the evolution of the existing facts in the art world only after having a thorough understanding of what exactly it is to be an artist. What is the definition of art? What is creativity? What is beauty in itself? All of these questions are very important and have been previously answered by a range of philosophers this act as the evident background for the artist, historian and a critique to execute their work . And in cases, if the art historian is himself determining such meanings and intricacies of beauty, which will help in the further understanding of the historical significance of artwork, then in both the cases actually, This person has assumed the role of philosopher and has executed the particular work, which he has himself considered to be as an unnecessary endeavor.

The question of the art historian as well as the philosopher who have understood and have researched upon the art and beauty subject.

We need to make a very clear distinction here, a distinction which is very important as well as imperative in order to understand and comprehend things into its right perspective. And that distinction is that the work of a art historian is diametrically opposite, briefly different from that of the philosopher, as well as the work of an artist or the ordinary person is completely different from that of a thinker who has researched upon the aesthetic subject.

We need to understand this very fact that if the artist is gifted with the technique of understanding the delicate intricacies of the work of art, if the artist is gifted with the beautiful power of vision and creativity, in order to decorate and design great pieces of art, which could be the symbol of explaining how art exactly is, similarly is the case with the philosopher who is being bestowed with the Power of rational criticism, careful deliberation, as well as logical analysis of the subject matter in order to satisfy the curiosity and create a general theory which could be university applicable over all the forms of art. There is no harm in any of these activities being exercised.

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1. Yuri Borev; Aesthetics; Natalia Belskaya…Yuvgeri Philippov; Progress Publishers, 1985.
2. Art, Beauty and creativity: Indian and western aesthetics; Shyamala Gupta; 2021.
3. University of Michigan: Aesthetics—What? Why? and Wherefore? Kendall Walton.
4. Aesthetics in Indian Art : The Ordering Principles; B.L. Malla; Janpath, New Delhi – 110001.


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B.A Philosophy (Hons.) from Hansraj College, University of Delhi


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