9.9 Chapter Glossary

Chapter Glossary

Absolute Beauty vs Relative Beauty

For Hutcheson, absolute beauty is inherent in aesthetic objects regardless of changing social or cultural traditions while relative beauty changes with the times.

Absolute Spirit

For Hegel, the progression of spirit unfolds through different stages or forms of consciousness, gradually evolving towards a comprehensive and complete understanding of reality. Absolute spirit represents the culmination of this development, where the human mind reaches its fullest capacity for self-awareness, knowledge, and unity with the world.


The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of beauty and the nature of taste, and functions as the philosophy of art.

Analytic of the Beautiful

For Kant, a philosophical investigation and conceptual analysis into the essence of beauty to discover the universal principles that condition how aesthetic judgments are made.

Analytic of the Sublime

For Kant, an aesthetic category that goes beyond the beautiful. While beauty is associated with harmony, pleasure, and form, the sublime pertains to experiences that are awe-inspiring, vast, and often overwhelming. It involves a sense of greatness that exceeds our capacity for complete understanding or representation.


For Aristotle, the emotional purging of society and the individual brought about by good art evoking especially the feelings of fear and pity.

Disinterested Pleasure

For Hutcheson, a pleasure experienced as intrinsically good, as good in itself and not as good for some other purpose.


The study of art that analyzes and compares form and style. Its focus also is on the way objects are made and their purely visual or material aspects. In painting, formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape, texture, and other perceptual aspects. Emphasis is on the work itself, not on how or why it was made.

Forms of Finality

For Kant, the way in which we perceive and attribute purpose or design to objects in the world, particularly in the context of aesthetics and our judgment of beauty.

Free Play of the Faculties

For Kant, a state in which the cognitive faculties of the mind—such as imagination, understanding, and perception—harmoniously interact without being constrained by specific rules or concepts.

Ideal Critics

For Hume, ideal critics are the pinnacle of aesthetic sensibility and perceptiveness. Their assessments model how reasoned debate around beauty, informed by psychological insight and conversational eloquence, can produce standards of taste. They instruct and elevate public discourse.

Judgments of Dependent Beauty

For Kant, judgments of dependent beauty, unlike judgments of free beauty, rely on the application of concepts or rules to assess the beauty of an object.

Judgments of Free Beauty

For Kant, our subjective experience of beauty when we perceive an object or artwork. These judgments are considered “free” because they are not based on any particular concept or predetermined rules. Instead, they arise from our immediate aesthetic pleasure or feeling of delight upon perceiving something beautiful.


For Plato, the representation of nature, including human nature, as reflected in the arts, especially in drama.

Paradox of Taste

For Hume, the paradox is that there exists wide variability and disagreement on what constitutes beauty, elegance, and excellence in the arts even while there seems to be certain uniform, universal principles that should govern aesthetic judgment.

Rules of Art

For Hume, the principles, techniques, methods, and established conventions that govern the production of artistic works in different media.

Sense of Taste

For Hutcheson and Hume, the interior, subjective experience of beauty.

Significant Form

For Bell, an aesthetic emotion that occurs when certain arrangements of lines, colors, and shapes possess an inherent quality elicit an emotional response in the viewer.

Uniformity and Variety

For Hutcheson, a necessary balance in a work of art between a unity of design, a coherence and harmony amongst a work’s constituent parts that conveys a sense that its diverse aspects belong together in an integral whole on the one hand and elements of diversity, difference, and distinctive individuality in a work of art that add excitement, fresh deviations that provide novel interest on the other hand.

Vocation of Reason

For Kant, the idea that reason has a fundamental role in guiding moral action, pursuing knowledge, and shaping our understanding of the world, even though it has inherent limitations in its ability to comprehend certain aspects of reality.


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PPSC PHI 1011: The Philosopher's Quest by Daniel G. Shaw, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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