Beauty is Our Inheritance

Philosophy of art, aesthetics, is what I do for a living. I try to figure out — intellectually, philosophically, psychologically – what the experience of beauty is —what sensibly can be said about it and how people go off the rails in trying to understand it. It’s an extremely complicated subject, in part because the things we call beautiful are so different. Think of the sheer variety:

* a baby’s face
* Berlioz’s Harold in Italy
* a movie such as The Wizard of Oz or any play by Chekhov
* the Geiranger Fjord
* a Hokusai view of Mount Fuji
* Der Rosenkavalier
* a stunning, match-winning goal in a World Cup Soccer match
* van Gogh’s Starry Night
* a Jane Austen novel
* Fred Astaire dancing across the screen,

This list includes human beings, natural landforms, works of art, and skillful human actions. Given such variety, an account that explains the presence of beauty in everything he...

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