Skip to main content



Aesthetics: The Classic Readings, 2nd Edition

David E. Cooper (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-119-11682-0 April 2019 Wiley-Blackwell 368 Pages


The newly expanded and revised edition of Cooper’s popular anthology featuring classic writings on aesthetics, both historical and contemporary

The second edition of this bestselling anthology collects essays of canonical significance in aesthetics and the philosophy of art, featuring a wide range of topics from the nature of beauty and the criteria for aesthetic judgement to the value of art and the appreciation of nature.

  • Includes texts by classical philosophers like Plato and Kant alongside essays from art critics like Clive Bell, with new readings from Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, Ronald W. Hepburn, and Arthur C. Danto among others
  • Intersperses philosophical scholarship with diverse contributions from artists, poets, novelists, and critics
  • Broadens the scope of aesthetics beyond the Western tradition, including important texts by Asian philosophers from Mo Tzu to Tanizaki
  • Includes a fully-updated introduction to the discipline written by the editor, as well as prefaces to each text and chapter-specific lists of further reading

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

1 Plato, The Republic, Book 10 9

2 Aristotle, Poetics, Chapters 1–15 28

3 (A) Mo Tzu, “Against music”

(B) Hsun Tzu, “A discussion of music” 44

4 Plotinus, Enneads, 1.6 55

5 (A) Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, from Books II and III

(B) Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks (Selections) 66

6 Shih‐t’ao, “Quotes on Painting” 77

7 David Hume, “Of the standard of taste” 89

8 Immanuel Kant, “Critique of aesthetic judgement,”Sections 1–14, 16, 23–4, 28 108

9 Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, Letters 26–7 139

10 G.W.F. Hegel, Introduction to Aesthetics, Chapters 1–3 154

11 Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. I, Section 52 168

12 (A) Walter Pater, The Renaissance, from Preface and Conclusion

(B) Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying” (Selections) 183

13 Leo Tolstoy, “On art” 196

14 Clive Bell, “The aesthetic hypothesis” 210

15 A.K. Coomaraswamy, The Dance of Síva, Essays 3−4 227

16 Junichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows (Selections) 243

17 John Dewey, Art as Experience, Chapters 1–2 257

18 Martin Heidegger, “The origin of the work of art,” from Lectures 1 and 2 280

19 R.G. Collingwood, The Principles of Art, Chapter 7 296

20 Ronald W. Hepburn, “Aesthetic appreciation of nature” 319

21 Arthur C. Danto, “The Artworld” 337

Index 353