Chapter 27. "Ăsthetics Is Impersonal" by Samuel Alexander

Table of Contents
Ideas of Interest from Space, Time, and Deity
The Reading Selection from Space, Time, and Deity
Related Ideas
Topics Worth Investigating

Samuel Alexander Thoemmes

About the author …

Samuel Alexander (1859-1938), born in Australia, attended Balliol College, Oxford, and studied psychology with Hugo MŘsterberg in Germany before his interests turned to science and philosophy. He taught at the University of Manchester for most of his life. In his magnum opus, Space, Time, and Deity, he attempts to found a comprehensive speculative metaphysical system upon an empirical method. Nature, he thought, can be explained as the emergence of levels of reality, of which space-time is the lowest level. The highest level, Deity, emerges from mind. In his Beauty and the Other Forms of Value, Alexander explains Šsthetic value as a "tertiary quality"—namely, artistic value is the result of a natural impulse for imaginative contemplation of objects in the world.

About the work …

In his Space, Time, and Deity,[1] Samuel Alexander touches on the relation of beauty as a resemblance to nature. Artistic qualities, such as beauty, he thinks, are not reducible to the mere appearance of objects but are dependent upon the imaginative conception of mind. In fact, for Alexander, beauty is not entirely mind-dependent but is the impersonal synthesis of emotional contemplation and reality.

Ideas of Interest from Space, Time, and Deity

  1. In what sense, according to Alexander, is the beautiful illusory?

  2. In what sense is an Šsthetic reality a cognitive illusion for Alexander? What is the difference between Šsthetic and cognitive illusion?

  3. According to Alexander, how is it that beauty in nature and art is impersonal?

  4. What are some examples of elements contributed by the mind in the appreciation of beauty in art?

  5. According to Alexander, where does the beauty in beautiful objects lie?

  6. What does Alexander think of Immanuel Kant's Šsthetics?

  7. In what manner are beautiful objects intersubjective, according to Alexander?



Samuel Alexander. Space, Time, and Deity. London: Macmillan. 1920.