Bernard Bolzano : on the concept of the beautiful : a philosophical essay

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Journal article

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Estetika: the central european journal of aesthetics

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The Institute of Art History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic


An intorduction to an English translation of Bernad Bolzano´s On the Concept of the Beautiful. A neglected gem in the history of aesthetics, Bolzano’s essay on beauty is best understood when read alongside his other writings and philosophical sources. This introduction is designed to contribute to such a reading. In Part I, I identify and discuss three salient ways in which Bolzano’s account can be misunderstood. As a lack of familiarity with Bolzano’s background assumptions is one source of these misunderstandings, in Part II, I elucidate some of his ideas about the psychological processes involved in the contemplation and enjoyment of beauty. In Part III, I situate Bolzano’s discussion of beauty within the more general framework of his ideas about the nature of philosophy, the relation between philosophy and aesthetics, and the place of the concept of beauty within the latter. Part IV is devoted to Bolzano’s discussion of some of his philosophical antecedents, including Kant. In Part V, I raise some objections to Bolzano’s account and indicate how his advocates might respond to them.

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Copyright © 2015 Ústav dějin umění Akademie věd ČR, v.v.i. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

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Recommended Citation

Livingston, P. (2015). Bernard Bolzano: On the concept of the beautiful: A philosophical essay. Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics, 52(2), 203-266. Retrieved from