Physiological Æsthetics

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WE have here a little work of some 300 pages, which deals with the philosophy of æsthetics almost exclusively on its physiological side. Of course, in thus restricting his subject, the author neglects all the more subtle and intricate parts of that philosophy; but every competent reader will agree with him that it is desirable, for the purpose of analysis, to separate as distinctly as possible the physiological from the psychological elements of æsthetics. For although, the two classes are intimately blended in reality, this only makes it the more desirable to eliminate the one from the other in our analysis; so that we may perceive, as clearly as we can, how much of the total effect which our æsthetic consciousness supplies admits of being resolved into simple constituents, and how much remains over as complex constituents. Now in this respect Mr. Allan has profited well by the experience of previous writers; for while he treats his subject very thoroughly so far as it can be treated on the lower basis of physiology, he never permits himself to be tempted into the alluring superstructure of pure psychology. So rigidly, indeed, does he “stick to his text,” that an uninformed reader might peruse the whole essay, and scarcely receive a hint that there is such a thing as “the association theory” in existence; while the names of Burke, Reynolds, Alison, Knight, Stewart, and Jeffrey are not even once mentioned.

Physiological Æsthetics.

By Grant Allan 8vo. (London: Henry S. King and Co., 1877.)

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ROMANES, G. Physiological Æsthetics . Nature 16, 98–100 (1877) doi:10.1038/016098b0

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