Theoretical aesthetics

  • Adam Tindale OCAD University
Keywords: Theoretical Aesthetics, Experimental Philosophy, Experimental Aesthetics, Thought Experiments, Aesthetics,


This paper explores Theoretical Aesthetics: the subjecting of aesthetics to the scientific method. Specifically, the experimental verification of theories via repeatable measurements. Though not an original idea, it is an underexplored topic. The difficulty in subjecting aesthetics to the scientific method is determining what to measure. We are able to measure many things but those tell us little about the aesthetic perception (the monetary value, the number of viewers, the size, the material, the date of completion, the author, etc.). Theoretical aesthetics is a vehicle to start imagining scenarios where aesthetics could be rightfully subjected to the process of science, much as theoretical physics does for physics. This paper outlines these questions, their histories, and examines related work that can be leveraged towards a discussion of a quantifiable aesthetic discourse that may be used to more clearly articulate and compare aesthetic objects.

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