Baumgarten, Alexander Gottlieb


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Baumgarten, Alexander Gottlieb

 

Born June 17, 1714, in Berlin; died May 26, 1762, in Frankfurt an der Oder. German philosopher belonging to the school of C. Wolff. Originator of aesthetics as an independent philosophical discipline.

Baumgarten was a professor at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder. In the field of gnoseology, following the German thinkers Leibniz and Wolff, he distinguished between higher (rational) knowledge—the subject of logic—and lower (sense-derived) knowledge, the theory of which Baumgarten was the first to call aesthetics. The latter at the same time seemed to Baumgarten to be a theory of the beautiful inasmuch as the sensory, indistinct perception of perfection was connected by him with pleasure in the beautiful. He maintained that the perfection or beauty of a phenomenon lies in the harmonious agreement of three basic elements—content, order, and expression.

The consideration of aesthetic phenomena from the point of view of the theory of knowledge, which was first done by Baumgarten, had a special importance for the subsequent development of German classical aesthetics. Baumgarten made a great contribution to the development of philosophical terminology; he made wide use of the terms “subjective” and “objective,” “in itself” and “for itself,” the introduction of which has often been mistakenly attributed to Kant.

WORKS

Aesthetica, vols. 1–2. Frankfurt an der Oder, 1750–58.
Metaphysica. Halle an der Saale, 1739.
Istoriia estetiki, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964. Pages 449–65.

REFERENCE

Asmus, V. F. Nemetskaia estetika XVIII v. Moscow, 1963. Pages 3–56.

V. F. ASMUS