Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten

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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.


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.


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


References in periodicals archive ?
He argues in, contra Alexander Baumgarten (1735), that the aesthetic is concerned with thought itself, not just with the sense that leads to thought.
In the 18th century, German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten created the modern usage of 'aesthetics'.
Do they deepen our sense of what Alexander Baumgarten called "sensate-objectivity" and show that the expressive possibilities of "aesthetic painting" were not exhausted by its last great surge in post-painterly abstraction?
Chapter one offers a short preliminary discussion of Kant's project, while chapter two gives an excellent survey of its cultural and philosophical context, demonstrating to what extent Kant was indebted not only to well-known figures like Newton, Leibniz and Wolff, but also to unjustly ignored ones, such as Christian Thomasius, Alexander Baumgarten and Martin Knutzen (Christian August Crusius should be added here).
By contrast, Alexander Baumgarten, who is more often than not considered the "godfather" of aesthetics (and who certainly invented the name of the discipline) must be clearly placed inside a tradition that goes from Leibniz to Kant.