Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For his rational theology and metaphysics lectures this was for the most part Alexander Baumgarten's Metaphysica, first published, in Latin, in 1739.
He argues against Alexander Baumgarten's opinion that "heterocosmic [a term that Baumgarten coined] creativity was a significant source of badness in art" (7), and calls on the GFF "to devote more attention to positive artistic virtues" (18) in that sort of creativity.
Highmore does this by usefully situating historical and philosophical conceptions of the aesthetic--and aesthetics--from Alexander Baumgarten's eighteenth-century ideas to the propositions spread across several volumes of Jacques Ranciere's contemporary writings.
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'.
In fact, museums are responsible for the rise of formalism in philosophy of art (at least in the Western context); and formalism is responsible for the origin of the modifier aesthetic that stresses the sensory aspects of experience, right from Alexander Baumgarten to Stolnitz through Lord Shaftesbuy, Francis Hutcheson, Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer: If Kant believed that by one's aesthetic attitude (disinterested perception) one would be in a position to make "correct" aesthetic evaluation, Schopenhauer and Stolintz replaced this correct aesthetic evaluation by focusing on the conditions for aesthetic experience.