The Sense of Beauty
The Sense of Beauty is a book on aesthetics by George Santayana. The book was published in 1896 by Charles Scribner's Sons, and is based on the lectures Santayana gave on aesthetics while teaching at Harvard University. Santayana published the book out of necessity, for tenure, rather than inspiration. In an anecdote retold by art critic Arthur Danto of a meeting with Santayana in 1950, Santayana was reported to have said that "they let me know through the ladies that I had better publish a book... on art, of course. So I wrote this wretched potboiler."
The book is divided into four parts: "The Nature of Beauty", "The Materials of Beauty", "Form", and "Expression". Beauty, as defined by Santayana, is an "objectified pleasure." It does not originate from divine inspiration, as was commonly described by philosophers, but from a naturalistic psychology. Santayana objects to the role of God in aesthetics in the metaphysical sense, but accepts the use of God as metaphor. His argument that beauty is a human experience, based on the senses, is influential in the field of aesthetics. However, Santayana would reject this approach, which he called "skirt[ing] psychologism," later on in life.
According to Santayana, beauty is linked to pleasure, and is fundamental to human purpose and experience. Beauty does not originate from pleasurable experiences, by itself, or from the objects that bring about pleasure. It is when the experience and emotion of pleasure intertwines with the qualities of the object that beauty arises. Beauty is a "manifestation of perfection", and as Santayana writes, "the sense of beauty has a more important place in life than aesthetic theory has ever taken in philosophy."
- Stephen Davies; Kathleen Marie Higgins; Robert Hopkins; Robert Stecker, David E. Cooper (5 May 2009). A Companion to Aesthetics. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 511–512. ISBN 978-1-4051-6922-6. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- George Santayana (1896). The Sense of Beauty: Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory. C. Scribner's Sons. pp. v–ix. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- John H. Timmerman (2002). Robert Frost: The Ethics of Ambiguity. Bucknell University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-8387-5532-7. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Henry Samuel Levinson (1 June 1992). Santayana, Pragmatism, and the Spiritual Life. UNC Press Books. pp. 72–75. ISBN 978-0-8078-2031-5. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- T. Chevalier (1 November 1997). Encyclopedia of the Essay. Taylor & Francis. p. 735. ISBN 978-1-884964-30-5. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Graziella Fantini (28 November 2011). Shattered Pictures of Places and Cities in George Santayana's Autobiography. Universitat de València. pp. 78–79. ISBN 978-84-370-8470-1. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- James D. Hart (12 October 1995). The Oxford Companion to American Literature. Oxford University Press. p. 598. ISBN 978-0-19-506548-0. Retrieved 19 August 2012.