Denis Dutton's Aesthetic Universals  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The philosopher Denis Dutton has identified seven universal signatures in human aesthetics which we call Denis Dutton's Aesthetic Universals summarized here by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate

  1. Expertise or virtuosity. Technical artistic skills are cultivated, recognized, and admired.
  2. Nonutilitarian pleasure. People enjoy art for art's sake, and don't demand that it keep them warm or put food on the table.
  3. Style. Artistic objects and performances satisfy rules of composition that place them in a recognizable style.
  4. Criticism. People make a point of judging, appreciating, and interpreting works of art.
  5. Imitation. With a few important exceptions like music and abstract painting, works of art simulate experiences of the world.
  6. Special focus. Art is set aside from ordinary life and made a dramatic focus of experience.
  7. Imagination. Artists and their audiences entertain hypothetical worlds in the theater of the imagination.

References

Denis Dutton, 'Aesthetic Universals', in The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, edited by Berys Gaut and Dominic McIver Lopes, (2001), London and New York: Routledge, pp.

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