100 books like Aesthetics

By Monroe Beardsley,

Here are 100 books that Aesthetics fans have personally recommended if you like Aesthetics. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Poetics

David Baboulene Author Of The Primary Colours of Story

From my list on how stories work and how to write your story.

Who am I?

I was lucky enough not only to get published in my thirties, I also got a film deal for those first two books. I was flown to Hollywood and it was all very grand. However, what they did to my stories in translating them into film scripts horrified me. And ruined them. And the films never got made. I started to look deeper into what ‘experts’ did, and it was awful. I became obsessed with how stories work, developed my own ‘knowledge gap’ theory, proved it through my Ph.D. research, and became a story consultant in the industry. Story theory has completely taken over my life and I love it!

David's book list on how stories work and how to write your story

David Baboulene Why did David love this book?

Aristotle was the world’s first story expert.

As a story consultant myself, it was incredible to have a man from 2,300 years ago talk to me about story theory! And more than that… everything he says is spot on. 

The real meaning of much of what Aristotle said has been debated for millennia. However, when I used his principles as story dynamics in real stories, they became very clear to me; so, in my own work, I have distilled Aristotle’s principles into a modern three-part interpretation, and I give examples of them working in classical and popular modern stories.

Aristotle’s principles are not only applicable today, but they are still better than almost any other new thinking of the last 100 years. Aristotle is amazing. I love him! 

By Aristotle, Joe Sachs (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Poetics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history

In his near-contemporary account of classical Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the Poetics introduced into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis ('imitation'), hamartia ('error') and katharsis ('purification'). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedies rely on complication and resolution, recognition and reversals. The Poetics has…


Book cover of Art

Noël Carroll Author Of Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction

From my list on philosophy that surveys the arts.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy, specializing in the philosophy of art at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. When I was a practicing critic, notably of cinema, I backed into philosophy insofar as being a practitioner forced me to ask abstract questions about what I was doing. I have written over fifteen books as well as five documentaries. I am also a former Guggenheim fellow. 

Noël's book list on philosophy that surveys the arts

Noël Carroll Why did Noël love this book?

This book was instrumental in introducing the English-speaking world to Modern Art. As criticism, it taught readers how to appreciate Neo-Impressionism. But it was also a seminal contribution to Anglo-American philosophy. By demanding an answer to the question “What is Art?” Bell set the agenda for subsequent philosophers who sought to develop a definition of art in response. Bell’s own answer is that something is art if and only if it possesses significant form which itself is the cause of aesthetic emotions. Bell’s emphasis on significant form earned him a reputation as one of the foremost Philosophical Formalists.

By Clive Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of Languages of Art

Noël Carroll Author Of Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction

From my list on philosophy that surveys the arts.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy, specializing in the philosophy of art at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. When I was a practicing critic, notably of cinema, I backed into philosophy insofar as being a practitioner forced me to ask abstract questions about what I was doing. I have written over fifteen books as well as five documentaries. I am also a former Guggenheim fellow. 

Noël's book list on philosophy that surveys the arts

Noël Carroll Why did Noël love this book?

Because of his prior reputation as a metaphysician and epistemologist, when Nelson Goodman turned his attention to the philosophy of art, he lent unprecedented prestige to aesthetics. In his book, Goodman treats art as a matter of symbol systems whose major structures include representation, exemplification, and expression. Given his emphasis on symbolism, Goodman regarded artistic projects, like picturing, as conventional and he maintained that our conviction of the realism of pictorial representations was merely an affair of our habituation to various styles. Languages of Art is a book noteworthy for its bold and bracing literary style.

By Nelson Goodman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Languages of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Like Dewey, he has revolted against the empiricist dogma and the Kantian dualisms which have compartmentalized philosophical thought. . . . Unlike Dewey, he has provided detailed incisive argumentation, and has shown just where the dogmas and dualisms break down." --Richard Rorty, The Yale Review


Book cover of After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History

Noël Carroll Author Of Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction

From my list on philosophy that surveys the arts.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy, specializing in the philosophy of art at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. When I was a practicing critic, notably of cinema, I backed into philosophy insofar as being a practitioner forced me to ask abstract questions about what I was doing. I have written over fifteen books as well as five documentaries. I am also a former Guggenheim fellow. 

Noël's book list on philosophy that surveys the arts

Noël Carroll Why did Noël love this book?

This book is an amazing combination of the philosophy of art, the philosophy of art history, and art criticism. The late Arthur Danto was not only a distinguished philosopher but also an award-winning art critic. In this book, Danto tracks the decline and fall of Modernism (which he describes as “the end of art”) and the advent of our present artistic moment which can be critically characterized as an era of post-historical pluralism. Danto, following GFW Hegel, proposes a partial definition of the artwork as an embodied meaning – thereby addressing the challenge to say what art is -- as it was posed by Clive Bell.

By Arthur C Danto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked After the End of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally delivered as the prestigious Mellon Lectures on the Fine Arts in 1995, After the End of Art remains a classic of art criticism and philosophy, and continues to generate heated debate for contending that art ended in the 1960s. Arthur Danto, one of the best-known art critics of his time, presents radical insights into art's irrevocable deviation from its previous course and the decline of traditional aesthetics. He demonstrates the necessity for a new type of criticism in the face of contemporary art's wide-open possibilities. This Princeton Classics edition includes a new foreword by philosopher Lydia Goehr.


Book cover of Art As Experience

Frank Jacobus Author Of Archi Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

From my list on design sensing.

Who am I?

I'm a designer, a teacher, a father, a husband, and a friend. I love beautiful things and personally want to know why I find certain things more beautiful than others. I love learning about the world and finding connections between everyday experience and art. When I say “art” I really am blending art, design, architecture, landscape architecture, product design, etc. I believe everything is connected in some way. If I were to pigeonhole myself in any way I would call myself a generalist design thinker. I draw, I write, I make little objects, I make big objects – I see very little difference in any of these things.

Frank's book list on design sensing

Frank Jacobus Why did Frank love this book?

This book is essential to anyone who wants to come into the meaning of art, design, and architecture.

Give it time and it will undoubtedly change your life. Dewey’s central argument is that experience itself is aesthetic, that we need to pay deep attention to the quality inherent in every experience.

By John Dewey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art As Experience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on John Dewey's lectures on esthetics, delivered as the first William James Lecturer at Harvard in 1932, Art as Experience has grown to be considered internationally as the most distinguished work ever written by an American on the formal structure and characteristic effects of all the arts: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and literature.


Book cover of The Art of Kind and Flowing Relationships: A Practical Guide to Deal with Your Differences and Create Happy Relationships that Last

Runa Magnus Author Of Branding Your X-Factor: How the Secret to Success is Already In Front of Your...

From my list on unleashing your highest potential.

Who am I?

I was born, raised, and living in Iceland, the country that has been number 1 in the world for gender equality for decades. I am a leadership & personal branding coach, mentor, and Ambassador for the New Paradigm for Gender Equality. My mission is to empower people to become better, bolder, and brighter as the leading light in their industry by branding their x-factor, that gift what they were born to be.

Runa's book list on unleashing your highest potential

Runa Magnus Why did Runa love this book?

The Art of Kind and Flowing Relationships helps you discover who you are and how you function from the agent Chinese Energy philosophy. The book also lets you understand how you see the world and how others perceive you.

From that angle, the author helps you to understand what you can do to understand other people and build solid and flowing relationships.  

I regularly go to this book to see how I can approach people differently by understanding them deeper, less about me and what I’m all about.

By Nicholas Haines,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Kind and Flowing Relationships as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite the multitude of self-help books and advice about how to have healthy and wholesome relationships, we still have millions of people in deep distress because their relationships just aren't working.The Art of Kind and Flowing Relationships throws new light on the problems we face in maintaining healthy long-term relationships. Nicholas Haines offers both practical and straightforward advice gleaned from over thirty-five years practicing and teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine and more than 50,000 one-on-one consultations. His vast experience is superbly supported up by his innovative use of ancient Chinese personality types to help us understand each other, and what we…


Book cover of Visual Thinking

Frank Jacobus Author Of Archi Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

From my list on design sensing.

Who am I?

I'm a designer, a teacher, a father, a husband, and a friend. I love beautiful things and personally want to know why I find certain things more beautiful than others. I love learning about the world and finding connections between everyday experience and art. When I say “art” I really am blending art, design, architecture, landscape architecture, product design, etc. I believe everything is connected in some way. If I were to pigeonhole myself in any way I would call myself a generalist design thinker. I draw, I write, I make little objects, I make big objects – I see very little difference in any of these things.

Frank's book list on design sensing

Frank Jacobus Why did Frank love this book?

This book outlines how the visual field operates at a psychological level.

I am an architect and cannot believe that we don’t teach straight from this and other Arnheim books more often. If you want to know what is happening to you, why you get chills up your spine when looking at art, read this book.

Arnheim is a psychologist, not a designer, so he breaks art down from this perspective.

By Rudolf Arnheim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Visual Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For thirty-five years Visual Thinking has been the gold standard for art educators, psychologists, and general readers alike. In this seminal work, Arnheim, author of "The Dynamics of Architectural Form", "Film as Art", "Toward a Psychology of Art", and "Art and Visual Perception", asserts that all thinking (not just thinking related to art) is basically perceptual in nature, and that the ancient dichotomy between seeing and thinking, between perceiving and reasoning, is false and misleading. This is an indispensable tool for students and for those interested in the arts.


Book cover of Magritte

Mike Russell Author Of Magic: a novel

From my list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read.

Who am I?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

My first introduction to the surreal in art was Monty Python’s Flying Circus. My first introduction to the art movement of surrealism was seeing Max Ernst’s "Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale". I was astounded that you were allowed to do that. Then I discovered Magritte (and later Escher) and saw that the anarchy of surrealism could be put to the most profound use, that of exploring life beyond the material. Magritte uses conventional representation to undermine that very convention and puncture so-called reality in a way that is a joy to look at. This is a decent book on his life and work. Magritte reminds us things are not what they seem… and that’s a good thing.

By Suzi Gablik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magritte as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A study of Rene Magritte's basic philosophy and art, and particularly the development of his Surrealist style.


Book cover of The Courage of Truth

Paul Allen Miller Author Of Horace

From my list on the art of living.

Who am I?

While I am Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina and the author of ten books, I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City. My parents were from rural Missouri. I never met a professor, a writer, or an artist growing up. I never seriously considered going to college. But I loved to read. When I went to college and discovered you could major in literature and ancient languages, my life changed. I am now at work on a book entitled Truth and Enjoyment in Cicero: Rhetoric and Philosophy Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which reflects on what Cicero can teach us about living in a post-truth age.

Paul's book list on the art of living

Paul Allen Miller Why did Paul love this book?

These are Foucault’s final lectures in 1984. They are a remarkable testament to philosophical courage. In late December of 1983, Foucault fell ill. At this time he may have received a diagnosis of AIDS, but it is not sure. By March, he was regularly in and out of the hospital. At this point, he no longer sought a diagnosis but only inquired how much time he had. The editor Frédéric Gros observes that, like Socrates, whom Foucault references repeatedly in these lectures, he was more concerned with failing to complete his mission than with death. At the beginning of his final lecture, Foucault stood before his audience and said, “I am going to try to give you two hours of lecture today, but I am not absolutely sure I will make it.” He gave the full lecture.

By Michel Foucault, Graham Burchell (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Courage of Truth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Courage of the Truth is the last course that Michel Foucault delivered at the College de France before his death in 1984. In this course, he continues the theme of the previous year's lectures in exploring the notion of "truth-telling" in politics to establish a number of ethically irreducible conditionsbased on courage and conviction.


Book cover of How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

Sue Prideaux Author Of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche

From my list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning.

Who am I?

I am fascinated by humanity’s search for meaning. That is what I am exploring as I read philosophy and as I write my biographies of extraordinary individuals. Sue Prideaux has written award-winning books on Edvard Munch and his painting The Scream, the playwright August Strindberg, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. She acted as consultant to Sotheby’s when they sold The Scream for a record-breaking $120 million.

Sue's book list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning

Sue Prideaux Why did Sue love this book?

Nietzsche said; “Only those with very large lungs have the right to write long sentences.” Montaigne was of the same opinion. He pre-dated Nietzsche in couching his philosophy simply and clearly in short, sharp aphorisms. Like Nietzsche’s aphorisms, they are often very funny.

By Sarah Bakewell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Live as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How to get on well with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love? How to live?

This question obsessed Renaissance nobleman Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-92), who wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. Into these essays he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog's ears twitched when it was dreaming, events in the appalling civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller, and over four hundred years later, readers still come to…


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