Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief

The subject (Aesthetics) is very big and entirely misunderstood as far as I can see. The use of such a word as ‘beautiful’ is even more apt to be misunderstood if you look at the linguistic form of sentences in which it occurs than most other words.

35. In order to get clear about aesthetic words you have to describe ways of living. We think we have to talk about aesthetic judgements like ‘This is beautiful’, but we find that if we have to talk about aesthetic judgements we don’t find these words at all, but a word used something like a gesture, accompanying a complicated activity.

36. [ Lewy: If my landlady says a picture is lovely and I say it is hideous, we don’t contradict one another.]

In a sense [and in certain examples-R] you do contradict one another. She dusts it carefuly, looks at it often, etc. You want to throw it in the fire. This is just the stupid kind of example which is given in philosophy, as if things like ‘This is hideous’, ‘This is lovely ‘ were the only kinds of things ever said. But it is only one thing amongst a vast realm of other things-one special case. Suppose the landlady says : “This is hideous”, and you say: “This is lovely”-all right, that’s that.

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