Stolnitz ABQ Ch. 7  “The Aesthetic Attitude”


p. 78

To sum up, an attitude organizes and directs our awareness of the world. Now the aesthetic attitude is not the attitude which people usually adopt. The attitude we customarily take can be called the attitude of “practical” perception.



…remember that a definition, here or in any other study, is only a point of departure for further inquiry.



With this word of caution, I will define “the aesthetic attitude” as “disinterested and sympathetic attention to and contemplation of any object of awareness whatever, for its own sake alone.”


Stolnitz then takes up and discusses the parts of his proposed definition:


Disinterested: we don’t look at the object in relation to any ulterior purpose



Sympathetic: we relish its individual quality (and avoid our prejudices)



Attention:   NOT a “blank, cow-like stare”; not passive.



If we attend to something, we are keyed up and emotionally open to respond to it.



Contemplation: The perceiver’s attention is directed to the object in its own right, isn’t asking questions or analyzing it, and is thoroughly absorbed and interested.



The aesthetic attitude can be adopted toward “any object of awareness whatever.”