Aesthetics – we all use this word in a variety of contexts, aesthetically. What each usage interprets thus has evolved over time, or so it seems. Maybe because it is such a classic word.

Let me give you a few responses to “what do you think is aesthetics?” by people from various walks of life.

Look and feel;
Sensory things and its beauty;
Admiring any form of art;
Something that gives a visual appearance, its positives and negatives;
Appreciation of art;
Making something average, to look good;
External appearance, choice of color, reflecting of mood;
Appreciation of beauty;
The way something is regarded as pretty;
Raw data being made aesthetic (I believe the intention was to make raw data, presentable)

Now everyone seem to agree on one aspect (i.e) the beauty or the looking good part. The fact that beauty is also a matter of perception is altogether a different issue.

“What is aesthetics?”
This question arose when I was watching a Youtube video on a lecture, where a part was about aesthetics. The lecturer had a viewpoint that, there are certain functional aspects about the form, the content and the intent of something that makes it aesthetic. It means much more than ‘like’ and ‘don’t like’. And then he spoke about us moving to the position of conscious thought, when one perceives the aesthetics of any art form (music or otherwise).

The word aesthetic has a Greek origin which means to perceive. It is even defined as a branch of philosophy that views at art as knowledge and as action. From all this, can I safely surmise that aesthetics is an understanding or perception of the aspects of art (any kind), without bringing in personal judgment, like or dislike.

Thus, what is aesthetically appealing to me, might not be so, to you. Now this is what boggles me. How can I perceive something without having an opinion on it? Say, I am listening to the raga Nilambari. I find it extremely soothing, that I doze off. I wake up and come to a conclusion that this raga induces sleep. Question: Is this my perception or my judgement? When does one become the other?

– Until next,
Vid 🙂