Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten


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German aesthetician. Baumgarten was born in Berlin and educated at Halle, where he became professor before moving in 1740 to a chair at Frankfurt. He taught a modified Leibnizian system, very much in the spirit of Wolff. He is remembered for his introduction of the term ‘aesthetics’ in the sense, which it retains in Kant, of the attainment of knowledge by means of the senses. But he also wrote on aesthetics in the narrow sense, insisting on the ‘confusion’ inherent in the particular experience of beauty, and the importance of ‘sensitive representations’ as a mode of knowledge independent of reason but not its inferior. His works include the two-volume Aesthetica (1750–8).

Subjects: Philosophy.

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