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date: 07 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The term “aesthetic emotion” was treated differently by scholars from the late 19th and early 20th centuries compared with those from the 21st, and there is much to learn from the “early” group. William James distinguished “subtler emotions” that encompass aesthetic, scientific, and ethical qualities, in contrast to “coarse emotions,” such as happiness or sadness, which are part of everyday life. Others, such as Bosanquet, Clay, Bullough, and Dewey described underlying processes that shape aesthetic experiences during episodes of creation and reception. Their insight is that everyday emotions are elevated to abstract and universal levels during aesthetic episodes, much like Aristotle described more than 2,000 years ago. Later researchers, such as Menninghaus and colleagues, were influenced by the “cognitive turn” and treat “aesthetic emotions” as hypothetical constructs whose independent existence is predicated on word frequencies associated with stimulus ratings. The precision of current empiricism can benefit from incorporating rich theoretical musings of the past about aesthetic processes. A comprehensive model should integrate processes related to aesthetics and emotion during creation and reception episodes. Formal properties of art or literary works can stimulate feelings of pleasure or excitement. The subject matter can offer suggestions that elicit personal connections and related emotions.

Keywords: Aesthetic emotions, subtler emotions, coarse emotions, process model, creation and reception

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