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Although debates about beauty and judgments of personal taste date back thousands of years, the word aesthetics and the conception of aesthetics as a philosophical branch of axiology are relatively recent inventions that belong to the mid-18th-century German Enlightenment. Originally intended as a philosophy of reasoning through felt sensory experience as evoked through poetry, aesthetics was quickly appropriated into widespread popular use as an umbrella term to embrace all discussions concerning the judgments of beauty and art. In these early formulations, beauty corresponded to truth; thus, beauty said truthful things about the world. Art was an empirical expression of beauty. This entry traces the evolution of the original German concept of aesthetic education and then examines three different contemporary theories: (1) the essentialist, (2) ...

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