Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An artistic and intellectual movement originating in Britain in the late 19th century and characterized by the doctrine that beauty is the basic principle from which all other principles, especially moral ones, are derived.
  • noun Devotion to and pursuit of the beautiful; sensitivity to artistic beauty and refined taste.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The doctrine of æsthetics; æsthetic principles; devotion to the beautiful in nature and art.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A doctrine which holds aesthetics or beauty as the highest ideal or most basic standard.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

aesthetic +‎ -ism

Examples

  • The combination Nietzsche-Wilde-Mallarmé, incongruous as it is, recurs frequently in English aestheticism and it is amusing and symptomatic to find it back in the early Gide, Mr. Scott, however, was clearly not amused.

    Nihilism

  • From a late lecture by the 20th-century theologian Paul Tillich: When I came to this country and first used the word aestheticism in a lecture, a colleague of mine at Columbia University told me not to use that word in describing Americans.

    This and/or that

  • From a late lecture by the 20th-century theologian Paul Tillich: When I came to this country and first used the word aestheticism in a lecture, a colleague of mine at Columbia University told me not to use that word in describing Americans.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • In Germany, whenever there is a debate about the great Catholic liturgical tradition, it only needs someone to utter the accusation of 'aestheticism', and it is all over.

    The Rebellion Against the Self-Evident

  • I would also agree that it isn't the case "that reading a novel on its own terms should always be the end point of criticism," although I do maintain -- this is really what my allegiance to "aestheticism" finally amounts to -- it is a indispensable and necessary beginning point.

    Principles of Literary Criticism

  • Nothing more distant from the banal misreading of the aesthetic as an apolitical "aestheticism" can be imagined than the arguments to be found in these essays.

    Response: Reading the Aesthetic, Reading Romanticism

  • Eucken has turned with equal severity against the aestheticism which is preached so loudly in our days and which «infects only reflective and pleasure-loving hedonists».

    Nobel Prize in Literature 1908 - Presentation Speech

  • He never threw off from himself that disproportionate accumulation of aestheticism which is the burden of the amateur.

    Heretics

  • I would also agree that it isn't the case "that reading a novel on its own terms should always be the end point of criticism," although I do maintain -- this is really what my allegiance to "aestheticism" finally amounts to -- it is a indispensable and necessary beginning point.

    The Reading Experience

  • The wealthy Morris fed Burne-Jones's appetite for aestheticism: They shared an interest in Romanticism, illuminated manuscripts, medieval church interiors and Chaucer.

    A Penchant for Dreaming

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