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Practical FormAbstraction, Technique, and Beauty in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics$
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Abigail Zitin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300244564

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300244564.001.0001

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“A Rough Unsightly Sketch”

“A Rough Unsightly Sketch”

Empiricism and the Senses of Form

(p.28) Chapter One “A Rough Unsightly Sketch”
Practical Form

Abigail Zitin

Yale University Press

This chapter surveys the manifestations of empiricist antiformalism in some early texts that ground the tradition of eighteenth-century thought on the subjects of taste and beauty, beginning with Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke argues for an attenuated version of form, one that eschews any trappings of scholastic or Platonic philosophy. After Locke, form cannot name anything related to substance or essence; Locke endorses its use only as a synonym for figure, that is, shape or pattern, extension in space or duration in time. Drawing on Locke's Essay, both Joseph Addison and Francis Hutcheson theorize beauty as a secondary quality that emanates from an object, distinct from form, which they understand as a primary quality residing in that object.

Keywords:   Locke, John, Addison, Joseph, Empiricism, Qualities, Hutcheson, Francis

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