The fifth and last branch of philosophy is esthetics, the study of art, which is based on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics.
The esthetic principles which apply to all art, regardless of an individual artist’s philosophy, and which must guide an objective evaluation . . . are defined by the science of esthetics—a task at which modern philosophy has failed dismally.
The position of art in the scale of human knowledge is, perhaps, the most eloquent symptom of the gulf between man’s progress in the physical sciences and his stagnation (or, today, his retrogression) in the humanities . . . .
While, in other fields of knowledge, men have outgrown the practice of seeking the guidance of mystic oracles whose qualification for the job was unintelligibility, in the field of esthetics this practice has remained in full force and is becoming more crudely obvious today. Just as savages took the phenomena of nature for granted, as an irreducible primary not to be questioned or analyzed, as the exclusive domain of unknowable demons—so today’s epistemological savages take art for granted, as an irreducible primary not to be questioned or analyzed, as the exclusive domain of a special kind of unknowable demons: their emotions. The only difference is that the prehistorical savages’ error was innocent.