First English translation of Fechner’s (1866) fundamental article about “The Aesthetic Association Principle” available now
Why do we prefer the sight of an orange to that of a polished wooden ball of the same size and colour? Why do some people like the sound of a particular first name, while others do not? Why are red lips and cheeks more attractive than red hands and noses? Why is a large station concourse not nearly as sublime as the dome of a cathedral?
Some 150 years ago, the founder of experimental aesthetics, Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887), raised these questions in his ground-breaking article about the “Aesthetic Association Principle” (Das Associationsprincip in der Aesthetik), to demonstrate how previous experiences shape our aesthetic choices. Against the prevailing view among representatives of philosophical speculation (Aesthetik von Oben), Fechner concluded, that, since personal meaning (associations) is inseparably linked to an object’s formal properties (e.g., shape and colour), aesthetics is well advised to take both associative and direct factors seriously.
Up to now, this claim has lost nothing of its initial relevance, as the role of content-related associations is still underestimated by today’s paramount theories in empirical aesthetics. Together with the Anglicist Werner Kügel, the Psychologists Stefan Ortlieb and Professor Claus-Christian Carbon have provided the first commented full text translation of “The Aesthetic Association Principle” to raise awareness for this blind spot in the reception of Fechner’s Aesthetics from Below (Aesthetik von Unten) and to spark an overdue discussion about the role of content-related associations in aesthetics.
The translation has just been published in i-Perception together with a digitally remastered facsimile of the original article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2041669520920309