All these essays touch in some way on aesthetics. Some of them consider topics at the traditional centre of aesthetics. Chapter 4, 'Emotions and Emotional Qualities' and Chapter I, 'Contemporary Aesthetics and the Neglect of Natural Beauty' do so most obviously. Others may need rather more introduction and apology. The earliest of the studies was written in I 96 I, and the most recent was first published in r 982. Since all have been in print before, and some have been referred to by other writers, I have left them for the most part in their original form. One main reason for gathering them together in a book is to make apparent their interconnections and affinities in outlook, as separate publication cannot. The discussion freely crosses the conventional subject-boundaries between moral philosophy, philosophy of religion and aesthetics.
The study of aesthetic experience tends to move between a narrower and a broader conception of its subject-matter. For the narrower conception, the proper focus of study is taken to be the rapt contemplation of particular objects of art or of nature, where the spectator is wholly absorbed in the immediately given perceptual qualities of the object, and his attention is quite confined to these - or as near as can be. The essays in this book however work with a very much wider and more complex conception of aesthetic activity. …….