Home >> Encyclopedia-britannica-volume-01-a-anno >> Abhidhamma to Acanthocephala >> Absolutism

Absolutism

Loading


ABSOLUTISM. The term absolutism is generally applied to any view or theory that the object under consideration (whatever it may be) is not merely conventional, or subjective, or dependent, or limited in any way, but absolute, that is real or valid in itself, or objective, or independent, or unrestricted. (See ABSOLUTE.) (I) In ethics, absolutism is the view that moral distinctions are not the result of mere arbitrary Commands of God, or of human conventions variable according to circumstances, but that they are intrinsically valid, and the same for all human beings, at all times, and in all places. (2) In aesthetics, absolutism is the view that distinctions of beauty and ugliness are not entirely dependent on the subjective feelings of the percipient mind, but that they are objective differences in things themselves, like the primary qualities of material objects. (See QUALITIES.) Absolutism main tains accordingly that aesthetic appreciation should not be re garded as merely a matter of taste about which people must agree to differ (de gustibus non disputandum), but that there is an objective or absolute standard of beauty by which aesthetic judgment ought to be guided. The fact that even art specialists are frequently at variance is accounted for by absolutists by the suggestion that individuals vary in their powers of apprehending aesthetic qualities just as they vary in other capacities. (3) In political theory, absolutism denotes a form of government in which the sovereign exercises almost complete power unrestrained by such laws and reservations as characterize what is commonly called constitutional government. Hence absolutism is sometimes used as the equivalent of despotism.

objective and qualities