The book is a selection of Malcolm Budd's papers on aesthetics, some of which have been revised or added to. A number of the essays are aimed at the abstract heart of aesthetics, attempting to solve a cluster of the most important issues in aesthetics which are not specific to particular art forms. These include the nature and proper scope of the aesthetic, the intersubjective validity of aesthetic judgements, the correct understanding of aesthetic judgements expressed through metaphors, aesthetic realism versus anti-realism, the character of aesthetic pleasure and aesthetic value, the aim of art and the artistic expression of emotion. Other essays are focussed on central issues in the aesthetics of particular art forms: two engage with the most fundamental issue in the aesthetics of music, the question of the correct conception of the phenomenology of the experience of listening to music with understanding; and two consider the nature of pictorial representation, one examining certain well-known views, the other articulating an alternative conception of seeing a picture as a depiction of a certain state of affairs.
The final essay in the volume is a comprehensive reconstruction and critical examination of Wittgenstein's aesthetics, both early and late.