Definitions containing æsthetics

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In the fields of philosophy and æsthetics, the term philistinism describes the social attitude of anti-intellectualism that undervalues and despises art, beauty, spirituality, and intellect; ‘the manners, habits, and character, or mode of thinking of a philistine’. A philistine person is the man or woman who is smugly narrow of mind and of conventional morality whose materialistic views and tastes indicate a lack of and indifference to cultural and æsthetic values. Since the 19th century, the contemporary denotation of philistinism, as the behaviour of ‘ignorant, ill-behaved persons lacking in culture or artistic appreciation, and only concerned with materialistic values’ derives from Matthew Arnold’s adaptation to English of the German word Philister — as applied by university students in their antagonistic relations with the townspeople of Jena, Germany, where, in 1689, a row resulted in several deaths. In the aftermath, the university cleric addressed the town-vs-gown matter with an admonishing sermon ‘The Philistines be upon thee’, drawn from the Book of Judges, of the Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament.

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