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Is there a word for "science/study of art"?

For the moment I use the neologism "artologia" but I'd rather conform to the usage.

Edit. I would prefer a single word translation.

Edit. Maybe arsprudentia artisprudentia (to mimic jurisprudentia) would be a better neologism.

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    Do you want a Latin word or an English word? – Ben Kovitz Dec 2 '20 at 0:44
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    Non-serious answer: since an "art" in Greek is technē, clearly the study of arts should be technologia. – Draconis Dec 2 '20 at 3:27
  • @Draconis I actually suggested that in my answer. Changing ars to techne in the proposed artologia leads quickly to that. I suppose technology is the pursuit of ars/techne in a way. – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 2 '20 at 10:31
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The study of art is often approached from the perspective that its quality is related to its beauty or to the extent that it is perceived as pleasurable. In this case, aesthetics or esthetics is the branch of philosophy which studies the nature of beauty. The philosopher Nick Zangwell says the following:

[T]here were always some thinkers — philosophers, as well as others in the study of particular arts — who persisted in thinking seriously about beauty and the aesthetic.

In a comment, it was suggested by @JoonasIlmavirta that you might be looking for a Latin form of the word. In that case it would be aesthetica.

Etymology of aesthetics:

The word aesthetics comes from either the German Ästhetik or French esthétique, and these, in turn, have their origin in the Greek word αἰσθητικός which is a adjective meaning:

of or for sense-perception

The use of the word aesthetics was popularized in English as a result of translations of the works of Immanuel Kant.

Kant himself says the following about aesthetics:

Beautiful in aesthetic judging is only that which pleases without any interest in the existence of the object itself, merely in the intuition of it, and indeed in the form of it, and pleases because here a free play of the power of imagination is efficted in agreement with the lawfulness of the understanding. (Metaphysik Vigilantius, 29:1011)

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  • Good option! But what would be the Latin form? I understood the word was supposed to be a Latin one. Aesthetica? – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 1 '20 at 19:30
  • @JoonasIlmavirta. I don't know. The OP doesn't mention anything about Latin. But since this site deals with Greek as well, the English word is a close approximation of the original Greek. – Expedito Bipes Dec 1 '20 at 19:32
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    @JoonasIlmavirta. However, I like your suggestion for a Latin form of the word: Aesthetica. – Expedito Bipes Dec 1 '20 at 19:40
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    @Blincer. OK. I reworded my answer. I also made my reference more clear in order to show that I'm not simply expressing my opinion. Aparently you don't agree with this particular approach to art, but there may be some who do. If so, my answer might be found useful by them. Sorry that I couldn't have been more helpful for what you were looking for. – Expedito Bipes Dec 1 '20 at 21:12
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    Thank you for the rewording, it might indeed be useful to some people! – user8582 Dec 1 '20 at 21:16
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If you're looking for an English word, it's aesthetics.

If you're looking for a Latin word, it's aesthetica.

Classical Latin had no word for the study of art. The word was coined, in Latin, by philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten in 1735 in his master's thesis Meditationes Philosophicae de Nonnullis ad Poema Pertinentibus. The 1765 edition of Baumgarten's treatise Aesthetica begins with this definition:

Aesthetica (theoria liberalium artium, gnoseologia inferior, ars pulcre cogitandi, ars analogi rationis) est scientia cognitionis sensitivae.

Aesthetics (the theory of the liberal arts, the lower theory of knowledge [i.e. pertaining to sense-perception rather than reasoning], the art of comprehending beauty, the art of the sensory world that exists within the faculty of reason [i.e. perception, imagination, comparison, discerning of detail, etc.]) is the science of sensuous cognition.*

Baumgarten was especially concerned to show, contra Plato's dismissal of poetry as a mere imitation of a mere reflection of the true reality, that poetry, by arousing a complexity of sensory images and consequent emotions within the mind, is capable of perfection and worthy in its own right. Hence Baumgarten coined the word from Ancient Greek αἰσθητικός, meaning "pertaining to sense-perception"—the start-point or ground of aesthetic imagination and judgement.

The Dictionary of Untranslatables points out that the word has some ambiguity, because Baumgarten thought that a single independent science should cover sensory perception, art, beauty, and reason's cognition of those things. Some writers have since used the word, in many different languages, more narrowly; some limit it to sense perception and some to beauty.


* Don't take my translation too seriously. I'm not an expert, and Baumgarten may have been using some of the Latin words in specialized 18th-century senses that I'm not familiar with.

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The most natural phrasing in Latin that I can think of would be studium artis. The word studium has all kinds of meanings along the lines of devotion, study, endeavor, and inclination. Whether you produce art yourself or are an avid consumer, I think studium artis is a good choice. I would argue that there is no single-word solution in Latin if you want to stay within good style.

If you want it to be a single word, I think you have to turn to Greek. Latin is far less fond of compound words than its eastern cousin. You can always transliterate a Greek word to Latin, but it feels a little weird to mix the Latin ars- with the Greek -logia, given that there are Greek options. If you use the -logia for "study" and the Greek counterpart techne for ars, you get technologia! That has a baggage of connotation you might not want, but perhaps someone better versed in Greek can suggest something better. Both ars and techne mean art, skill, science, and things of that kind, although from the point of view of modern languages one looks artistic and the other one looks technical, but this difference of nuance is a relatively new invention.

If you want a single word within Latin, my best offer is simply ars. It can refer to both art itself and the endeavor thereof. This kind of metonymy is common in Latin, but of course it is prone to misinterpretation in some contexts.

Regarding your suggestions:

  • While artologia is easily understood, it feels weird to force ars into Greek. (As pointed out in the comments, it would actually mean the study of bread in Greek, from ἄρτος.) If you want to have a single word without technological connotations, then at least change it to artilogia. Latin uses -i- for compounding where Greek uses -o-.
  • The word iurisprudentia is really two words: iuris prudentia, "wisdom of law". If you want to be analogous to it, ars needs to go the genitive case: artis prudentia. But to me prudentia does not seem to me "pursuit".

The best choice depends on what you need it for. If you need to make a contrast to something else, that matters a lot. Or if there are limitation of space, they change matters. As always with translation, context is important.

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  • I indeed thought of technologia but I already use it in a different context. Thanks anyway! – user8582 Dec 1 '20 at 16:09
  • @Blincer I updated my answer. Without knowing more context I can't do any better. Why do you want it to be just a single word, for example? – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 1 '20 at 17:04
  • I am translating a text with a list of fields of study (geographia, politica, iurisprundentia…), and there are all one word, it would be very odd to use a compound here. I will consider your suggestions, thank you for your time. – user8582 Dec 1 '20 at 17:08
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    Another problem with artologia is that, because there's a Greek noun ἄρτος, the word would more obviously mean 'the study of bread.' – cnread Dec 1 '20 at 17:35

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