The Aesthetic Theory of Frances Power Cobbe

Stone, Alison (2022) The Aesthetic Theory of Frances Power Cobbe. British Journal of Aesthetics, 62 (3). 387–403. ISSN 0007-0904

Text (Cobbe_aesthetics_accepted)
Cobbe_aesthetics_accepted.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 5 July 2024.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (293kB)


This article contributes to recognizing and recovering women’s voices in the history of aesthetics by examining the aesthetic theory put forward in the 1860s by the Anglo-Irish philosopher and feminist Frances Power Cobbe. Cobbe addressed aesthetics and gender, maintaining that there are female geniuses. She addressed art and morality, arguing that art should always aim to express moral truth, and that artworks that express morally good thoughts poorly are artistically better than works that express morally bad thoughts well. She then modified her stance to argue that beauty contains but does not reduce to goodness. Cobbe also developed a comprehensive account of the arts, their relative merits, and the criteria for evaluating them. Her account had problems; nonetheless, it was ambitious, original, and interesting, and Cobbe deserves to be recognized as a woman who made significant interventions in the history of aesthetics.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
British Journal of Aesthetics
Additional Information:
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Alison Stone, The Aesthetic Theory of Frances Power Cobbe, The British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 62, Issue 3, July 2022, Pages 387–403 is available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
13 Jan 2022 16:24
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 02:00