The Art of Travel

Developing an aesthetic means gaining the “capacity to assert judgments about beauty and ugliness.” For de Botton, art and travel are valuable in large part because they allow individuals to notice what they find beautiful, exciting, and suited to their own disposition. This is also why art can inspire travel and travel art—both are fundamentally valuable to de Botton because of their subjective, aesthetic dimensions. By paying attention to their intuitions about beauty and ugliness, de Botton hopes, travelers can begin to understand their interior aesthetics by grasping the mental associations and rules of beauty to which they react. “Aesthetic” can also be used as an adjective (something involving beauty).

Aesthetic Quotes in The Art of Travel

The The Art of Travel quotes below are all either spoken by Aesthetic or refer to Aesthetic. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Art of Travel published in 2002.
Chapter 7 Quotes

Because we find places to be beautiful as immediately and apparently spontaneously as we find snow to be cold or sugar sweet, it is hard to imagine that there is anything we might do to alter or expand our attractions. It seems that matters have been decided for us by qualities inherent in the places themselves or by hardwiring in our psyches, and that we would therefore be as helpless to modify our sense of the places we find beautiful as we would our preference for the ice creams we find appetizing.

Yet aesthetic tastes may be less rigid than this analogy suggests. We overlook certain places because nothing has ever prompted us to conceive of them as being worthy of appreciation, or because some unfortunate but random association has turned us against them.

Related Characters: Alain de Botton (speaker), Vincent van Gogh
Page Number: 182
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Aesthetic Term Timeline in The Art of Travel

The timeline below shows where the term Aesthetic appears in The Art of Travel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: On the Exotic
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
...everyday life in the Netherlands, and thinks of the “openness toward foreign influences” and “Calvinist aesthetic” that play a prominent role in Dutch history. (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
...to this particular Dutch house as a sign of his desire for the “modernity and aesthetic simplicity” that London lacks. (full context)
Chapter 7: On Eye-Opening Art
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
People react instantaneously to the beauty of new places, so they might think that their aesthetic attractions are hardwired and inalterable. But de Botton disagrees, suggesting that a failure to see... (full context)
Chapter 8: On Possessing Beauty
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
...the reasons behind our attraction to certain landscapes and buildings.” It lets people develop their “aesthetic,” which is a “capacity to assert judgments about beauty and ugliness.” People can move from... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
Ruskin’s word-paintings were about places’ psychological effects as much as their aesthetic qualities. He personified clouds, seeing them “as if they were animated by an inner will,... (full context)