Document Type


Publication Date

January 2014

Publication Title

The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, 2nd Ed




Marx W. Wartofsky was born in Brooklyn and received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Columbia University. He was a professor at Boston University (where he taught for twenty-six years) and then at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He was long-time editor of the Philosophical Forum, which he founded in 1970. He also co-founded with Robert Cohen the Boston University Center for Philosophy and History of Science in 1960. He wrote three books: Conceptual Foundations of Scientific Thought (1968), Feuerbach (1977), and Models: Representation and the Scientific Understanding (1979), the last of which is the most important for his aesthetic theory. He co-edited Woman and Philosophy (1976) with Carol C. Gould, his wife. Wartofsky was president of the Society for Philosophy and Technology from 1987 to 1989. He was also a longtime member of the American Society for Aesthetics and participated regularly in its programs. He was best known for his “historical epistemology,” which he applied to aesthetics as well as the philosophy of science. Unusual for a philosopher in the United States, Wartofsky’s overall perspective was firmly rooted in Marxism. However, he was also influenced by the work of art historian Ernst Gombrich, analytic philosopher Nelson Goodman, and psychologist J. J. Gibson.


This is the Postprint of an article that appeared in The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (2nd ed.), 2014. The Version of Record is available at the following link.

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