I'd like to ask a question about aesthetics and philosophy in general. As an undergraduate student of philosophy, looking around at different traditions and particular, dominant thinkers, it seems that aesthetics is generally discounted as a strong motivation or deciding force in many facets of our lives. For instance, I think that most people will find it an odd when one suggests that aesthetics is an important part of ethics, economics, politics, science, mathematics, logic, ontology, epistemology, and so on. Yet in each of the disciplines I've just mentioned, it seems that an 'elegant' definition, solution or description is strongly praised by most people over 'messy' ones. For instance, we wonder at the simplicity and power of both Newton's laws and Einstein's e=mc2. An elegantly 'neat' solution to an ethical dilemma between two parties is generally preferred to an obscure, complex one. Plato is praised by many for his elegant use of illustrative metaphors. Elegance is surely an attribute firmly within the domain of aesthetics; and hence, aesthetic concerns do play a part in these disciplines.
These examples are minimal: no great labour of thought was required to think them up.
I am coming to suspect that (for whatever reason) aesthetic sense (whatever that is) is actually a fundamental part of the human experience; far greater than its proportional representation on library shelves suggests. I notice that on this web site, aesthetics is not even listed as a separate category: inferentially it has to be tacked on as a potential property of art, beauty, justice, medicine, knowledge, sex, sport, suicide, and so on. This contrasts to, say, ethics, which could also be described as a potential property of all the same categories, yet has its own category.
My question is: are there philosophers who take aesthetics to be of as fundamental importance in philosophy as, say, ontology or epistemology? Also, is this an area of thought that is mobile in its degree of interest in the general philosophical community? Can we wait with suspenseful breath for a new Heidegger who reshapes our thinking about fundamental issues in terms of aesthetics?