I'm still mulling over the importance of Aesthetics. Raemon's writing really set me on a path I should've explored much much earlier.
And since all good paths come with their fair share of coincidences, I found this essay to also mull over.
Perhaps we can think of Aesthetics as the grouping of desires and things we find beautiful(and thus we desire and work towards), in a spiritual/emotional/inner sense?
Why limit it to a spiritual/emotional/inner realm? Except to the extent that all values are (a perfectly reasonable belief, IMO).
Are aesthetic preferences any different from other desiderata? If I don't like people's suffering, is that not an aesthetic choice? What choices and terminal values would you call NOT aesthetic?
I prefer to think of Aesthetic as a less rational, more monkey-brain part of us. A lot of the things we find beautiful come from basic instincts of what is good/bad for our survival and reproduction. Healthy food, safe places, good partners, etc.
I would rationalize that finding suffering ugly is in a similar vein as finding skin boils ugly; they're indicators of diseases, unsafe land, unsafe conditions, bad things et al.
Going with the "people's suffering" take, perhaps wanting to act on immediate, in-your-eyes suffering is an aesthetic choice/preference, but making a (shut up and multiply) decision wouldn't be aesthetic, but fully rational? Our monkey-brains can't quite grasp the people's suffering continents away from us, or imagine the actual amount of people suffering, so wanting to act on that as a whole wouldn't touch on our direct aesthetics, but in conscious, controlled rational thoughts.