David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7 (2):147-162 (2009)
In this essay, I discuss Kames' aesthetic theory, as presented in his essay, ‘Our Attachment to Objects of Distress’ (concerning the problem of tragedy), and in Elements of Criticism. I argue that Kames' (non-)response to the problem of tragedy – that we find tragedies painful (not pleasing), yet are ‘attracted to them through the workings of the “blind instinct” of sympathy’ – is intended to call the standard formulation of the problem of tragedy (‘why do we find such painful things pleasing?’) into question. This standard formulation, on Kames' view, mistakenly assumes that we cannot be attracted to anything but pleasure, whereas tragedy (among other phenomena) shows that human nature is considerably more complex than this. I argue, further, that Kames' treatment of tragedy exemplifies the character of his aesthetics more broadly: aesthetic values are explained by reference to general laws governing human nature (we are attracted to this sort of thing, averse to that, etc.) – or explanatory naturalism. But Kames also argues that we can, upon reflection, judge that this instinct and this exercise of it is good (as in the case of tragedy, which is, Kames argues, morally educative because it strengthens our sympathy), by contrast to other cases where instincts may not achieve their ends. Thus Kames also proposes a normative aesthetic naturalism, according to which we should educate our instinctual affective responses so that they will be appropriate to their objects and beneficial for the human goods that they are meant to promote
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Eva Dadlez (2011). Ideal Presence: How Kames Solved the Problem of Fiction and Emotion. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (1):115-133.
Elisa Galgut (2009). Tragedy and Reparation. In Pedro Alexis Tabensky (ed.), The Positive Function of Evil. Palgrave Macmillan
S. Shapshay (2012). The Problem with the Problem of Tragedy: Schopenhauer's Solution Revisited. British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (1):17-32.
Elisa Galgut (2001). The Poetry and the Pity: Hume's Account of Tragic Pleasure. British Journal of Aesthetics 41 (4):411-424.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1974). The Birth of Tragedy; or, Hellenism and Pessimism. Gordon Press.
Aaron Smuts (2007). The Paradox of Painful Art. Journal of Aesthetic Education 41 (3):59-77.
Eva Dadlez (2010). Kames on Ideal Presence. Southwest Philosophy Review 26 (1):17-25.
Added to index2010-07-11
Total downloads26 ( #148,263 of 1,902,070 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #466,345 of 1,902,070 )
How can I increase my downloads?