Art and Morality is a collection of groundbreaking new papers on the theme of aesthetics and ethics, and the link between the two subjects. A group of world-class contributors tackle the important question that arise when one thinks about the moral dimensions of art and the aesthetic dimension of moral life. The volume is a significant contribution to the philosophical literature, opening up unexplored questions and shedding new light on more traditional debates in aesthetics. The topics explored include the relation (...) of aesthetic to ethical judgment; the relation of artistic experience to moral consciousness; the moral status of fiction; the concepts of sentimentality and decadence; the moral dimension of critical practice, pictorial art and music; the moral significance of tragedy; and the connections between artistic and moral issues elaborated in the writings of central figures in modern philosophy such as Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. (shrink)
In this essay, then, I would like to address what I believe are the most compelling epistemic arguments against the notion that literature (and art more broadly) can function as an instrument of education and a source of knowledge.
Aproximación teórica al buen gusto y a los significados que este concepto adquiere en los tratados, más o menos teóricos, de autores españoles y de extranjeros traducidos al español a lo largo del siglo XVIII.
Up until fairly recently it was philosophical orthodoxy – at least within analytic aesthetics broadly construed – to hold that the appreciation and evaluation of works as art and moral considerations pertaining to them are conceptually distinct. However, following on from the idea that artistic value is broader than aesthetic value, the last 15 years has seen an explosion of interest in exploring possible inter-relations between the appreciative and ethical character of works as art. Consideration of these issues has a (...) distinguished philosophical history but as the Compass survey article suggests ('Art, Morality and Ethics: On the (Im)Moral Character of Art Works and Inter-Relations to Artistic Value.' Philosophy Compass 1.2 (2006): 129–43), it is only very recently that figures in the field have returned to it to develop more precisely what they take the relationships to be and why. Consensus is, unsurprisingly, lacking. The reinvigoration of the issues has led sophisticated formalists or autonomists to mount a more considered defence of the idea that aesthetic and literary values are indeed conceptually distinct from the justification or otherwise of the moral perspective or views endorsed in a work (Topic I). The challenges presented by such a defence are many but amongst them are appeals to critical practice (Lamarque and Olsen), scepticism about whether or not art really can give us bona fide knowledge (Stolnitz) and the recognition that truth often seems to be far removed from what it is we value in our appreciation of works (Lamarque). One way to motivate consideration of the relevance of a work's moral character to its artistic value concerns the phenomena of imaginative resistance. At least sometimes it would seem that, as Hume originally suggested, we either cannot or will not enter imaginatively into the perspective solicited by a work due to its morally problematic character (Topic II). In some cases, it would seem that as a matter of psychological fact, we cannot do so since it is impossible for us to imagine how it could be that a certain attitude or action is morally permissible or good (Walton). The question then is whether or not this is a function of morality in particular or constraints on imaginative possibility more generally and what else is involved. At other times, the phenomena seem to be driven by a moral reluctance to allow ourselves to enter into the dramatic perspective involved (Moran) or evaluation of the attitude expressed (Stokes). Nonetheless, it is far from obvious that this is so of all the attitudes or responses we judge to be morally problematic. After all, it looks like we can and indeed often do suspend or background particular cognitive and moral commitments in engaging with all sorts of works (Nichols and Weinberg). If the moral character of a work interacts with how we appreciate and evaluate them, then the pressing question is this: is there any systematic account of the relationship available to us? One way is to consider the relationship between our emotional responses to works and their moral character (Topic III). After all, art works often solicit various emotional responses from us to follow the work and make use of moral concepts in so doing (Carroll). Indeed, whether or not a work merits the sought for emotional responses often seems to be internally related to ethical considerations (Gaut). Yet, it is not obvious that we should apply our moral concepts or respond emotionally in our imaginative engagement with works as art as we should in real life (Kieran, Jacobson). A different route is via the thought that art can convey knowledge (Topic IV). There might be particular kinds of moral knowledge art distinctively suited to conveying (Nussbaum) or it may just be that art does so particularly effectively (Carroll, Gaut, Kieran). Either way where this can be tied to the artistic means and appreciation of a work it would seem that to cultivate moral understanding contributes to the value of a work and to betray misunderstanding is a defect. Without denying the relevance of the moral character of a work some authors have wanted to claim that sometimes the immoral aspect of a work can contribute to rather than lessen its artistic value (Topic V). One route is to claim that there is no systematic theoretical account of the relationship available and what the right thing to say is depends on the particular case involved (Jacobson). Another involves the claim that this is so when the defect connects up in an appropriate way to one of the values of art. Thus, it has been claimed, only where a work reveals something which adds to intelligibility, knowledge or understanding in virtue of its morally problematic aspect can this be so (Kieran). The latter position looks like it could in principle be held whilst nonetheless maintaining that the typical or standard relationship is as the moralists would have it. Yet perhaps allowing valence change for such reasons is less a mark of principled explanation and more a function of downright inconsistency or incoherence (Harold). The topics themselves and suggested readings given below follow the structure articulated above as further amplified in the Compass survey article. The design and structure given below can be easily compressed or expanded further. Author Recommends 1. Carroll, Noël. 'Art, Narrative and Moral Understanding.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 126–60. This article develops the idea that engaging with narrative art calls on moral concepts and emotions and can thereby clarify our moral understanding. 2. Carroll, Noël. Beyond Aesthetics: Philosophical Essays . Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Part IV consists of six distinct essays on questions concerning the inter-relations between art and morality including the essay cited above and the author's articulation and defence of moderate moralism. 3. Gaut, Berys. 'The Ethical Criticism of Art.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 182–203. 4. Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. This monograph provides the most exhaustive treatment of the issues and defends the claim that, where relevant, whenever a work is morally flawed it is of lesser value as art and wherever it is morally virtuous the work's value as art is enhanced. Chapters 7 and 8 defend concern ethical knowledge and chapter 10 is a development of the article cited above concerning emotional responses. Chapter 3 also gives a useful conceptual map of the issues and options in the debate. 5. Jacobson, Daniel. 'In Praise of Immoral Art.' Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 155–99. A wide ranging and extended treatment of relevant issues which objects to generalising moral treatments of our responses to art works and defends the idea that particular works can be better because of rather than despite their moral defects. 6. Kieran, Matthew. 'Forbidden Knowledge: The Challenge of Cognitive Immoralism.' Art and Morality . Ed. Sebastian Gardner and José Luis Bermúdez. London: Routledge, 2003. 56–73. A general argument for immoralism is elaborated by outlining when, where and why a work's morally problematic character can contribute to its artistic value for principled reasons (through enhancing moral understanding). 7. Kieran, Matthew. Revealing Art . London: Routledge, 2005. Chapter 4. This chapter argues against both aestheticism and straightforward moralism about art, elaborating a defence of immoralism in relation to visual art whilst ranging over issues from pornographic art to the nature and demands of different genres in art. 8. Lamarque, Peter. 'Cognitive Values in the Arts: Marking the Boundaries.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 127–39. This article concisely outlines and defends a sophisticated aestheticism that denies the importance of truth to artistic value. 9. Stolnitz, Jerome. 'On the Cognitive Triviality of Art.' British Journal of Aesthetics 32.3 (1992): 191–200. This article articulates and defends the claim that no knowledge of any interesting or significant kind can be afforded by works appreciated and evaluated as art. 10. Walton, Kendall. 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, I.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. 68 (1994): 27–51. This article builds on some comments from Hume to develop the idea that when engaging with fictions it seems impossible imaginatively to enter into radically deviant moral attitudes. Online Materials 'Aesthetics and Ethics: The State of the Art.' American Society of Aesthetics online (Jeffrey Dean): http://www.aesthetics-online.org/articles/index.php?articles_id=15 >. 'Art, Censorship and Morality' downloadable podcast of Nigel Warburton interviewing Matthew Kieran at Tate Britain (BBC/OU Open2.net as part of the Ethics Bites series): http://www.open2.net/ethicsbites/art-censorship-morality.html >. 'Art, Morality and Ethics: On the (Im)Moral Character of Art Works and Inter-Relations to Artistic Value.' Philosophy Compass 1.2 (2006): 129–43 (Matthew Kieran): http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118557779/abstract >. 'Ethical Criticism of Art.' Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Ella Peek): http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/art-eth.htm >. 'Fascinating Fascism.' New York Review of Books Piece Discussing Leni Riefenstahl (Susan Sontag): http://www.nybooks.com/articles/9280 >. 'The Beheading of St. John the Baptist (1450s), Giovanni de Paolo' (Tom Lubbock): http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/great-works-the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist-1450s-giovanni-di-paolo-1684900.html >. Vladimir Nabokov and Lionel Trilling discuss Lolita (CBS): http://www.listal.com/video/3848698 >. Sample Syllabus Topic I Autonomism/Aestheticism • Anderson, James C. and Jeffrey T. Dean. 'Moderate Autonomism.' British Journal of Aesthetics 38.2 (1998): 150–66. • Beardsley, Monroe. Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism . New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958. Chapter 12. • Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Judgement.Trans. James Creed Meredith . Oxford: Oxford UP, 1952 . • Lamarque, Peter. 'Cognitive Values in the Arts: Marking the Boundaries.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 127–39. • ——. 'Tragedy and Moral Value.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73.2 (1995): 239–49. • Lamarque, Peter and Stein Olsen. Truth, Fiction and Literature . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. Chapter 10. • Stolnitz, Jerome. 'On the Cognitive Triviality of Art.' British Journal of Aesthetics 32.3 (1992): 191–200. Topic II Imaginative Capacities, Intelligibility and Resistance • Moran, Richard. 'The Expression of Feeling in Imagination.' Philosophical Review 103.1 (1994): 75–106. • Nichols, Shaun. 'Just the Imagination: Why Imagining Doesn't Behave Like Believing'. Mind & Language 21.4 (2006): 459–74. • Stokes, Dustin. 'The Evaluative Character of Imaginative Resistance'. British Journal of Aesthetics 46.4 (2006): 387–405. • Tanner, Michael. 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, II'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 68 (1994): 51–66. • Walton, Kendall (1994). 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, I'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 68 (1994): 27–51. • Weinberg, Jonathan. 'Configuring the Cognitive Imagination.' New Waves in Aesthetics . Eds. K. Stock and K. Thomson-Jones. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 203–23. Topic III Moralism and Emotions • Carroll, Noël. 'Moderate Moralism.' British Journal of Aesthetics 36.3 (1996): 223–37. • Carroll, Noël. 'Art, Narrative and Moral Understanding.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.126–60. • Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Chapter 10. • ——. 'The Ethical Criticism of Art.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 182–203. • Hume, David. 'Of the Standard of Taste.' Selected Essays . Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993 . 133–53. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Emotions, Art and Immorality.' Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Emotions . Ed. Peter Goldie. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. 681–703. • Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art? . London: Penguin, 2004. Chapters 5 and 15. Topic IV Moralism and Knowledge • Aristotle. Poetics . Trans. M. Heath. London: Penguin, 1996 [367–322 BC]. • Carroll, Noël. 'The Wheel of Virtue: Art, Literature and Moral Knowledge.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 60.1 (2002): 3–26. • Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Chapters 7 and 8. • Gaut, Berys. 'Art and Cognition.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 115–26. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Art, Imagination and the Cultivation of Morals.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54.4 (1996): 337–51. • Nussbaum, Martha. 'Finely Aware and Richly Responsible: Literature and the Moral Imagination.' Love's Knowledge . New York: Oxford UP, 1990. 148–68. • Plato. The Republic . Trans. D. Lee. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. Book 10. Topic V Immoralist Contextualism • Harold, James. 'Immoralism and the Valence Constraint.' British Journal of Aesthetics 48.1 (2008): 45–64. • Jacobson, Daniel. 'In Praise of Immoral Art.' Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 155–99. • ——. 'Ethical Criticism and the Vices of Moderation.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 342–55. • John, Eileen. 'Artistic Value and Moral Opportunism.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 331–41. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Forbidden Knowledge:The Challenge of Cognitive Immoralism.' Art and Morality . Ed. Sebastian Gardner and José Luis Bermúdez. London: Routledge, 2003. 56–73. • Kieran, Matthew. Revealing Art . London: Routledge, 2005. Chapter 4. • Patridge, Stephanie. 'Moral Vices as Artistic Virtues: Eugene Onegin and Alice.' Philosophia 36.2 (2008): 181–93. Focus Questions 1. What is the strongest argument for the claim that the moral character of a work is not relevant to its artistic value? Does artistic or literary criticism tend to concern itself with the truth or morality of works? If so, in what ways? If not, why do you think this is? 2. What different explanations might there be for difficulty with or resistance to imaginatively entering into attitudes you take to be immoral? How might this relate to the way our imaginings work as contrasted with belief? How might different literary or artistic treatments of the same subject matter make a difference? 3. How do narrative works draw on our moral concepts and responses? Can we suspend our normal moral commitments or application of moral concepts in responding emotionally to art works? Should we respond emotionally to art works as we ought to respond to real world events we witness? Why? Why not? 4. How, if at all, do art works convey moral understanding? How, if at all, is this related to the kinds of moral knowledge art works can teach or reveal to us? When, where and why might this be tied to the artistic value of a work? How can we tell where a work enhances our moral understanding as opposed to misleading or distorting it? 5. What art works do you value overall as art which commend or endorse moral values and attitudes that you do not? Is appreciation of them always marred or lessened by the morally dubious aspect? If not, what explains the differences in evaluation? What, if anything, might you learn by engaging with works which endorse moral attitudes or apply moral concepts different from those you take to be justified? How, if at all, might this connect up with what makes them valuable as art? (shrink)
In this essay, I argue that it is sometimes inappropriate to appeal to moral criteria in artistic judgments, even when the moral content of an artwork contributes to its artistic value. I suggest that this is the case with artworks that (1) are “interrogative” in form, posing a question or problem that remains unresolved in the work, and (2) have moral dilemmas as a principal theme. Using Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as an example of morally interrogative artwork, (...) I critique Wayne Booth’s moral defense of the novel. I argue that because Booth incorrectly attributes a moral stance to the book, he overlooks its value as a provocation to critical reflection about morality. (shrink)
Much contemporary art seems morally out of control. Yet, philosophers seem to have trouble finding the right way to morally evaluate works of art. The debate between autonomists and moralists, I argue, has turned into a stalemate due to two mistaken assumptions. Against these assumptions, I argue that the moral nature of a work's contents does not transfer to the work and that, if we are to morally evaluate works we should try to conceive of them as moral agents. Ethical (...) autonomism holds that art's autonomy consists in its demand that art appreciators take up an artistic attitude. A work's agency then is in how it merits their audiences' attitudinal switch. Ethical autonomism allows for the moral assessment of art works without giving up their autonomy, by viewing artistic merit as a moral category and art-relevant moral evaluation as having the form of art criticism. (shrink)
Ethics plus theory of action -- Thinking the good through -- Fallacious conclusions -- Animal morabile -- Action -- The principle of happiness: eudaimonia -- The happiness of aspiration -- The art of living -- Four life goals -- Virtue -- Prudence, composure, selflessness -- Wisdom rather than calculation -- Does virtue make one happy? -- Euthanasia of morals? -- From an ethic of teleological aspiration to an ethic of the will -- The principle of freedom: autonomy -- Locating (...) moral freedom -- Practical reason: freedom of action -- Autonomous reason: freedom of the will -- Objection one: determinism -- Objection two: brain research -- The criterion -- The universalizability test: two examples -- Reality -- Morally evil -- Autonomous morality and the art of living -- Does morality make one happy?. (shrink)
A timely and philosophically significant contribution to modern aesthetics featuring some of the best contemporary work in philosophical studies of literature, moral beliefs, and thinking in art Reflects the importance of a moral life of engagement with works of art Forms part of the prestigious New Directions in Aesthetics series, which confronts the most intriguing problems in aesthetics and the philosophy of art today.
Book Information Art and Morality. Art and Morality José Luis Bermùdez and Sebastian Gardener , London : Routledge , 2003 , 303 , £50 ( cloth ) By José Luis Bermùdez. and Sebastian Gardener. Routledge. London. Pp. 303. £50 (cloth:).
The long debate -- Aesthetics and ethics : basic concepts -- A conceptual map -- Autonomism -- Artistic and critical practices -- Questions of character -- The cognitive argument : the epistemic claim -- The cognitive argument : the aesthetic claim -- Emotion and imagination -- The merited response argument.
What does philosophy have to say about the argument that blasphemous art ought not to be publicly displayed? We examine four concepts of blasphemy: blasphemy as offence, attack on religion, attack on the sacred, attack on the blasphemer himself. We argue all four are needed to grasp this complex concept. We also argue for blasphemy as primarily a moral, not a religious concept. We then criticise four arguments for the public display of blasphemous art: it may be beautiful, provocative, devoutly (...) intended, and is autonomous of religious concerns. Finally, we discuss the notions of blasphemy and blasphemous art as public offences. We conclude that the display of blasphemous art is a public, and not merely a private moral offence, and that there are respectable philosophical arguments for this conclusion. (shrink)
Claims that pornography cannot be art typically depend on controversial claims about essential value differences (moral, aesthetic) between pornography and art. In this paper, I offer a value-neutral exclusionary claim, showing pornography to be descriptively at odds with art. I then show how my view is an improvement on similar claims made by Jerrold Levinson. Finally I draw parallels between art and pornography and art and advertising as well as show that my view is consistent with our typical usage of (...) the term “pornographic art.”. (shrink)
According to Arthur Danto, post-modern or post-historical art began when artists like Andy Warhol collapsed the Modern distinction between art and everyday life by bringing “the everyday” into the artworld. I begin by pointing out that there is another way to collapse this distinction: bring art out of the artworld and into everyday life. An especially effective way of doing this to make street art, which, I argue, is art whose meaning depends on its use of the street. I defend (...) this definition and show how it handles graffiti and public art. (shrink)
This paper takes a cognitive perspective to assess the significance of some Late Palaeolithic artefacts (sculptures and engraved objects) for philosophicalconcepts of art. We examine cognitive capacities that are necessary to produceand recognize objects that are denoted as art. These include the ability toattribute and infer design (design stance), the ability to distinguish between themateriality of an object and its meaning (symbol-mindedness), and an aesthetic sensitivity to some perceptual stimuli. We investigate to what extent thesecognitive processes played a role in (...) the production and appreciation of somerecently discovered Palaeolithic artefacts. (shrink)
I consider the field of aesthetics to be at its most productive and engaging when adopting a broadly philosophically informative approach to its core issues (e.g., shaping and testing putative art theoretic commitments against the relevant standard models employed in philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind) and to be at its most impotent and bewildering when cultivating a philosophically insular character (e.g., selecting interpretative, ontological, or conceptual models solely for fit with pre-fixed art theoretic commitments). For example, when (...) philosophical aesthetics tends toward insularity, we shouldn’t be surprised to find standard art-ontological categories incongruous with those standardly employed in contemporary metaphysics. Of course, when contemporary metaphysics tends to ignore aesthetic and art theoretic concerns, perhaps we likewise shouldn’t be surprised to find the climate of contemporary metaphysics inhospitable for a theory of art. While this may seem to suggest at least a prima facie tension between our basic art theoretic commitments considered from within philosophical aesthetics and our standard ontological commitments considered from without, I think any perceived tension or antagonism largely due to metaphysicians and aestheticians (at least implicitly) assuming there to be but two available methodological positions with respect to the relationship between contemporary metaphysics and philosophical aesthetics (in the relevant overlap areas). I call these two opposing views the Deference View and the Independence View. I argue that either view looks to lead to what I call the Paradox of Standards. (shrink)
A standard art-ontological position is to construe repeatable artworks as abstract objects that admit multiple concrete instances. Since photographic artworks are putatively repeatable, the ontology of photographic art is by default modelled after standard repeatable-work ontology. I argue, however, that the construal of photographic artworks as abstracta mistakenly ignores photography’s printmaking genealogy, specifically its ontological inheritance. More precisely, I claim that the products of printmaking media (prints) minimally must be construed in a manner consistent with basic print ontology, the most (...) plausible model of which looks decidedly nominalist (what I call the relevant similarity model) and that as such, photographic artworks must be likewise construed, not as abstracta but as individual and distinct concreta. That is, the correct ontological account of photographic art must be one according to which photographic artworks are individual and distinct concrete artworks. In the end, I show that the ontology of photographic art resists the standard repeatable-work model because the putative repeatability of photographic artworks is upon closer inspection nothing more than the relevant similarity relation between individual and distinct photographic prints. (shrink)
In this chapter I explore what painful art can tell us about the nature and importance of human welfare. My goal is not so much to defend a new solution to the paradox of tragedy, as it is to explore the implications of the kinds of solutions that I find attractive. Both nonhedonic compensatory theories and constitutive theories explain why people seek out painful art, but they have troublesome implications. On some narrow theories of well-being, they imply that painful art (...) is bad for us. Accordingly, we may rightly wonder if it rational for people to watch melodramas or to listen to love songs. One might think that we should generally avoid unpleasant works of art. This implication flirts with absurdity. I show how it can be avoided by making a distinction between well-being and worth. (shrink)
The idea of “just war” is not alien to Chinese thought. The term “yi zhan” (usually translated as “just war” or “righteous war” in English) is used in Mencius, was renewed by Mao Zedong, and is still being used in China today (zhengyi zhanzheng). The best place to start exploring this Chinese idea is in the enormous Art of War corpus in premodern China, of which the Seven Military Classics is the best representative. This set of treatises served as the (...) military bible in imperial China from 1078 CE. Ideas analogous to ius ad bellum and ius in bello can be found in these texts. These norms are present in these military texts, elaborated in subsequent commentaries, understood as a matter of fact in Chinese political history, and recently and briefly acknowledged by a few Chinese military scholars in the mainland and in Taiwan. This Chinese just war ethics has its distinctiveness vis-à-vis James Turner Johnson's articulation of the Western classic view. It differs from Johnson's claims that military lethal violence is intrinsically morally neutral and that last resort is not a primary consideration in deciding for war. Contemporary Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) military publications show that the PLA understands the general idea of just war, but they acknowledge only the ad bellum part, not the in bello components. (shrink)
L’article met en évidence que l’« art de la prudence » que Baltasar Gracián propose dans son Oráculo manual renoue avec les méthodes de l’ars vitæ et de la prudentia tactique que les penseurs gréco-latins de l’Antiquité avaient développées, en se servant souvent de formules frappantes, maximes et adages. Les aphorismes de Gracián puisent dans le riche trésor de cette sagesse pragmatique, empruntant tout autant les traits d’un certain stoïcisme que d’habiles conseils d’« adaptation » et de « dissimulation ». (...) Les éléments de cet « art de la prudence » proviennent de quatre domaines différents : ouvrages philosophiques, notamment Sénèque, Épictète et Plutarque ; littérature gnomique, telles les sentences des Sept Sages de Grèce ou celles de Publilius Syrus ; écrits satiriques, surtout Martial et Perse ; et réflexions d’ordre politique et moral de Tacite. (shrink)
I discuss the aesthetic power of painful art. I focus on artworks that occasion pain by “hitting too close to home,” i.e., by presenting narratives meant to be “about us.” I consider various reasons why such works may have aesthetic value for us, but I argue that the main reason has to do with the power of such works to transgress conversational boundaries. The discussion is meant as a contribution to the debate on the paradox of tragedy.
Neither art nor philosophy was kind to beauty during the twentieth century. Much modern art disdains beauty, and many philosophers deeply suspect that beauty merely paints over or distracts us from horrors. Intellectuals consigned the passions of beauty to the margins, replacing them with the anemic and rarefied alternative, "aesthetic pleasure." In Only a Promise of Happiness , Alexander Nehamas reclaims beauty from its critics. He seeks to restore its place in art, to reestablish the connections among art, beauty, and (...) desire, and to show that the values of art, independently of their moral worth, are equally crucial to the rest of life. Nehamas makes his case with characteristic grace, sensitivity, and philosophical depth, supporting his arguments with searching studies of art and literature, high and low, from Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and Manet's Olympia to television. Throughout, the discussion of artworks is generously illustrated. Beauty, Nehamas concludes, may depend on appearance, but this does not make it superficial. The perception of beauty manifests a hope that life would be better if the object of beauty were part of it. This hope can shape and direct our lives for better or worse. We may discover misery in pursuit of beauty, or find that beauty offers no more than a tantalizing promise of happiness. But if beauty is always dangerous, it is also a pressing human concern that we must seek to understand, and not suppress. (shrink)
Why do people read novels, go to the theater, or listen to beautiful music? Do we seek out aesthetic experiences simply because we enjoy them--or is there another, deeper, reason we spend our leisure time viewing or experiencing works of art? Aesthetics, the first short introduction to the contemporary philosophy of aesthetics, examines not just the nature of the aesthetic experience, but the definition of art, and its moral and intrinsic value in our lives. Anne Sheppard divides her work into (...) two parts: In the first, she summarizes the major theories defining art and beauty; in the second, she explores the nature of aesthetic evaluation and appreciation. As Sheppard explains, there are three main approaches to defining art, all focused on what art objects share. One proposes that all art imitates something in life, another that it expresses something (such as anger or ecstasy), still another suggests that all art has formal qualities. There is also a fourth which offers that all art shares the quality of beauty. In the second part, which concentrates on literary art, Sheppard explores such philosophic topics as critical judgment, meaning and truth in literature, and the relationship between art and morals. She raises such questions as whether there is one correct interpretation of a work of art and whether art has a moral effect on its audience and, citing specific examples, explores the views that have been put forth. A wide-ranging, intriguing book, which assumes no formal knowledge on the part of its readers, Aesthetics opens the door to a greater understanding and appreciation of art. (shrink)
I argue that by any major definition of art many modern video games should be considered art. Rather than defining art and defending video games based on a single contentious definition, I offer reasons for thinking that video games can be art according to historical, aesthetic, institutional, representational and expressive theories of art. Overall, I argue that while many video games probably should not be considered art, there are good reasons to think that some video games should be classified as (...) art. I also show that the debates over the artistic status of chess and sports offer some insights into the status of video games. (shrink)
Introduction : normative aesthetics and artistic value -- Culture and artistic value -- Cultural exclusion and the definition of art -- Defining art, defending the canon, contesting culture -- The aesthetic and the artistic -- From beauty to art : developing Kant's aesthetics -- The scope and value of the artistic image -- Distinctive modes of imaging -- Twofoldness : pictorial art and the imagination -- Between language and perception : literary metaphor -- Musical meaning and value -- Eternalizing the (...) moment : artistic projections of time -- Conclusion : the status and future of art. (shrink)
The capacity to engage with art is a human universal present in all cultures and just about every individual human. This indicates that this capacity is evolved. In this Critical Notice of Denis Dutton's The Art Instinct, I discuss various evolutionary scenarios and their consequences. Dutton and I both reject the "spandrel" approach that originates from the work of Gould and Lewontin. Dutton proposes, following work of Geoffrey Miller, that art is sexually selected--that art-production is a sign of a fit (...) genome in males. I argue that while assortative mating may well have had a role in the evolution of "the art instinct", group selection is a better explanation. I also take issue with Dutton's "cluster concept" approach to defining art, and argue that it is a universal and essential characteristic of art that it is appreciated both for what it expresses and for the way that it expresses. It thus requires a reflexive capacity that is not operative in the appreciation of sport spectacles and pornography. (shrink)