This chapter is a rethinking of my earlier “The Ages of Beauty” which investigated Charles Hartshorne’s Diagram of Aesthetic Values. The argument is placed in a long history of beauty being considered as the middle between extremes. It slowly develops into a structure not merely of aesthetic experience but of existence itself, making it a competitor of Heidegger’s fourfold.
In this paper, I offer a new interpretation of Margaret Cavendish’s remarks on beauty. According to it, Cavendish takes beauty to be a real, response-independent quality of objects. In this sense, Cavendish is an aesthetic realist. This position, which remains constant throughout her philosophical writings, contrasts with the non-realist views that were soon after to dominate philosophical reflections on matters of taste in the early modern period. It also, I argue, contrasts with the realism of Cavendish’s contemporary, Henry More. While (...) there are passages in Cavendish’s work that might seem to count against my reading—specifically, passages on disagreement in aesthetic judgement, on the power of beauty to elicit the passions, and on our inability to specify the nature of beauty—I show that, when situated against the background of Cavendish’s broader metaphysical and epistemological views, those passages in fact support the realist interpretation. (shrink)
This book presents interdisciplinary research on the aesthetics of perfection and imperfection. Broadening this growing field, it connects the aesthetics of imperfection with issues in areas including philosophy, music, literature, urban environment, architecture, art theory, and cultural studies. -/- The contributors to this volume argue that imperfection has value in being open and inclusive. The aesthetics of imperfection is thus typified by organic, unpolished production and the avoidance of perfect finish, instead representing living and natural change, and opposing the consumerist (...) concern with the flawless and pristine. The chapters are divided into seven thematic sections. After the first section, on imperfection across the arts and culture, the next three parts are on imperfection in the arts of music, visual and theatrical arts, and literature. The second half of this book then switches focus to categories in everyday life, and branches this further into body, self, and the person, and urban environments. Together, the chapters promote a positive ethos of imperfection that furthers individual and social engagement and supports creativity over mere passivity. -/- Imperfectionist Aesthetics in Art and Everyday Life will appeal to a broad range of scholars and advanced students working in philosophical aesthetics, literature, music, urban environment, architecture, art theory, and cultural studies. (shrink)
Response-dependence theories have historically been very popular in aesthetics, and aesthetic response-dependence has motivated response-dependence in ethics. This chapter closely examines the prospects for such theories. It breaks this category down into dispositional and fittingness strands of response-dependence, corresponding to descriptive and normative ideal observer theories. It argues that the latter have advantages over the former but are not themselves without issue. Special attention is paid to the relationship between hedonism and response-dependence. The chapter also introduces two aesthetic properties that (...) lead to wrong kinds of reasons problems for aesthetic response-dependence: insightfulness and the capacity to change one’s perspective. These properties do not have obvious parallels in the ethical domain, and so present an obstacle for response-dependence even in aesthetics. The chapter ends by examining replies on behalf of the response-dependence theorist, ultimately suggesting that a restricted form of response-dependence is the most promising way forward for fans of such theories. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy of aesthetics has explored to what extent ordinary people are committed to aesthetic realism. Extant work has focused on attitudes to normativism – a key commitment of realist positions in aesthetics – the claim that aesthetic judgments/statements have correctness conditions, invariant between subjects, such that there is a fact of the matter in cases of aesthetic disagreement. The emerging picture is that ordinary people strongly and almost universally reject normativism and thus there is no strong realist tendency in (...) ordinary people’s thinking about the aesthetic. This has been taken to dissolve the traditional puzzle in aesthetics of how to best account for the fact that (a) aesthetic judgments seem intersubjectively valid, while (b) aesthetic experience seems subjective. This paper presents studies which further enrich our understanding of ordinary thinking about the aesthetic: ordinary thinking about the aesthetic may not be so vehement in its rejection of normativism; and where previous results suggested that, in many cultures, the dominant trend is to reject correctness conditions for aesthetic judgments, the current results suggest participants think aesthetic judgments have correctness conditions (albeit perhaps very finely relativized to specific circumstances of judgment). (shrink)
I offer the first sustained defence of the claim that ugliness is constituted by the disposition to disgust. I advance three main lines of argument in support of this thesis. First, ugliness and disgustingness tend to lie in the same kinds of things and properties (the argument from ostensions). Second, the thesis is better placed than all existing accounts to accommodate the following facts: ugliness is narrowly and systematically distributed in a heterogenous set of things, ugliness is sometimes enjoyed, and (...) ugliness sits opposed to beauty across a neutral midpoint (the argument from proposed intensions). And third, ugliness and disgustingness function in the same way in both giving rise to representations of contamination (the argument from the law of contagion). In making these arguments, I show why prominent objections to the thesis do not succeed, cast light on some of the artistic functions of ugliness, and, in addition, demonstrate why a dispositional account of disgustingness is correct, and present a novel problem for warrant-based accounts of disgustingness (the ‘too many reasons’ problem). (shrink)
In this paper, I attempt to formulate an Ingardenian conception of the literary work’s aesthetic value. Following Mitscherling’s lead, I attempt to place Ingarden’s aesthetics within his overall phenomenological-ontological project. That is, I argue that Ingarden’s aesthetics can only be properly fathomed in the context of his ontological deliberations, since, as he himself often enunciated, all his philosophical investigations constitute a realist rejoinder to Husserl’s turn toward transcendental idealism. To this end, I bring together insights from his aesthetics and ontology (...) to establish a coherent account of values, where artistic and aesthetic values are analyzed as they manifest themselves in the literary work of art. By attending to the ontology of its aesthetic (and artistic) values, I argue, the literary work’s stratified formation becomes more explicit. Keywords: Roman Ingarden, aesthetic value, artistic value, the literary work of art, ontology, aesthetics. (shrink)
This article outlines a realist theory of aesthetic properties as higher-order manifest properties and defends it from several objections, including a possible conflict with contextualist approaches to the aesthetic properties of works of art.
This book defends Aestheticism- the claim that everything is aesthetically valuable and that a life lived in pursuit of aesthetic value can be a particularly good one. Furthermore, in distilling aesthetic qualities, artists have a special role to play in teaching us to recognize values; a critical component of virtue. I ground my account upon an analysis of aesthetic value as ‘objectified final value’, which is underwritten by an original psychological claim that all aesthetic values are distal versions of practical (...) values. This is followed by systematic accounts of beauty, sublimity, comedy, drama, and tragedy, as well as appendix entries on the cute, the cool, the kitsch, the uncanny, the horrific, the erotic, and the furious. (shrink)
This paper develops a form of realism about aesthetics that is stronger than typical versions of aesthetic realism. As I conceive of it, aesthetic realism is the view that there are some response-independent aesthetic facts. This kind of realism is unpopular in aesthetics and is often viewed as a non-starter. Against this pessimism, I argue that the prospects for this realist approach are more favorable than commonly supposed. I offer some reasons to prefer my brand of aesthetic realism to competing (...) realist and anti-realist positions. I also defend this aesthetic realism against what I call the ‘overly objective worry’ and correct misconceptions about what realism’s commitment to response-independence involves. (shrink)
The goal of this brief note is to offer a generalisation of Gómez-Torrente argumentative strategy against perspectivism, which he has developed as a defence of color realism in (2016) and (2019) and then apply it to evaluative language. In particular, I want to defend the thesis that at least some aesthetic predicates can have non-evaluative reference. As an example, I will work with the predicate “tasty” (and its antonym “disgusting”) to argue that it some times refers to a non-subjective non-evaluative (...) property, flavour, which is more fundamental that the relational property of being tasty to someone. In other words, some times, when we say of something that it is tasty, we are not saying how it tastes to us or whether we like it, but just how it tastes period. (shrink)
Peter Kivy claims that expressivists in aesthetics cannot explain why we argue about art. The situation would be different in the case of morals. Moral attitudes lead to action, and since actions affect people, we have a strong incentive to change people’s moral attitudes. This can explain why we argue about morals, even if moral language is expressive of our feelings. However, judgements about what is beautiful and elegant need not significantly affect our lives. So why be concerned with other (...) people’s feelings about art? Kivy thinks the best explanation of our tendency to argue about art is that we implicitly believe in objective facts about aesthetics. This would count against expressivism. I argue two things: that there is no good reason to think that we don’t care about preferences and emotions unless they have significant practical consequences and that the truth of expressivism about aesthetic language is compatible with beliefs about objective aesthetic facts. (shrink)
Many people accept, at least implicitly, what I call the asymmetry claim: the view that moral realism is more defensible than aesthetic realism. This article challenges the asymmetry claim. I argue that it is surprisingly hard to find points of contrast between the two domains that could justify their very different treatment with respect to realism. I consider five potentially promising ways to do this, and I argue that all of them fail. If I am right, those who accept the (...) asymmetry claim have a significant burden of proof. (shrink)
The transcendental approach to understanding narrative argument derives from the idea that for any believable fictional narrative, we can ask—what principles or generalizations would have to be true of human nature in order for the narrative to be believable? I address two key issues: whether only realistic or realist fictional narratives are believable, and how could it be established that we have an intuitive, mostly veridical grasp of human nature that grounds believability?
The article deals with the means of constructing a naturalistic character, the model for which was proposed by French writers: the Goncourt brothers and Émile Zola. Naturalists draw their personage concept from the interpretation of its biological nature. The focus of its depiction is shifted to the study of fundamental features of human nature rather than “variables” of the historical forms of its manifestation. A naturalistic character, being “a biological being” rather than “a set of social relations,” is completely absorbed (...) by the environment. The “social” core of a realistic personage is based on the principles of typification, but the “biological” core of a naturalistic character cannot be a generalized type because in it the individual prevails over the typified. Images of Germinie Lacerteux and Thérèse Raquin from the Goncourts’ and Zola’s same-name novels respectively are considered to be prototypes of naturalistic characters. In Ukrainian literature, Ivan Franko interpreted and synthesized Western European experience using realistic and naturalistic art to create his own concept of “scientific realism.” The difference in Franko’s personage construction lies in the fact that he does not confine himself to the observation and description of his heroes’ behavior but offers a plan for correcting their deficiencies. (shrink)
What is realism in film? Focusing on a test case of HFR high-definition movies, I discuss in this article various types of realism as well as their interrelations. Precision, recessiveness of the medium, transparency, and 'Collapse' are discussed and compared. At the end of the day, I defend the claim that 'less is more' in the sense that more image precision can actually have a negative impact on storytelling.
This is a response to invited and submitted commentary on "The Pleasure of Art," published in Australasian Philosophical Reviews 1, 1 (2017). In it, I expand on my view of aesthetic pleasure, particularly how the distinction between facilitating pleasure and relief pleasure works. In response to critics who discerned and were uncomfortable with the aesthetic hedonism that they found in the work, I develop that aspect of my view. My position is that the aesthetic value of a work of art (...) is its capacity to elicit from a suitably well-informed consumer a specific kind of pleasure. (shrink)
It has been argued that some recent experimental findings about the mere exposure effect can be used to argue for aesthetic antirealism: the view that there is no fact of the matter about aesthetic value. The aim of this paper is to assess this argument and point out that this strategy, as it stands, does not work. But we may still be able to use experimental findings about the mere exposure effect in order to engage with the aesthetic realism/antirealism debate. (...) However, this argument would need to proceed very differently and would only support a much more modest version of aesthetic antirealism. (shrink)
This paper argues for a realist position in the metaphysics of aesthetic properties. Realist positions about aesthetic properties are few and far between, though sometimes developed by analogy to realism about colours. By contrast, my position is based on a disanalogy between aesthetic properties and colours. Unlike colours, aesthetic properties are perceived as relatively unsteady properties: as powers that objects have to cause a certain experience in the observer. Following on from this observation, I develop a realist account of aesthetic (...) properties as causally efficient powers, analogous to properties like fragility or poisonousness. To show how such a view can be made ontologically respectable, I draw on recent ‘dispositionalist’ accounts of powers in philosophical metaphysics. I then offer two arguments in favour of this view. First, the view matches the phenomenology of aesthetic judgement. Second, the view offers an explanation of how it is that critics can demand agreement with their aesthetic judgements. (shrink)
There are two kinds of mainstream realist views of fictional characters: (1) They are abstract entities, created by the writers. They do not genuinely possess the properties ascribed to them in the fiction. (2) They are non-existent objects (alternatively, abstract objects) that do genuinely possess the properties ascribed in the fiction. The dissertation criticizes (1) and (2) and argues for a third realist view, according to which fictional characters exist and have the properties ascribed in the fiction. That solves some (...) of the semantic and metaphysical problems associated with (1) and (2), and makes better sense of our ways of speaking about fictional characters. (shrink)
Beauty and the End of Art shows how a resurgence of interest in beauty and a sense of ending in Western art are challenging us to rethink art, beauty and their relationship. By arguing that Wittgenstein's later work and contemporary theory of perception offer just what we need for a unified approach to art and beauty, Sonia Sedivy provides new answers to these contemporary challenges. These new accounts also provide support for the Wittgensteinian realism and theory of perception that make (...) them possible. -/- Wittgenstein's subtle form of realism explains artworks in terms of norm governed practices that have their own varied constitutive norms and values. Wittgensteinian realism also suggests that diverse beauties become available and compelling in different cultural eras and bring a shared 'higher-order' value into view. With this framework in place, Sedivy argues that perception is a form of engagement with the world that draws on our conceptual capacities. This approach explains how perceptual experience and the perceptible presence of the world are of value, helping to account for the diversity of beauties that are available in different historical contexts and why the many faces of beauty allow us to experience the value of the world's perceptible presence. -/- Carefully examining contemporary debates about art, aesthetics and perception, Beauty and the End of Art presents an original approach. Insights from such diverse thinkers as Immanuel Kant, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Arthur Danto, Alexander Nehamas, Elaine Scarry and Dave Hickey are woven together to reveal how they make good sense if we bring contemporary theory of perception and Wittgensteinian realism into the conversation. (shrink)
The aim of this abstract is to present an overview of the thinking of the philosopher Hebert Marcuse in relation to Art, exposing his criticism of the orthodox conception of Marxist aesthetics, as well as to explain the author 's proposal on art as an essential component of the revolution in opposed to the affirmative culture of the "status quo" and the established ". For such an exposition to the methodology used, it started from a literary and philosophical consultation in (...) the work esthetic, as well as articles and magazines that endorsed the Marcuse thought on the relations between aesthetics, art, Literature and philosophy. (shrink)
Erwin Panofsky’s essay “Perspective as Symbolic Form” from 1924 is among the most widely commented essays in twentieth-century aesthetics and was discussed with regard to art theory, Renaissance painting, Western codes of depiction, history of optical devices, psychology of perception, or even ophthalmology. Strangely enough, however, almost nothing has been written about the philosophical claim implicit in the title, i.e. that perspective is a symbolic form among others. The article situates the essay within the intellectual constellation at Aby Warburg’s Kulturwissenschaftliche (...) Bibliothek in Hamburg, and analyzes the role of Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms for the members of the Warburg circle. Does perspective meet the requirements for becoming a further “symbolic form,” beyond those outlined by Cassirer? The article argues that, ultimately, perspective cannot possibly be a symbolic form; not because it does not meet Cassirer’s philosophical requirements, but rather, because that would uproot Cassirer’s overall project. While revisiting Panofsky with Cassirer unearths the wide-raging philosophical implication of the essay, revisiting Cassirer with Panofsky means to highlight the fundamentally perspectival nature of all symbolic forms. (shrink)
This essay focuses on the logic of the aesthetic argument used in the eighteenth century as a conceptual tool for formulating the modern concept of “(fine) art(s).” The essay also examines the main developments in the history of the art of modernity which were initiated from the way the “nature” of art was conceived in early modern aesthetics. The author claims that the formulation of the “aesthetic nature” of art led to the process of the gradual disappearance of all of (...) the formal elements that had previously characterized the visual arts; the result was “emptiness” or “nothingness” as art. The author refers to this process in terms of “vanishing acts” that allow for the formulation of an aesthetics of absence in connection to twentieth-century art (complementing the Ästhetik der Absenz, formulated in German art theory). The author also briefly addresses the consequences that these processes have for the way contemporary art, and art world operate. (shrink)
An essay, which I wrote for the catalog to the exhibition “ARCHESCAPE: the Piranesi Flights,” organized by the Dutch Piranesi scholar Gijs Wallis de Vries. The text, which is necessarily kept short, uses notions of the magnificent and the tragic that I discovered in Hartshorne’s Aesthetic Diagram as discussed in “The Ages of Beauty.”.
This essay developed out of the final chapter of The Sympathy of Things where I related beauty to a notion of radical generosity. Tracing generosity back to the ancient Greeks brought me to a whole new world of grace and “charis”, the etymological root of words like charisma and charity. The essay establishes a fundamental connection between grace and beauty, deeply interrelating movement and object. In the second part the argument develops into an ontology based on the concept of radiance, (...) which we encounter in Aglaia, the first of the Three Graces, in fireworks, jewelry, makeup and in fashion, but also in acts of bravery, kindness and friendship. Radiance is subsequently defined as “thickened appearance”, where phenomenology and ontology become continuous in a “presence beyond the present”. (shrink)
What is beautiful or ugly vary from one person another, from time to time and from culture to culture. However, at the same time, people are certain that there are aesthetic properties in the nature, artworks and other persons and, furthermore, they can be perceived by the naked eye. This article argues that experience does not reveal the aesthetic properties of the objects.
We challenge an argument that aims to support Aesthetic Realism by claiming, first, that common sense is realist about aesthetic judgments because it considers that aesthetic judgments can be right or wrong, and, second, that becauseAesthetic Realism comes from and accounts for “folk aesthetics,” it is the best aesthetic theory available.We empirically evaluate this argument by probing whether ordinary people with no training whatsoever in the subtle debates of aesthetic philosophy consider their aesthetic judgments as right or wrong. Having shown (...) that the results do not support the main premise of the argument, we discuss the consequences for Aesthetic Realism and address possible objections to our study. (shrink)
There is no straightforward inference from there being fictional characters to any interesting form of realism. One reason is that “fictional” may be an intensional operator with wide scope, depriving the quantifier of its usual force. Another is that not all uses of “there are” are ontologically committing. A realist needs to show that neither of these phenomena are present in “There are fictional characters”. Other roads to realism run into difficulties when negotiating the role that presupposition plays when we (...) make intuitive evaluations of the truth or falsehood of sentences involving fiction, for we may presuppose things we do not believe. This means that a judgment of truth, implicitly relative to a presupposition we do not believe, can be sincerely made by someone who, from a more austere perspective, would regard the judgment as false. (shrink)
Francis Hutcheson is generally accepted as producing the first systematic study of aesthetics, in the first treatise of An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, initially published in 1725. His theory reflected the eighteenth century concern with beauty rather than art, and has drawn accusations of vagueness since the first critical response, by Charles Louis DeVillete in 1750. The most serious critique concerns the idea of beauty itself: whether it was simple or complex, and the (...) idea of a primary or secondary quality. It is the latter question I shall answer, attempting to clarify the problematic passage that appears at the end of the first section of Hutcheson’s first treatise. (shrink)
In the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant diagnoses an antinomy of taste: either determinate concepts exhaust judgments of taste or they do not. That is to say, judgments of taste are either objective and public or subjective and private. On the objectivity thesis, aesthetic value is predicable of objects. But determining the concepts that would make a judgment of taste objective is a vexing matter. Who can say which concepts these would be? To what authority does one appeal? (...) On the subjectivity thesis, aesthetic value is not predicable of objects. But this threatens judgments of taste with a sort of relativism. Can we not firmly assert the aesthetic value of any object? Have we no authority to make criticisms of taste? Following John McDowell’s “Aesthetic Value, Objectivity and the Fabric of the World”, I will hold that aesthetic value is neither objective nor subjective, but rather intersubjective. But, contra McDowell, I will argue that the validity that intersubjective aesthetic value bestows on judgments of taste must assume an indeterminate absolute conception of reality, of the world as it is in itself. Only such a conceptual resource can in turn make intelligible the notion of a shared or common sense according to which a judgment of taste can be universally valid, that is, valid for all subjects. Finally, I will consider an objection to common sense in matters of taste. (shrink)
One intuition we have about critical discourse is that we can distinguish between aesthetic and non-aesthetic assertions. When we say that a composition has a quick tempo and makes much use of staccato, we are remarking upon non-aesthetic features of the work. When we say of the same composition that it is vibrant, we are, in some sense, referring to an aesthetic feature. How should we draw the line between the aesthetic and non-aesthetic features of a work, and what import (...) does the distinction have? Frank Sibley has famously claimed that there is a way to draw a line between our aesthetic and non-aesthetic terms, and moreover that the existence of this distinction supports the existence of realistic aesthetic properties. The ensuing discussions of Sibley’s claim indicate that whatever is at stake here is of great significance to aesthetics. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 323 - 343 The following article attempts to bring critical realism to bear on the changing nature of aesthetic value. Beginning with the transitive-intransitive distinction, it is advised that we withhold judgment on the possibility of aesthetic judgment, lest we commit the epistemic fallacy. Without hoping to attain a form of aesthetic value absolutism, a strategy of ‘eliminative realism’ is introduced, which seeks to remove false causes of apparent judgmental relativism. Then a rough (...) sketch of the ontology of art works and art practices is made in order to provide sufficient complexity for the changing aspects of value from different points of view and assumptions. Finally, a case study is given, in the creation of a market of African slingshots in the 1908s, and the theory is tested. The article closes with a plea to take aesthetic value seriously, as a requirement of ideological discussion. (shrink)
[Derek Matravers] Jerrold Levinson maintains that he is a realist about aesthetic properties. This paper considers his positive arguments for such a view. An argument from Roger Scruton, that aesthetic realism would entail the absurd claim that many aesthetic predicates were ambiguous, is also considered and it is argued that Levinson is in no worse position with respect to this argument than anyone else. However, Levinson cannot account for the phenomenon of aesthetic autonomy: namely, that we cannot be put in (...) a position to make an aesthetic judgement by testimony alone. Finally, Levinson's views on the ontology of aesthetic properties are considered and found wanting. /// [Jerrold Levinson] Being an aesthetic realist is hard work. Derek Matravers has raised a number of concerns for the brand of aesthetic realism that I have defended in the past, and that I continue to defend, albeit with modification. Much turns on the nature of aesthetic properties, and on the reasons for acknowledging their existence. I here try to provide further illumination on both scores, suggesting in particular that many aesthetic properties can be viewed as manifest higher-order ways of appearing. Toward the end of my discussion the question of whether or not aesthetic properties are response-dependent is addressed, and I offer the tentative conclusion that some are, and some are not. (shrink)
Critics of the proposal that the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer used the camera obscura extensively in making his pictures of domestic scenes have argued that this cannot be the case, since his compositions are not 'photographic snapshots' but are very finely judged and balanced; his subject matter draws on the traditional motifs of Dutch genre painting; and the pictures are filled with complex allegorical and symbolic meaning. In this paper it is argued that all these are indeed characteristics of Vermeer's (...) oeuvre, but that the artist produced them through the transcription of optical images of tableaux, set up by arranging real furniture and other 'props' with extreme care, in an actual room in his mother-in-law's house. (shrink)
This book is a compilation of papers that Zangwill has had published previously in a number of journals; this journal among them. The topics of these papers centre on the nature of aesthetic properties. Read as such, the papers are, for the most part, erudite and illuminating, presenting as they do a very clear synthesis of various well known positions on the relation of aesthetic properties to non-aesthetic properties; the relation of beauty to other aesthetic concepts; and the nature of (...) the aesthetic. (shrink)