Does the debate between Rawlsians and liberal perfectionists boil down to the following: for liberal perfectionists, the government should fund aesthetic projects that are in good taste; for Rawlsians, the government should be neutral on the aesthetic value of anything? If so, liberal perfectionists are committed to the view that there is objective aesthetic value. In this paper, I argue that within the Rawlsian system is a thesis that is difficult to reconcile with objectivity about aesthetics.
Final Circular for the multimedia exhibition, "'Shadow-lands': The Suffering Image" (April 18-May 18, 2012), in association with the PhD project, "Visual Agency in Art & Architecture," Deakin University, 2011-2014.
Aesthetic subjectivism takes the truth of aesthetic judgments to be relative to the individual making that judgment. Despite widespread suspicion, however, this does not mean that one cannot be wrong about such judgments. Accordingly, this does not mean that one cannot gain higher-order evidence of error and fallibility that bears on the rationality of the aesthetic judgment in question. In this paper, we explain and explore these issues in some detail.
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)
Literary beauty was once understood as intertwining sensations and ideas, and thus as providing subjective and objective reasons for literary appreciation. However, as theory and philosophy developed, the inevitable claims and counterclaims led to the view that subjective experience was not a reliable guide to literary merit. Literary theory then replaced aesthetics as did philosophy’s focus on literary truth. Along with the demise of the relevance of sensations, literary form also took a back seat. This suggested to some that either (...) literature communicated truth like any other literal form of communication or it was a mere diversion: a springboard to harmless reverie or daydreaming. Neither response satisfactorily captured what was distinctive about literature: the love readers can have for literary texts and the edification or insight claimed of works within each culture’s respective catalogue of classics. However, a concept of literary beauty has again become viable due to developments in theories of pleasure and imagination. If the defining aspect of literature is the imaginative engagement it occasions, and if this imagining is constrained by plausibility and endorsed as effective relative to our goals, ideals, and interests, then literature is not reduced to either mere fact or wish fulfillment. An account of literary beauty is available which defines literature accordingly and explains how subjective and objective reasons for appreciation intertwine to evoke pleasure and insight. (shrink)
A growing body of psychological research seeks to understand how people's thinking comports with long-standing philosophical theories, such as whether they view ethical or aesthetic truths as subjective or objective. Yet such research can be critically undermined if it fails to accurately characterize the philosophical positions in question and fails to ensure that subjects understand them appropriately. We argue that a recent article by Rabb et al. (2020) fails to meet these demands and propose several constructive solutions for future research.
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)
For cognitivist accounts of aesthetic appreciation, appreciation requires an agent (1) to perceptually respond to the relevant aesthetic features of an object o on good evidential grounds, (2) to have an autonomous grasp of the reasons that make the claim about the aesthetic features of o true by pointing out the connection between non-aesthetic features and the aesthetic features of o, (3) to be able to provide an explanation of why those features contribute to the overall aesthetic value of o. (...) In this framework, aesthetic emotions have traditionally been confined to the level of aesthetic perception (1) and dismissed from the process of reason-giving (2, 3). I argue that this dismissal is due, firstly, to a questionable perceptual reading of the connection between emotional experience and value, and, secondly, to a narrow focus on the basic emotions. My argument will reveal that the non-standard or ‘intellectual’ emotions, the emotions which are in fact most important to appreciation, can play a significant epistemic role in our appreciative practices. They can do this because they (a) help us to deliberately focus our attention and (b) place the appreciator in a state of second-order awareness of their mental states. I conclude the paper by showing how these two epistemic tools (a, b) can help the appreciator to meet the explanatory/justificatory conditions (2) and (3). (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)
In this essay, I’ll argue, first, that an art object's aesthetic value (or merit) depends not just on its intrinsic properties, but on the response it evokes from a consumer who shares the producer's cultural background. My question is: what is the role of culture in relation to this response? I offer a new account of aesthetic pleasure that answers this question. On this account, aesthetic pleasure is not just a “feeling” or “sensation” that results from engaging with a work (...) of art. It is rather a mental state that facilitates engagement with an artwork, and (in the long run) enables a consumer to learn how to maximize this kind of pleasure. This is where culture comes in. If you belong to a culture, you know how to engage pleasurably with an artwork that is produced so you can engage with it in just this way. The aesthetic value of an artwork is that it plays into such a culture-pleasure nexus. -/- . (shrink)
The arguments of each chapter demonstrate that there is no neutral perspective from which to analyse aesthetic qualities. Such qualities cannot be described as their very perception involves evaluation. In short, the chapters focus on those aspects of a first person perspective that can be considered inter-personal in the sense that they are susceptible of intentional calibration and enculturation. That said, not all chapters approach the theme from the same perspective nor with the same targets in mind. For example, approaching (...) the notion of inter-subjectivity with the intention of defending this possibility against the objection of relativism will yield a different treatment than championing inter-subjectivity in order to reject cultural arrogance, or overly reductive analyses of aesthetic qualities. Yet all chapters converge on the possibility of objectivity grounded in inter-subjectivity. (shrink)
According to subjectivist views about a meaningful life, one's life is meaningful in virtue of desire satisfaction or feelings of fulfilment. Standard counterexamples consist of satisfaction found through trivial or immoral tasks. In response to such examples, many philosophers require that the tasks one is devoted to are objectively valuable, or have objectively valuable consequences. I argue that the counterexamples to subjectivism do not require objective value for meaning in life. I also consider other reasons for thinking that meaning in (...) life requires objective value and raise doubts about their strength. Finally, I argue that beauty is not plausibly objective, but that it seems important for meaning. This puts pressure on the objectivist to explain why objectivity matters in the case of other values. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
In my experience—with students, colleagues, friends, myself—I find that most people view aesthetic objects and art objects (which sometimes overlap but not always) through a variety of "lenses": subjectively located, psychologically based perspectives or "contexts" through which the object is viewed, considered, appreciated, and many times even criticized. I believe that many times the depth and richness of aesthetic reward depends on the perspective through which the subject attends to an object or event. While a part of aesthetic perspectival context (...) is objective—such as the physical conditions surrounding and history concerning the aesthetic object—the majority of it is subjective, and I want to take another .. (shrink)
The eighteenth-century Enlightenment represents a turn toward experience, that is, toward the experiencing subject. Still the Enlightenment involves an aspiration toward objective truth in the ideals of the newly emerging sciences and in the experiments in democracy that were beginning to transform the political landscape of Europe and America. Immanuel Kant's towering philosophical achievement in his critical works helps to reformulate a meaning of objectivity that is congenial to the climate of inquiry and freedom in that remarkable century, a meaning (...) that is unburdened of the metaphysical commitments of many of his predecessors. Kant's revolution in philosophical thought gives us an objectivity that is crucially related to epistemic conditions rooted in subjectivity, a correlation between subjectivity and objectivity that carries over as well into his critical treatises concerned with ethics and aesthetics. This book of essays explores the tension between subjectivity and objectivity as it develops in the Enlightenment in Winkelmann, Hume, and Kant. The focus is upon aesthetic theories concerning the beautiful, the sublime, and the grotesque. The question by two of the authors as to whether aesthetic enjoyment of the blues is morally justified underscores an interest in these essays in the connection between aesthetics and ethics. This concern of the relation of aesthetics to judgments in cognition and in morality underlies an area of peculiar interest to Kant, and therefore to many of these essays. Finally the authors examine a turn toward the subjective in the Postmodern world of art and aesthetic theory, a turn that represents a relaxation of the original Enlightenment tension between subjectivity and objectivity. It also represents perhaps a grotesque turn toward the extreme of subjectivity in the realm of Postmodern theory, an extreme toward which at least one of the authors casts a critical eye. (shrink)
Kant's 'Copernican Revolution', which began in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787), had, by the early 1790s, fundamentally altered the terrain of German philosophy – but not entirely in the way that Kant had foreseen. Skeptical challenges to Kant's discursive account of cognition, in which experience arises from the separate faculties of sensibility and understanding, had led thinkers such as K.L. Reinhold and J.G. Fichte to attempt to provide a first, foundational principle for the critical philosophy. These efforts were enormously (...) influential, but by the middle of the 1790s, they too were facing a great deal of critical scrutiny. The central challenge to the Fichtean project came from an unlikely quarter: a group of young thinkers and poets who are collectively known as the early Romantics. For the Romantics, Fichte's project remains too 'subjectivist', for it tries to provide an account of the world by beginning with the conditions that govern subjectivity alone. Rather, the Romantics argue that the world must be understood in terms of a monistic Absolute, akin to Spinoza's substance, in which all dualisms are overcome. It is with this step that Absolute Idealism comes on the scene, and sets the stage for the development of Hegel's system in the early 1800s. This essay, which continues the story of 'Who's Who from Kant to Hegel I', examines the ways in which early Romanticism reacted to the Fichtean project, looks at a variety of anti-foundationalist idealisms that the Romantics – in particular Hölderlin, Novalis, Schlegel, and Schleiermacher – developed, and traces the role that Friedrich Schelling plays in offering the first systematic account of Absolute Idealism. (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)
When we are touched by the beauty of something, we cannot help judging that the experienced feeling of pleasure ought to be shared by others. In Kantian terms, a pure judgement of taste requires or demands everyone else's assent. I examine some of the major intricacies of Kant's account and aim to correct some distorted views of it. I argue that the autonomy (or heautonomy) of the judgement of taste is not presupposed but made possible by the modal requirement as (...) such, i.e. by the subjective necessity to be universally shared—a necessity that is not moral, as several commentators hold, but strictly epistemological. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Philosophy has long struggled to understand the nature of color. The central role color plays in our lives, in visual experience, in art, as a metaphor for emotions, has made it an obvious candidate for philosophical reflection. Understanding the nature of color, however, has proved a daunting task, despite the numerous fields that contribute to the project. Even knowing how to start can be difficult. Is color to be understood as an objective part of reality, a property of objects with (...) a status similar to shape and size? Or is color more like pain, to be found only in experience and so somehow subjective? Or is color more like what some have said about time--that it seems real until we reflect enough, where we come ultimately to dismiss it as mere illusion? If color is more like shape and size, can we give a scientific account of it? Various strategies exist for this option--taking the color of an object to be just a complicated texture of that object, one that reflects certain wavelengths. Or perhaps color is merely a disposition to cause experiences in us, as salt has a disposition to dissolve. On the other hand, if color is more like pain, and found only in subjective experience, what is the nature of color experience? How, for instance, does an experience of red differ from an experience of blue, or from an experience of pain for that matter? Finally, if color is mere illusion, how do we continue to be so taken in by that illusion and how can something unreal seem so real and important to us? (shrink)
Dieses Buch ist eine bewusst systematisch orientierte Einführung in die grundlegendsten Fragen der philosophischen Ästhetik. Es richtet sich in erster Linie an Studierende der Philosophie, aber auch an interessierte Laien und Vertreter/innen anderer Disziplinen. Zusammenfassungen, Übungsaufgaben und Literaturhinweise am Ende jedes Kapitels machen es auch für das Selbststudium geeignet. Aus dem Inhalt: I. Was ist philosophische Ästhetik? – Auf der Suche nach einer Definition der philosophischen Ästhetik – Die Gegenstände der philosophischen Ästhetik – Die Fragen der philosophischen Ästhetik – Die (...) Methoden der philosophischen Ästhetik II. Das ästhetische Erlebnis und die ästhetische Einstellung – Die Bestandteile ästhetischer Erlebnisse – Die subjektive und die objektive Erklärung der ästhetischen Erfahrung – Interesselosigkeit und psychische Distanz – Einwände gegen die Theorie der Interesselosigkeit und der psychischen Distanz III. Ästhetische Eigenschaften, ästhetische Werturteile und ästhetische Gegenstände – Ästhetische Eigenschaften und ästhetische Prädikate – Ästhetischer Realismus versus ästhetischer Anti-Realismus – Nonkognitivismus, Subjektivismus, Naturalismus – Das Erkennen ästhetischer Wertqualitäten IV. Die Ontologie des Kunstwerks – Was für eine Art von Gegenständen sind Kunstwerke? – Die Abstraktheit literarischer und musikalischer Werke – Sind Werke der bildenden Kunst materielle Gegenstände? – Fiktive Gegenstände und dargestellte Welten V. Was ist Kunst? – Die Darstellungstheorie – Die Ausdruckstheorie – Der kunstästhetische Formalismus – Die Institutionstheorie – Die Theorie der Familienähnlichkeit – Kunst als ästhetische Kommunikation. (shrink)
This new, completely revised and re-written edition of Aesthetics and subjectivity brings up to date the original book's account of the path of German philosophy from Kant, via Fichte and Holderlin, the early Romantis, Schelling, Hegel, Schleimacher, to Nietzsche, in view of recent historical research and contemporary arguments in philosophy and theory in the humanities.
1. A new wave of subjectivism in the theory of pictorial art began around forty years ago; and since then it has gathered pace in tandem with changing fashions in the philosophy of mind. The initial impetus was provided by the publication of Ernst Gombrich’s 1956 Mellon Lectures, Art and Illusion.1 In this book, and in many subsequent articles and lectures which elaborate its theme, Gombrich argues that the development of Western art – essentially the art of ancient Greece and (...) the art of Western Europe from Giotto to Cezanne – consists in a series of discoveries about the nature of visual perception, and the means by which the effect of visible objects on our senses can be simulated. ‘What may make a painting like a distant view through a window’ he writes, ‘is not the fact that the two can be as indistinguishable as is a facsimile from the original: it is the similarity between the mental activities both can arouse.’ And in another place: ‘The goal which the artist seeks with such self-critical persistence is … a psychological effect.’2 These remarks are concerned with a specific artistic tradition, and with specific pictorial devices, such as foreshortening and shading, which I shall not write about here. But Gombrich’s work launched a search for a general theory of depiction based on the same approach. The search intensified in the wake of Nelson Goodman’s Languages of Art, which persuaded most of its readers that the resemblance theory of depiction could not be made to work, but did not provide a plausible alternative to it. Today there is broad agreement among philosophers that the nature of pictorial art cannot be explained by analysing the relationship between the marks on the surface of a picture and the kinds of objects that they represent. The consensus is that it can only be explained by defining the psychological effect that these marks produce.3 Today, the two most influential theories of depiction that are guided by this general idea are Richard Wollheim’s and Christopher Peacocke’s.. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1 The Problem of Subjectivism -- 2 The Self: Dispersion and Constancy -- 3 Decentering the Subject: Works of Art as Heroes -- 4 Practice, Language, and Poetry -- 5 Language: The Transcendental Path -- 6 Language as a Web -- 7 The Human Being as Speaker and Mortal -- 8 Being Human in the Age of Technology.
This essay examines the reasons for Hegel's frequently professed claim that Kant's Critique of Judgment simultaneously reveals the internal limits of critical philosophy and opens the door to his own system of speculative idealism. It evaluates Hegel's contention that the conceptions of aesthetic experience, organic purposiveness, and the intuitive intellect developed in the third Critique together conspire to undermine the epistemological and metaphysical foundations of the theories of nature and freedom advanced in the first and second Critiques . Finally it (...) explains how Hegel understands his logic and real philosophy as a realist and quasi-naturalistic alternative to Kant's subjective idealism, one that purports to generate a system of categories adequate not only to dead matter but also to organic life and free self-conscious spirit. (shrink)
In the realm of man's culture, among the things created by man, art should be beautiful; its primary essential characteristic should be that it be able to evoke a sense of beauty in the person, that by its beauty it be able to provide for the person the pleasure of the sense of beauty. This is a fact that no one can deny outright. However, saying that art should be beautiful is not the same as saying that all art is (...) beautiful. In fact, there is art which is beautiful and art which is not beautiful; and this too is a fact that no one can deny. (shrink)
Both Deleuze in DR and Thompson / Jonas can be fairly said to be biological panpsychists. That‘s pretty much what ―Mind in Life‖ means: mind and life are co-extensive: life = autopoiesis and cognition = sense-making. Thus Mind in Life = autopoietic sense-making = control of action of organism in environment. Sense-making here is three-fold: 1) sensibility as openness to environment; 2) signification as positive or negative valence of environmental features relative to the subjective norms of the organism; 3) direction (...) or orientation the organism adopts in response to 1 and 2. (―Sense of the river‖ is archaic in English, but ―sens unique‖ for ―one-way street‖ is perfectly clear in French.). (shrink)