Aesthetic opacity

Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics (2017)
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Are we really sure to correctly know what do we feel in front ofan artwork and to correctly verbalize it? How do we know what weappreciate and why we appreciate it? This paper deals with the problem ofintrospective opacity in aesthetics (that is, the unreliability of self-knowledge) in the light of traditional philosophical issues, but also of recentpsychological insights, according to which there are many instances ofmisleading intuition about one’s own mental processes, affective states orpreferences. Usually, it is assumed that aesthetic statements are intuitivelyclear and self-evident. However, a long tradition in psychological researchhas called the idea of introspective transparency and the infallibility of self-knowledge into question (Wilson 2002). This topic has only recently beenrecognized as an interesting problem in aesthetics (Melchionne 2011, Irvin2014). In this paper I will discuss the main shortcomings in introspective self-knowledge, mostly referring to psychological findings. As a consequence, thedevelopment of a folk psychological account of aesthetic experience could beneeded, investigating how people develop intuitive and naïve theories abouttheir aesthetic reactions, taste, and feelings, distinct from a more objectiveand empirically grounded account of how judgment and preferences areactually formed in ourselves, even on a neurobiological level. However, itwill also be argued that bypassing the individual judgment and his expressedchoices in favor of allegedly more objective levels of description would notbe an innocent step to take.



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Emanuele Arielli
Istituto Universitario di Architettura (Venezia)

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What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya.

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