VI—Aesthetic Beautification

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 122 (2):119-139 (2022)
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Aesthetic beautification is a familiar artistic phenomenon. Even as they face death, heroes and heroines in operas still sing glorious music. Characters in Shakespearean tragedies still deliver beautifully eloquent speeches in the throes of despair. Even when depicting suffering and horror, paintings can still remain a transfixing delight for the eyes. In such cases, the work of art represents or expresses something to which we would, in ordinary life, attribute a negative valence, but it does so beautifully. Doubtless there is not a single explanation for what transpires in art of this sort or in our experience of it. With some aesthetically beautified art, its foremost goal might be giving aesthetic pleasure, and the beauty of the aesthetic form, even when depicting horrors, is in the service of this primary aim. In other art, the beautification might seek to be jarring and thought-provoking, highlighting a disconnect between the aesthetic frame and what is portrayed. These routes explain much of aesthetic beautification. But I am particularly interested in considering another, still more specific, response: finding ourselves somehow consoled by the beautification. I begin with some reflections on aesthetic beautification in general, and then turn to consider how beautification and consolation might be connected, and what to make of this.



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Andrew Huddleston
University of Warwick

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References found in this work

The Sovereignty of Good.Iris Murdoch - 1970 - New York: Schocken Books.
Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value.Dominic Lopes - 2018 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
A Plea for Excuses.John Austin - 1957 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57:1--30.

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