The Value of Aesthetic Experience

Abstract

In this dissertation, I argue that aesthetic experience is a kind of valuing experience that has certain, objective features not dependent on the psychological state of the subject. Accounts of aesthetic experience can generally be divided into two categories: internalist and externalist. The former pick out aesthetic experience as a being a certain kind of psychological state on the part of the subject, whereas the latter specify it based on features external to the experience itself, usually by reference to the object. My account is neither strictly internalist nor externalist, but combines features of both. Like an internalist account, it requires that the subject be in a certain mental state – the subject must be having a valuational experience. Like an externalist account, it insists that there are features of aesthetic experience that are not part of the phenomenal character of the experience – that is, the type of value assigned is in fact subjective, regardless of how the subject perceives it. It is my contention that such a hybrid account is broadly explanatory while avoiding the problems that plague other accounts.

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Landon Schurtz
Tulsa Community College

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