Jenefer Robinson takes the insights of modern scientific research on the emotions and uses them to illuminate questions about our emotional involvement with the arts. Laying out a theory of emotion supported by the best evidence from current empirical work, she examines some of the ways in which the emotions function in the arts. Written in a clear and engaging style, her book will make fascinating reading for anyone interested in the emotions and how they work, as well as anyone (...) engaged with the arts and aesthetics. (shrink)
This paper investigates what I call aesthetic emotions in the “traditional” sense going back to Burke and Kant. According to Kant, aesthetic pleasure is disinterested, and so maybe for Kant aesthetic emotions would be too, for Kant, but emotions by their very nature cannot be disinterested. After dismissing the idea that aesthetic emotions are a special kind of distanced emotions or refined emotions, I extract from the writings of Clive Bell, Peter Kivy, and Peter Lamarque the view that aesthetic emotions (...) are positive, pleasurable, consummatory emotions—emotions of appreciation—which are noninstrumental and which take as their intentional objects the intrinsic qualities of an artwork, more particularly, its formal interrelationships and the way that the overall formal structure of an artwork molds its content. (shrink)
The concept of expression in the arts is Janus-faced. On the one hand expression is an author-centered notion: many Romantic poets, painters, and musicians thought of themselves as pouring our or ex-pressing their own emotions in their artworks. And on the other hand, expression is an audience-centered notion, the communication of what is expressed by an author to members of an audience. Typically the word “expression” is used for the author-centered aspect of expression as a whole, and the word “expressiveness” (...) is used for the audience-centered aspect, and I shall keep to this usage. In this paper I shall argue that although expression is closely related to expressiveness, the two concepts are distinct and, in particular, expressiveness cannot be analyzed in terms of expression, as has been recently suggested by Stephen Davies and Jerrold Levinson. Nonetheless, the richest examples of expression in the arts involve both expression and expressiveness. (shrink)
According to Dominic Lopes, expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed solely in terms of “expression looks” of various sorts, namely the look of a figure, a scene and/or a design. But, according to this view, it seems puzzling that expressive pictures should have any emotional effect on their audiences. Yet Lopes explicitly ties his “contour theory” of expression in pictures to empathic responses in spectators. Thus, despite his deflationary account of pictorial expression, he claims that pictures can give us practice (...) in various “empathic skills.” I argue that Lopes’s account of empathic responses to pictures, while interesting and enlightening, nevertheless ignores the most important way in which pictures exercise and enhance our empathic skills, namely, by giving us practice in taking the emotional perspective of another person. (shrink)
In paragraph 48 of the Critique of Judgment, Immanuel Kant claimed that ‘only one kind of ugliness cannot be represented in accordance with nature without destroying all aesthetic satisfaction, hence artistic beauty, namely that which arouses disgust.’ However, from Baudelaire to Damien Hirst, there have been artists who delight in arousing disgust through their works, and many of these disgusting works, such as Baudelaire's Une Charogne, have high aesthetic merit. In her splendid new book, Savoring Disgust, Carolyn Korsmeyer rejects Kant's (...) suggestion and argues that there is something called ‘aesthetic disgust,’ that is, ‘the arousal of disgust in an audience, a spectator, or a reader, under circumstances where that emotion both apprehends artistic properties and constitutes a component of appreciation.’. (shrink)
In this paper, we contest Peter Kivy’s claim that there is a clear opposition between ‘absolute music’ and programme music and between musical form and musical expressiveness. We argue, on the contrary, that much music falls somewhere between absolute and programme music as Kivy conceives the categories, and that such music is often primarily organized not on purely formal principles but by means of the overall ‘expressive trajectory’ or ‘poetic idea’ of the piece. Kivy is dismissive of all ‘narrativist’ interpretations (...) of what he considers absolute music, arguing that they add an ‘extraneous’ story to music that neither has nor needs one. We argue on the contrary that the history of the ‘heroic’ plot type in the tradition from Beethoven to Shostakovich demonstrates that composers in the Russian Romantic tradition conceived of their music as unified by ‘poetic ideas’, which were handed down and elaborated by one composer after another. (shrink)
There are few writers on philosophical aesthetics who are such a pleasure to read as Peter Kivy, so a new book by him is always reason for celebration. In this latest volume all the Kivy virtues are on display: clear, careful argument and good sense, conveyed in an urbane and conversational style. The main theme of the book is that aestheticians have spent too much time discussing general theories of art that emphasize what the various art forms have in common, (...) and not enough time examining the many differences among the arts. Throughout the book he discusses particular issues rather than general theories, thereby taking his own advice that “modest undertakings, rather than grand designs are the order of the day”. (shrink)
Juslin & Vll (J&V) think that all emotions aroused by music have the music itself as their Some of the mechanisms they discuss almost certainly involve both cognitive appraisals and intentional objects. But some of the mechanisms are non-cognitive: they involve neither cognitive appraisals nor intentional objects. Partly for this reason they may produce moods rather than emotions proper.
Bob Solomon used to inveigh against William James’ theory of emotions, but he eventually arrived at a rapprochement with James and James’s recent successors. In particular, James suggested that emotions are initiated by the “automatic, instinctive” appraisals that register important information in the body and are recorded by body-mapping brain areas. In recent work Solomon describes the judgments he thinks constitute emotions as felt bodily appraisals in similar fashion.
We apply Carol Gilligan's distinction between a "male" mode of moral reasoning, focussed on justice, and a "female" mode, focussed on caring, to the reading of literature. Martha Nussbaum suggests that certain novels are works of moral philosophy. We argue that what Nussbaum sees as the special ethical contribution of such novels is in fact training in the stereotypically female mode of moral concern. We show this kind of training is appropriate to all readers of these novels, not just to (...) women. Finally, we explore what else is involved in distinctively feminist readings of traditional novels. (shrink)
In Sight and Sensibility Dominic Lopes argues that expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed on the model of the “contour” theory of musical expressiveness, according to which an “expression” need not express anything about the inner psychological states of a person. According to his “contour theory of pictorial expression,” expression by scenes and designs requires “no being to whom the expressed emotion is attributable”. However, on this account expression has lost its fundamental raison d’être, that of manifesting somebody’s actual emotional (...) states. By contrast, I argue that successful works of pictorial expression depict the way the world appears to someone when in some emotional state. Moreover, the emotional attitude thus expressed by the work is an important unifying principle for pictures, and hence an important artistic value. (shrink)