The Acquaintance Principle maintains that aesthetic knowledge must be acquired through first-hand experience of the object of knowledge and cannot be transmitted from person to person. This implies that aesthetic knowledge of an object cannot be acquired either from an accurate description of the non- aesthetic features of the object or from reliable testimony of its aesthetic character. The question I address is whether there is any sound argument in support of the Principle. I give scant consideration to the possibility (...) of deriving knowledge from a non- aesthetic description. If this were to be a real possibility, it would certainly disprove the Acquaintance Principle, but its impossibility would not establish it. Furthermore, if the way knowledge were to be derived from a non- aesthetic description were through its enabling a person to imagine the object, a defender of the Acquaintance Principle might simply deem imagining to be a form of first-hand experience. I focus on the possibility of acquiring aesthetic knowledge through reliable testimony because here there is a style of argument that, if correct, would rule out the possibility of knowledge of an item's aesthetic properties being transmitted to someone who lacks the requisite first-hand experience, and the manoeuvre of including imagining under the head of first-hand experience is not available. An argument of this kind is, I believe, the only possible way of establishing the Acquaintance Principle. I try to show that this style of argument fails and that the Acquaintance Principle should be rejected. (shrink)
The aesthetics of nature has over the last few decades become an intense focus of philosophical reflection, as it has been ever more widely recognised that it is not a mere appendage to the aesthetics of art. Everyone delights in the beauty of flowers, and some are thrilled by the immensity of mountains or of the night sky. But what is involved in serious aesthetic appreciation of the natural world? Malcolm Budd presents four interlinked studies in the aesthetics of nature, (...) approaching the subject from a variety of angles. As well as developing Budd's own original ideas, the book provides a comprehensive treatment of Kant's classic aesthetics of nature, and an encyclopaedic critical survey of recent literature on the subject. (shrink)
My paper examines a vital but neglected aspect of Frank Sibley's pioneering account of aesthetic concepts. This is the claim that many aesthetic qualities are such that they can be characterized adequately only by metaphors or ‘quasi-metaphors’. Although there is no indication that Sibley embraced it, I outline a radical, minimalist conception of the experience of perceiving an item as possessing an aesthetic quality, which, I believe, has wide application and which would secure Sibley's position for those aesthetic qualities that (...) conform to it. (shrink)
Introduction -- Aesthetic judgements, aesthetic principles, and aesthetic properties -- Aesthetic essence -- The acquaintance principle -- The intersubjective validity of aesthetic judgements -- The pure judgement of taste as an aesthetic reflective judgement -- Understanding music -- The characterization of aesthetic qualities by essential metaphors and quasi-metaphors -- Musical movement and aesthetic metaphors -- Aesthetic realism and emotional qualities of music -- On looking at a picture -- The look of a picture -- Wollheim on correspondence, projective properties, and (...) expressive perception -- Wittgenstein on aesthetics. (shrink)
The aesthetics of nature has over the last few decades become an intense focus of philosophical reflection, as it has been ever more widely recognised that it is not a mere appendage to the aesthetics of art. Just as nature offers aesthetic experiences beyond the reach of art, so the aesthetics of nature raises issues not contained within the philosophy of art. -/- Malcolm Budd presents four interlinked essays addressing all the main problems about the aesthetics of nature. These include: (...) how the aesthetic appreciation of nature should be understood; the character of an aesthetic response to nature; what kinds of aesthetic experience nature affords and what kinds of aesthetic judgement it is amenable to; the aesthetic significance of intrusions by humanity into nature; whether aesthetic judgements about nature can be objectively true; the doctrine of positive aesthetics with respect to nature; the aesthetic significance of knowledge of nature and in particular whether scientific knowledge is necessary for serious aesthetic appreciation of nature; and the correct model for the appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature. -/- The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature also includes a comprehensive exposition and examination of the thoughts of the greatest philosopher to make a substantial contribution to the subject, Immanuel Kant, and an encyclopaedic critical survey of much of the most significant recent literature. Scholars and students of aesthetics will find valuable resources here, and much to think about. (shrink)
Roger Scruton appears to have been the first to argue for and articulate an anti-realist theory of aesthetic properties. In the case of emotional qualities of music, his principal argument against realism is unsound and cannot, I believe, be repaired. Nevertheless an anti-realist view of emotional qualities of music is in my view correct and I defend Scruton's insight against a rival realist conception. However, I prefer a rather different form of anti-realism to Scruton's.
All aesthetic judgements, whether descriptive, evaluative or some combination of the two, and whatever they might be about, whether works of art, artefacts of other kinds, or natural things, declare themselves to be, not mere announcements or expressions of personal responses to the objects of judgement, but claims meriting the agreement of others. Despite the frequent appeal in everyday life to the nihilistic interpretation of the saying It's all a matter of taste, the doctrine of aesthetic nihilism—the view that such (...) claims are never warranted—does not merit serious attention. What is needed is an articulation of the various kinds of content of aesthetic judgements, one that will reveal what their claim to intersubjective validity amounts to and enable an assessment of what the proper limits of the claim might be. This clarification is what I attempt to provide. After some introductory definitions and classifications, the principal focus of the first part of the paper is descriptive aesthetic judgements, and one issue that figures large is the proper understanding of those judgements of this kind which are expressed in sentences that are intended to be understood metaphorically. A short bridge passage identifies an aesthetic judgement whose content is indicative of the content of evaluative aesthetic judgements of all kinds, and in particular evaluative aesthetic judgements about works of art, which the second part of the paper focuses on. Real illumination of these requires an identification of the aim of art (as such): I offer an account of this aim, which I defend against certain objections that it is liable to attract, and I use it to throw light not just on singular but also on comparative judgements of artistic value. I conclude with some remarks about purely aesthetic value and specifically artistic value and about similarities and differences between evaluative aesthetic judgements of works of art and evaluative aesthetic judgements of works of nature. (shrink)
Roger Scruton's extraordinarily rich and impressive book The Aesthetics of Music has not received the attention it deserves. In this paper I take issue with one of its most striking claims, namely that the basic perceptions of music are informed by spatial concepts understood metaphorically. To evaluate this claim it is necessary to grasp Scruton's theory of metaphor, which has largely been neglected. I sketch his theory and derive from it the essence of his claim about the fundamental role of (...) spatial metaphors in musical experience. With the issue clarified in this way, I attempt to show that the claim is not plausible. (shrink)
My response consists essentially of an attempt to throw light on (and encourage further elucidation of) Peacocke's basic proposal as to how musical expressiveness should be understood by a comparison and contrast with a somewhat similar suggestion of mine.
The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature I advance a view of the aesthetic value of nature that Glenn Parsons seeks to contest. Here I attempt to show three things. The first is that his critique of my view of the aesthetic value of a natural thing is malfounded. The second is that his proposed alternative, which is intended to vindicate the claim to objectivity of certain judgements of the aesthetic value of a natural thing, is unconvincing. And the third is that, (...) contrary to what he maintains, I am not committed to the alternative he proposes through an apparent tension in my position, for there is no such tension. (shrink)
The principal focus of the essay is the idea of artistic value, understood as the value of a work of art as the work of art it is, and the essay explores the connections, if any, between artistic value and a variety of other values in human life. I start with a series of observations about social values and then turn to moral values. Beginning from Goethe’s claim that ‘music cannot affect morality, nor can the other arts, and it would (...) be wrong to expect them to do so’, I proceed from music through the other arts; I distinguish different conceptions of morality; I highlight what I call a work of art’s positive moral value ; and distinguish three kinds of moral improvement, one taking pride of place. My conclusion is that the positive moral value of works of art has been greatly overrated. I then return to the social values of art, looking at the situation from a very different point of view and reaching new conclusions, some of them positive. I end by explaining why my observations and arguments about the positive moral value of a work of art in no way diminishes the importance of art in human life, the true end of art having an importance in human life not guaranteed by morality. (shrink)
The paper begins with an overview of various well-known accounts of the musical expression of emotion that have been proposed in recent years. But rather than proceeding to assess the merits and faults of these accounts the paper examines whether a radically new theory by Christopher Peacocke is superior to all of them. The theory, which certainly has a number of attractive features, is based on the idea of metaphorical-as perception. The notion of metaphorical-as perception needs to be elucidated and (...) the examination of Peacocke’s theory takes place by playing it off against a rival theory that is based on a different kind of perception, imaginative-as perception. The paper argues that, as the basis of an account of the musical expression of emotion, imaginative-as perception has all the advantages and none of the apparent defects of metaphorical-as perception. (shrink)
If you are interested in art, you engage in artistic evaluation, thinking of one work as being better than another; one artist as being better than another; some works and some artists as being great, mediocre, or poor; and, perhaps, thinking of some forms or genres of art as being superior to others in that works within the favored form or genre have achieved or can aspire to a higher artistic value than is possible for those less favored. The greatest (...) philosophical challenge to this practice—a challenge that, if successful, would have wide-ranging consequences outside philosophy, in particular in undermining the status of the practice of art criticism—would maintain that it is, all of it, taken at face value .. (shrink)