Philosophy of the Arts: An Introduction to Aesthetics

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Only one answer seems possible— significant form. In each, lines and colors combined in a particular way; certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions. Abstraction was a major drive in early twentieth century art, but the later decades largely abandoned the idea of any tight definition of art. There are, however, ways of providing a kind of definition of art which respects its open texture. But this suggests that these two contemporary definitions, like the others, merely reflect the historical way that art developed in the associated period.

Certainly traditional objective aesthetic standards, in the earlier twentieth century, have largely given way to free choices in all manner of things by the mandarins of the public art world more recently. Response theories of art were particularly popular during the Logical Positivist period in philosophy, that is, around the s and s.

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Science was then contrasted sharply with Poetry, for instance, the former being supposedly concerned with our rational mind, the latter with our irrational emotions. Thus the noted English critic I. Richards tested responses to poems scientifically in an attempt to judge their value, and unsurprisingly found no uniformity. We are now more used to thinking that the emotions are rational, partly because we now distinguish the cause of an emotion from its target. If one looks at what emotions are caused by an artwork, not all of these need target the artwork itself, but instead what is merely associated with it.

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So what the subjective approach centrally overlooks are questions to do with attention, relevance, and understanding. People who are sad move more slowly, and when they speak they speak softly and low. The discriminations do not stop there, however. Guy Sircello, against Hospers, pointed out first that there are two ways emotions may be embodied in artworks: because of their form which is what Hospers chiefly had in mind , and because of their content.

Thus, a picture may be sad not because of its mood or color, but because its subject matter or topic is pathetic or miserable. That point was only a prelude, however, to an even more radical criticism of Embodiment theories by Sircello. Communication theorists all combine the three elements above, namely the audience, the artwork, and the artist, but they come in a variety of stamps.

Bell and Fry saw no such social purpose in art, and related to this difference were their opposing views regarding the value of aesthetic properties and pleasure. Communication theorists generally compare art to a form of Language. Langer was less interested than the above theorists in legislating what may be communicated, and was instead concerned to discriminate different art languages, and the differences between art languages generally and verbal languages. She said, in brief, that art conveyed emotions of various kinds, while verbal language conveyed thoughts, which was a point made by Tolstoy too.

But Langer spelled out the matter in far finer detail. This gave rise to the main differences between presentational and discursive modes of communication: verbal languages had a vocabulary, a syntax, determinate meanings, and the possibility of translation, but none of these were guaranteed for art languages, according to Langer.

The detailed ways in which this arises with different art forms Langer explained in her book Feeling and Form. Discussions of questions specific to each art form have been pursued by many other writers; see, for instance, Dickie, Sclafani, and Roblin, and the recent book by Gordon Graham. Like the concept of Expression, the concept of Representation has been very thoroughly examined since the professionalization of Philosophy in the twentieth century.

Gombrich was the first to point out that modes of representation are, by contrast, conventional, and therefore have a cultural, socio-historical base.

Thus perspective, which one might view as merely mechanical, is only a recent way of representing space, and many photographs distort what we take to be reality— for instance, those from the ground of tall buildings, which seem to make them incline inwards at the top. Goodman, too, recognized that depiction was conventional; he likened it to denotation, that is, the relation between a word and what it stands for.

He also gave a more conclusive argument against copying being the basis of representation. For that would make resemblance a type of representation, whereas if a resembles b, then b resembles a— yet a dog does not represent its picture. In other words, Goodman is saying that resemblance implies a symmetric relationship, but representation does not.

As a result, Goodman made the point that representation is not a craft but an art: we create pictures of things, achieving a view of those things by representing them as this or as that. There are philosophical questions of another kind, however, with respect to the representation of objects, because of the problematic nature of fictions. There are three broad categories of object which might be represented: individuals which exist, like Napoleon; types of thing which exist, like kangaroos; and things which do not exist, like Mr.

Pickwick, and unicorns. Some philosophers would think that the third category was as easily accommodated, but Goodman, being an Empiricist and so concerned with the extensional world , was only prepared to countenance existent objects. So for him pictures of fictions did not denote or represent anything; instead, they were just patterns of various sorts. It is a construal generally more congenial to Idealists, and to Realists of various persuasions, than to Empiricists. The contrast between Empiricists and other types of philosopher also bears on other central matters to do with fictions.

Is a fictional story a lie about this world, or a truth about some other? Only if one believes there are other worlds, in some kind of way, will one be able to see much beyond untruths in stories. Pickwick fat? But one difficulty then is knowing things about Mr. Pickwick other than what Dickens tells us— was Mr.

Pickwick fond of grapes, for instance? An Idealist will be more prepared to consider fictions as just creatures of our imaginations. One problem with this style of analysis is explaining how we can have emotional relations with, and responses to, fictional entities. On the other hand, unless we believe that fictions are real, how can we, for instance, be moved by the fate of Anna Karenina? Radford defended this conclusion in a series of further papers in what became an extensive debate. At a play, for instance, Walton said the audience enters into a form of pretence with the actors, not believing, but making believe that the portrayed events and emotions are real.

What kind of thing is a work of art? Goodman, Wollheim, Wolterstorff, and Margolis have been notable contributors to the contemporary debate. Examples would be: some music, its score, and its performances; a drama, its script, and its performances; an etching, its plate, and its prints; and a photograph, its negative, and its positives.

Realizations can also be divided into two broad types, as these same examples illustrate: there are those that arise in time performance works and those that arise in space object works. Realizations are always physical entities. Sometimes there is only one realization, as with architect-designed houses, couturier-designed dresses, and many paintings, and Wollheim concluded that in these cases the artwork is entirely physical, consisting of that one, unique realization. However, a number a copies were commonly made of paintings in the middle ages, and it is theoretically possible to replicate even expensive clothing and houses.

Philosophical questions in this area arise mainly with respect to the ontological status of the idea which gets executed. Realizations are tokens, but ideas are types, that is, categories of objects. There is a normative connection between them as Margolis and Nicholas Wolterstorff have explained, since the execution of ideas is an essentially social enterprise. That also explains how the need for a notation arises: one which would link not only the idea with its execution, but also the various functionaries.

Broadly, there are the creative persons who generate the ideas, which are transmitted by means of a recipe to manufacturers who generate the material objects and performances. Schematically, two main figures are associated with the production of many artworks: the architect and the builder, the couturier and the dressmaker, the composer and the performer, the choreographer and the dancer, the script-writer and the actor, and so forth.

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But a much fuller list of operatives is usually involved, as is very evident with the production of films, and other similar large entertainments. The associated philosophical question concerns the nature of any creativity. There is not much mystery about the making of particulars from some recipe, but much more needs to be said about the process of originating some new idea. It was in these terms that Collingwood distinguished the artist from the craftsperson, namely with reference to what the artist was capable of generating just in his or her mind.

Certainly, if it is to be an original idea, the artist cannot know beforehand what the outcome of the creative process will be. But others might have had the same idea before, and if the outcome was known already, then the idea thought up was not original in the appropriate sense.

Thus the artist will not be credited with ownership in such cases.

Philosophy of Art: Selected full-text books and articles

Creation is not a process, but a public achievement: it is a matter of breaking the tape ahead of others in a certain race. Aesthetics Aesthetics may be defined narrowly as the theory of beauty, or more broadly as that together with the philosophy of art. Aesthetic Concepts The eighteenth century was a surprisingly peaceful time, but this turned out to be the lull before the storm, since out of its orderly classicism there developed a wild romanticism in art and literature, and even revolution in politics.

Aesthetic Attitudes Jerome Stolnitz, in the middle of the last century, was a Kantian, and promoted the need for a disinterested, objective attitude to art objects. Intentions The traditional form of art criticism was biographical and sociological, taking into account the conceptions of the artist and the history of the traditions within which the artist worked. Expression Response theories of art were particularly popular during the Logical Positivist period in philosophy, that is, around the s and s.

Robert Stecker is professor of philosophy at Central Michigan University. Robert Stecker's excellent book was already the best high-level introduction to philosophical aesthetics in the analytic tradition.

Introduction to Aesthetics | International B.A. in Liberal Arts | Tel Aviv University

It has retained this distinction in its second edition, while becoming both more accessible and more wide-ranging, and is appropriate for use in both undergraduate and graduate courses. His coverage of the core topics in the field is admirably clear and accessible, but more importantly, it is incisive and at the cutting-edge of current debates. This would mean that aesthetics is a reflection on ideas we already have about art, artists.

If aesthetics is a branch of philosophy and philosophy is a reflection of our ordinary commonsense intuition, then, in a sense, we already know what art, aesthetics, and artists are. But these commonsense intuitions may be so deeply engrained and internalized that we may take them for granted. Perhaps we can more fully experience artworks if we enlarge our perspective. How do we do this? Our way of viewing art from an aesthetic point of view is only one way of looking at things. It appears at a certain point in the history of certain cultures and may just was easily disappear and be replaced by another way of viewing things.

The ideas of aesthetic enjoyment and fine art and artist arose in what we call the modern period end of 17 th century to middle of 20 th. Main points of modernist aesthetics.

Aesthetics: Crash Course Philosophy #31

Aesthetic experience is nonutilitarian. AE is detached from ordinary self-interested pursuits is disinterested. Everyone can appreciate art just by adopting the aesthetic point of view.

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