The Aesthetics of Aesthetics

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Aesthetics
  3. » The Aesthetics of Aesthetics

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 12:28 pm
Does anyone else find aesthetic philosophy somewhat useless? I myself feel that life is only justified as an aesthetic exercize, as high drama or farce, and so attempting to justify aesthetic judgement is futile. It is 'that which stands alone.' Of course, some aesthetics deal with analyzing specific aesthic judgements, crediting superifical ones to deeper ones, etc. That is useful I suppose, but I dislike attempts to universalize, systematize or generalize aesthetics.

Any thoughts?
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 01:55 pm
@BrightNoon,
Quote:
That is useful I suppose, but I dislike attempts to universalize, systematize or generalize aesthetics.


That is a very important point - the point at which I think aesthetic philosophy either stops itself or becomes farcical... :detective:
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 06:18 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
Does anyone else find aesthetic philosophy somewhat useless?


Good, good question.

Short Version: Yea, I'm afraid so

Long Version: It often ends up feeling useless, but I believe this is not due to anything intrinsic to aesthetics, itself; but more so because of the narrow view of aesthetics people tend to take.[INDENT][INDENT]What aesthetics tends to entail:

  • Why she's hot
  • "It's all preference so what's the point?"
  • Over-focusing on paintings
  • Accusations of being narrow
  • Grand prophesies of being 'deep'

[/INDENT][INDENT]What I think has value in the aesthetic line:
[/INDENT][INDENT]
  • How, why and to what extent, does beauty often makes us reflective
  • Emotional Element; this effect, where doth it come?
  • How we see/experience the world (sensory); they "why's" of this is pleasing, this is not
  • Mental/Emotional effects of pleasing 'beauty' in both the man-made and the non man-made
  • What is commonly/widely-accepted as beautiful and why?
  • Our points of divergence in the 'beautiful' assessment: What factors prompt us to differ?

[/INDENT]I also believe that the popular view of philosophy, in general, steers us in directions that limit its breadth and depth. Count the number of posts, in this fine forum, on Metaphysics: Theology alone and it becomes apparent.
[/INDENT]Stereotypical views limit us; they shackle our thoughts and unwillingness to explore deeply. I believe this is very-much the case with aesthetics too.

Thanks
 
click here
 
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 10:48 am
@BrightNoon,
Aesthetics seems to me that it is a really small branch at the end of a series of branches on the philosophy tree. I think the most popular question is "what is art?" am i right? That doesn't seem very much like a philosophical question. I think maybe that is why it is farther out on the tree. Because first you could ask "Where does art come from?" or "why do we question what art is?" or "why does art appeal to us?" I would say that maybe those questions could fit in the other catagories of philosophy on this forum. what do you think?
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 08:53 pm
@click here,
Khetil wrote:
"It's all preference so what's the point?"


Exactly. Analysis of a certain emotion, a certain artistic trend, etc. (something like what N. did in The Birth of Tragedy) is useful and interesting, as a blend of sociology, history and philosphy. But if you ask the question, which seems to be the most popular, 'Why is x beautiful?' you will get either a generic meaningless answer or a bitter and stupid debate. There aren't any universals, it is all about the preferences of a certain person, certain culture, etc. The conclusion of any such study has to basically look like the beginning, not something of another sort. For example. "Why did the Greeks find beauty in Attic Tragedy?" After going through a causal argument of some kind, you end with something like "Because it reminded them of their Dionysian passions?" What you cannot then do is ask, "Why do they like there Dionysian passion?"


click here:
I think you're basically right, but I've come to realize that the categories of philosophy are somewhat flexible. Parts of aesthetic could be put in different categories. That said, unless you ask the completely unanswerable questions as I noted above, i.e. unless you make 'art' a absolute that could be examined in ontology, I think aesthetics is generally higher up the tree. Meaningful aesthetics has to start with certain given assumptions about humanity and the world.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 09:26 pm
@BrightNoon,
I find it fascinating, actually. Especially the aesthetics of music, architecture, and photography.

Here's a little challenge with my avatar photo to "inspire" some consideration of the aesthetics of photography. Those of you who have not taken it up as a hobby probably do not know how much interpretation can go into taking a photograph.

So here it is. A tower in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. The first photo is using a very "natural" color film. This is basically what the scene looked like. The second photo is using infrared film with a filter that blocks all visible light. Same camera, lens, position, etc. Just different film. And totally different effect. This is the breeding ground for a discussion of aesthetics. It's about choice.

http://www.pbase.com/drpablo74/image/71642149.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/drpablo74/image/71621739.jpg
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 06:02 am
@Aedes,
Excellent point, let's discuss the physics of attraction.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 06:15 am
@Aedes,
BrightNoon wrote:
... But if you ask the question, which seems to be the most popular, 'Why is x beautiful?' you will get either a generic meaningless answer or a bitter and stupid debate.


Yea, you make a good point. The extent to which beauty is individualized can't be denied. But I couldn't help thinking of the parallel with theology and god-concepts too (especially the part about disparate concepts devolving into bitter and stupid debates); yet there's never a shortage of that tired, old bickering. In any case, I think you're right: This is more pervasive since it seems to be more individualized. Although I have to say we don't' spend much time on it so any cultural/national correlations might not much be known.

Aedes wrote:
Here's a little challenge with my avatar photo to "inspire" some consideration of the aesthetics of photography.


Yea, very nice example (and one which I believe many of us would have similar reactions to).

Love that top photo. The differences in my personal reaction is quite contrasting.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 10:39 pm
@BrightNoon,
Khetil,
Interesting you like the top photo. What do you like about it and why do you prefer it over the other?

I personally think it's dull compared with the bottom one. I used a portrait film, which tends to render color very naturally. So the color scene is almost exactly what I saw through my own eyes. The black and white scene is fantastical and brooding.
 
boagie
 
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 11:21 pm
@Aedes,
YO!Smile

From reading the above posts, I came to the idea that there are perhaps two sources-[-probably wrong but its a start] to the physics of esthetic judgement, one is that it is first biologically determined and the other is that the culture you are a member of conditions the sensiabilities of this esthetic judgement. So, to my way to thinking reality is a biological readout, so, what could we conclude about a given subject that say does not find that which is undoubtedly beautiful, beautiful, does it then indicate anything about the well being or the state of his biology. Perhaps we could outline just what goes into constituting the beautiful, does the order within that which is beautiful speak to the order of our own being. What other principles go into constituting the beautiful? What's with the phallic pictures-------lol!!!:sarcastic:
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 8 Feb, 2009 05:56 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Interesting you like the top photo. What do you like about it and why do you prefer it over the other?


Hey,

Well, it's not that I dislike the other, only that the green-ness; that "alive", natural look is so much more appealing to me personally. I love seeing natural landscapes, particularly green foliage. I tend to overintellectualize things at times, but the full-impact of the above photo shows to me a structure, of human making, living with not overwhelming the natural surrounding landscape - it strikes me on an idealistic level, it seems.

Yes, the B/W one has it's own value, and "brooding" is a good word for it. It has an 'exactness' that comes from the B/W contrast that accentuates the geometry, I believe. It also is a fantastic visual.

But what's really nice is showing those side-by-side, and by way of color manipulations, have the same scene imbide two completely different forms of beauty.

Thanks
 
Sorryel
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 12:04 pm
@click here,
click here;45177 wrote:
Aesthetics seems to me that it is a really small branch at the end of a series of branches on the philosophy tree. I think the most popular question is "what is art?" am i right? That doesn't seem very much like a philosophical question. I think maybe that is why it is farther out on the tree. Because first you could ask "Where does art come from?" or "why do we question what art is?" or "why does art appeal to us?" I would say that maybe those questions could fit in the other catagories of philosophy on this forum. what do you think?


I think aesthetics is a basic aspect of philosophy. For example, if Levi-Straussian structuralism has some philosophical implications (and I think it does since it tries to deal with thinking in terms other than western abstractions), then what the area of philosophy is where different kinds of cultural evaluations (aesthetically good or bad, primoridial, authentic, visceral, mannered etc. etc.) are assessed is aesthetics (perhaps with more a structuralist bias than usual). To put this another way, questions such as "What is art?" are questions about how cultural categories are created and maintained and if that's not a central philosophical problem, then I don't know what is.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 02:17 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;44942 wrote:
Does anyone else find aesthetic philosophy somewhat useless? I myself feel that life is only justified as an aesthetic exercize, as high drama or farce, and so attempting to justify aesthetic judgement is futile. It is 'that which stands alone.' Of course, some aesthetics deal with analyzing specific aesthic judgements, crediting superifical ones to deeper ones, etc. That is useful I suppose, but I dislike attempts to universalize, systematize or generalize aesthetics.

Any thoughts?


I thought that was very Nietzchean of you, BrightNoon.

I do not view the field of aesthetics as being useless, but there is no doubt that it does not have the complex problems that are commonly associated with the other fields. Aesthetics, like ethics, is a very meaningful field in terms of its value to the human psyche. Aesthetics can be viewed as not only a descriptive field, but also as a prescriptive field. In terms of its prescription, it is very personal. One can study intellectual, affective, and sensual beauty and apply their developed preferences to the way they live, and the way that they view their lives and overall existence.
 
Sorryel
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 06:29 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;100553 wrote:
I thought that was very Nietzchean of you, BrightNoon.

I do not view the field of aesthetics as being useless, but there is no doubt that it does not have the complex problems that are commonly associated with the other fields. Aesthetics, like ethics, is a very meaningful field in terms of its value to the human psyche. Aesthetics can be viewed as not only a descriptive field, but also as a prescriptive field. In terms of its prescription, it is very personal. One can study intellectual, affective, and sensual beauty and apply their developed preferences to the way they live, and the way that they view their lives and overall existence.


If you take aesthetics as a way of working out the power and significance of cultural objects, then it shows a way in which the personal fits into the cultural.
 
melonkali
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 10:12 am
@hue-man,
Khethil;45113 wrote:
Good, good question.

Short Version: Yea, I'm afraid so

Long Version: It often ends up feeling useless, but I believe this is not due to anything intrinsic to aesthetics, itself; but more so because of the narrow view of aesthetics people tend to take.[INDENT][INDENT]What aesthetics tends to entail:

  • Why she's hot
  • "It's all preference so what's the point?"
  • Over-focusing on paintings
  • Accusations of being narrow
  • Grand prophesies of being 'deep'

[/INDENT][INDENT]What I think has value in the aesthetic line:
[/INDENT][INDENT]
  • How, why and to what extent, does beauty often makes us reflective
  • Emotional Element; this effect, where doth it come?
  • How we see/experience the world (sensory); they "why's" of this is pleasing, this is not
  • Mental/Emotional effects of pleasing 'beauty' in both the man-made and the non man-made
  • What is commonly/widely-accepted as beautiful and why?
  • Our points of divergence in the 'beautiful' assessment: What factors prompt us to differ?

[/INDENT]I also believe that the popular view of philosophy, in general, steers us in directions that limit its breadth and depth. Count the number of posts, in this fine forum, on Metaphysics: Theology alone and it becomes apparent.
[/INDENT]Stereotypical views limit us; they shackle our thoughts and unwillingness to explore deeply. I believe this is very-much the case with aesthetics too.

Thanks


Limiting the breadth and depth of aesthetic philosophy is suffocating the critically important potential of this field. Aesthetics is far more relevant than the simple definition of art or analysis (critique) of "beauty".

There is nothing which affects the human psyche more than aesthetics -- even a rank amateur propagandist knows this much. Love comes in as a close second influence, but in the overall scheme of things. aesthetics wins, hands down. Goebbels didn't sell "national socialism" with love fests or rational argument. Look at old films of his well-orchestrated events; this is the power of aesthetics.

Aesthetic appreciation is common to ALL human beings of ALL cultures. It strikes many chords in the human psyche: emotions, fantasy (escape from the harsh reality of the real world), pleasure, among other myriad theories in the "response to aesthetics" category.

No one as yet, neither psychologists, neuroscientists, artists, nor philosophers understand the way in which aesthetics affects people, but all agree on its powerful effect on the affective (or subjective) nature of people. Psychological studies increasingly bear out what a few earlier philosophers (Bergson, Whitehead) had already observed: to paraphrase it is modern terms, the typical "firing order" in the human brain begins with affective (emotions, intuitions, aesthetics), then either cognitive (intellectual rationale for the affective decision) or behavioral (actions based on the affective decisions) will follow next. But nearly always, the emotive or affective part of the brain "fires" first and determines the direction other functions will take.

Khethil;47390 wrote:
Hey,

Well, it's not that I dislike the other, only that the green-ness; that "alive", natural look is so much more appealing to me personally. I love seeing natural landscapes, particularly green foliage. I tend to overintellectualize things at times, but the full-impact of the above photo shows to me a structure, of human making, living with not overwhelming the natural surrounding landscape - it strikes me on an idealistic level, it seems.

Yes, the B/W one has it's own value, and "brooding" is a good word for it. It has an 'exactness' that comes from the B/W contrast that accentuates the geometry, I believe. It also is a fantastic visual.

But what's really nice is showing those side-by-side, and by way of color manipulations, have the same scene imbide two completely different forms of beauty.

Thanks


Your "alive" descriptive was a critical factor in Tolstoy's evaluation of human responses to aesthetics. He called it sincerity. We underestimate the ability of people to "sense" the sincerity of the artist in relating his own real experience, inner or outer, to real life and, more importantly, to the real lives experienced by most of humanity. Tolstoy decried his society's "artificial" state of the arts, which, to him, were stagnant and dead.

I would add that the society we live in today has two strong and separate, but equally dead, forms of popular art. We have "elitists", composed of a few who take it upon themselves to define "good art" and then the masses who parrot those expert opinions. On the other hand, with the corporate community assuming control of the popular arts, the state of popular art (music, cinema, television, etc) for the masses has been forcibly reduced to an all time low common denominator.

I evidence this latter point by an interesting discovery I made while hunting through Youtube the other day for a moldy oldy rock group from my ancient era. I found the entire album I was hunting for, then noticed that it had been uploaded by a 16 year old kid. The "comment" section underneath the video was about 50% filled with comments from youngsters who had discovered their dad's old LP, and were awestruck by what COULD be achieved by talented, sincere, "alive" artists, even "rock" musicians, without today's artifical corporate control and mandatory studio "widgets".

hue-man;100553 wrote:
I thought that was very Nietzchean of you, BrightNoon.

I do not view the field of aesthetics as being useless, there is no doubt that it does not have the complex problems that are commonly associated with the other fields. Aesthetics, like ethics, is a very meaningful field in terms of its value to the human psyche. Aesthetics can be viewed as not only a descriptive field, but also as a prescriptive field. In terms of its prescription, it is very personal. One can study intellectual, affective, and sensual beauty and apply their developed preferences to the way they live, and the way that they view their lives and overall existence.


Agree on most points, except aethetics' lack of complexity. Apart from the usual "definition of art" and "what is beauty" questions, there are a myriad of still unanswered questions in EVERY subcategory of "art" concerning form, content, "personally meaningful with psychic distance" (very important concept), etc., which create the human response, positive, negative, or apathetic, to "art".

I believe Tolstoy hit on one of the most important aspects of aesthetics: its function as a unifying language of emotions, feelings, intuitions, spirituality, and other ineffable qualities we still do not fully understand. Somehow, the artist, the observer who positively perceives the work, and all other observers who experience the same positive perception of the work, become united.

As noted in my second paragraph above, even rank amateur propagandists realize the essential, primary importance of aesthetics in the human psyche. Shouldn't aesthetics be one of the MOST important branches of philosophy? IMO, yes.

rebecca
 
Subjectivity9
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 10:48 am
@BrightNoon,
Aesthetics has two heads.

All to often we are apt to dwell upon the finished product, the piece of art. But, this is not the whole of it. Aesthetics should equally be considered from the standpoint of executing art, and what that gives to us during this process. After all, self-expression is a most precious part of our life.

This finished product, art, need not simply be beautiful. It can be inspirational, revealing, or even ugly in an interesting way. This is because it speaks to us very often in ways that we don’t generally hear or notice. It expands us. It widens our horizons. It gives us perspective. Most importantly, it cut through habitual mind and very often to free us from the prison of practicality.

S9
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 01:24 am
@BrightNoon,
Has anyone seen the movie Heat, the newer one with De Niro?

There is a point after the robbery when De Nero is free and clear to escape, tolerant woman by his side, money in his pocket. They are driving to the getaway plane.

You see an anguish on his face and suddenly he swerves and heads back to town. He has decided to seek revenge, and it entails his own destruction.

That is good tragedy, and I suppose I would be talking aesthetics if I stated why I thought so.

He dies because of a choice he makes. Just as Antigone dies for a choice she makes. Bad luck is not tragedy, despite abuse of the word by news anchors (would that they would sink as promised.)

This is the sort of issue that I associate with Aesthetics, and this I find quite fascinating.

I do think Taste is a sort of Absolute, but the Criticism of art is itself a form of Art, so bring on the Aesthetics.
 
Subjectivity9
 
Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 02:53 pm
@BrightNoon,
Reconstucto,

Don’t you think that tastes can be educated? Are they really set in cement?

Could you elucidate on why you see tragedy to be more a part of aesthetics, than say pathos? Could it be that you simply prefer one over the other, for say its grandness or its nobility?

Enquiring mind’s want to know,
S9
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 05:20 pm
@Subjectivity9,
Yes, taste can be educated, I think. And a person's quality is manifest in their taste. Though it's not a simple equation.

I know I focused on tragedy, but I'm open to it all. I love Rembrandt and I love Richard Serra. I love Bach, Schoenberg, and the Stooges. I love Dr. Seuss and James Joyce.

I think man is inescapably religious, but religion must be understood in a broad sense, as something like a personal value system in the which individual acts out his notion of virtue, which is flexible. Greek tragedy evolved from a religious ritual into something more secular, but the religious root remains in the death of the hero.

I think that every man inescapably pursues some ideal -- and also that this ideal changes, as we are seduced by new (for us) ideals. Joseph Campbell has this phase "the hero with a thousand faces." I think the mask we wear is contingent. We were exposed as children and young adults to various manifestations of virtue. For some it's the drug dealer with the bling. For others, it's Heidegger. Or maybe Rocky Balboa, or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Our choice of which hero-role to enact is some degree a matter of taste. Why this sort of achievement rather than that one? Contingent factors, I would assume. Aesthetics can itself be a form of meta-philosophy. Especially once one doubts the will to truth -- something Nietzsche persuaded me to doubt.
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Aesthetics
  3. » The Aesthetics of Aesthetics
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 04/24/2019 at 02:59:16