Good, good question.
: Yea, I'm afraid so
: 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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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".
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.