Tolstoy and the food analogy

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sjk
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 08:37 am
In 'What is art?' Tolstoy appears to compare the purpose of art to the purpose of food, claiming that false views of art appear to be similar to claiming pleasant taste is the purpose of food. However, does Tolstoy ignore the fact that taste was once an indicator of edible food for man in nature, thus serving a practical purpose? Assuming that this is correct and that taste is for identifying edible food, does this mean that society has over the years abused the true purpose of taste? If this is the case, applying this to art would mean that primitive art related to nature serves a higher purpose and has been corrupted by society. It would mean that primitive art would be a way of advancing society, rather than society and morality advancing art, in the same way that taste (in it's original sense) was a way of identifying nutritious food. So, is Tolstoy's belief that art is advanced by morality and civilisation corrupted by assuming that the purpose of taste is for pleasure only?

Thank you for your time, and apologies if it doesn't make too much sense!
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 09:44 am
@sjk,
Not familiar with what Tolstoy said, so I googled it:

Quote:
However, genuine "infection" is not the only criterion for good art. The good art vs. bad art issue unfolds into two directions. One is the conception that the stronger the infection, the better is the art. The other concerns the subject matter that accompanies this infection, which leads Tolstoy to examine whether the emotional link is a feeling that is worth creating. Good art, he claims, fosters feelings of universal brotherhood. Bad art inhibits such feelings. All good art has a Christian message, because only Christianity teaches an absolute brotherhood of all men. However, this is "Christian" only in a limited meaning of the word. Art produced by artistic elites is almost never good, because the upper class has entirely lost the true core of the Christian religion.

Among other artists, he specifically condemns Wagner and Beethoven as examples of overly cerebral artists, who lack real emotion. Furthermore, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 cannot claim to be able to "infect" their audience, as it pretends, with the feeling of unity and therefore cannot be considered good art. Children's songs and folk tales are superior to the work of Wagner and Beethoven.


:listening:

I think it's an interesting analogy though. We could say that the true purpose of food is to provide nutrition, but people often go by best tasting. Except, our taste evolved as an indicator of what to eat as you pointed out.

But still, I think you could argue that art has some true purpose, and that people often look at the surface in some way instead, comparable to the food analogy.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 09:57 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;144025 wrote:
Not familiar with what Tolstoy said, so I googled it:



:listening:

I think it's an interesting analogy though. We could say that the true purpose of food is to provide nutrition, but people often go by best tasting. Except, our taste evolved as an indicator of what to eat as you pointed out.

But still, I think you could argue that art has some true purpose, and that people often look at the surface in some way instead, comparable to the food analogy.


Tolstoy's view is that art has a moral purpose, and that nothing that deviates from morality (religious morality) can be good art. For instance, Tolstoy attack the French short story writer, Guy de Maupassant for his immorality, and condemns his writing on that account. He attacks Shakespeare on those grounds. His view is that even if the art is "good" art, it is bad art if it is not moral art, and if it is entertaining art, it is the worse for being deceptive. As for the food analogy, compare nutritional food with good tasting, but unhealthful junk food. Junk food is the worse for being so tasty, since its tastiness is what entices people to eat it rather than good food. In the same way, entertaining art that is not moral in purpose is the worse for enticing the consumer of art, and diverting him from moral art.
 
sjk
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 10:11 am
@kennethamy,
Would taste not act as a primitive indicator as to what is edible, and further understanding and knowledge of the food prevent tasty junk food from being eaten? In this way the taste (as in nature) acts as an indicator of what can be eaten without instant negative effects on the body. The quantity however, is to be determined via experience and knowledge. Through this very basic function of taste compared to art, could it be said that beauty and pleasure provide a basic indicator of what we can use to convey morality and emotion, with our knowledge and experience limiting the feelings expressed in art?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 10:39 am
@sjk,
sjk;144041 wrote:
Would taste not act as a primitive indicator as to what is edible, and further understanding and knowledge of the food prevent tasty junk food from being eaten? In this way the taste (as in nature) acts as an indicator of what can be eaten without instant negative effects on the body. The quantity however, is to be determined via experience and knowledge. Through this very basic function of taste compared to art, could it be said that beauty and pleasure provide a basic indicator of what we can use to convey morality and emotion, with our knowledge and experience limiting the feelings expressed in art?


I think that taste might be a primitive indicator of what is eatable, but not of what is edible. Junk food is eatable, but not edible.
 
sjk
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 10:50 am
@sjk,
Edible is something that is fit for consumption, which I believe junk food is. Human experience then decides that an excess of too much of it is not healthy for the body. However, primitive human's used to distinguish between what was dangerous from a wide variety of foods that they came across. So as a basic indicator of what can be eaten initially without direct harm, we were then able to work out the quantity of edible food that can be safely eaten through trial and error
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Mon 12 Apr, 2010 01:07 pm
@sjk,
sjk;143988 wrote:
In 'What is art?' Tolstoy appears to compare the purpose of art to the purpose of food, claiming that false views of art appear to be similar to claiming pleasant taste is the purpose of food. However, does Tolstoy ignore the fact that taste was once an indicator of edible food for man in nature, thus serving a practical purpose? Assuming that this is correct and that taste is for identifying edible food, does this mean that society has over the years abused the true purpose of taste? If this is the case, applying this to art would mean that primitive art related to nature serves a higher purpose and has been corrupted by society. It would mean that primitive art would be a way of advancing society, rather than society and morality advancing art, in the same way that taste (in it's original sense) was a way of identifying nutritious food. So, is Tolstoy's belief that art is advanced by morality and civilisation corrupted by assuming that the purpose of taste is for pleasure only?

Thank you for your time, and apologies if it doesn't make too much sense!
Imo it's pure nonsens, usually what posetivly stimulates our senses will we deem as good, that's why many naive and easily swayed people will end up in trouble.

Sugar filled substances taste good, candy, soft drinks ..etc, but it will fatten you and lead to diabetes.

A liver from an animal does not taste good in itself, but are ritch on D vitamins.

People with the OP's claim is nothing more than Fashion Dictators, who can preach as they like to the naive and manipulative people. We have all seen how women wear corsette both in medival and modern time, often with great inconveniance, but serves purely for group think's prestige.
 
 

 
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