PHIL 431, Fall 2008: First Lecture
First approaches to the subject
1. What can we take for granted at the outset?
- The objectivity of aesthetic value?
- The subjectivity of aesthetic value?
- The conventionality of aesthetic value?
- The inscrutability of aesthetic appeal? (the je ne sais quoi)
- The intelligibility of aesthetic appeal?
- The uniqueness of aesthetic experience?
- The ordinariness of aesthetic experience?
- The rarity of beauty and other aesthetic values?
- The ubiquity of beauty and other aesthetic values?
2. Stellar cases of aesthetic appreciation: John Ruskin on Alpine scenery, Jean Dubuffet on grit and gravel (on website in PHIL 332 Beauty Additions).
Door with Couch Grass, October 31, 1957. Oil on canvas with assemblage, 74 1/2 x 57 1/2 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Will to Power, January 1946. Oil, pebbles, sand, and glass on canvas, 45 3/4 x 35 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Examples in Beauty Notes: Homer, Matisse.
3. The textbook: Robert Stecker, Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art:
- Level-headed, systematic analysis of concepts and theories. Rich in concepts.
- Reliable, if not exhilarating.
- Needs supplementation by classic essays, passionate descriptions, and challenging examples.
4. Reserve reading. Two classic treatments of aesthetic experience. See the color images on the course website 431 Images.
- Clive Bell, Art.
To be read along with Stecker's Ch. 5.
- Historical importance of Bell's "formalism."
- Roman Ingarden, “The aesthetic experience and the aesthetic object.”
To be read along with Stecker's Ch. 6.
- Classic character of Ingarden's treatment
- Claims of surprising discoveries
- Seductive arguments not easily refuted
- Uplifting valence of Ingarden's conception
- Challenge provided by this to reductive analysis
- Other readings supplementing Stecker to be announced from time to time. They are drawn from material already on the instructor's website.
5. Prima facie truisms about beauty
- Multiple species of beauty
- Dependence of beauty on beautiful properties
- Irrelevance of where one sets one's beauty threshold
- Beauty not equivalent to personal liking
- Possible universality of aesthetic responses under optimal conditions
- Helpful reference: “Truisms about Beauty” on the instructor's website: PHIL 332 Introduction
6. Stecker's initial supposition. Two related but not identical fields
- Aesthetics: aesthetic value, experience, properties
- whether in art or nature or anywhere else
- beauty, sublimity, picturesqueness, grotesqueness, cuteness,...
- ugliness, dumpiness, blandness, kitsch,....
- Philosophy of art: artistic value, artistic skill, artistic knowledge, artistic appreciation
- whether the value (etc.) be aesthetic or other
7. Open discussion of the key concepts of art and the aesthetic.
Lecture 2. Stecker's Introduction, with additions, Part 1
1. The historical background of aesthetics and philosophy of art (JB's additions)
- When did philosophical aesthetics begin?
- Proto-aesthetic theory: Plato, Plotinus, “Longinus” on beauty and sublimity
- Classical rhetorical theory: Demetrius
- Renaissance neo-Platonism: Ficino
- Development of aesthetic culture, esp. criticism, “theory” and history
- Eighteenth century aesthetic theory:
- British: Hutcheson, Hume, et al (sense of beauty/sublimity theory)
- Confusion about what beauty as an "internal sensory property” would be.
- See PHIL 332 Phil of Beauty Pt III if you are interested in explanations of this view.
- French: Diderot, D'Alembert
- German: Kant (theory of "taste") -- The idea of free beauty as a necessary precondition of knowledge of objects
- Is there a true/false beauty proposition, or only a subjectively universal pleasure?
- Kant's other aesthetic values: dependent beauty and sublimity.
- (Stecker discusses Kant in Ch. 3.)
- Nineteenth century aesthetic theorists:
- German: Hegel, Schopenhauer, et al - Essences and expression
- Stecker touches on Schopenhauer in Ch. 3.
2. Stecker's enumeration of trends and topics in aesthetic theory
a. Generalized aesthetic value embracing a wider range of values, e.g. the picturesque, grotesque, horrifying, morbid, shocking, cute, etc.
b. Analysis of aesthetic experience, aesthetic properties and aesthetic value. All these are treated substantively in Stecker's Ch. 2. The list here is just a preview.
- What is the range of aesthetic experiences?
- Is it as wide as the experience of aesthetic properties? Or even wider?
- Do all the senses contribute to the aesthetic value of experiences? Taste and smell, e.g.?
- What type of experience is it?
- Kant's narrow notion of “free” beauty (vs. the merely pleasant)
- Aesthetic pleasure as “disinterested”
- What sort of value is aesthetic value?
- Aesthetic value as the value of objects, events, processes, etc.
- Aesthetic value as the value of experiences
- Can aesthetic value be objective? What would it take to show that it is?
- G.E. Moore's thought experiment
- G.E. Moore's definition of beauty: that, the admiring contemplation of which is intrinsically good.
- What sort of properties are aesthetic properties?
- What do they belong to, objects or psychological states?
- How do they differ from plain (non-aesthetic) properties?
- How are they known?
3. Central Issues in Philosophy of Art
- Artistic value: what value, or set of values, is distinctive to art?
- Aesthetic value
- Cognitive value
- Ethical value
- Emotional value
- Defining art: Classifying things as art or non-art
- Finding a rationale for hard choices
- Finding necessary and sufficient conditions
- Or at least explaining the use of the term
- Art as a contested concept
- Art as an essentially open-ended category
- The ontology of art
- The monistic view of art as one distinctive type of object
- Pluralism about types of art
- Hot questions: Is a painting preserved by being perfectly copied?
- When does a severely ruined painting cease to exist?
- When is a performance a performance of Lear?
- Can you experience a live performance via a recording?
- The powers of art
- Representation and expression in art
- Different types of representation – how similar are they?
- Expression and self-expression in art
- Conceptual meaning in art and interpretation of art
- Do art works make statements?
- Or do they only present ideas and situations?
- How is an interpretation of an artwork justified?
- How authoritative is the artist's intended meaning?
- How much does convention decide a work's meaning?
Central approaches to the main issues
- Search for an all-purpose, permanent, correct definition of art, of art-types, etc.
- Search for stable, universal criteria of value
- Re. the concept of art
- Re. the identity of an artwork
- Re. the meaning of an artwork
- Re. the value of an artwork
- Re. the on-going culture as modifying the meaning of an existing artwork
- Re. the culture as co-creator (radical constructivism)
- Critics and the public as participants in art
- Moderate constructivists
- Radical constructivists
- Cognitive Science: study of, and hypotheses about, mental processing involved in creating and responding to art.
PHIL 431 Lecture 3
Stecker: Environmental Aesthetics 1: The aesthetics of nature
1. Views of the proper object of appreciation in environmental aesthetics.
- Momentary appearances of scenes (impressionist model)
- Natural objects for their individual properties (object model)
- Landscapes as continuing, variously appearing parts of nature
- Formalist version of these models:
- abstracting from background knowledge
- limitation to immediately available sensory properties
- Artwork versions of these models
- Literal artwork version: God's handiwork or intelligent design
- Supernatural beauty-making is postulated
- But does intelligent design imply artwork? Or beauty?
- Does it imply general laws or individual crafting?
- Can creation by natural laws be strictly artistic?
- Can religious belief guide critical understanding?
- Artlike version: aesthetically good enough to be art
(objects, landscapes or impressions)
- Does this version improve environmental appreciation?
- How artlike are purely natural things or environments?
- In their structure or internal functioning?
- In their behavior and relationships?
- Objections to these models on grounds of distortion: i.e., to objects, landscapes or impressions taken as the correct object of appreciation
- Does isolation/selection imply distortion, i.e.false beliefs or inappropriate appreciation?
- E.g., Need landscapes be viewed as 2D? Can't they be appreciated as 3D "topographies"?
- Objection to the models for their counter-productive selectivity
- No particular selectivity is obviously superior
- Tentative conclusion: the models are best taken as options for natural appreciation, not rival theories of correct appreciation
2. A supposedly superior model: environments are best objects of appreciation:
- Versions of the environmental model:
- Immersion version: full sensory response to environment: multi-sensory, temporally extended, delight in profusion, intricacy, subtlety and variety.
- "canoing a serpentine river when the quiet evening water reflects the trees and rocks along the banks so vividly as to allure the paddler into the center of a six-dimensional world, three above and another three below; camping beneath pines black against the night sky; walking through the tall grass of a hidden meadow whose tree-defined edges become the boundary of the earth. The aesthetic mark of all such times is not disinterested contemplation but total engagement, a sensory immersion in the natural world that reaches the still uncommon experience of unity. Joined with acute perceptual consciousness and enhanced by the felt understanding of assimilated knowledge, such occasions cn become clear peaks in a cloudy world, high points in a life dulled by habit and defensive disregard." (Arnold Berleant 1998, 83)
- Ecological version: self-sustaining balance, harmony, dynamic stability.
- "We do not live in Eden, yet the trend is there, as ecological advance increasingly finds in the natural given stability, beauty, and integrity, and we are henceforth as willing to open our concepts to reformation by the world as to prejudge the natural order." (Rolston 1975, 102-3)
- Order appreciation version: causal relationships appreciated
- "...science appeals to...qualities...such as order, regularity, harmony, balance, tension, resolution and so forth. If [it] did not discover, uncover, and/or create such qualities in the natural world and explain the world in terms of them,..it would leave the world incomprehensible...Thus when we experience [these qualities] in the natural world or experience the natural world in terms of them, we find it aesthetically good." (Carlson 2000, 93)
- Criticisms of the environmental model
- Does the environmental model overstress knowledge?
- What is the relevance of knowledge to appreciation?
- Are there valid standards of correct appreciation?
- How truly aesthetic is appreciation of aspects that cannot be immediately experienced (such as ecological order)?
- Response to criticisms: plausible principles re. appreciation and knowledge:
- Valid appreciation should avoid dependence on false belief
- Equally it should avoid depending on inadequate evidence
- Stecker's cautions re. those responses:
- Some false/unsubstantiated belief is consistent with valid admiration.
- Havoc caused to traditional appreciation by rigorous standard of non-falsity.
PHIL 431 Lecture 4
Stecker on environmental aesthetics (2)
1. The problem of how much knowledge is necessary or relevant
- Obvious role of knowledge in much appreciation of nature: thinner and thicker appreciation
- Weekend visitor's knowledge
- Woodsperson's knowledge
- Naturalist's knowledge
- Types of effect of knowledge
- Perception-sharpening or widening knowledge
- Perception-altering knowledge
- Immersion-enhancing knowledge
- Variations in the aesthetic effect of knowledge
- Individual knowledge-sensitivities and insensitivities
- Optimal sensitivities (is there such a thing?)
- Incorrect belief, ignorance and willful fantasy lies at the heart of much nature appreciation
- Warranted but incorrect belief (18th c.: joyous birdsongs, carefree squirrels)
- Absence of knowledge (of health and disease)
- All appreciation is based on imperfect knowledge
- Imperfect knowledge does not keep aesthetic delight from being keen and the aesthetic sensibility from being refined
- Prudential norms applicable to aesthetic appreciation of nature seem "weak but not nonexistent" (Stecker)
- Observational knowledge should be respected
- More knowledge (scientific) can help but may not
- Challenges: purple loosestrife, pollution-enriched sunsets
- Complications in these cases
- What sorts of willful fantasy are constructive?
JB: “enormous leeway” (28) in a way, but only because of the diversity of b'ful “objects” and properties, not just because of ethical vs. aesthetic concerns.
2. When is appreciation of nature aesthetic? What determines the answer?
- Competing concepts of aesthetic appreciation
- As appreciation of aesthetic properties, descriptive and evaluative
- General aesthetic value properties (beauty et al)
- Formal properties (balance*, warmth* of color , etc.)
- Expressive properties (sadness*, joy*, etc.)
- Evocative properties (power*, awesomeness, etc.)
- Behavioral properties (liveliness*, gracefulness, etc.)
- Second-order sensory properties (vividness, softness* of color, etc.)
- Note. Asterisks mean aesthetic when used figuratively. (JB)
- Supervenience of wholly or partly evaluative properties on descriptive aesthetic properties.
- Supervenience of descriptive aesthetic properties on non-aesthetic properties.
- As appreciation based on attention to formal, sensuous and meaning properties of an object valued for its own sake (discussion deferred)
- Formal properties (shape, color, texture, etc.)
- Meaning properties: natural and cultural
- Structural properties (e.g., of bone, muscles, etc.)
- Etiological properties : powers to affect others and oneself.
- Appreciation based on analogies with art appreciation
- Aesthetic value plus cognitive, ethical, social, historial value, et al
- But can this be mandatory for proper nature appreciation?
Additional thoughts about environmental aesthetics: questions that should be addressed.
- Environmental aesthetics relating to etiology and to order appreciation in general
- How do we aesthetically appreciate the causal relationships in a natural scene? “Marvelously intricate,” “Marvelously reducible to natural laws”?
- But aren't all natural scenes “marvelous” in these ways?
- Is it the multiplicity of observably different processes that counts?
- Is it the degree of complexity? Would more complexity be better?
- What stellar examples are there of aesthetically awesome episodes in nature?
- The great ice ages
- The great tectonic plate shifts
- The recovery from the giant meteor's impact
- Is there any teleology – any fulfillment of purpose – that we can admire in these episodes?
- Can we justify believing that the recovery from the meteorite was “beautiful”?
- Can we justifying not regretting the obliteration of the dinosaurs?
- What exactly is aesthetically admirable in continental drift?
- What is aesthetically admirable in the recurrent ice ages?
- Suppose we knew that all human life was to be destroyed in a future collision and never reestablished. Would we still be justified in aesthetically admiring the natural system?
- In general, how much is gained and how much lost by major environmental changes?
- Questions about aesthetically ranking of things in nature.
- Does the ecological story about different plants put them all on the same aesthetic level?
- Does the ecological story about environments or ecosystems put them all on the same aesthetic level?
- Deserts vs. well-watered environments?
- Pristine wild environments vs. humanly altered ones?
- Does the ecological account put all global ecosystems on the same aesthetic level?
- Earth, Moon, Mars, Saturn, Enceladus...
- Two systemic difficulties in aesthetic assessment of complex environmental "objects":
- the (staggering) summation problem.
- the (equally staggering) knowledge problem
Distinctions needed to handle questions about aesthetic experience and value:
- Undistracted vs. distracted aesthetic (A-)experience
- Narrowly focused vs. broad-scale A-experiences
- Clear vs. fuzzy A-experiences
- Purely sensuous vs. mixed sensuous-conceptual vs. purely conceptual A-experiences
- A-experienced objects vs. A-experienced aspects of an object
- Direct A-experience vs. indirect A-experience
Sample cases of varieties:
- A single view of the Grand Canyon, feet on ground, fully exposed to sensory elements
- As above but with extensive awareness of the geology of the canyon
- As above (1-2) but with vivid memories of other views of the canyon
- A single view of the Grand Canyon from a bus window
- An hour-long IMAX film of various views of the GC
- A brief view against the background of extensive experience of other canyons
General question about experiences of O, aesthetic or other:
If I only experience a few aspects of O, can I be said to have experienced O?
Suggested criterion: Experiences of O can be divided into three main ranks:
Paradigm experiences of O: as full, rich, and informative as one is likely to need for most
Standard experiences of O: information less rich, roughly average for experiences of O.
Substandard experiences of O: information subaverage for experiences of O.
Paradigm and standard experiences of O are typically, but not always, first-hand.
In substandard cases a report that one has experienced O needs a qualification (“but
only partially/indirectly/etc.”). This can be developed in more detail when something important turns on it.
Extension of the preceding to aesthetic experiences:
I see no reason not to extend the preceding criteria to aesthetic experience.
Importance of specifying O appropriately whenever there is uncertainty or controversy
Which object? Which aspects?
Whole object? Some/all perceptible aspects?
Importance of specifying non-manifest aspects of the object of aesthetic experience
Is there any limit in principle as to how much non-manifest content an aesthetic experience may have?
I can't see any reason for supposing there is any limit in principle, only a practical psychological limit on how much can play a significant role, we being the imperfect creatures we are.
PHIL 431 Lecture 5: Aesthetic experience (1)
Question: What is the commonality running through all aesthetic experiences?
1. Stecker's first "Kantian" of beauty
2. Stecker's second “Kantian” theory of beauty
- Beauty conceived as including: Free beauty + Dependent beauty + Agreeableness
[N.B. this omits Kant’s theory of the sublime]
- Dependent beauty
- Beautiful specimens of natural species, including humans
- Beautiful artifacts (tools, buildings, etc.)
- Fine art: representational content, symbolism, etc.
- Stecker’s criticisms
- 1. Patchwork objection: Such a theory fails to give a unified account of aesthetic experience.
- Obscurity objection.
- JB's cautions:
- Kant never allowed the agreeable to be beautiful -- it is "aesthetic" only in being based on pleasure rather on the recognition of a property.
- The variety of types of beauty may be a "patchwork" that fits the actual variety of species of beauty.
- Kant's theory probably can be reformulated so as to cover conceptual beauty
- Kant's theory probably can be reformulated so as to cover sublimity
3. Theories of aesthetic experience as selfless absorption
- Schopenhauer’s: liberation from the tyranny of the Will
- Clive Bell’s: experience of significant form
- "[significant form] transports us from the world of man's activity to a world of aesthetic exaltation. For a moment we are shut off from human interests; our anticipations and memories are arrested; we are lifted above the stream of life..."
- Edward Bullough's: optimal psychical distance. See 332 Beauty Notes # 12.
- Goldman’s: “so fully, and satisfyingly involved… [that] we lose our ordinary, practically oriented selves” in the “virtual world” the work presents
- What is a virtual world?
- How much absorption or abstraction?
- Why only fully and satisfyingly?
- Stecker’s objections:
- 1. Selfless absorption is not always aesthetic.
- 2. Not all aesthetic experience is of a “virtual world”.
- 3. Aesthetic appreciation need not always be disinterested or totally absorbed.
- 4. Aesthetic experience on this view is always of works of art, which is artificially narrow.
- 5. Aesthetic experience is not always rapturous.
PHIL 431 Lecture 6: aesthetic experience (2)
Note that the Bell reading on ELMS reserve is part of this week's assignment.
4.The theory of aesthetic experience as object-directed "sensuous" pleasure
- Enjoyment of looks, appearances, impressions, views
- Not mere pleasant sensation, but
- Pleasurable discrimination of sensuous or perceptual properties of an object
- Momentary phenomenal appearances
- True appearances (enduring, reliable)
- "Characteristic" appearances (of emotional or functional character)
- Stecker's questions about this theory:
- Can it explain aesthetic experience of art works? Esp. representational values in painting and literature?
- Does it cover more than just one of several types of aesthetic experience?
- JB: a question about Stecker's criticisms:
- Don't representational properties also have appearances that can be appreciated on the theory? (The theory seems somewhat vague.)
5. Levinson’s “two-level” theory of aesthetic experience:
- Attention rather than absorption, specifically to:
- Base level properties
- Emergent properties
- Relationships between base and emergent properties
- Appreciation of these for their own sake
- Different levels of intensity and pleasure
- Will this apply to sunset experiences? Or to utilitarian objects? (complexity question)
- Is a minimal, “one-level” theory needed to accommodate these cases?
- Is intrinsic pleasureableness strictly required for an aesthetic experience?
6. The minimal conception of aesthetic experience:
- Experience of attending discriminatingly to forms, qualities and meaningful features of things
- valuing them for their own sake or
- valuing them for the hedonic payoff of the experience of them
- All experiences that contain this minimal experience are aesthetic
- Doubts about the minimal theory
- It may exclude some aesthetic experiences
- It may cover some non-aesthetic experiences
The role of value in aesthetic experience
- Valuing a thing intrinsically (for its own sake)
- Valuing a thing instrumentally as a means or a mere constituent in a valued totality
- Valuing a thing in both ways, intrinsically and instrumentally
- Must the valuing in aesthetic experience be intrinsic?
- What about negative aesthetic experiences?
- But these are intrinsically disvalued.
- Must the value of aesthetic experiences be intrinsic?
- Argument from evolutionary advantage
- The argument refuted
- Another doubt: value in the disagreeable
- A challenge re. intrinsic value: the case of
Jerome and Charles
- Both equally perceptive of Picasso's The Dream
- Both appreciate their gain in perceptiveness.
- So both have the same experience, even if Jerome does, and Charles does not, value the Picasso-experience intrinsically.
- Hence intrinsic valuing is not needed for an experience to be aesthetic.
- Subliminal version of this case: Charles satisfied and Jerome is not.
- Traditional consensus about intrinsic valuing being essential to aesthetic experience?
- Possibility of purely cognitive perception of aesthetic properties being aesthetic (without intrinsic valuing)
- Riposte: perceiving many aesthetic properties involves a value-response
- Hence a purely cognitive perception of the aesthetic properties of the Picasso is impossible.
6. More on types of aesthetically relevant experiences (JB)
- Experiences governed by aesthetic interest
- Experiences fulfilling an aesthetic interest
- Interest in correct judgment of aesthetic worth
- Arriving at a judgment by one’s own experience
- Confirming a judgment by consulting with others
- Interest in having an optimally fulfilling aesthetic experience
- Interest in aesthetic toning of one’s basically otherwise directed experience
- Interest in seeing an aesthetic property that someone else is enjoying
JB's recommendation re. aesthetic experience
- Use the model of moral or sexual experience
- Clearly there are satisfying and unsatisfying X-experiences
- What is crucial is the dominant character of the X-experience
- Character is determined by the interest basic to the X-experience
- Intrinsic aesthetic interest is in (a) enjoyment and (b) admiration
- Instrumental aesthetic interest in things as a means toward (a) or (b)
- Dimensions of aesthetic experience
- Intensity (hedonic/admiring)
- Special cases: negative aesthetic experiences
- Aesthetic experience of the ugly, tawdry, sleazy, vulgar, stupid, cruel,...
- Aesthetic experience of the bland, the blah, the mediocre,...
- Wincing, cringing, gagging, glazing over, looking away...
- Unavoidably lower discrimination of shades and differences than is possible with positive aesthetic experience
Frederick Leighton (1830-1896), Flaming June,
Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico
PHIL 431 Lecture 7: Aesthetic properties (1)
1. What properties are aesthetic properties?
2. Are aesthetic properties response-dependent or intrinsic?
3. How are aesthetic properties related to aesthetic experience/value? Esp. Are descriptive aesthetic properties the only source of aesthetic value?
Range of aesthetic properties: Goldman’s classification.
1. General A-value properties (e.g., beauty)
2. Specific A-value properties - adopting Stecker’s usage (e.g., grace, wit)
3. Formal properties (e.g., balanced)
4. Expressive properties (e.g., sadness)
5. Evocative properties (e.g., stirringness)
6. Behavioral or dynamic properties (e.g., bouyancy)
7. Second-order perceptual properties (e.g., steelyness)
8. Representational properties (e.g., realism, sketchiness, cubism)
- Problems with this classification
- Uncertainty about an A-term’s reference (To one of 1-8? To more than one?)
- Disagreement/uncertainty about value-implications: Is grace always positive? Is delicacy? Is disharmony always negative?
- Relation of the classification to theories of aesthetic properties
- Do all these properties require "taste" to discern reliably? (Sibley)
- To what extent can we define or elucidate these properties non-subjectively?
- To what extent can we determine whether a given aesthetic property (or combination) gives a reasons for an aesthetic evaluation?
Two comments about Goldman’s list (JB)
- 1. Not all formal properties are aesthetic ones. Non-degree properties are not, in my book, aesthetic properties.
- Left-right symmetry, for instance, is not an aesthetic property.
- The associated A-property is balance, simplicity, well-orderedness, which are degree properties.
- 2. Evocative properties sound suspiciously subjective. This can be corrected if we require that they work via properties that typically elicit the response in question. E.g.,
- Stirring music stirs by being expressive of courage, steadfastness, nobility, etc.
- Amusing things amuse by being harmlessly incongruous.
- Boring things bore by being inconsequentially repetitive or conventional or commonplace.
- Stecker on aesthetic properties
- 1. Variable value-polarized or value-neutral A-properties
- 2. A-properties not definable via art-relevance
- 3. A-properties not definable via "taste"
- 4. Problem of circularity: A-experience/ A-property perception
- 5. Problem of specifying the components and layers of explanation of A-value
- 6. Are aesthetic properties response-dependent or intrinsic? Three theories.
- Intrinsic/nonrelational (Eaton) - realism
- Response-dependent (Goldman, Levinson, Zangwill) - moderate realism
- Phantom (Bender) -- antirealism/ subjectivism
- Eaton’s theory
(note Stecker's footnote 6)
- Epistemic criterion (from Kant?): direct inspection (nonconceptual?)
- Non-relationality – but in what sense exactly? How possible?
- Response-dependency: dispositional property relating object to perceiver conditionally
- Conditions on the perceiver: acuity, skill, knowledge, fairness, alertness, etc.
- Optimality (ideal observer)
- Conditions on the perceptual situation: optimal perceptibility
- Conditions on the response: uniformity of response under optimal conditions
- Aesthetic satisfaction where a value property is involved
- Aesthetic recognition (the A-term fitting the object)
- Problems: individuating A-properties How to understand the descriptive content: e.g., vividness, swiftness, as the same property in very different instances?
- Attempted solutions of the vacuity problem
- Deny the objective property view (w/o denying base properties)
- Distinguish evaluative from impressionistic responses
- Rely only on modality-specific impressions, e.g., color-vividness (JB)
- Distrust modality-general impressions, e.g., vividness in general (JB)
- Increase optimality conditions for perceivers and perceptual situations
- Further problems: the diversity problem: Even ideal observers may have different impressions from the same base property perceptions
- E.g., harmonious/disharmonious/other color combinations
- Colors individually (fairly) robust and keyed to each other (common elements, congeniality)
- Colors enhancing each other (complementaries)
- Colors cleanly contrasting (primary colors, hued+unhued colors)
- Colors at least one of which is diminished by the other (garishness)
- Possible solutions (JB)
- Distinguish the basis of value from the value itself
- Work harder at identifying the descriptive content, e.g. by assembling graduated examples
- Allow of cases where the object may validly support different impressions.
- Deny the validity of impressions when the best discriminators disagree after considering all other ways to resolve disagreement.
PHIL 431 Lecture 8: Aesthetic properties (2)
Ontological options for descriptive aesthetic properties
- 1. Intrinsic property realism: dismiss this on grounds of prima facie implausibility and insufficient development
- Compare Plato on the Form of Beauty
- 2. Response-dependent realism (Stecker: ideal observer, “steady” disposition realism)
- Optimality conditions for perceivers
- Optimality conditions for perceptual situations
- Convergence requirement on genuinely real properties (JB)
- Failure of convergence defeats claims of reality
Status of untested aesthetic properties (JB)
- 3a. Anti-realism 1: Subjectivism (individual response anti-realism)
- Unconditional subjectivism
- Rational subjectivism
- Cites impression-producing properties
- Favors durable, repeatable and shared impressions
- Discounts biased or inadequately based impressions
- Yet does not claim validity for percipients in general, even when impressions converge (disregard Stecker on this point)
- 3b. Anti-realism 2: Relativism (group-response anti-realism)
- Clear reasons for group differences of response: practice, sensitivity, importance
- Problematic reasons: social influence
- 3c/d. Anti-realism 3/4: Expressivism, individual (c) or group (d)
- Descriptive A-claims taken to be ultimately expressions of feeling, not T/F propositions
- Hence, no reason for thinking there are any descriptive A-properties
- ( This is highly implausible for descriptive A-claims)
Ontological options for evaluative aesthetic properties
- 1. Instrinsic property realism for beauty and other evaluative A-properties
- Beauty=that, the admiring contemplation of which, is intrinsically valuable.
- Beauty=the most general intrinsic value-conferring property
- (Obscurity of this view)
- 2. Response-dependent realism for beauty and other evaluative A-properties
- Additional optimality conditions re. ideal enjoyability/admirabilit
- Additional convergence requirement
- Likelihood of many equal beauties
- Likelihood of many diverse beauty evaluations
- Limited specificity of net beauty rankings
- Ontologically, beauty of O is a complex supra-personal response-dependent state of affairs = intense+humanly ideal enjoyability/ admirability of O.
- (But is there enough potential consensus?)
- 3a. Rational subjectivist view of the ontology of beauty
- Ontologically the beauty of O is a complex personal response-dependent state of affairs = intense, personally ideal enjoyability/admirability of O
- 3b. Rational relativist view of the ontology of beauty
- Ontologically, beauty of O is a complex cultural response-dependent state of affairs
= intense, culturally ideal enjoyability/admirability of O
- 3c. Rational expressivist view of the ontology of beauty
- No ontology implied by the view that evaluative “claims” are expressions of enjoyment.
- When pressed expressivists opt for subjectivist or relativist ontology.
Stecker’s conclusions re. aesthetic properties
- 1. Is anti-realism consistent with the normative force of competing A-claims?
- Yes (says the anti-realist) where the preferences are “blameless” -
E.g., sushi/sashimi preferences/aversions
- Aesthetic preferences/aversions – can they be blamelessly divergent?
- JB: closer scrutiny and better criteria may settle these issues.
- 2. Can response-dependent realism justify the normative force of its claims about apparently blameless, competing preferences?
- JB: closer scrutiny and better criteria may settle this issue.
- 3. Is antirealism safer than response-dependent realism as long as we don’t know whether there are any ideal observers?
- JB’s thoughts:
- How can antirealism be safer if it denies a possible truth?
- Do we know enough at present even to determine probabilities?
- Granted it is better to be undogmatic rather than dogmatic.
- But practical aesthetics favors optimism about response-dependent realism for many properties.
- 4. Stecker’s pluralism + Railton’s addition
- Theories variously fit different sorts of claims.
[Alternatively different statuses for different claims (not different theories)]
- Some claims unsustainable except on a personal level
- Some claims sustainable only on a (narrowly) cultural level
- Some claims sustainable on an universal level
JB: Frequent uncertainty about the true status of a claim.
- Railton’s resolution fits some disputes: blameless differences are all trustworthy.
- 5. JB’s elaboration of the preceding.
- Response-dependent realism can accommodate these cases in one way or other.
- Most persistently unresolvable disputes involve overstatements on both sides.
- Cultural preferences are never grossly incorrect.
- Cultural biases routinely warp judgments of alien values.
- Coherence with the dominant life form of a culture is an aesthetic value.
- 6. Further thoughts (JB
- Limitations of our faculties explain some failures of our aesthetic enjoyment.
- Overloading: too much complexity
- Overwhelming: too intense a stimulus
- Consequence: some genuine beauties are not enjoyable by us, but would be enjoyable if our faculties were stronger.
Note Stecker’s pp. 237-238 concerning his view of aesthetic experience, aesthetic properties and aesthetic value.
- 1. Adopts the minimal conception of aesthetic experience.
- 2. Is agnostic about the existence of aesthetic properties
- 3a. Accepts the intrinsic value of (positive) aesthetic experience.
- 3b. Accepts the instrumental value of properties (etc.) productive of intrinsically valuable aesthetic experiences.
Comparison with JB’s view: JB
- 1. Adopts an aesthetic interest conception of aesthetic experience.
- 2. Is more optimistic about the existence and pervasiveness of descriptive aesthetic properties
- 3a. Accepts the intrinsic value of aesthetically fulfilling experience.
- 3b. Accepts the instrumental value of properties productive of instrinsically valuable aesthetic experiences.
- 3c. Accepts the intrinsic value of the instrumental relationships between properties and experiences.
- In virtue of 3c JB thinks the world is better (more beautiful) for having the potentialities it has to elicit non-defective enjoyment and justified admiration of things in the world. Thus it is not only aesthetic experience which is intrinsically (and aesthetically) valuable.
PHIL 431 Lecture 9: What is art?
- 1. The Classification Project
- 2. The Definition Project (necessary & sufficient conditions)
- 3. The Conceptual Project (looser set of criteria)
- 4. The Explanation of Verbal Usage Project (esp. "art" as an honorific term
The practical impact of problematic new “art”
- 1. Expectations concerning museum/concert/etc. encounters
- What can I expect to see/hear/etc.?
- 2. Expectations concerning other persons’ perceptions and values
- What do they see in it? Am I blind if I don’t see what they see?
- How can they like/admire it? Am I missing something?
- 3. Expectations concerning other persons’ meanings and motivations
- Do they really mean something by this? Are they sincere?
The old distinctions and the new ones
- 1. Traditional divisions among the “arts” widely construed.
- Technai vs. unskilled practices
- Liberal arts vs. manual arts
- Fine (beautiful) arts vs. sciences, technologies, and manufactures, including decorative arts
- Rankings within the above categories and things omitted
- Kant on fine art vs. agreeable art (entertainment, fashion, decor, sumptuary and decorative arts)
- Reflective vs. Unreflective pleasure
- 2. Modern innovations within fine or "high" art that pose difficulties for a theory of art
- Abstraction in the visual arts
- Conceptual art, performance art
- Abstraction in high art music:
- Avoidance of singable melodies
- Avoidance of pleasant sounds
- Avoidance of perceptible motivation
- Avoidance of clearly perceptible skill
3. Attempts at hitting the nail on the head
- Art as expression (Collingwood)
- Art as formal excellence (Bell)
- Art as aesthetic excellence possessed or produced (Beardsley)
- But are all of these biased, stipulative definitions?
- 4. Loosened (open-textured) conceptions of art
- Family-resemblant or cluster concepts
- Disjunctive definitions
- But can one fill out the entire disjunction?
- Can one find any unity in the disjunction?
Berys Gaut’s art-relevant conditions: If W is a typical work of art it
- Possesses aesthetic, expressive, formal, representational properties
- Communicates complex meanings
- Requires skill (and training?)
- Requires creative imagination
- Yields pleasure when contemplated
- Invites cognitive and emotional involvement
- Is intended to possess, convey, require, yield and elicit the above.
- Additional ideas:
- Paradigm, commonplace and marginal cases of art + fuzziness at the borderline
- Collaboration and realization roles
- Various support services: framing, displaying, photographing, explaining (interpreting), promoting, pricing, cleaning, conserving
- Not-quite art categories: illustration, decor, fashion, furniture, machine design, etc.
- Major difficulties drawing valid distinctions here
5. Contextualist definitions
- a. Danto: functional-historical conception in relation to the art world:
An artwork projects an attitude rhetorically, eliciting the viewer’s response, which is governed by the art-historical and cultural context
- Works have many unexibited properties: e.g. Warhol's Brillo Box
- b. Dickie 1: artifact w/ aspects implying candidacy for appreciation
- c. Dickie 2: artifact of a kind created by an artist to be presented to an
More unanswered questions, threat of circularity or incompleteness remains.
- 1. An artist is a person who participates with understanding in making a work of art.
- 2. A work of art ... (as above)
- 3. A public is a set of persons whose members are prepared in some degree to understand an object that is presented to them.
- 4. The artworld is the totality of all artworld systems.
- 5. An artworld system is a framework for the presentation of a work of art by an artist to an artworld public. (Dickie 1984, 80-81)
PHIL 431 Lecture 10: What is art (continued)
- 6. Historical definitions: pinning down what artworld systems are
- Proto-artworld systems (traditional painting, sculpture, music, poetry, etc.)
- Developed artworld systems
- Jerrold Levinson s intentional-historical theory
W is an artwork = W is seriously intended for regard-as-a-work-of-art, i.e. regard in any way pre-existing artworks are or were correctly regarded.
- a. Serious vs. passing (capricious, whimsical, satirical, etc.) intentions.
Excludes the latter.
- b. Specific vs. unspecific intentions (e.g., that the work impress artworld people as worthy of serious regard somehow or other)
- c. Art-conscious vs. art-unconscious intentions (naive art cases)
- d. Artworks are objects over which artists exercise control - proprietorial condition: excludes someone randomly dubbing public things art)
- Problems for Levinson’s theory
- a. Ur-art problem: no prior art-regarding way of regarding anything
- b. Unprecedentedly radical art: no prior art-regarding way relevant to the new cases
- Levinson’s answers
- a. Ur-art is art because presented by primevals for regard in ways important to later art. The specific ways form no part of the definition.
- E.g. depicting animals of great importance, conveying their power, narrating fascinating stories, speaking, singing, dancing in an expressive and dramatic way.
- Magico-religious aspects are excluded because not art-relevant to us.
- Purely utilitarian aspects are excluded (arrowheads, cutting implements)
- b. Complex (avant-garde) intention, including the intention to baffle viewers into finding an unprecedented way to regard the work that is more like standard art ways than it is like ways of regarding anything else.
- Stecker’s historical functionalism
X is art at time t = X is in a central art form at t and is intended to fulfill an art-function at t OR X achieves excellence in fulfilling a central art-function at t.
- 1. “Art-forms” and “art-functions” are enumerated, not described in general terms.
- 2. Aesthetic pill problem. Cure: define the function more narrowly.
- 3. Non-central art is included by an amendment to the definitions.
- Emerging (partial) consensus regarding the definition of art:
- Historical reference is central
- Disjunctive form is unavoidable
- Skepticism about essentialism is plausible
- Prototype objection pro and con
- Pro: "Concepts" are really prototypes + extension procedures; no definition is possible.
- Con: Doubts about prototype theory
- Many concepts seem more tightly unified than the theory allows.
- Con: Prototype + extension-method offers materials for a definition.
- Goldman’s no-single-concept-of-art view
- Evidence for the view
: no agreement
- Among experts
- Among general public
- Stecker’s reply
- Distinguish conception and concept
- Consider what an adequate conception is:
- Knowledge-based, unbiased, reflective, consistent, informative, capable
of handling hard cases, decision-supporting
- Is there more than one adequate conception? Perhaps.
- If so, are the differences basic?
- If not basic, the concept of art is not too fragmented to be a single concept.
- Plausibly there is a somewhat vague single concept of art.
PHIL 431 Lecture 11: The ontology of art works
What kind of object is a work of art? (I)
Ingarden's phenomenological theory of aesthetic experience and aesthetic objects: the true work of art as a complex constructed entity
Ingarden's two questions (p. 5)
- When we enjoy a real object or scene, we begin from a reality but do we remain with it when the perception becomes aesthetic?
- Do all our aesthetic perceptions have to be of real objects?
Ingarden's warm-up arguments (pp. 5-7) for the unreality of the aesthetic object
- (1) We are aesthetically pleased by completely fictional "objectivities."(Or, we can adopt an aesthetic attitude toward such things.)
- (2) Completely fictional objectivities are unreal.
- Hence (3) [in some cases] the object by which we are aesthetically pleased (or toward which we adopt an aesthetic attitude) is unreal.
- (1) We are aesthetically pleased by apprehending literary works.
- (2) Literary works are not identical with any physical, psychological or psychophysical realities.
- Hence (3) Literary works are unreal.
- Hence (4) In some cases the objects we are aesthetically pleased to apprehend are unreal.
Argument 2'. In support of the second premise of Argument 2
- (1) In reading a literary work we are aware only of universals, not of concrete particulars
- (2) Universals are unreal objects.
- Hence,(3) in reading a literary work we are aware only of unreal objects.
- Hence (4) literary works are unreal objects.
Argument 2", In support of the second premise of Argument 2.
- (1) Literary works can be fully experienced in one's imagination.
- (2) Imaginary things are unreal.
- Hence (3) literary works can be fully experienced by experiencing unrealities.
Argument 3. Re. the possibility of aesthetically appreciating unreal visual objects.
- (1) The Venus of Milo could (in principle) be fully aesthetically experienced in a completely hallucinatory experience.
- (2) In complete hallucinations one experiences only unrealities.
- Hence (3) A full Venus of Milo aesthetic experience could occur when the object is an unreal phenomenon.
- Hence (4) Aesthetic experiences of the Venus of Milo need not be of a real object.
- (1) Apprehending the properties of the real statue distracts us from aesthetically apprehending the Venus of Milo.
- Hence (2) Aesthetically apprehending the Venus of Milo is apprehending an unreal object.
- (1) Aesthetically experiencing the Venus de Milo requires us to experience it as having properties which the real statue does not have.
- Hence (2) Aesthetically experiencing the Venus de Milo requires us to experience an object different from the real statue.
- (3) The other object we must experience (as above) is different from any real object -- statue, person, or other.
- Hence (4) Aesthetically experiencing the Venus de Milo requires us to experience an unreal object.
Grounds given for the premises of argument 5
- To develop the aesthetic experience to the full, we must 'bring the Venus to full givenness in aesthetic experience' -- i.e.
- Imagine substituting different properties for the real ones.
- Restore disharmonious losses
- Tone up the material
- Animatethe subject (Venus herself)
- Ignore/abstract from aspects of the real statue:
- Missing parts (arms, e.g.)
- Physico-chemical properties
- Precise dimensions
- Aesthetic experience is optimizing experience -- which produces 'the form...which brings aesthetically relevant qualities and artistic values to the relatively highest degree of prominence'
To do this is to achieve unity, harmony, etc., starting from the physical object as it is, in the present artistic context but ending with an imaginative construction that is not and could not be physically real.
Ingarden's account of the development of an aesthetic experience (the constant structure amid variations)
- a. the moment of transition: a complex quality strikes us, excites us, produces the "original emotion" of the A-experience.
- b. the lingering effect: of being 'in love with' the quality
- c. resonating with the quality: a hunger for possession and intensification
- striving for a permanent relation to the quality
- d. marginalizing real world occupations
- of real existence
- of the physical basis of the quality
- narrowing of consciousness
- to the quality (vs. other qualities and objects)
- to present (vs. past or future)
- Result: distilling the quality ( eliciting a pure quality )
- e. clarification and intensification of the quality
- emergence of additional traits
- sense of the vitality and charm of the quality
- joyful intoxication with the amplified quality
- f. craving for yet more traits plus craving for yet greater harmony among the traits
- g. supplementation of quality --> creation of the aesthetic object
- Artistic constitution, transcending the given (not further discussed)
- Receptive constitution, completing the given
- either transposed illusorily on the object
- or held up against the given data as something absent (which implies two aesthetic objects, an inherently unstable situation
- categorial structure produced (fictive object, scene, event)
- 'completely new subject of attributes'
- seemingly present to us (perceptually-emotionally-compelling)
- empathic process: infusing agency, personality, etc.
- joyful admiration of the result
- overall harmony produced
- interaction of colors: qualitative transformations
- loss of independence of individual qualities
- emergence of a single, complex global quality: unified hierarchy of local and overall qualities
- h. contemplation of concretized AO (FINAL GOAL of entire process)
- pleasure, admiration, delight, satisfaction
- relishing of the value of the constituted aesthetic object
- intuitive not analytic or intellectual
- existential acknowledgement of AO -- sense of discovery that
- 'there actually is such a harmony of aesthetically valuable qualities' (existence of a real possibility)
- there is 'a domain of pure, ideal qualities'
1. Is art-historical imaginative reconstitution of the Venus really not aesthetic? (even determining how the arms originally were?)
2. What can Ingarden say against a person who insists on experiencing the Venus fully conscious of all the damage? Is that person's experience necessarily not aesthetic? Is it necessarily not of the Venus of Milo? On what grounds is one entitled to say such things?
Addition to the reading. On page 39 there is a reference to an explanation said to be on page 44 of the term “intentional object.” This explanation does not appear on the website. Here it is.
“Intentional object” is a technical term for the “object” of an attitude of other mental state. This “object” has the peculiarity of not having to exist in order to function in that capacity. Objects of desire, for instance, may be illusory. Some philosophers argue that since the state exists and is “directed” toward its object, the object must in some sense be even if not existing. Other philosophers reject this conclusion, preferring to say the term “object” is in this context only a manner of speaking.
Varieties of aesthetic experience (based on Ingarden's account)
1. The full Monty – all the way to full consummation
2. Incomplete processes (interrupted development)
3. Sought-for, partly managed vs. entirely spontaneous experiences
Note: Corrected midterm test day of the week: TUESDAY, October 21.
PHIL 431 Lecture 12: The ontology of art works
What kind of object is a work of art? (2)
- 1. Overall view of the ideas contained within this topic
- Unique objects vs. types; monism vs. dualism or pluralism
- Works, editions, productions, versions, variations, and derivatives
- Single or joint authorship, principal and accessory roles at one stage or other
- The role of critics and audiences in relation to the work’s properties
- 2. The complications of identity of work and of author
- What’s in a title?
- What’s in a designation of author?
- Is anything to be gained by replacing the normal attributions with the fine print?
- Is anything to be gained by regimenting production so that is has fewer complications?
- 3. The contextualist paradigm of interpretation
- Aims at discovering truths about features of the work
- Features of the work are fixed when the work is created
- Some features of the work about the work depend on the context of production
- Some features of the work are essential to its existence and identity
- 4. The constructivist paradigm of interpretation
- Interpretation “constructs” the work (alters, creates anew)
- Confers properties that work does not initially have
- The work is malleable, has no essential (self-contained) nature
- The work is an intentional object in the minds of the viewers/readers/listeners
- 5. Stecker's critique of the constructivist paradigm of work-identity (I)
- Changing interpretations vs. changing objects
- Objects vs. conceptions of those objects
- Truth/falsity vs.
- plausibility/implausibility vs.
- usefulness/inutility of conceptions
- Fancy constructivist footwork: one/two constructed intentional objects
- Initial object (work?) —> Interpretation —> Subsequent object
- Why need an interpretation generate a different work?
- The work is not an intentional object, though it has intentional properties
- 6. Stecker’s critique of the constructivist paradigm (II): vs. Margolis
- Margolis on works as having no “fixed nature” (like natural species)
- Does this = having no essence? Or no essential properties?
- Does Margolis’ theory entail that artworks have no essential properties at all?
- Some structural and historical properties seem essential even on his view.
- [Natural species a problematic comparison]
- Bizarre consequences of the alternative theory. (Venus de Milo and pile of dust)
- Change of some (non-essential) properties is normal for tokens-of-types
- E.g., popularity, display, ceremonial use, topical symbolism
- E.g., performance variations in performing art work
PHIL 431, Lectures 13-14: Catch-up and review for the midterm test
PHIL 431, Lecture 13
Stecker on the contextualist paradigm of the object of interpretation
- 1. Points of fairly wide agreement among contextualists
- Ontological diversity
- Historical context of production is critical to work identity
- Musical and literary works are context-sensitive structural types
- Some art works are physical objects
- 2. Problems and solutions
- Abstract types seem insufficiently individual to be literally created
- Abstract types seem less individualized than works
- Some artistic properties imply a unique historical origin
- Levinson’s “indicated structures” (for music and literature)
- Indicating (e.g., by a score or text) structures within an artworld context
- Making an indicated structure “normative”
(Defining the class of true instances)
- The possibility of identicals produced by different “indicators”
- Non-structural differentiae seem required
- Stecker’s proposed replacement: “structures-in-use”
- As with utterances: context usually individuates identical structures
What sorts of use are relevant, exactly? E.g.,
- A melody used joy-expressively – no strings attached
- The same melody (also) used to allude to an earlier composition
- The same structure used as a novelty within one’s own oeuvre
- Will this eliminate possible identicals by different structure-users?
- If not, it narrows down the possibilities to virtually nil
- Late Haydn/early Beethoven note-for-note identical example.
- Does this decide between creation and discovery? [See below]
Are structures-in-use norm-kinds? [Omit this]
- Creation vs. discovery of structures (types, abstract entities)
- Buick 1995 Skylark – created or discovered?
- Application to musical and literary works
- JB’s proposal regarding creation vs. discovery of musical works and artifactual types.
- What exactly is created when a work is “created”?
- What exactly is discovered when a work is “created”?
- How do these relate to creations and discoveries in math, science, technology?
- 3. Physical object works of art
- Can these be correctly conceived as types rather than unique objects?
The standard line:
- Each work instantiates a type
- Yet other instantiations are not strictly identical works
- (Note the ambiguity of “identical”: numerically vs. qualitatively identical)
- Reasons for denying identity of work with the physical object
- Argument from works’ possession of intentional properties (recall Ingarden)
- Argument from the non-identity of the physical constituents and the work
- Physical constituents survive change of shape, work does not.
- Works are culturally emergent physical objects (Margolis)
- Works are different kinds of physical objects than the “mere” physical objects that occupy the same space.
- Replies to the above are available:
- Distinguish ways of experiencing works from the works themselves.
- Some misperceptions are necessary for proper experience of the work.
- This is explained by the work's having a complex property, not by the work's being an "unreality" or by its occupying a different space than the "mere" physical object that lacks this complex (intentional) property.
- All functional objects involve the same duality: they occupy the same space as a "mere" physical object but have different identity conditions.
- Survival of a work is necessarily a matter of degree.
- Where to draw the line is a matter of the functionality of what remains. There is no deeper question of real identity.
- Thus the question is more complex than commonsense supposes, but in the end not a great problem.
PHIL 431, Lecture 14: Review of topics
Topic 1: Ingarden and others on the aesthetic object (and especially, the work of art)
Covered in Lecture 13
Topic 2: Environmental Aesthetics
- 1. Prevalent varieties of appreciation of nature.
- Art-like paradigms
- "Immersion" paradigms
- Natural piety paradigms
- God's handiwork
- Secular or semi-secular veneration of nature
- 2. Limitations of the prevalent paradigms
- Selectivity not based on well-considered principles
- Untested assumptions of aesthetic goodness of all things great and small
- Insufficient explanation of aesthetic goodness or badness
- Reliance on unverifiable supernatural or fictional suppositions
- 3. Requirements of a truly philosophical aesthetics of natural beauty
- Recognition of the great variety of natural beauty and unbeauty
- Recognition of similarities and differences between natural and art-like aesthetic values
- Examination of the limits of appreciation of natural order
- Serious attempt to find the deep values that are reflected in actual appreciation
- And to extend these to cover cases people find hard to appreciate for reasons reflecting human limitations rather than lack of real beauty
- Recognition of the immensity of the task of a truly universal nature aesthetic
- Recognition of the vital interrelationship between natural and cultural aesthetic values
Topic 3: Aesthetic Properties
1. General A-value properties (e.g., beauty)
2. Specific A-value properties - adopting Stecker’s usage (e.g., grace, wit)
3. Formal properties (e.g., balanced)
4. Expressive properties (e.g., sadness)
5. Evocative properties (e.g., stirringness)
6. Behavioral or dynamic properties (e.g., bouyancy)
7. Second-order perceptual properties (e.g., steelyness)
8. Representational properties (e.g., realism, sketchiness, cubism)
- Sorting A-properties by presence or absence of a value-dimension
- Separating out the value component
- Clarification of the descriptive component
- Determining the descriptive content of A-properties
- The non-aesthetic base, expressible literally
- The aesthetic addition requiring figurative expression
- Determining the epistemic status of the descriptive content
- Conditions of reliable perception
- Plain sensory aspects
- Cross-categorial resemblance aspects
- Imaginative impresssion aspects
- Criteria of correct A-perception
- Possible outcomes
Topic 4: Aesthetic Experience
- Explain Stecker’s “minimal” conception of aesthetic experience. (47f., 237f.)
- In what sense is this conception “minimal” compared with other options?
- Broader than those of Kant, Bell and others, including Levinson
- Not limited to experience of A-properties and doesn't assume validity of A-proerties
- Attending in a discriminating manner to all meaningful features
- For their own sake or for the intrinsic experiential payoff
- In particular, in what respects does it differ from Levinson’s conception? I.e.
his requirement of attention specifically to:
- Base level properties
- Emergent properties (A-properties)
- Relationships between base and emergent properties
- Appreciation of these for their own sake
- Different levels of intensity and pleasure
- Stecker's questions
- Will this apply to sunset experiences? Or to utilitarian objects? (complexity question)
- Is the minimal, “one-level” theory needed to accommodate these cases?
- Is intrinsic pleasureableness (broadly construed) strictly required for an aesthetic experience?
- What additions, modifications and leading ideas does the lecturer propose?
- Aesthetic experience as analogous to scientific, sexual, moral experience
- Are intellectual aesthetic experiences included?
- What decision is sensible about the value component being essential? (the Jerome vs. Charles case)? Is the "content-oriented" super-minimal view even better than Stecker's?
Midterm test, Tuesday, October 21
Write on two of the following topics, devoting 35 minutes to each. Prepare your answer before coming into class. During the test you may use an outline (outline) of your essays not to exceed 50 words for each. Turn in the outline along with the test booklet.
Each of the topics lends itself to a much longer essay than can be written in 35 minutes, so you will need to make a judicious selection of points to present. Your aim should be to deal with as many important parts of the subject in as much detail as can be presented in the available time.
1. Select what you consider to be the strongest of Ingarden's arguments for the unreality of the aesthetic object, which applies also to the ("real") work of art. Present the argument in an orderly way and give whatever supplementary explanations, answers to objections, etc. are to be found in his essay. Then discuss how well or poorly it proves its conclusion, using such points as are relevant in the criticisms made of it in the course material (or others you think up). Include the criticisms that are implied by views of Stecker and Levinson regarding the different sorts of art works (and therefore of aesthetic objects).
2. Everyone agrees that nature can be enjoyed and admired aesthetically for properties that can be directly perceived – views of landscapes (seascapes, cloudscapes) it presents, scenes of creatures in action close-up or at a distance, and so forth. Environmental aesthetics of the “order” variety pushes things further. It asks that we also appreciate the systematic order of natural things, order which is not directly perceptible and therefore can be brought into our experience only by knowledge – geological, botanical, zoological knowledge. But can such scientific knowledge be combined with perception of natural scenes in a well-unified aesthetic experience? Can it help us arrive at better aesthetic evaluations of nature? Discuss, using the material in Stecker and in lectures and adding whatever ideas you have.
3. Aesthetic properties are allegedly central to aesthetic enjoyment and judgment. What sort of properties are they? What varieties of aesthetic properties are there? What distinguishes them from non-aesthetic properties? How if at all can we verify that an aesthetic property exists in a given case? Along the way cite clear examples of such properties. What does Stecker's discussion of these properties contribute to an answer to these questions?
4. Traditional accounts of aesthetic experience (by Ingarden, Bell , and many others) focus exclusively on consummation experiences, and most contemporary theories insist upon a valuational component. The instructor has argued that this is too narrow a conception to fit the variety of experiences that are justifiably classed as aesthetic. Critically discuss the main issues dividing theorists about the definition of aesthetic experience. Note the Addendum to Lecture 8 comparing Stecker's view with JB's.
Instructor's remarks about the answers given to test topics in Spring 2007 -- 1, 2, and 3 were the only ones chosen.
1. Almost everyone writing on this wrongly supposed Ingarden believed the aesthetic object in the case of the Venus included the unsevered arms. Many thought that the infilling required returning the statue to its fresh, undamaged form because that’s what the maker valued. Virtually no one made proper use of the arguments against Ingarden in pp. 42ff. of the assignment. These are an essential part of an evaluation of Ingarden’s arguments even if you think Ingarden comes out on top.
2. One crucial thing often neglected was to show how knowledge of the environment can
a. enhance one’s aesthetic experience of scenes in nature
b. disturb one’s aesthetic experience or distract one from it.
c. be irrelevant to one’s experience.
Whether knowledge does a, b, or c depends on what sort of knowledge it is. Knowing about the squirrel’s life may enhance one’s appreciation of it, adding a new dimension to the look and the behavior of the animal. Its scampering around is not just lively, graceful, etc. but purposeful for itself and its progeny. Envisaging the purposes and the off-stage activities (building its nest, feeding its young, storing food for the winter) is entirely compatible with relishing its liveliness, agility, and neat appearance. On the other hand, envisaging its skeleton structure, its digestive system, its vulnerability to hawks and other predators, its infestation with lice and fleas would seem to disturb one’s aesthetic experience. And geological knowledge of the terrain would likely have no bearing on one’s aesthetic experience of it. The discussion in Stecker provides practically no guidance here. Students have to develop examples for themselves.
On the issue concerning knowledge enabling us to judge the beauty of the natural systems, it is enough to point out that assessing the beauty of natural order would require us to make a case for the actual natural systems being better than alternative ones we could imagine. There was some discussion of this in class, not enough to show that a good case can be made, but enough to focus attention on the problem. (I expressed confidence that the earth’s comes out ahead of any other known planet’s. But that’s not nearly enough to entitle the earth’s to a high rating aesthetically.)
3. In discussing aesthetic properties it’s important to distinguish purely descriptive variety from the purely evaluative. The first can be defined in terms of dispositions to produce cross-categorial likeness-based impressions. Examples abound: swiftness of lines, warmth or coolness of colors, sadness or exuberance of melodies, tranquility or agitation of designs, etc. The purely evaluative variety (beauty, profundity, ugliness, etc.) can be defined in terms of ideal, non-defective (positive or negative) aesthetic enjoyability/admirability. Discussion of criteria of discernment of aesthetic properties must take account of this basic difference. These criteria consist of optimality conditions and a convergence condition for optimal discriminators operating under optimal conditions. Few students made these essential points.
Grade distribution on the test in 2008
A: 1; A-: 6; AB: 2; B+: 7; B: 5; B-: 1; BC: 2; C: 1; C-: 1.
Comments on 2008 essays on topics 2 and 3.
2. Main shortcoming was to spend too much time on the obvious points – that people are often swayed or left cold by knowledge – and too little exploring the real problems in appreciating natural order discriminatingly. How do we get ourselves to appreciate our digestive systems or diseases? How can we merge our appreciation of the sight of a squirrel scampering with knowledge of its anatomy to get a richer, well-unified experience? How can we assess the beauty of nature in comparison with other possible natures, or one type of ecology in comparison with another (swamps vs. forests)? The great thing about appreciating views or immersion experiences is that they are well-unified and we can be highly discriminating about them. Natural order is not so easy to appreciate that discriminatingly.
3. The major shortcoming in essays about aesthetic properties was misunderstanding of descriptive aesthetic properties. Some said descriptive properties were not aesthetic. That applies to merely empirical non-aesthetic descriptive properties but not to the aesthetically descriptive ones. A key to them is their figurative character, their resting on cross-categorial resemblances and requiring imagination to perceive. The key can't be their value-loading because by definition they don't have any, though ensembles of them do support aesthetic evaluations (both positive and negative).
Another frequent lack was good discussion of the criteria that apply to aesthetic value-properties and those that apply to descriptive aesthetic ones.
PHIL 431 Lecture 15
Interpretation of art: the place of intention in determining meaning in/of works of art
- 1. The normal (default) assumption: work meaning = the author’s meaning.
- Ordinary conversational practice as a basic guide: the meaning of utterances in general.
- Reasonable expectations of most readers, viewers, listeners, in art or elsewhere.
- Normal success of artists and others in meeting those expectations, esp. with aid of context.
- Is art a special domain where the usual rules don’t apply?
- The enhanced appreciation idea: seeking to optimize the value of the work.
- Stecker’s moderate position on this:
- Probabilities even out as between the actual intention and the best meaning.
- Appreciative understanding is primary and actual intention generally serves this aim.
- Other aims are equally valid, including knowledge of artist's actual intention.
- Idea that the author’s meaning is biography, not work interpretation
- Stecker’s reply:
- author’s intention partly determines work properties
- Chronicle vs. fiction example
- 2. Simple actual intentionalism: work meaning = actually intended meaning
- Counterexample: failure to express oneself correctly
- Unrealized intentions do occur in linguistic/literary productions
- Mrs. Malaprop’s blunders: an allegory on the banks of the Nile, forfeiting my malevolence forever, etc.
- Artists can also mis-express what they intend. Otherwise expressing a thought would not be an achievement.
- Actual realized intentionalism:
- Carroll’s convention-constrained actual intentionalism and its problems: speaker's (or artist's) intention rules in cases of ambiguity or indeterminacy
- Problem 1: too narrow – irony, enthymemic/indirect meanings
- Problem 2: too broad – oddball intention re. ambiguous expression
- Alternative: whatever-works actual intentionalism
- Problem: not everything conveyed to a listener is part of what is said (what the words mean)
- Stecker’s intermediate view: moderate actual intentionalism:
Work W means X if author successfully realizes her intention to convey X:
Author intends X
- B. Author intends others to grasp A via conventions or via permitted extensions)
- C. Author's intention A is graspable via conventions or permitted extensions.
- Note A+B+C apply to the meaning of an utterance as opposed to utterer's meaning.
- Application of the view to non-verbal media, e.g. pictorial works
- ...via recognitional abilities+art-form conventions+permitted extensions
- Plausible non-intentional sufficient condition of W means X.
- X is the content of an attitude or belief that is graspable via conventions or permitted extensions.
- This condition does not imply the attitude or belief is intended or even conscious. Jules Verne case.
- The full definition when this condition is added has the form: (A and B and C) or D.
- Criticisms of moderate intentionalism by non-intentionalists (the work speaks for itself)
- The publicity paradox: the author’s basic intention is that her meaning-intentions not have to be consulted; therefore, those intentions do not determine the meaning of her work.
- Stecker’s criticisms:
- No real paradox: basic intention is distinct from the meaning-fixing ones.
- Artists need not work mainly or entirely for an autonomous public; they may count on altering conventions, may offer explanations, etc.
- Collateral information is especially important with works from the distant past.
- The knowledge of intention dilemma (Trivedi)
If one cannot identify W’s meaning independently, one cannot assess the
success of the author’s meaning-intentions, so the criterion cannot be applied.
- And if one can assess the meaning independently , the meaning of W cannot depend on those intentions.
- Stecker’s criticism:
- Moderate intentionalism is not refuted by this since probable hypotheses about
meaning can be built up: literal meaning if there is no reason against it,
variant meaning if the context requires it, the artist’s intention rightly assumed to be normal unless
specific counter-indications are present, etc.
- The objection from the eliminability of references to intention:
Straightforward cases can be decided by convention and context alone.
- Stecker’s criticism:
- Non-straightforward cases, common in art, cannot be decided without hypotheses about intention (or point)
- irony, allusion, symbolism, imagery, etc.
- Hypothetical intentionalism,
Version 1. Work W means X if and only if an ideal audience will form the
hypothesis that the author of W intended X.
- In case of two equally plausible interpretations, the best one is the one that makes the work best.
- Stecker’s criticisms:
- This wrongly rejects narrative self-contradictions and verbal errors as
elements of meaning.
- JB: But what does it take them to be, then?
- Conan Doyle example
- Perspicuous/perspicacious example
- JB: Hypothetical intentionalism can perhaps add a condition regarding an author's or editor's errors.
- Hypothetical Intentionalism, Version 2. Work W means X if and only if an ideal author would find his intentions regarding W fulfilled by the conventions and context relevant to W.
- Greater elegance of this compared with moderate actual intentionalism.
- Stecker’s criticisms:
- This wrongly takes contradictions and verbal errors to be intended.
- It also wrongly construes the style of a work: Conan Doyle becomes a surrealist.
- JB's observation 1: The ideal author form of hypothetical intentionalism seems less able to be repaired than the ideal audience version.
- JB's observation 2: Probable errors and incoherence cause difficulties of interpretation on any theory because the work itself is defective.
PHIL 431 Lecture 16: Stecker on Fiction
PHIL 431 Lecture 17: Depiction
- Defining depiction: representing by enabling viewers to
seem to see subjects (objects and states of affairs) in pictures.
- Depicting vs. symbolizing (where one is not enabled to see the meaning in the picture)
- Iconography: symbolizing X by depicting Y
- Are all pictures depictions? (Photographs, trompe l’oeil paintings)
- Perceptual/experiential theories of depiction
Seeing vs. seeing-as vs. seeing-in
Stecker’s analysis of seeing-in (seeing S in D)
- Seeing the picture (normal existential sense)
- Seeing the subject in the picture-- no existential entailment here.
(Possible non-existence condition)
- Although many pictures are of real subjects.
- Twofoldness of normal pictorial seeing-in: both of the above required – believing D depicts S is not enough; seeing the shape that depicts S is not enough.
- Also note the following cases:
- Seeing things in non-representations: stained walls or clouds.
- Seeing things in pictures that they don't really depict (that "aren't there").
- A seeing-in definition of depiction: D depicts S iff. S can be seen in D by a competent viewer and D's creator intends that S be seen in it ... (perhaps more fine print)
- Objection: Trompe l’oeil and film: no awareness of the surface, hence no twofoldness, hence no depiction. (Wollheim)
- Stecker’s reply: twofoldness not strictly required
for seeing-in, hence not for depiction.
- Seeing-in need only be potentially twofold to count as pictorial seeing providing it is also normally twofold.
- Useful terminology re. pictorial seeing-in:
- The configurational side of seeing-in is seeing the design as a design.
- The representational side of seeing-in is seeing a 3D subject in the design.
- Main problem: What exactly is the representational side of seeing-in? How does it differ from face-to-face seeing with the same content?
- Is it an illusion of seeing the subject face-to-face?
- No, since if it were we couldn't also see the design as such, which normally we continue to do.
- (JB) Yet something like an illusion can occur with the right visual address.
- Is it perception of a resemblance of some sort?
- Or the activation of a recognitional capacity?
- Or a certain sort of make-believe?
- Seeing-in defined/supplemented in terms of making-believe (Walton) : Seeing-in = making believe one's seeing the picture is seeing the subject.
- Objection: not all depictions are fictional
- Stecker: True but not all rule-governed and authorized make-belief using props is fictional.
- Objection: not all depiction-experience has an active imaginative aspect -- some is immediate and involuntary.
- Stecker’s answer:
- There is always an imaginative aspect, even if not always an active, strong, or voluntary one.
- But the objection could be that make-believe is simply the no-existential-entailment condition dressed up, hence not explained by make-believe.
- (JB) A better objection might be that the making-believe builds on the quasi-illusion of pictorial space, which is more basic.
- Seeing-in defined/supplemented in terms of seeing a resemblance of a particular sort.
- Mustn’t be a two-way (symmetrical) resemblance-seeing
- since we don't normally see S as resembling D, and S never depicts D.
- Mustn’t be seeing a strong resemblance of D to S overall
- since that resemblance is so slight.
- Possibly it is seeing the outline shape of D as resembling a POV-specific outline shape of S (the resemblance here being stronger and more basic).
- Possibly it is seeing a resemblance of one's experience of D to a POV-specific experience of S face-to-face
- But often the resemblance is at best weak to experiences of S (color, texture, detail)
- Hard cases re. outline shapes:
- Things without outline shapes -- they can also be seen-in pictures.
- Hard to recognize outline shapes -- here resemblance seems insufficient.
- Cases where D's outline shape alone fails to generate a given seeing-in; instead recognition generates seeing the outline shape. (Lopes)
- JB: expand the notion of outline shape to include all visual properties: color, texture, etc.
- But recognize that not all of S's visual properties need be seen-in D in order for S to be seen-in it.
- Also, difficulty of seeing a resemblance doesn't keep resemblance from defining seeing-in or even depiction.
- Stecker’s conclusion: resemblance doesn’t help further explain what is crucial to pictorial seeing-in.
- JB thinks Stecker's skepticism is premature.
- Seeing S defined/supplemented via activation of perceptual S-recognizing ability
- This may handle cases where resemblance fails to do so.
- Stick figures, single line figures, amorphous things
- But do all pictures trigger perceptual S-recognizing abilities? Do cubist pictures? Or pictures in other non-naturalistic styles?
- Objection. This wrongly implies a need for high-tech research to discover whether D depicts S.
- Natural generativity takes care of that: learning one depiction-truth and knowing the look of other subjects enables one to recognize depictions of them. This is easily testable.
- Objection: non-depictive designs (graphs, maps, charts, diagrams) also depend on perceptual recognitional abilities, so more than these must enter into a definition of depiction.
- JB's thought: Pictorial space is a plausible differentia of depictions.
- JB's thought: pictorial seeing-in involves richer ensemble of visible properties and draws on more varied recognitional abilities.
- But also, some non-depictions, maps in particular, have pictorial aspects.
- Revision to handle cubism et al: activation of a complex aspectual recognition-ability (Lopes)
- No new abilities of this sort are needed to handle many otherwise hard cases.
- Cubism draws on part-recognitions, stick figures draw on part and stance-recognitions, etc.
- Hard-wired bias toward familiar or important recognitions may explain the triggering of them by pictures.
- Stecker's assessment
- Even this may not take care of the last objection. (JB thinks it can.)
- But overall the best explanation of seeing-in may be Lopes' and the best account of depiction may be in terms of seeing-in.
- The best surface account of fictional depictions may be the make-believe account of seeing-in. (p. 161 last sentence)
- JB's thoughts:
- Aspectual recognition is parallel to aspect- resemblance in resemblance accounts. Is one explanation of seeing-in better than the other?
- The recognitional capacity explanation must cope with the fact that non-S capacities are also activated.
- The multiplicity of things (incl. properties) that can be seen in a design, is a further crucial factor distinguishing pictorial seeing-in from perceptual seeing-in. (Matisse painting of his wife with a hat.)
- Photographs and existence:
Do photographs violate the possibly-nonexistent condition of S-being-seen-in-D?
- Stecker’s response: No, experience of seeing-in never by itself implies existence.
- Easy to see non-existent things in photos (or in other pictures).
- Photographs as giving perceptual access to things, not just to true images of things (Walton)
- Indirect seeing of S “in” a S-photograph (even when we don’t see-S-in-D)
(“in” here = by means of + within the frame of)
- Seeing-Betty-in-D when we see Hetty “in” D
- JB: Stecker’s claim that photos can misrepresent is problematic
- Misleading vs. misrepresenting
- Walton’s reasoning: photos are visual aids relying only on causal relation
- Implication: rules of interpreting photos are causal, convention-independent.
- Hence, photographer’s intention is never determinative as to subject.
- Yet photos commonly function as props in games of authorized make-believe.
- Yet one can use them for any number of ad hoc games of make-believe.
- Scruton’s line: photographs are not representations, just mechanical recordings of scenes or scene-substitutes.
- Reply (King, Stecker): artistic interest of photos suggests they are representations.
- Depiction subject vs. point, theme, expressive significance, etc. of a photo.
- Photographer’s intention is standardly determinative as to point, etc.
- JB: Stecker’s two depiction conditions need tweaking to cover photographs:
- Can-be-seen-in condition is subject to different conditions of possibility.
- Causal source condition replaces intended to be seen-in.
- Photographer need not intend that the photo-subject be seen in the photo.
PHIL 431 Lecture 18: Stecker on expressiveness in music and poetry
- Backward glance: theories of art = expression
- Expressiveness in general
- Stecker’s initial limitation to psychological states: beliefs, intentions, attitudes, etc.
- As opposed to propositions
- Emphasis falls on what works express even if it doesn't apply to the artist.
- Range of "expression" narrowed to attitudes, moods, emotions
- JB: The most relevant sense of express is the one that admits of degrees of expressiveness.
- E.g., as in strongly/weakly expressive.
- 2. Diversity of terms relating to expressiveness
Stecker’s choice of terms.
Where S is an attitude, emotion, mood, etc. and W is a work:
- Seeing Sness in W does not imply W is S or is S-expressive, or is an expression of Sness.
- Possible nonexistence condition
- Possible misperception or misconstrual
- W is sad does not imply W is an expression of sadness,
- Since a sad work may not convey, communicate or make manifest any actual or fictional person's sadness.
- W is sad does imply it is sadness-expressive.
- X expresses sadness = X is expressive of, or is an expression of, sadness.
- JB: very slippery terminology here!
- 3. Different art forms are differently expressive
- Lyric poetry: mainly by articulating beliefs, desires, perceptions of an emotional
state that is inferable from them.
- Hence mainly by the substance of the discourse
- But also by the manner
- Instrumental music: by inducing listener’s quasi-perception of the emotion.
- Since beliefs, etc. can hardly be articulated musically.
- 4. Unifying theories of expressiveness
- Evocation theory: W tends to evoke S
- But is the tendency uniform enough?
- And isn’t evocation merely a response to expressiveness?
- Recognition theory: W evokes apprehension as of an emotional state or quality
- And such apprehension satisfies truth conditions (is justified)
- 5. Musical expressiveness
- Davies: phenomenal appearance view
- Musical “motion” perceptibly like emotional behavior or feeling
- Similarity of musical to other cases
- Doesn’t imply music can express propositional content of emotions
- Doesn’t imply anyone is actually in the emotional state
- Offers a truth condition: existence of a cross-categorial likeness
- Perhaps backed up by the convergence of optimal discriminators?
- Difficulties with Davies' view
- Reduces expressiveness to the appearance of an actual psychological state (vs. what? Insight into it?)
- Does not (by itself) account for the value of expressiveness
- Truth condition is problematic (unless convergence of optimal discriminators does the trick).
- Ridley: Phenomenal appearance + evocation of an empathetic emotional response
- “Musical melismatic” gestures similar to emotional behavior or inner feeling
- Mere similarity not enough for genuine expressiveness (power to evoke needed)
- Mere recognition not enough for genuine experience of expressiveness
- Truth condition connected with emotions and value
- Difficulties with Ridley's view:
- Imagining seems enough to grasp expressiveness, empathy not required, in art or in life generally.
- Experiencing W as expressive is not the same as W being expressive
- Possibility of error/misconstrual
- Persona view: fictional expression by the work’s persona
- Vermazen: work provides evidence of emotion of imagined “utterer”
- If a person spontaneously emitted those sounds (Bobby McFarren?)
one would be justified in inferring she was S.
- Levinson: work is directly perceived as expression of the emotion of a musical persona (rather than taken as evidence)
- Truth condition: so heard readily or spontaneously by a properly backgrounded listener who listens to the whole work and takes into account its historical setting.
- Difficulties with these views:
- Musical persona/utterer is doubtfully experienced (even if one is in poetry)
- Truth condition doesn’t rule out misperception.
- JB: But convergence of optimal discriminators is a possibility.
PHIL 431 Lecture 19: Expressiveness continued
- Expressiveness in lyric poetry
- Who is speaking? The poet? A fictional poet? The poem itself?
- Controversy about this. Stecker leans toward the fictional ("implied") author.
- Other attitudes/emotions than the speaker’s in a poem:
- Represented attitudes that are not adopted
- The poem’s attitude vs. the utterer’s attitude. Herrick's irony + parody.
- Uncertainties about the poem’s expressiveness (Blake’s, e.g.)
- Levinson’s theory applied to poetry: the poem expresses S iff. it is readily or spontaneously read as expressing S by any properly backgrounded reader who keeps in mind the context of whole work and its historical setting.
- Stecker’s criticism of Levinson: well qualified readers sometimes disagree
- Wordsworth’s “A slumber did my spirit seal” – Bateson vs. Brooks
- Reasons for rejecting Bateson's reading in favor of Bates'.
- Stecker’s amendment to Levinson’s criterion: ... and who takes into account
everything relevant to the poem’s expressive properties
- Equivalence of this to hypothetical intentionalism: P expresses S iff. ideal readers
would hypothesize that the creator intended readers to infer S.
- JB’s variations: (a) ... ideal readers agree in hypothesizing...
(b)... that the creator should have intended...
- JB’s reservations about Wordsworth’s poem’s expressiveness (that it is unclear and arguably equivocal)
- 7. Expressiveness in music again:
Can hypthetical intentionalism of the form applicable to lyric poetry (HI) explain musical expressiveness?
- Difference of this from the musical persona view
- No fictional persona need be imagined: just the music itself.
- Evocation of emotion not necessary; hearing of emotion in the music suffices (given ideal audience)
- Objection 1: HI implies S-expressiveness is typically inferred rather than heard.
- Answer: No, the inference is normally based in part on hearing S.
- Also, the truth
condition of the persona view involves inference, esp. where listeners differ.
- Objection 2: HI fits poetical but not musical expressiveness.
- Answer: Difference between poetry and music do not disqualify HI since they share enough characteristics for HI to apply.
- Objection 3: Music is far less determinately expressive, so listeners may hear S* even
if the music doesn’t express S* (S* = specific emotion)
- Answer: HI can accept this as part of its fine print. Indeterminacy may justify hearers hearing the emotion differently without fault as long as they don't impute the emotion to the work.
- Objection 4: HI wrongly implies listeners hear musical expression as intended.
- Answer: HI only claims music should be taken as intended to be heard as S-expressive.
- Objection 5. HI wrongly implies music can be S-expressive even when that expressiveness plays no
part in making the music work.
- Answer: No, because if it doesn’t help make the music work HI will not accept it.
- JB: Can an expressive property ever be musically nonfunctional? It is a global property of the music dependent on many musical properties.
- Objection 6: HI cannot handle cases where the composer disavows emotional intent.
- Answer: HI does not necessarily accept the composer’s disavowal if the music
counts strongly against it.
- Yet perhaps Moderate Actual Intentionalism handles this better than HI.
- Stecker’s tentatively preferred theory is MAI.
- Reminder: MAI asserts Work W is S-expressive if author successfully realizes her intention to convey S: iff. (A+B+C) or D.
- A. Author intends S-expressiveness
- B. Author intends others to hear S-expressiveness
- C. Author's intention regarding S-expressiveness is graspable via conventions or permitted extensions.
- D. S is the content of an emotion or feeling that is heard in the music consistently with conventions or permitted extensions.
- Objection 7: Neither HI nor MAI tells us what hearing emotion in music is.
- Answer: (a) Different sorts of hearing emotion may exist, one involving an imagined persona, another not.
(b) Apparent perception of an emotional quality is the most basic sort.
- Likenesses underlying perception explain the perception.
- JB: Susanne Langer's attempt to identify musical forms that represent feelings. This is close to Davies' view but Davies doesn't assert so strong a view as Langer does of the likeness of musical form to the form of feeling.
PHIL 431 Lecture 20:
Stecker on artistic value (1)
- Introduction: de Kooning's Untitled III
- How is it valuable? Aesthetically? Otherwise?
- An essentialist conception of artistic value (most extreme version)
- a. unitary value (single scale?)
- b. unique to art works
- c. universally applicable to art works
- d. intrinsically valuable + intrinsic value-conferring
- e. deducible from the concept of art, hence knowable a priori
- Compare functional type definitions and evaluations: knife, telephone.
- Non-essentialist conception of artistic value (extreme version)
- a. irreducibly non-unitary value (multiple values)
- b. no artistic value is unique to art works
- c. no one artistic value is strictly universal in art works (perhaps not even any ensemble of such values)
- d. artistic value is only instrumentally valuable + instrumentally value-conferring
- e. artistic value is not deducible from the concept of art, hence knowable only empirically.
- Unitary value (a distinct type of value – Bell, Budd)
- Question: When is a kind of value relevant to the artistic value of a work?
- Answer. When it satisfies the interest intrinsic to the artistic point of view
- Economic value: never relevant
- Historical value: arguably relevant e.g., being original, influential, paradigmatic
- Therapeutic value: arguably relevant, e.g., being calming, inspiring.
- Stecker’s doubts: One perspective need not make up our entire interest in art
- Example of different interests relevant to tragedy (according to Lamarque):
- Fictive: imaginative involvement in a story
- Literary: experience of an aesthetically unified theme revealed in actions
- Moral: experience of morally significant lessons/examples
- Stecker’s view: artistic value is plural, not unitary.
- JB: But art may still be a functional type defined by one or more ensemble of purposes.
- 4. Aesthetic value as the essential value of art: Budd’s theory
The intrinsic value of art works
- = the aesthetic value of art works
the intrinsic value of experiencing them understandingly
the intrinsic value of experiencing their formal and representational features
understandingly, as well as acquiring ethical sympathies and cognitive insights.
- Further explanations:
- Though an experience may include cognitive "insights" and ethical sympathies, these need not be veridical or ethically appropriate.
- If they are not veridical or ethically appropriate, they do not enhance the work’s aesthetic value; and therefore do not enhance its artistic value.
- JB: The "perspective" or "point of view" category is doubtfully correct for art; it is more plausible for aesthetic value.
- 5. Aesthetic value vs. instrumental value
- Is instrumental value any part of the artistic value of works?
- Certainly many instrumental values are extrinsic to artistic value. That supports Budd's idea.
- But can the “intrinsic” aesthetic value fail to be ultimately instrumental?
- Budd’s distinctions aimed at heading off this problem:
- Parts of the experience (intrinsic) vs. "mere benefits" of the experience (extrinsic)
- The experience being such as to produce effects (intrinsic) vs. the beneficial effects themselves (extrinsic)
- Stecker: the parts of the experience in and of themselves are not genuine benefits; only the after-experience carryovers are.
- Stecker: An experience being such as to cause a benefit is for it to be reliably instrumentally valuable, not intrinsically so.
- Stecker: Thus the value of the work, if derived from the aesthetic experience it provides, is ultimately instrumental. Budd’s “intrinsic value of the work” reduces to:
- Intrinsic value of the experience (valuable for its own sake)
- Experience being attainable (only) via the work: work is instrumental (perhaps uniquely so)
- JB: Budd’s distinctions are valid, but do not confirm Budd’s view.
- Aesthetic value is not the whole of intrinsic artistic value.
- Intrinsic artistic value = value intrinsic to the artistic purposes of the work.
- Extrinsic value of an art work = value not intrinsic to the artistic purposes of the work.
- Aesthetic, cognitive and moral values are exemplified or represented in works of art and can be experienced as such. The experience is intrinsically valuable but so are the works.
- Thus the works are not merely valuable instrumentally.
- 6. Stecker on artistic value as unique to art:
What is there that only art can give? Is art replaceable?
Does art at least offer experiences obtainable no other way?
- Yes (to the last), but experiences just as good may be otherwise obtainable.
- Unique is not = best.
- Criterion: Is the world poorer overall if unique value X is lost?
- Once an art work has given what it can give, is it dispensable?
- Enduring experiential value of work:
- (a) repeated experiences;
- (b) new experiences.
- Enduring thought-value of work:
- a) to remind us;
- b) to let us reconsider/reinterpret.
- Multiple good aspects ----> value likely to be enduring.
- 7. Do all artworks possess aesthetic value?
Does artistic value always include at least some aesthetic value?
- Sherrie Levine’s appropriative art: photos and objects (only cognitive value?)
- Inherited (borrowed, appropriated) aesthetic value.
- Anti-art art: Duchamps’ readymades (only a reference to aesthetic value?)
- Modest strategy re. universality of aesthetic value of art: best works have aesthetic value, parasitical works lack aesthetic value.
- Stecker: This won't even establish that art typically has aesthetic value.
- Ambitious strategy re. universality of aesthetic value of art: The problem works have some degree of aesthetic value.
- Stecker: Most of that value is extrinsic to the works, not intrinsic. And most is not clearly aesthetic value.
- Are daring, wit, impudence, etc., genuinely aesthetic properties?
- Stecker: Not unless they are grounded in aesthetic experience. In the problem cases it is doubtful that they are.
- JB: Distinguishing between the object and the presentation of the object may help solve the problem. The presentation has aesthetic properties the object presented may not and it may be the "artwork."
PHIL 431 Lecture 21: Stecker on artistic value (2)
- 8. Cognitive value
- Pervasiveness of cognitive value as a component of artistic value
- Knowledge of one’s particularized emotions, or of others’ attitudes, points of view, visions of life
- Collingwood, Langer, Danto
- Cognitive benefit does not require truth or accuracy, only significance or relevance.
- Broadened acquaintance with types, sharpened powers of observation are cognitive gains.
- Challenges to the cognitive value of art
- What evidence does art provide?
- How significant are the credible propositions conveyed by art?
- Cognitive value lies in new data and new ideas more than in reliable conclusions.
- How universal is this value in art?
- Stecker: Not universal. Only one of several main artistic values including:
- Aesthetic value
- Emotional-response value
- Art-historical value
- 9. Problems for a pluralist (nonessentialist)
- How to distinguish artistic from nonartistic value of art works
- Stecker’s answer: Nonartistic value can be assessed and understood without understanding, appreciating or experiencing the artistic character of the work.
- Clear examples: economic value, value as a mere physical object
- Disputable example: sentimental value
- How to cope with the implication that non-artworks have artistic values.
- Stecker’s answer:
- Non-art can certainly have some of the values important in art (e.g., aesthetic value, cognitive value); no paradox in this.
- Yet there is no reason to call those values artistic ones when speaking of non-art works -- i.e.,
- If we aren't inquiring what makes art valuable;
- Nor evaluating an artwork in terms of them.
- JB. Thinking of ensembles of value may resolve the problem: no non-art will likely have all typical art values of any genre of art.
- If it did wouldn't it be art?
- This may be assured by art-referential values being part of every such ensemble.
- This may mean the essentialism vs. non-essentialism distinction is hard to maintain.
- 10. Art as a practice with multiple and evolving values
- Comparison with religion as a practice: not all religious values need be unique to religion.
- How to define art as a practice:
JB. Can the existence, and esp. the flourishing of such a practice be conceived as aesthetically valuable? I think so.
- Note the clusters of properties in early artistic traditions, e.g.,
- Media and properties cultivated
- Skills developed
- Human interests
- Relations to other social practices (religious, agricultural, political, military)
- Develop an account of other practices to show differences and connections
- Then acknowledge a historical dimension in later art (Levinson)
- Keeping the tradition alive
- Expanding the tradition.
- JB. Can art so conceived be reasonably regarded as intrinsically valuable? I think so.
PHIL 431 Lecture 22: Stecker on interaction of ethical, aesthetic and artistic value
- 1. Ways in which artworks can have ethical value (or disvalue)
- Ethical microconsequences (personal)
- Ethical macroconsequences (broadly social)
- Expression of ethical judgments, attitudes, points of view (not just having controversial subject-matter)
- Others, e.g. unethical production-procedures (waste of scarce resources, abuse of animals or human remains, etc.)
- 2. Expressions of ethical judgments, attitudes, points of view
- When ascribable to the work?
(As in Ch. 7)
- Only when not just ascribable to character or narrator.
- Need they be assumed to be endorsed by the actual author?
- Unintended expression (inadvertent, accidental).
- Expression of merely presupposed or unthinkingly accepted values.
- Expression of values entertained non-committally, for reflection.
- 3. When does an expression have moral value?
- When morally correct? No, that's not enough for significant moral value.
- Only when it promotes virtue, discourages vice, enhances moral understanding, or promotes the serious exploration of moral issues.
- Morally bad expressions may have good moral effects.
- Moral uncertainty may have good moral effects (prompt serious moral reflection, reconsideration).
- A moral intention to do good may perhaps be needed for the expression itself to count as good.
- When is a work's exploring of ethical issues valuable even without a definite conclusion?
- Presenting clashing ethical values, conveying ethical struggles realistically (Green Henry).
- 4. Microconsequences (in experiencers of the work)
- Moral effect of direct engagement: work eliciting a morally significant response:
- Endorsement, antipathy, emulation, empathy, understanding (insight), reflection, deliberation.
- Status variations:
- Outcome variables: taken to heart/treated as a mere exercise.
- 5. Macroconsequences (in society at large)
- Do unintended consequences count toward the artistic value (or disvalue) of the work?
- Does the social value of the public response count toward its artistic value?
- JB: Can such value compensate, artistically, for aesthetic defects?
- Reasons against counting art’s social value as artistic value
- High contingency
- Lack of clear correlation between aesthetic and social value
- Replaceability and dispensability considerations
- Stecker: where intended, or intrinsic to the genre, social value is artistic value;
- Though it is not a central artistic value
- Ditto for microconsequences
- 6. JB: Example of political oratory raised to the level of art (Demosthenes, Lincoln,
Churchill, et al. – Hitler??)
- Intrinsic artistic value of such works vs. efficacy given the circumstances.
- Art-grade oratory vs. demagoguery
- 7. Stecker on interaction between ethical and aesthetic value
- Minimal conception of aesthetic experience is assumed. Accordingly:
- Aesthetic value of X = value of X’s capacity to deliver aesthetic experience of forms, qualities and meaning properties belonging to X.
- Case for (negative) ethical value sometimes detracting from the aesthetic value of X (vicious works).
- Affective response argument applied to ethically repugnant cases:
- A work may aesthetically ‘require’ an ethically repugnant response.
- Viewers ought not to comply with such a ‘requirement.’
- Works to which viewers ought not respond as aesthetically ‘required’ are
defective (to that extent).
- Ethically vicious works are aesthetically defective (to that extent).
- 8. Test cases:
- The Iliad: Seriously flawed Homeric warrior values presented as noble.
- The house of seven gables: Vindictive pleasure taken in villain’s death.
- Brideshead revisited: moral-religious presuppositions inhibit imaginative
- 9. Mitigating considerations in the case of masterworks like the Iliad:
- Historical distance of the Iliad
- Homeric society’s sincere conviction in the rightness of their values.
- Preponderance of genuinely moral values in the Homeric world-view.
- Dependence of some wrong value-beliefs on errors of fact.
- 10. Stecker’s reasons for overriding one’s moral repugnance in the case of the Iliad:
- Gratitude for access to a different well-functioning culture
- Admiration for the genuinely moral virtues in the Homeric world-view
- Belief that the Homeric morality was as moral as was possible at the time.
- Admiration for the central aesthetic properties of the work.
- Continuing relevance of even the wrong value-beliefs to present situations.
- JB: But can’t we still validly hold that the Iliad is somewhat diminished by its
- Stecker: This would be so only if the work would be artistically improved by
removing the flaws. That is not possible for us. But it might be for a 5th c.
- JB: It is not easy to be sure whether the moral flaws in Homeric epics can be removed without injury to other values.
- Would the Odyssey be morally improved by some indication that the author (or the work as a whole) disapproves of, say, the extreme violence of Odysseus’ revenge on the suitors but will the work retain its impressive unity.
- Increase of moral wisdom –> Decrease of unity (between protagonists’ views and view of work).
- How much change could be made without losing the original audience and thereby such value as it may have on their lives?
- 11. Stecker on lesser, and more nearly contemporary, works.
- Hawthorne: a moral flaw that is also an aesthetic flaw.
- Disunity of tone (aesthetic disunity) due to loss of moral perspective.
- Imaginary Green Henry: unconvincing class of incompatible values inhibits the reader's affective engagement.
- Waugh: dubious religious-moral presuppositions inhibit reader's affective response.
- The reverse of the coin Ellis' American Psycho: aesthetic fault defeats the moral purpose.
- JB: Would the response of the ideal viewer or reader be different from that of the average one that Stecker seems to have in mind?
- Should difficulty in responding be regarded as an aesthetic flaw or just a lack of suitability for an audience?
PHIL 431 Lecture 23: Stecker on the value of architecture
- 1. Architecture as an environmental art
- Obvious sense in which this is true (we inhabit buildings)
- An artificial environment that often interacts with natural environment
- Complex example: the Getty Museum Center:
- Buildings as interesting objects
- Buildings as functional/aesthetic spaces
- Buildings integrated into park setting
- Whole complex integrated into larger scene
- Views (interior, exterior, interior-to-exterior, exterior-to-interior)
- Tactual/coloristic appearances
- 2. Architectural intentions
- Functional intentions (re. shelter, living and working space, etc.)
- Formal intentions (re. shape, configuration, textures, color, ornament, etc.)
- Expressive intentions
- How many of these are relevant to aesthetic value?
- Many architectural intentions are not aesthetically relevant:
- Practical functionalities (economic, military, navigational)
- Most architectural products embody some aesthetic intentions.
- 3. How if at all can disputes about architectural value be resolved?
- Types of value:
- Aesthetic harmonies and disharmonies within and without
- Practical functionalities and dysfunctionalities within and without
- Aesthetic-ethico-religious harmonies and disharmonies
- Stylistic creativity relative to past works
- Example: McMansion in woods or on prairie
- Expressive of wasteful, environmentally irresponsible life-style
- Expressive of family values, hard work, frank pursuit of happiness
- Building-site aesthetic conflict
- Unethical wastefulness of scarce resources
- Strong/clear expressiveness of the values mentioned above.
- Basic difficulty: Multiplicity of doubtfully commensurable considerations.
- 4. Which architectural works are art and which are not?
- Is the art/nonart distinction correlated with aesthetic/nonaesthetic appreciation?
- Is it likely there is a clear art/nonart difference in architecture?
- Stecker on sufficient and necessary conditions of art vs. nonart
- 5. Is architecture an art form?
- Davies: No, because typical architectural works are not artworks
- Even though aesthetic considerations play some part in them
- Stecker: Not so fast.
- Historical tradition of architecture as a fine art.
- Institutional support of this status
- Analogies with other undoubted art forms: painting, music, poetry.
- 6. Architecture as a medium vs. architecture as an art form
- Artistic intentions [vs. sub-artistic intentions et al]
- Artistic institutions
- Artistic paradigms
- Artistic styles
- Artistic advances
- 7. JB: Artistic features unique to architecture
- Special problems of aesthetic appreciation of environmental structures
- Virtual endlessness of relevant views and experiences
- Limited co-availability of relevant views/experiences
- Inevitability of aesthetically bad views
- Ways of coping
- 8. JB: Thoughts about aesthetic values in principally practical functionalities
- Suitability/ingenuity/efficiency – can these be aesthetic properties?
- Beautifully suitable/ingenious/efficient arrangements solving complex problems.
Visuals for architecture and sculpture
The Getty Museum , Los Angeles
1. Still photos of the museum center: http://academic.reed.edu/getty/
2. Buildings, gardens, views; interior spaces, galleries, balconies, etc. 1:45 long.
Tim Hawkinson's Uberorgan in the Getty main gallery
1. The monster itself: 0:34 long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG8Q0C6UbPg
2. Tim Hawkinson's commentary on its creation: 1:23 long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTt0oMcr9pU&feature=related
3. Getty guide commentary: 2:42 long.
Guggenheim Museum , Bilbao , Spain
1. Gehry's Guggenheim Museum : 3:11 long
2. Frank Gehry's sketches: 2:07 long http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF_htTzTfN8&feature=related
Richard Serra's ensemble of works A Matter of Time (long views of the works in the gallery) Text by the artist: 0:01-1:25, 2:26 – 3:11
Charlie Rose and Richard Serra http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pat02mTv48M&NR=1
1. Material and sensibility
15:30-16:54 ; 38:49-41:00
2. Sculptural innovation : 21:38- 23:55
3. Inventing an unprecedented form, and the response of the viewers to the works : 32:20- 37:15
4. Artistic motivation: seeking beauty versus expanding perception: 23:55 – 25:45 : 48:30 – 49:50
5. Art versus architecture: 41:00 – 44:53
Visuals for architecture as an art (and for what is art in general)
1. Robert Crumb - grungy comic style
2. High fashion in clothing (haute couture)
3. High fashion in furniture, lamps, etc.: Charles Eames, John Townsend, Louis Tiffany.
4. Santiago Calatrava, Milwaukee Art Museum atrium
PHIL 431 Lecture 24: Review for the final exam (1)
- Topic 1. Reprise of Stecker’s minimal conception of aesthetic experience
- Experience E is aesthetic = E is derived from attending in a discriminating manner to forms, qualities, or meaningful features of things for their own sake or for the payoff intrinsic to E.
- What ingredients does E have?
- Noticing of forms, qualities, and meaning properties
- Valuing/enjoying/admiring of those forms, qualities and meaning properties (as above)
- Valuing/enjoying/admiring of those noticings or other experiential responses to the forms, etc. (as above)
- Query: what do we do with experiences of displeasure/disfavor? Can’t they be aesthetic experiences?
- Stecker: it is optionally non-aesthetic or negatively aesthetic.
- Query: what counts as a payoff intrinsic to E?
- Since E is derived from attending (as above), then any pleasure derived from that attending should be an ingredient.
- Does that mean calmed nerves, sexual pleasure, etc. can be ingredients?
- Possible answer (JB): Yes, but only if it does not interfere with the noticings.
- 2. How does Stecker’s conception differ from the others?
- Content-directed conception: attention alone; hedonic element is extraneous. (52-54)
- Aesthetic property conception: attention to aesthetic properties (APs)
- Aesthetic property valuing conception: attention to + hedonic response to APs
- Levinson’s: attention [as in Stecker] + attention to emergence of APs from base
- Budd’s: [not clearly different from Stecker’s]
- 3. Enrichment of Stecker’s minimal conception (JB)
- Points covered at the end of Lecture 8
- Aesthetic property valuing conception with qualifications:
- Allowance for experiences which are only partly or slightly aesthetic (toaster case)
- Allowance for AP-cognitions when aesthetically motivated, even if value-noncommittal
- Allowance for cognitively defective experiences (undiscriminating, mistaken)
- JB: This conception is arguably better capable of handling cases than the minimal conception.
- Distinctions worth drawing:
- Aesthetically perceptive experience
- Aesthetically appreciative experience
- Aesthetically consummatory experience
- Aesthetic perceptive experience includes passing recognition of aesthetic value; aesthetically appreciative experience dwells on that value.
- Topic 2. Defining art as opposed to non-art
- Material from Ch. 5 (see final exam listing)
- Stecker’s distinction, Ch. 12, between a medium and an art form
- Stecker's summation, pp. 238-9
- Stecker’s distinction between a conception and a practice.
- How essential are aesthetic properties (evaluative or descriptive) to a thing being a work of art?
- How crucial is aesthetic value to artistic value?
- Does art require at least a minimum of artistic value?
- How is popular art related to high art?
- How are decorative arts and crafts related to fine art?
- Notable high-culture adoptions of popular art forms? Case of Philip K. Dick. See the URL below.
PHIL 431 Lecture 25: Review for final exam (2)
Peter Gabriel produced Stefan Roloff's FACE:
Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night:
Clancy Brothers sing street ballad, Tim Finnegan's Wake:
James Joyce reading from Finnegan's Wake:
Ezra Pound reading his poem A Virginal:
Topic 3: Interpretation
- Why do author’s intentions have to be taken into account at all?
- Several varieties of actual intentionalism are not mentioned, but the reasons for rejecting them are worth reviewing.
- Note the complex form Stecker’s moderate actual intentionalism takes when all qualifications are in. Explain each element, using examples. Review Lecture 15.
- Give the objections and Stecker’s answers in detail, with illustrations.
- Hypothetical intentionalism:
Stecker’s versions 1 and 2 and the reasons he rejects them
JB’s modification of HI, versions 1 and 2.
JB’s answers to Stecker (inconsistencies, misuses)
- Ideal reader hypothesizes that the author would & should accept correction.
- Such faults do mar the text to some degree. Measures to offset them.
- Normality of fault-free realization of intentions is essential to a literary tradition.
- Also consult the discussion of HI and MAI re. expressiveness.
- Topic 4: Musical expressiveness
- See exam topic break-down.
- Stecker’s moderate actual intentionalism spelled out and defended.
- W is S-expressive = intends that hearers apprehend W as being S and as being so
intended; or hearers can apprehend W as being S by a quasi-perception of S in W.
- Hypothetical intentionalism defended against the persona view
- Review Lecture 18 and 19 (#7)
- What limitations are there in regard to the emotions that can be expressed by pure music?
- Which of the various explanations of musical expressiveness seems to you best?
- Can the key ideas of all these theories be combined into a single theory?
PHIL 431 Last Lecture: Final Exam prep (3)
- Topic 5: Value in art
- Which sort of value is most basically artistic?
- Aesthetic value?
- Cognitive value?
- Ethical value?
- Do the arts, or the forms of art, differ in regard to which value is most basic?
- Verbal art vs. non-verbal art?
- Entertainment art vs. serious art?
- Popular art vs. high art
- Decorative vs. fine art
- Which sorts of value are not at all artistic, though often possessed by art and may be instrumentally valuable in promoting art?
- Non-artistic utilitarian values
- Non-artistic cognitive values
- Is there an ensemble of artistic values that is unique to art?
- An ensemble unique to given art forms?
- An ensemble unique to all art forms?
- How valuable is art in relation to other domains of culture, e.g., social life, professional life, non-artistic recreations?
- Popular art?
- Traditional serious/high art?
- Contemporary serious/high art?
- How much value could a life largely dedicated to art contain? (Croce's Vissi d'arte).
- What lesser ambitions for a significantly artistic life are reasonable for you personally?
PHIL 431 Final Exam Fall 2008
Write on two of the following topics, devoting at least 50 minutes to each. Prepare your answer before coming into class. During the test you may use an outline (outline) of your essays not to exceed 100 words for each. Turn in the outline along with the test booklet.
Do not write on a topic on which you wrote your term paper.
If you did not write on aesthetic experience on the midterm or in your term paper, write on it in this final exam.
1. Aesthetic experience
Explain Stecker’s “minimal” conception of aesthetic experience. (47f., 237f.)
In what sense is this conception “minimal” compared with other options?
In particular, in what respects does it differ from Levinson’s conception?
What additions and modifications does the lecturer propose? (Lect 8 plus)
Don't write on this topic if you wrote on #4 on the midterm test. If you did not write on #4 on the midterm, and did not take it as your topic on the term paper, then write on it now.
2. Defining art as opposed to non-art
Explain the objections to one-concept definitions (Collingwood’s, Bell’s, etc.).
Explain the alternative cluster-concept definition using art-relevant properties (Gaut).
Explain Levinson’s intentional-historical definition and his answers to objections.
How does Stecker’s historical functionalism differ from Levinson’s view?
Explain Stecker’s distinctions: medium vs. art form, perspective vs. practice.
How essential are aesthetic properties (evaluative or descriptive) to a thing's being a work of art?
Stecker’s examples of nonaesthetic art works – are they convincing?
Does art require at least a minimum of artistic value?
How is popular art related to high art? How are decorative arts related to high art?
Explain and illustrate the reasons for rejecting simple actual intentionalism.
Explain Stecker’s reasons for endorsing moderate actual intentionalism, including his rebuttal
of objections to it. Cite relevant examples.
Explain the version of (ideal) hypothetical intentionalism endorsed by the lecturer, especially
where it differs from Stecker’s view and from the two versions Stecker gives on p. 139.
Which theory do you find most credible? Explain your reasons.
4. Expressiveness in music and lyric poetry
Explain the difference between a work being an expression of S and being S-expressive?
How can instrumental music by itself function expressively?
By evoking emotion? What difficulties are there in this view?
By presenting the phenomenal appearance of emotion? (Davies’ view)
By combining phenomenal appearance with evocation of empathic response? (Ridley’s view) By conveying the impression of a persona’s emotion? (Levinson’s view)
By entitling the hearer to infer the intent to convey emotion? (Hypothetical intentionalism)
Stecker’s explanation of musical expressiveness via moderate actual intentionalism.
In what ways does expressiveness in lyric poetry differ from musical expressiveness?
Does lyric poetry require a different theory of expressiveness? Explain.
5. Artistic value
Aesthetic value: how central is it in artistic value? Is it ever completely absent where artistic value is present?
Cognitive value: what sorts of cognitive value are artistically relevant?
Moral value: what sorts of moral value are artistically relevant?
Also, is costliness or rarity of materials ever a genuinely artistic value?
Illustrate your explanations with examples.
Is artistic value in any sense a single value, as opposed to a bundle of distinct values? Is it
perhaps a single coherent (or natural) value-ensemble?
Is it important that the artistic value of a work be unique to that work, or at least unique to art?