Aesthetics is a word that I keep scampering around in my research. Lucky there’s a reader for that (Aesthetics by Feagin and Maynard).
The word derives from the Greek word for perception, generally used in relation to what is valuable about experiences as perceptual experiences. Commonly for what is visually pleasing; philosophically in relation to visual and auditory experiences (ongoing debates about gustatory and kinesthetic). Also associated w/ imagination, and creativity (as opposed to reason/logic).
Psychology suggests perception is ‘cognitively informed’: ‘formed’ or ‘shaped’ by beliefs etc.
An experience has a unity that gives it its name.
An experience of thinking has its own esthetic quality – differs from aesthetic experiences only in its materials: “the material of the fine arts consists of qualities; that of experience having intellectual conclusion are signs or symbols having no intrinsic quality of their own, but standing for things that may in another experience be qualitatively experienced. The difference is enormous. It is one reason why the strictly intellectual art will never be as popular as music is popular. Nevertheless, the experience itself has a satisfying emotional quality because it possesses internal integration and fulfillment reached through ordered and organised movement.”
[Some ties in to flow]
The opposite of the aesthetic (esthetic): those that are loose, humdrum; those that are rigid
“The enemies of the aesthetic are neither the practical nor the intellectual. They are the humdrum; slackness of loose ends; submission to convention in practice and intellectual procedure. Rigid abstinence, coerced submission, tightness on one side and dissipation, incoherence and aimless indulgence on the other, are deviations in opposite directions from the unity of an experience .”
Aristotle on ‘’mean proportional’ for virtue/aesthetic.
“esthetic quality that rounds out an experience into completeness and unity” = emotional
PAUL OSKAR KRISTELLER
Greek/Latin term for art included craft and sciences (as well as modern day fine art). Also understood as being something that could be taught (as opposed to being innate in modern day society).
Art vs Nature – in Greek (Hippocrates) art is general human nature, in Goethe/Schiller, it is poetry etc.
Plato – art above mere routine because of its rational prinicples/rules, Aristotle list Art in intellectual virtues and based on knowledge.
Stoics saw beauty as moral goodness (i.e. moral usefulness).]
Plato’s Republic – top fine arts poetry, music, mathematics; below, painting, sculpture, architecture
Martianus Capella – seven liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric [poetry linked with these two], dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music. [Note lack of visual arts]
Renaissance: painting/visual arts began to rise beginng with Vimabue/Giotto and reached its climax in C16th (Renaissance) – Campanile of Florence shows painting, sculpture and architecture in a separate group between the liberal and mechanical arts. This time sees close links be made between the visual arts, sciences, and literature, resulting in artists such as Alberti who was accomplished in all fields is a sign of the times. Renaissance writers [arguably?] helped visual arts move up the ranks, and Da Vinci tried to define painting as a science/emphasise relation to mathematics.
In Italy here, and in Europe later, three visual arts – painting, sculpture, and architecture – were separated from the crafts (Vasari ‘Arti del disegno’, 1563 creation of Academy of Art or Accademia del Disegno thus breaking apart from the craftsmen’s guilds).
Also many treatises C16-18 on parallel between painting and poetry.
Abbie Batteux – Les beaux arts réduits à un même principe (1746) codifies the new system
Fine arts (separated from the mechanical arts): music, poetry, painting, sculpture, the dance
Combining pleasure and usefulness: eloquence, architecture.
Central treatise ‘imitation of beautiful nature’ is common to all arts (had critics for theory of imitation, however, this theme was needed to overcome the ancient grouping, only when the formation was storng could the linking theme be discarded).
Diderot criticised the method, but burnished it.
D’Alembert Discours préliminaire – sees philosophy (which comprises of both the natural sciences and fields such as grammar, eloquence, and history) as different from ‘those cognitions which consist of imitation’ – painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music …
He subdivides the liberal arts into fine arts (pleasure for their end), liberal arts (e.g. grammar, lic and morals).
Main division of knowledge – philosophy, history, and fine arts.
Threefold knowledge follows Bacon, but d’Alembert has five fine arts while Bacon had only one (poetry).
C18th’s Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury’s ideal of the virtuoso did not include the science, but centred in arts and moral life.
Joseph Addison’s essays on imagination (1712) are early examples of emphasising “that facility, but also attribute the pleasures of the imagination to the various arts as well as to natural sights … he constantly refers to gardening and architecture, painting and sculpture, poetry and music, and makes it quite clear that the pleasures of the imagination are to be found in their works and products.”
Shaftesbury > Scottish thinkers, Hutcheson.
Diderot’s Encyclopedie had huge impact in Europe. After 1760, courses on aesthetics were offered in Germany based on Baumgarten and Meier. [There is an engraving in the 1769 Weimar version showing the tree of arts/sciences as given by D’Alembert - “putting the visual arts, poetry and music with their subdivisions under the general branch of imagination.”]
Younger generation initially rebelled (young Goether did not like Sulzer “ridicul[ing] the grouped together of all the arts which are so different from each other in their aims and means of expression, a system which reminds him of the old fashioned system of the seven liberal arts, and add that this system may be useful to the amateur but certainly not to the artist”).
Kant – first major philosopher to include aesthetics and the philosophical throy of the arts as an integral part of his system. (Decasrtes, Dpinoza, Leibniz etc did not separate
Beautiful and sublime comes from Burke. ‘Critique of Judgement’ has large division dedicated to aesthetics, toehr teleology – system is presented as 3-way division of mind – jusdegement (easthetic and teleological) to pure and practical reason. Aesthetics -philosophical theory of beauty and arts, acquires equal standing with the theory of truth (metaphysics or epistemology) and the theory of goodness (ethics).
Review – grouping of visual arts with poetry and music into modern system of fine arts did not exist in classical antiquity, Middle Ages or Renaissance, but:
- Ancients contributed the comparison between poetry and painting, theory of imitation (later used to establish a link between painting and sculpture, poetry and music).
- Renaissance gave emancipation of three major visual arts from the crafts, multiplied the comparisons between the various arts (esp. between painting and poetry) and laid the ground for an amateur interest int he different arts that tended to bring them together from the point of view of the reader, spectator and listener rather than that of the artists.
- 17th century witnessed the emancipation of the natural sciences and thus prepared the way for a clearer separation between the arts and the sciences.
- Early 18th century (esp. England and France) – produced elaborate treatises written by and for amateurs in which the various fine arts were grouped together, compared and combined in a systematic scheme based on common principles.
- Late 18th century (esp. Germany) added comparative/theoretical treatment of fine arts as a separate discipline into the system of philosophy. (Modern system thus pre-monantirc in origin, though all romantic as well as later aesthetics take this system as its necessary bases).
- Possible reasons for genesis in 18th century – rise in prestige of painting and music, rise of literary and art criticism, above all rise of a n amateur public to which these were addressed. “Ty effect that the affinity between the various fine arts is more plausible to the amateur, who feels a comparable kind of enjoyment, than to the artist himself, who is concerned with the peculiar aims and techniques of his art, is obvious in itself and in confirmed by Goether’s reaction. The origin of modern aesthetic in amateur criticism would go a long way to explain why works of art have been until recently been analysed by aestheticians from the point of view of the spectator, reader and listener rather than of the producing artist.”
Importance of various arts have changed over times (e.g. gardening has not been a fine art since the 18th century) and are thus arbitrary.
Changes in modern times – incorporation of moving image, painting has moves away from literature, music closer, crafts have taken great stride sto recover their earlier standing as decorative arts.
Realisation of the arbitrary history of aesthetics, and irrelevance in many fields of its poetic pillar, esp. as there becomes a greater awareness so f the different techniques of the various arts.
New philosophers are also considering art and the aesthetic realm as a pervasive aspect of human experience rather than as a specific domain of the conventional fine arts.
“To some degree art is everywhere talked about in what may be called craft terms–in terms of tonal progressions, colour relations, or prosodic shapes. This is especially true in the West where subjects like harmony or pictorial composition have been developed to the point of minor sciences , and the modern move towards aesthetic formalism, best represented right now by structuralism. But hte craft approach to art tolk is hardly confined to either the West or hte modern age, as the elaborate theories of Indian musicology, Javanese choreography, Arabic versification, or Yoruba embossment remind us. Even the Australian aborigines, everybody’s favourite example of primitive peoples, amalyse their body design and ground paintings into dozens of isolable adn named formal elements, unit graphs in an iconomic grammar of representation.”
Matisse– the means of an art and the feeling for life that animates it are inseparable.
Despite feelings that ‘primitive’ cultures do not talk about art, they do–but in ways that seem like business, or social (e.g. the quality of a made product will determine who it is given to).
“But the central connection between art and collective life does not lie on such as instrumental [craft] plane, it lies on a semiotic one… they materialise a way of experiencing; bring a particular cast of mind out into the world of objects, where men can look at it.
“THe signs of sign elements–Matisse’s yellow, the Yoruba’s slash–that make up a semiotic system we want, for theoretical purposes, to call aesthetic are ideationally connected to the society in which they are found, not mechanically. They are, in a phrase of Roert Goldwater’s, primary documents…”
Discussion with Western aesthetics and religious paintings:
“[The religious artists’ work] to the wider culture was interactive or, as Baxandall puts it, complementary. […]The public does not need, as Baxandall remarks, what it has already got. What it needs is an object rich enough to see it in; rich enough, even, to, in seeing, deepen it.[…]
Art is made from culture, the theories intertwine, and must not b judged on universal terms.
“If there is a commonality, it lies in the fact that certain ideas are visible, audible, and–one needs to make a word up here – tactible, that they can be cast in forms where the sense, and through the senses the emotions, can reflectively address them. The variety of artistic expression stems from the variety of conception men have about the way things are, and is indeed the same variety ”.
Once an object ‘moves up’ into being an art object (the ‘durable category’), it never goes back–it is no longer the object.
The phenomenology of our experience of art:
- Art works are not transient but endure
- Most art is kept out of circulation and not exchanged
- Forgeries are worthless
- Art has no practical purpose or economic use
- Works of art must pass through the wastebasket, in most instances
Beauty≠significant form – a butterfly has material beautiful but does not move us [?]
A framework for emotion:
- Pleasure – a positive feeling on its own
- Delight – the ceasing/reducing of pain
- The sublime is the object that causes pain and delight
(Schopenhhauer is the opposite, saying pain is a positive feeling on its own and pleasure a mere reduction)
Texts are not writing, they are a methodological field, plural (irreducible plurality, not a coexistence of meanings but passage, traversal), caught between determination of work by outssie work, consecution of works among themselves, an allocation of work to its author.
Reading in the sense of consuming is not playing with (as like an instrument) the text.