Value of Art - Philosophy AQA AS - Complete Revision Notes

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We value art because of its expressive qualities
Aristotle provides one of the earliest accounts that art can affect us emotionally
He outline's the term CATHARSIS ­ literally means `cleansing' or `purging'
He uses this term to describe the audience's feelings at the end of a play.
The audience become attached to characters and enter the play with them. They witness
the drama and the affects of their fatal mistakes. At the end, after being through a tumult
of emotion the audience emerges emotionally purged
We value art because of its expressive qualities
- art affects us emotionally
In his novel What is Art he puts forward a similar account to Aristotle.
The artist experiences emotion and coveys this emotion in which the audience feel the
same emotions as the artist.
What is important for Tolstoy is the moral worth/quality of the emotions portrayed.
Art that may convey the emotions of lust, jealously and anger is less worth than art that
portrays the `higher' feelings of selflessness, charity and love.
Is Tolstoy guilty of assuming that art should serve a moral/political/religious purpose?
Under Tolstoy's circumstances many great works of art would be less worthy than others.
Richard Wagner's Ring of the Niebelungen is dismissed by Tolstoy as the emotions
conveyed are those not of universal benevolence.
We value art because of its expressive qualities
- the role of conscious expression
Both idealists ­ see the priority of things in the mind as opposed to material things
They make a distinction between intellectualised, conceptual thought and what Croce terms
`intuition', or Collingwood `imagination'
Croce: "Knowledge has two forms; it is either intuitive knowledge or logical knowledge; knowledge
obtained through the imagination or knowledge obtained through the intellect"
This `intuition' allows the mind to grasp the essence of an object without categorising it in the
way we do when we think.
Artistic knowing is quite different to intellectual knowing.
Conscious expression is for both of them, the sole criteria for assessing art
A composer composing religious music would be condemned for its insufficient purity of

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Art must be a certain type of `pure' expression.
For Collingwood, this was certainly the case, he believed that a truly expressive artist
has no other motives for art than artistic expression itself; so moved is the artist they do
not know the outcome of their expression until the artwork is complete.
`Pure' expression in art brings greater clarity and refinement
We value art because of its expressive qualities
The romantic artist is someone who expresses a great deal of real emotion.…read more

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Emotion as Irrational
Emotional expression can be viewed as irrational and therefore dangerous
Plato particularly thought that this aspect of art should be controlled and regulated
German Romantics had a sympathy for suicide and saw it as a valid response to
emotional trauma
This can be seen as irrational as suicide is often linked to depressed and mental illness
We are also cautious of people who lose complete control of their emotions; in everyday life
all expression is not valued.…read more

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It allows for greater understanding of life
This can be seen in valuing art because of its ability to imitate real life
By looking at representations we can gain a deeper view of existence.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is particularly famous because of its recreation of Russian
aristocratic life.
If we can recognise life in art it makes us more engaged with the drama. For example, if you
are to recognise a particular character type in a drama.…read more

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In his Critique of Judgement Kant's criteria for assessing Art remains influential to this day. He
describes four `moments' or stages in the aesthetic judgement of beauty.
1. A feeling characterised by disinterestedness.
There should be no feelings of possession or strong emotions aroused. For example, unlike
Pornography, a naked portrait of a woman is there for contemplation and not to stir certain
2. Universality
The object should be beautiful to all who behold it
3.…read more

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Although Hume suggests that aesthetic judgements are subjective, he does defend that
there is such a thing as a standard of taste.
This is the collective resource of humanity derived from experience which results in a broad
consensus about a common human sentiment.
1. He suggests the `test of time' is one way of examining the common universality of a
piece of art.
2. He suggests we can follow the collective reason of highly competent art critics.
These critics must have a `delicacy of taste'.…read more

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This may lead us with new views on the world, however is it really informing us or can we find
this insight from other avenues?
John Boyne's Boy in The Striped Pyjamas is a fictional novel but actually portrays an
informative and deeply moving account of Nazi Germany. Perhaps this is more useful than
looking at a piece of art work as it portrays the horrors of fascism.
Reflecting on this we can see that art does provide limitations.…read more

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E.g. We do not look at a painting of a sad lady and infer that she has a chemical imbalance
and therefore she is feeling emotions of sadness. We look to see why she is sad.
It is up to us as individuals to integrate competing visions of human life into an overall coconut
of truth.…read more

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Kant's account of aesthetic appreciation sits very naturally with the argument of formalism.
The states of mind appropriate for aesthetic appreciation, such as disinterestness,
universality, neutrality and distance would appear to leave you appreciating the formal
We value art because of its `artistic' qualities
Does form exist?
Form is largely a philosophical abstraction.…read more

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Perhaps we can, I can appreciate the forms of Hitler by Conrad Hommel but I do
appreciate the formal qualities.
With Music especially, how can we separate the rhythm from the words of the song? Is music
such as Kanye West's truly art though? Perhaps to expressionists it would be.…read more


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