value of art

aesthetics, what is the value of art and what actually is art anyway?

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David Hume on 'taste'

  • most important thing about art is the pleasure we derive from it
  • this is from our sentiments, not from art itself.
  • Hume believed moral judgements weren't of objective moral truths, but expressions of our sentiments. also with art.
  • wide variety of view confirms this
  • is there an objective standard of judgement about art?
  • Hume -no.
  • but there is 'standard' of taste -from human nature.
  • only pleasure explains power of art to attract us. but tragedy? still attracted to unpleasantness.
  • we value the feeling art gives us but art shouldn't just pleasure


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we value art because it informs us

thinking about art in philosophy is modern. -since 18th C, art realized different from craft.

except Plato + Aristotle

Kant -Critique of Judgement, 4 'moments' in aesthetic judgement of beauty:

  • feeling of 'disinterestedness' not strong/possesive
  • 'universality' -beautiful(not a 'concept', no fixed rules to prove what is beauty) to everyone
  • 'the form of purposiveness' judgements of beauty have no end(unlike morals) encourage range with objects/feelings
  • not everyone feels same but ought to. judgement have element of necessity no rules linking subject +object -is aesthetic appreciation, pleasure in self.
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example: David- Michelangelo

  • admire beauty -no strong 'active' feelings e.g. jealousy/anger
  • beauty that transcends culture +time
  • encourages wider reflection -courage, idealism, human fragility
  • this experience of beauty should be shared by all

aesthetic judgement -subjective: no universal/absolute judgements or objective: one judgement could be universally true/false
'crude subjectivism' no rules of judgement, criteria. just individual preferences
Hume -subjective. feeling not thought, not object. 'the very feelingconstitutes our praise or admiration'

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More Hume on Art

the 'sentiment' = the beauty of the object

but there are 'standards of taste' (see previous card) -collective resource of humanity from experience -broad consensus about common human sentiment

& - 'test of time' -appreciated by many generations =quality

part of standards -highly competent critics -practice, avoid prejudice, need confirmation

can have mistakes

mistakes- objective?

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what is the purpose of art?

greater understanding of life

representations -vividly realistic/ highly idealistic

paintings value -resemblance, drama -recognize characters

Art as imitation

plato -forms(not physical, oraganising principle, every 'particular' example shares 'univeral' features) book X -The Republic

art -mere copy of copy-further from forms = falsehood -hides real life, not of how things are, how they appear

-art could excite strong emotions -irrational

positive view to forms e.g. Hercules +the Centaur -attempts go beyond physical -idealised version of man. universal 'truth' of man, nature/drama


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art as representation that conveys 'truth'

Aristotle -art can convey universal truths really welle.g. Shakespeare -King Lear, effects us more deeply, we learn better from stories/images e.g. Aesop's fables. should bring better understanding whole nature of experience. aspects wouldn't usually see.

non-musical art usually representational. artistic vocab shows close link. 'likeness''realistic portrayal'.

naturalistic representations, devotional- religious

music e.g. Tchaikovsky- 'charge of the light brigade'

impressionism-fuller grasp of reality -movement, better understanding light

expressionism-greater emotional depth +vigour

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