Thursday, September 2, 2010

Should Philosophy of Art Rule Aesthetics?

Christopher Dowling rejects the idea that "Experiences from daily life can afford paradigm instances of aesthetic expeirence.  Such experiences are not bound by the limitation and conventions that temper discussions of aesthetic value in the philosophy of art." "The Aesthetics of Daily Life," British Journal of Aesthetics 50:3 (July 2010)  325-342.  He thinks that some pleasures are not aesthetic pleasures and that thre are some judgments that are too trivial to be considered aesthetic.  They, or rather judgments concerning them, are trivial in the sense that they do not "require others to engage with them."  Scratching an itch, although pleasurable, is too subjective to be aesthetic.  Dowling supports an art-centered approach to aesthetics of everyday life where norms are important.  On his view, you have to be able to say which responses are appropriate and which are not.  I am frankly not sure what my view of this is.  I am suspicious of claims that people have to follow rules when making aesthetic judgments but I do agree that some pleasures are not sufficiently contemplative or reflective to be considered aesthetic.  The pleasures of scratching an itch can be contemplative and even reflective, but they are generally trivial and purely subjective.  I am also suspicous of making appreciation of art the paradigm for aesthetic appreciation in general:  after all, art appreciation involves attending to the intentions of the artist, and this is not needed in appreciation of nature, nor is it always needed in appreciation of everyday life phenomena.

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