Is there an Aesthetic Point of View? Adapted from Monroe C. Beardsley (1915-1985), вЂњAesthetic Point of ViewвЂќ in Perspectives in Education, Religion, and the Arts: Contemporary Philosophic Art, edited by Howard E. Kiefer and Milton K. Munitz (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press1970). What is peculiarly aesthetic? The effort to discover the uniquely aesthetic aspect, component, or ingredient in whatever is or is experienced has been considered greatly, thus giving evidence that there is something is peculiarly aesthetic (pg. 219): Aesthetic experience Aesthetic value Aesthetic enjoyment Aesthetic satisfaction Aesthetic objects Aesthetic situations But what is the nature of aesthetics has been elusive, widely debated, and surprisingly motivating in philosophy. To understand an Aesthetic Point of View: If the notion of the aesthetic point of view can be made clear, it should be useful from the philosophical point of view: 1st: To understand a particular point of view, we must envision its alternatives. вЂў Eg., a well-building has three conditions: commodity (architectural; practical), firmness (engineering), and delight (experience). An aesthetic point of view could be in terns of being вЂњgood of a kind.вЂќ (e.g., building. The kind is architecture, the good is focusing on whether it is a good work of architecture). a. We judge it in relation to its kind. But the вЂњpoint of viewвЂќ terminology is more elastic than the вЂњgood of its kindвЂќ terminology. To consider a bridge or music or sculpture as an aesthetic object is to consider it from the aesthetic point of view but what about a mountain, sea shell, or a tiger? But if A sea shell canвЂ™t be good sculpture if it is not sculpture at all. What about the installation of an вЂњinvisible sculptureвЂќ behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art? The installation consisted in digging a grave-size hole and filling it in again. Sam GreenвЂ™s comments are interesting (he is N.Y. cityвЂ™s architectural consultant): вЂњThis is a conceptual work of art and is as much valid as something you can actually see. Everything is art if it is chosen by the artist to be art. You can say it is good art or bad art, but you canвЂ™t say it isnвЂ™t art. Just because you canвЂ™t see a statue doesnвЂ™t mean that it isnвЂ™t thereвЂќ (pg. 222). 2nd Philosophical use of the notion of the aesthetic point of view is to provide a broad concept of art that might be helpful for certain purposes: вЂњA work of art (in the broad sense) is any perceptual or intentional object that is deliberately regarded from the aesthetic point of view.вЂќ вЂњRegardingвЂќ would include вЂњlookingвЂќ, вЂњlisteningвЂќ, вЂњreadingвЂќ, and other similar acts of attention, and вЂњexhibitingвЂќ-picking up an object and placing it where it readily permits such attention, or presenting the object to persons acting as spectators (pg. 222). What then is the aesthetic point of view (pp. 222-23). вЂњTo adopt the aesthetic point of view with regard to X is to take an interest in whatever aesthetic value X may possessвЂќ (pg. 222). Rather, a broader definition for Beardsley may be better: вЂњTo adopt an aesthetic point of view with regard to X is to take an interest in whatever aesthetic value that X may possess or that is obtainable by means of XвЂќ (pg. 223). To adopt an aesthetic point of view would include the following: a. Judging (estimate value of X) by appealing to certain canons of reasoning, rules of evidence. But which are the aesthetic rules of evidence? a. Provides aesthetic gratification which other kinds of values do not. 1. Unity, complexity, and intensity (pg. 225). вЂњGratification is aesthetic when it is obtained primarily from attention to the formal unity and/or the regional qualities of a complex whole, and when its magnitude is a function of the degree of formal unity and/or the intensity of regional qualityвЂќ (pg. 225). The above definition is substantiated by the following statement: вЂњThe amount of aesthetic value possessed by an object is a function of the degree of aesthetic gratification it is capable of providing in a particular experience of it.вЂќ a. What a work does provide, it clearly can provide? Three difficulties that have been raised against the capacitydefinition of aesthetic value (pp. 226-235): 1. 2. 3. 4. Unrecognized masterpiece problem, i.e., the problem of falsification (jewels buried in the ground); LSD problem; i.e., the problem of illusion; Edgar Rice Burroughs problem; i.e., the problem of devaluation. Devaluation is due to the shift in our value grades caused by enlargement of our range of experience; we can overestimate the aesthetic gratification of X; Also have the range of aesthetic value to consider: Some take it too widely (e.g., art is a junkyard) and others too possibly too narrowly (should we consider The Deputy by Rolf Hochmuth as being art?). вЂњWhat does follow is that there is a certain asymmetry between negative and affirmative judgments, with respect to the degree of confirmation; but this is so between negative and affirmative existential statements in general. The experienced critic may have good reason in many cases not only for confessing that he finds little value in a painting, but for adding that very probably no one ever will find great value in itвЂќ (pg. 227).вЂќ (2) If aesthetic value involves capacity, then its presence can no doubt be sufficiently attested by a single realization. What a work does provide, it can clearly provideвЂќ (pg. 227).вЂќ Given the difficulties mentioned, like the LSD and devaluation problem, it may prove worthwhile to modify the earlier definition: вЂњThe aesthetic value of X is the value that X possesses in virtue of its capacity to provide aesthetic gratification when correctly experiencedвЂќ (pg. 228). Be a reliable or dependable source of gratification and a repeatable experience. But there are time when we see object X only once. Are they reliable? They certainly could be. вЂњThe aesthetic value of X is the value that X possesses in virtue of its capacity to provide aesthetic gratification when correctly and completely experienced. But we need to acknowledge as well there are is the possibility that there may be situations in which it is morally objectionable to adopt the aesthetic point of view (e.g., The Deputy by Roth HochmuthвЂ™s play) (pg. 234). Conclusion is two-fold: A. There are occasions on which it would be wrong to adopt the aesthetic point of view because there is a conflict of values and the values that are in peril are, in that particular case, clearly higher (235-6): (e.g., taking pictures of a murder while it is taking place or assisting the victim, ending the potential crime). B. There is nothing-no object or event- that is per se wrong to consider from the aesthetic point of view. This, I think is part of the truth in the art-for-artвЂ™s-sake doctrine. To adopt this view is simply to seek out a source of value. There can be no moral error to realize value.