Aesthetics and Morality (Bloomsbury Aesthetics)

Aesthetics and Morality (Bloomsbury Aesthetics)

Elisabeth Schellekens

Language: English

Pages: 172

ISBN: 0826497624

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Aesthetic and moral value are often seen to go hand in hand. They do so not only practically, such as in our everyday assessments of artworks that raise moral questions, but also theoretically, such as in Kant's theory that beauty is the symbol of morality. Some philosophers have argued that it is in the relation between aesthetic and moral value that the key to an adequate understanding of either notion lies. But difficult questions abound. Must a work of art be morally admirable in order to be aesthetically valuable? How, if at all, do our moral values shape our aesthetic judgements - and vice versa?

Aesthetics and Morality is a stimulating and insightful inquiry into precisely this set of questions. Elisabeth Schellekens explores the main ideas and debates at the intersection of aesthetics and moral philosophy. She invites readers to reflect on the nature of beauty, art and morality, and provides the philosophical knowledge to render such reflection more rigorous. This original, inspiring and entertaining book sheds valuable new light on a notably complex and challenging area of thought.

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appreciation clearly nowadays also have an archaeological or historical value. For. to us, they stand as testimonies to cultures and peoples past; they not only corroborate some of the things we alre ady know about them but also hint at new avenues of research and exploration into our j oint history. By acquainting ourselves with them, we get a better grasp of some aspects of our predecessors' lives and belief systems. Cave paintings may, along with some other archaeological artefacts, therefore

the words of Noel Carroll. 58 ART AS A SOURCE OF UNDERSTANDING [i]n the course of engaging with a given narrative we may need to reorganize the hierarchical orderings of our moral categories and premises, or to reinterpret those categories and premises in the light of new p aradigm instances and hard cases, or to reclassify bar e ly acknowledge d phenomena afresh. ( 1 998a: 142) This may not constit u te particularly strong or indeed unique moral knowledge, but, nonetheless, allows for

artistic value will serve us well here, because it is one thing to say that moral value influences artistic value. and another to say that it influences aesthetic value - moral value could affect artistic value without therefore necessarily affecting its aesthetic value as such. We must, however, be careful not to get ahead of ourselves here. For although it does seem uncontroversial to say that one of the reasons why we can value art is because of its moral content, and that one of the kinds of

sufficient conditions for a person's moral goodness. To the question of whether beauty is thereby reducible to moral goodness, McGinn holds that although aesthetic and moral qualities are ontologically distinct, it is necessary to 'tie them conceptually together' ( 1997: 100) . He is therefore concerned with what seems to be a looser connection between virtue and beauty than Plato and Reid, and is careful to stipulate that aesthetic qualities cannot simply be reduced to the moral qualities on

making true judgements about it. While these and other disadvantages inherent to art seem suffi­ cient grounds for Plato to expel the dramatic poets from his ideal republic, Aristotle takes a different view on that matter. Dramatic poetry, and tragedy in particular, Aristotle argues, is able to act for the good, and thus indirectly lead to the good of its audience and participants. It is able Lo acl thus not only by engaging with our moral imagination (for instance in tying it to moral exemplars

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