Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

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Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#1  Postby andrewk » Dec 22, 2011 11:43 pm

I am in a philosophy discussion group and, because the presenter for the next meeting had to drop out at short notice, I now am scheduled to present in their place on the topic:
"What is art? Is artistic merit at all objective? Is there any sense in which we can say that Beethoven is objectively better than Britney Spears?"

What I need to do as presenter is gather some easily available materials such as web articles, essays and podcasts and distribute a list to the group for pre-reading. Aesthetics is one branch of philosophy to which I have had no exposure whatsoever, and I don't know of any resources, in the same way as I would with Metaphysics or Ethics.

I would be very grateful for any suggestions anybody can make about good materials for this topic.

PS Books are another possibility, but web-accessible items are preferred, as it is often not possible to get hold of a very
specific book within a short time frame (Amazon deliveries to Australia take about three weeks). If you know of a good
introductory book that canvasses these questions in an interesting, entertaining way, please mention it.
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Re: Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#2  Postby HomerJay » Dec 23, 2011 12:32 am

Gombrich - The Story of Art is a good start.

But what about Humour or the natural environment? More interesting questions there IMHO than Art.
For me, the value of a climb is the sum of three inseparable elements, all equally important: aesthetics, history, and ethics

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Re: Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#3  Postby jamest » Dec 23, 2011 1:32 am

Why not save yourself a load of work and tell them to read the 'What is Art' thread, in this very forum?

I'm serious. It's a good debate. I mean, would you rather discuss the views of mainly-dead philosophers, or have a lively discussion with the views of your own members? I myself wouldn't want to be part of a community where I had to side with the views of Mr X or Mr Y. I'd much rather be part of a community where I could defend what I believed myself, even if I had been influenced by Mr X or Y.
They came, they saw, they concurred.
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Re: Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#4  Postby susu.exp » Dec 23, 2011 10:18 pm

andrewk wrote:"What is art? Is artistic merit at all objective? Is there any sense in which we can say that Beethoven is objectively better than Britney Spears?"


There are several senses in which you can say that Beethoven is objectively better than Britney Spears and some senses in which the reverse holds. For example "Für Elise" objectively meets the criteria for correct use of counterpoint, while "Hit me Baby" doesn´t...
The topic seems to confuse objectivity - whether the truth of a statement depends on the observer (subjectivity) or not (objectivity) with the question of relativity vs. absolutes - whether the truth of a statement depends on a set of premises or not.
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Re: Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#5  Postby Teuton » Dec 24, 2011 12:00 am

Scruton, Roger. Beauty: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Davies, Stephen, Kathleen Marie Higgins, Robert Hopkins, Robert Stecker, and David E. Copper, eds. A Companion to Aesthetics. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Aesthetics: http://www.iep.utm.edu/aestheti/

The Concept of the Aesthetic: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aesthetic-concept/

Aesthetic Judgment: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aesthetic-judgment/

The Definition of Art: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art-definition/
"Perception does not exhaust our contact with reality; we can think too." – Timothy Williamson
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Re: Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#6  Postby andrewk » Dec 24, 2011 12:40 am

susu.exp wrote:
andrewk wrote:"What is art? Is artistic merit at all objective? Is there any sense in which we can say that Beethoven is objectively better than Britney Spears?"
There are several senses in which you can say that Beethoven is objectively better than Britney Spears and some senses in which the reverse holds. For example "Für Elise" objectively meets the criteria for correct use of counterpoint, while "Hit me Baby" doesn´t...
The topic seems to confuse objectivity - whether the truth of a statement depends on the observer (subjectivity) or not (objectivity) with the question of relativity vs. absolutes - whether the truth of a statement depends on a set of premises or not.

Thanks for the observation about objective/subjective vs relative/absolute. We should be able to get a good thirty minuts interesting discussion out of that alone.
I'm a bit perplexed about the reference to counterpoint in Für Elise. Which bars did you have in mind? Do you regard the answering left-hand arpeggiated triads of the first section as a second voice?
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Re: Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#7  Postby susu.exp » Dec 24, 2011 1:12 am

Yup. Though that might to some degree come from arranging it for two guitars. Bar 31 with the descending bass notes (F, E, D, C) and acending high melody line (B, C, D, E) also comes to mind.
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Re: Looking for materials to inform a discussion on Aesthetics

#8  Postby Invictus_88 » Dec 24, 2011 2:23 pm

Reading is hard work sometimes (I'm not a philistine, it's simply true). Perhaps try this? It's a pretty good overview of a particular view on things, it's well presented, and easy to get to grips with.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjhVaLbBglQ[/youtube]
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