Alan Goldman, “The Experiential Account of Aesthetic Value”

 

1.       Aes value of artworks lies only in the experience of them

          a.       One must experience art for oneself in order to appreciate its aesthetic value (a description of the art object will not do)

 

2.       Goldman’s “complete mental engagement” account of the nature of aesthetic experience (in which art’s value lies)

          a.       Simultaneous challenge/engagement of all our mental capacities

          b.       Perception, cognition, emotion, imagination

                    i.        Operate together and inform each other

          c.       Aimed at appreciation of relations among aspects of artworks

          d.       A rich/intense meaningful experience in which one is so fully absorbed that the person and artwork merge

                    i.        For a time the experience of the artwork becomes the person’s world itself

          e.       Complete engagement of mental faculties not only typical of aesthetic experience but a unique mark of it

 

          f.       Music and reading literature are best examples of being lost in the experience

 

3.       Aesthetic value is exhausted by this experience

4.       Other values of art are not values of art as art (they are “doorstop values”)

          a.       Artworks have other values besides aesthetic/artistic ones and these need not lie in the experience of them

                    i.        E.g., Historical importance value, economic value

          b.       Art’s educative function is not part of its value as art (aesthetic/artistic value)

                              (1)     Such as training of our perceptual skills

                    ii.       Things we learn from artworks can be acquired more directly and easily in other ways.

          c.       Cognitive benefits like moral/political lessons and new ways of conceiving things--when they go beyond the experience–are not part of art’s value as art

                    i.        Moral messages of Huck Finn or noble and tender emotions generated by music

5.       When knowledge/information is aesthetically relevant and of aesthetic value

          a.       Truths, knowledge, moral/political outlooks brought to or gained from the work can contribute to its aesthetic value

          b.       When it is mobilized in the experience of the work

          c.       Examples:

          d.       Political message of a film is part of its aesthetic value only because of the way it is conveyed visually, musically, emotionally, and dramatically

          e.       Knowledge of structure of a sonata is aesthetically relevant only if it affects one’s hearing of the music (produces anticipations and understandings of repetition/variation)

 

6.       Indiscernables objection:

          a.       The objector thinks that on Goldman’s view there is no difference in aesthetic value between a forged copy of an artwork and the original, since the experience of them is the same

          b.       The objector thinks that on Goldman’s view, what artistic category or historical context a work belongs too is irrelevant to its aesthetic value; all that matters is how it appears

          c.       Neither of these are plausible

7.       Goldman’s Reply: Aesthetic experience is not narrowly perceptual

          a.       Thought, imagination, emotion are as prominent in the experience as is sensation and they guide us toward further perception

                    i.        “If we misunderstand, we misperceive”

                    ii.       These elements transform sensations into aesthetic experience

          b.       The concepts and knowledge we bring to bear in our experience of artworks affect our experience of them

                    i.        Direct our attention to different aspects of the work, affective/emotional responses will differ

          c.       Examples:

          d.       A copy of a van Gogh known to be such will lack the expressive anguish in the brush stokes of an original

          e.       Given contribution of understanding, emotion, and imagination, what we perceptually experience is the power of a Beethoven symphony

          f.       See images of actor Anthony Perkins (in Psycho) on a flat screen and experience the creepy Norman Bates (character in the movie)

 

8.       Wrong way & disrespect for art objections:

          a.       The value of the experience of artwork comes from the value of the artwork instead of the reverse

                    i.        Value of art is primary, not derivative from the experience of it.

          b.       Sharpe’s argument: To place value of artworks solely or primarily in experience of them is to devalue the works themselves

                    i.        “Its like valuing other persons solely for the experiences they provide us and this is a gross failure to show them the respect they merit”

                    ii.       So valuing solely for the experience it provides us fails to value it intrinsically and fails to show it proper respect

          c.       Goldman Reply: Valuing objects as we value persons, thinking that they require the same sort of respect, is to have a fetish

                    i.        Fetish = An object of unreasonably excessive attention or reverence; An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation

                    ii.       We value persons for themselves and artworks for the experience they provide

9.       Fetish reply may make some sense for art but not for nature

          a.        We made art and to raise it to the level of respect for persons may seem fetishistic

          b.       We did not make nature (it made us) and to respect it for its own sake seems appropriate and not a fetish

          c.       Thus to identify nature’s aesthetic value with the aesthetic experience it provides us is to show it disrespect

          d.       Just as to identify a person’s aesthetic value with the aesthetic experience it provides us is to disrespect that person

 

10.     Can we apply Goldman’s account of aesthetic experience to aesthetic appreciation of nature?

          a.       I’m inclined to say yes: appreciation of nature can (should?) aim at this full engagement of all our mental capacities in appreciating aspects of nature

          b.       But he says that he’s is not concerned in this paper with aesthetic appreciation of nature which he thinks typically focuses on beauty/sublime

                    i.        Aes value of artworks is “far different” and many are neither beautiful nor sublime.

          c.       Also there is the (above) worry that this account of aesthetic value is instrumental and treating nature’s aesthetic value as instrumental is problematic

                    i.        For example, it puts the aesthetic value of nature on a par with recreational value

 

11.     Relativism about experience of art (and hence presumably about art’s value) is constrained in various ways

          a.       Context in which any property of an artwork is experienced can radically alter the experience of it

          b.       Different observers, even fully qualified ones, can experience same objective properties (its nonaesthetic base properties like color and shape) of art differently

                    i.        Art prompts thought, imagination, and feeling but does not rigidly dictate their content for all observers

                    ii.       A function of “taste” or difference in people, even qualified appreciators

          c.       Still we aim at shared evaluations of art for this allows us a common cultural heritage

                    i.        Kant’s demand for universal agreement is too much to ask

          d.       Art object is aesthetically valuable in providing rich experience to substantial group of qualified observers, not for prompting private idiosyncratic responses






Notes on Alan Goldman, “The Experiential Account of Aesthetic Value”

 

1.       One must exp art for oneself in order to appreciate its aes value

                    i.        Aes value of art manifest only in experience them for oneself

          b.       Whereas one can know some hero or computer is great by a des of it

 

2.       He does not want to explain this in terms of some “peculiar logical relation between nonaes properties of art and their aes properties”

 

3.       His 3 fold explanation

4.       (1) aes value of art lies only in the experience of them

5.       (2) context in which any property of an artwork is experienced can radically alter the experience of it

6.       (3) dif observers, even fully qualified ones, can experience same objective properties of art dif.

7.       If value of art lies in experience of them

          a.       And if that experience varies with context /observer

          b.       Then one must experience artworks in order to appreciate their value

 

8.       Experience account (that aes value of art lies in experience of them) explains how art criticism works

          a.       Such criticism aims at evaluation of them a defense of this eval

          b.       It proceeds by guiding our experience of them, telling us what to attend to and how to attend to it

          c.       Critics guide experience by drawing attention to properties that underlie aes qual or to aes qualities themselves

                    i.        Hoping to enhance app of work

          d.       Aim to convince us of their interpretations/evals only by args supplemented by first-hand exp

                    i.        Arguments alone not good enough

9.       Experience account also explains why contents of art never exhaust their aes value

          a.       Why manner of presenting content so that it will be experience in certain way is also always relevant to eval


Caveats

10.     (1) Not claiming all value (even all art’s value) lies in exp

          a.       Nozick’s experience machine showed us that we value doing an accomplishing things outside experience (prefer actually living our messy lives to pleasurable experience and illusions of accomplishment)

          b.       Artworks have values (economic, didactic, decorative etc) beyond the value of experience them aesthetically

          c.       If there is aes value, it should be a value that all fine artworks share qua artworks

                    i.        Many fine works have values not shared by all others

11.     (2) Concerned with aes value of artworks, not nature

          a.       Agrees with Diffey that when app nature aes typically mean its beauty or sublimity

          b.       App of aes value that fine artworks share is far different; many are neither beautiful nor sublime

                    i.        But this is also true of nature

12.     (3) Not defending any old experience account of aes value (but a particular type so as to avoid c/e)

          a.       Can’t describe it as IV exp

                    i.        For any pleasurable experience not undergone for the sake of some future ben–a massage, watching a sitcom, sucking on a hard candy–is IV

                    ii.       But these are not aes experience of sort prompted by fine artworks

                              (1)     But they are aes exp?

                              (2)     What is a “fine artwork?”

 

13.     He’s characterized this experience in terms of

          a.       Simultaneously challenge and engagement of all our mental capacities

                    i.        Perceptual, cog, affective, imaginative, even volitional

          b.       In app of relations among aspects and elements of artworks

14.     Such engagement creates rich/intense mental experience imbued with meanings from all these faculties operating together and informing one another

15.     I don’t know why this can’t be applied to aes app of nature and nature app is limited to appr of beauty and sublime.....

16.     Resultant experience closes distance between person with experience and work of art

          a.       No longer just one object in external world

          b.       But for a time the person’s world itself; world of his fully absorbed exp

 

17.     Identification easiest with music, where seems to be only the experience w/o intervention of material object

18.     But in reading literature, one forgets the physical book in one’s hands and enters its fictional world

19.     With painting, physical surface is aes sig, but even here fictional visual space of painting becomes in part the viewer’s space of im exp.

 

20.     Coming from music it is natural to conceive of aes value exclusively in terms of such exp

          a.       In music it seems nothing else

          b.       “Nor is here anything to learn from Music except how to listen to it

          c.       Consider Verdi’s Dies Irae

                    i.        http://music.barnesandnoble.com/search/mediaplayer.asp?ean=089408015229&disc=1&track=2

          d.       This music has a text and could learn something from it beyond the exp

                    i.        All learn here is that god can be really angry, something we learn more directly from the Old Testament

                    ii.       Questions about how an all perfect being can be so enraged at his own creation, if pondered during the piece, distract and detract from the experience of the music and hence from its aes value

                    iii.      Maybe the philosophical analysis detracts, but not the notion that this is about god’s anger

21.     He generalized: we never learn anything extra-musical from music even with text that we do not learn more directly and easily elsewhere

          a.       Even music with words?

22.     When comes to literature and perhaps painting the claim that its artistic or aes value, its value qua art, does not extend beyond experience of works may not be so obvious.

23.     He talks about all our faculties being engaged, but it is not clear how they can be if we are limited to not thinking about the music or stuff the experience congers up.

24.     Some would dis aes value from artistic value of art qua art, which includes not just aes value but also moral and cognitive values.


Objections

25.     (1) Key beneficial aspects of artworks go beyond immediate experience and should be seen as part of art’s value

          a.       If we are going to cash out art’s value in a consequence of the art, namely the experience of it, then why limit its value to immediate experience and not to all (or at least some) of the other good results of art?

26.     Value of cog aspects of art not exhausted by thoughts/ideas arise in experience of them but includes lasting benefits of truths, moral and political lessons, and new concepts or ways of conceiving things that can result from that exp

27.     These beneficial effects that extend beyond immediate experience of art are part of value of art as art (part of aes or artistic value)

          a.       Because they are a major part of artis’s intentions in creating art

          b.       Whether or not they are realized helps to dt success/failure of art

28.     E.g., moral messages of huck finn, noble and tender emotions generated by music of Beethoven/mozart

29.     All integral to value as art as art

30.     Cog and emotional effects and even effect of retraining our perceptions, result from and extend beyond and not exhausted by experience of the work

 

31.     (2) Indiscernibles objections

32.     Aes properties are any that contribute to value of artworks

          a.       Critics defend evaluation of art by defending attributions of aes properties

33.     Some aes properties can’t be directly perceived or exp: originality and historical importance

          a.       Works place/role in history of an art form, its historical context, greatly affects/dt its value

          b.       Not something that is immediately experience by audience

34.     A perfect forgery and the original work

          a.       Experience same, value different, thus experience does not exhaust value

35.     Originality and historical importance are aes properties

36.     A work (but not its forged copy that produces same perceptual exp) can have great value in being historically important, in initiating a new style or movement, even though it does not offer rich experience

37.     A copy or forgery bears a dif relation to its creator than the original

38.     A product of creative genius (a property not directly exp) is aes important ; forgery a product ov technical skill

39.     Value of art can come apart from experience it produces

 

40.     (3) Cases where we value the artwork object, but not the experience of it or value the experience of it but not the artwork object

          a.       Value of art can come apart from experience it produces

41.     Examples:

          a.       Early atonal music value for historical importance w/o providing rich musical experience (for some qualified listeners)

          b.       Minimalist paintings

                    i.        Works may be better than the sound/look, better than he experience they produce, or the opposite;

          c.       Strauss’ music sounds better than it is (for it did not influence later music)

          d.       Rothko’s painting

                              (1)     http://abstract-art.com/abstraction/l2_Grnfthrs_fldr/g0000_gr_inf_images/g051_rothko_vbkoy-wr.jpg

                    ii.       Few translucent rectangles on a background of dif color

                              (1)     In itself not too interesting a visual concept or object

                              (2)     But experience is that of being lost in deep ambiguous spaces, a strange feeling of alienation and serenity

          e.       Examples of valuing artwork but not experience or vise versa

 

42.     (4) Must view the value of the experience of art as deriving from that of the object instead of the other way round

43.     Value of art is primary, not derivative from the experience of it.

44.     Argument for this based on how we identify critics

45.     Since critics must not only be able to discriminate relevant elements in perception but respond appro to the elements discriminated, emphasis on ideal critics as standard of taste is misplaced/circular

46.     Standard of taste must derive from value of artworks themselves????

47.     Second argument: demand for veridicality in experience of art

          a.       If all that counts for value of art object is experience occasioned by it, then in order to max value we ought to imaginatively free associate in presence of object so as to create best/richest exp

          b.       Critics ought to suggest such experience by “interpretations” that make the object more interesting than they are

          c.       But such responses to art are inappropriate

          d.       If experience occasioned by art is inappropriate or untrue to the work itself, then even if rich and imaginative, it confers no value on object

          e.       Value of such experience is thus not primary in conferring value on art

          f.       Instead, value of experience must derive from that object.

48.     to place value of artworks solely or primarily in experience of them is to devalue the works themselves R.A. Sharpe, “compares this to valuing other persons solely for the experiences they provide us and this is a gross failure to show them the respect they merit;


Replies

49.     (2) Response to indiscernibles objection: perceptually or experience indistinguishable art object that differ in value

50.     Same object will be aes very dif depending on artistic cat and historical context in which placed

51.     Mona Lisa or lhhq shaved

52.     

53.     Objection fails as it equates perceptual with experience indistinguishability

          a.       Paintings look the same perceptually, but experienced differently

54.     A main impetus for dismissing experience accounts of aes value is to narrow view of aes expt

55.     Concepts and kn that we bring to bear in experience of artworks affect the experience of them we have

          a.       May direct our attention dif to dif aspects fo work

          b.       Will respond cog and affectively in dif ways

          c.       With background kn the experience will be differnet

56.     A copy of a van Gogh known to be such will lack the expressive anguish in the brush stokes of an original

57.     Intrinsic perceivable properties in both might be the same, but aes properties, being relational, will differ greatly

58.     Value of originality informs and is reflected in experience of work

 

59.     Same can be true of historical importance

          a.       We hear the music diff if we think of Back preparing way for Haydn and Mozart

          b.       “Historically imp works that do not provide rich aes experience in themselves are not of direct aes value”

 

60.     Experience of art not just a series of visual/auditory sensations but imbued with thought imagination and emotion, not just formal qualities, but arising out of those its expressive and cog content and

61.     Thoughts and emotions are as prominent in experience as are visual and auditory sensations

          a.       These later prompt though, imagination and emotional reactions that guide further perception

 

62.     Compete engagement of mental faculties no only typical of aes experience but unique mark of it

63.     Can’t have purely perceptual experience w./o these cog and emotional elements

64.     If we misunderstand, we misperceive

 

65.     We sense a sequence of sounds, colors shapes ; what we perceptually exp, given contribution of under, emotion and im is power of Beethoven’s Eroica, horrors of Guernica

66.     See images of Anthony Perkins on a flat screen and experience the creepy Norman Bates

 

67.     Cog, emotion and imagination transform visual and aud sensations into aes exp.

          a.       Aes experience not inferred from sensory elements

          b.       Sensory elements are the subconscious base, revealed only by theory, of the immediate experience in which all these are fused

68.     Sum: aes experience not to be thought of in purely sensory terms; but conceiving it in a broad and rich way


ROLE OF BEAUTY

69.     Modern art’s abandonment of beauty generated by emphasis on emotion and cog aspects of art

70.     Beauty in art can either contribute to or detract from value of experience of artwork (hence work itself)

          a.       Contribute if beauty attracts us to and fuses with cog/emotional aspects

          b.       Detracts if distracts us from these other aspects

71.     Work with formal beauty but lacking expressive and cog qualities/challenge is likely to appear shallow as fails to produce rich and intense exp

72.     His experience account can accommodate fact that visually or auditorially pleasing works (beautiful?) Can lack great value and that valuable works can fair to be visually or audiorially pleasing

 

73.     Dist aes value from other sorts of value artworks can have

74.     Non aes values of art can include historical importance, and truths, moral/political lessons, new concepts we take away from art and apply in our lives outside art

75.     Truth, moral/pol outlooks can be aes in their value too

          a.       Like beauty truth can attrach to a work and to its other aes relevant properties

76.     Truth/kn brought to or gained from a work contributes to is aes value iff it is mobilized in the experience of the work

          a.       Knowing structure of sonata form is aes relevant only if it informs one’s hearing of the music

                    i.        Such kn must produce anticipations in im and understanding of repetitions and variations and affective reactions in hearing music

          b.       Pol message of a film is part of its aes value only because of the way it is conveyed visually, musically, dramatically, emotionally

                    i.        Film with same political messages

 

77.     Two extreme views of aes relevance of moral attitudes conveyed in art–always or never relevant-both wrong

78.     How dt if moral attitude aes relevant?

          a.       Moral content is aes relevant if contributes to or detracts from the richness of the experience of a work by prompting or blocking full responses to it

          b.       Morally objectionable views are aes defects when turn audiences off from work, when a work fails to engage its audience because of its moral repulsion

          c.       But can be more engaged cog and emotionally by morally ambiguous fictional characters than by simple moral heroes

                    i.        Recognize ourselves in them and prompt more sustained reflection and emotional reaction

 

79.     General point: some of effects of artworks mentioned in objections can be absorbed into account of aes experience and some dismissed as nonaes even though valuable; some might not be genuine effects of artworks at all

 

80.     He is skeptical that learn many truths from art not more readily apparent elsewhere in real world or nonfictional sources

          a.       We do learn about dif types of characters/situations from literature, but we learn what kind of characters we are from our real life responses/decisions and what we want to be from real-life role modes

          b.       Literature need not teach us many lessons to be cog rich; they are so in aes relevant way if prompt deep though in the experience of them, either about their structure/style or content

 

81.     Response to (4): demand for veridicality in experience of art indicates primacy of value of art object itself over the experience of it

82.     Short answer: demand for experience to remain true to artwork drives from the nature and aim of aes experience itself.

          a.       Such experience is rich only through continuous engagement with object

          b.       If mind wanders off into private associations, challenge and satisfaction of meeting it are lost

          c.       Experience is not aes experience that is fully engaged if detached from its object

          d.       Its intense nature comes from exclusive focus on object excluding all eternal and internal noise

          e.       Uniquely valuable nature of this experience comes from the nature of its object is compatible with the value of the object deriving from the value of the experience that it alone causes.

83.     Aes experience aims not only at focusing on the object but also under and app it and taking in its aes properties

          a.       Object itself is valuable for providing experience that could only be experience of that object

 

84.     Aes experience aims at shared evaluations of art

          a.       These shared evals allow us to share a common cultural heritage

          b.       Unless the aes experience is under control of the art object, its value will be private and largely unshareable and this is not aes exp

 

85.     Value of object on experience account is measure by a consensus of the experience of qualified observers

86.     Art does not provide same experience to all even all fully qualified observers

87.     We aim at shared evaluations, but Kants demand for universal agreement is too much to ask

88.     Disa among fully qualified observers

          a.       Relativism of aes value to those who share tastes

89.     Experience account explains rel of aes value

          a.       Aes values is relative because the same works provide dif experiences to dif observers

          b.       Art prompts thought, im and feeling w/o rigidly dictating them as same for all observers

90.     Dif qualified observers will experience dif aes properties in same artworks, still must remain true to artworks nonaes or base properties

91.     Object is aes valuable in providing rich experience to substantial group of qualified observers, not for prompting private idiosyncratic responses

 

92.     Aes value of artwork cannot come apart form value of experience of it on experience account of aes value

 

93.     Aes value of forgery will come apart from that of original once dif in history is known, this know will inform experience of two which will differ (especially expressive properties)

94.     But part of value of aes experience lies in experience the object in right way, true to is nonaes properties, so aim of under and app can be fulfilled

95.     Two subjectively satisfying experience can differ in value for a subject when one is illusory and the other veridical

 

96.     Aim of artist (self expression, self under, accomplishemtn) and audience (aes exp) are dif

          a.       Like athelete’s aim and spectators aim

97.     Appreciation of artist can inform and enrich the aes exp

 

98.     Response to Sharpe objection that valuing art only for the experience they provide is like valuing persons only for experience they provide

          a.       Shows disrespect for art

99.     Reply: Valuing objects as we value persons , thinking that they require the same sort of respect, is fetishistic; a paradigm fetish

100.   We value persons for themselves and artworks for the experience they provide

101.   Hopefully we are more cog and emotional involved with persons than with art

          a.       But simultaneously sustained attention to physical forms would signal an aes, often part of a sexual interest

          b.       Sex may be more intensely sensual and emotional than art app, but it lacks the purely cognitive dimension of study and app of art

          c.       Only art is evaluated entirely by their ability to engage us in such perceptual-cognitive-emotional-imaginative exp.

102.   Fn: critic suggested the persons engage us in way he takes to be criterion of art

103.   Fetish reply may make some sense for art but not for nature

          a.        We made art and to raise it to the level of respect for persons may seem fetishistic

          b.       But did not make nature and to respect for it for its own sake is not a fetish

104.   Fetish

          a.       An object of unreasonably excessive attention or reverence:

          b.       An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation