Midterm study questions Aesthetics (SP 06)
Allen Carlson, Appreciation and the natural environment
- According to Carlson, properly appreciating both art and nature involves placing aesthetic objects from each in the right categories. Use Carlson's example of appreciating a whale (or woodchuck) to explain this point. Do you agree with it?
- What is Carlson's view of the role of science in nature appreciation and how does his conception of proper aesthetic appreciation support this position? Do you agree with Carlson about the role of science in nature appreciation?
- Explain in what way Carlson's thinks natural history takes the role that art history plays in the aesthetic appreciation of art for the aesthetic appreciation of nature.
- Carlson argues that just as serious art appreciation is informed by art history, so too serious nature appreciation is informed by knowledge of natural history/science. Explain this analogy using examples and assess it from your own perspective.
- Is reason an important part of aesthetic appreciation?
- Is Carlson's account of serious aesthetic appreciation of nature elitist? Why might someone think it is? How might Carlson respond to this charge?
- Is it true that more knowledge we have of nature, the more we are likely to positively aesthetically evaluate it?
Noel Carroll, On Being Moved By Nature
- What is Noel Carroll's major objection to Carlson's theory of the aesthetic appreciation of nature? How might Carlson respond to Carroll's objection?
- Does Carroll reject the type of aesthetic appreciation of nature that Carlson is advocating? Why or why not?
- What is the problem of "aesthetic focus?" How does Carlson address this problem? How does Carroll address it?
- Does Carroll think an uninformed emotional arousal is acceptable in both art and nature appreciation? Do you think he is right?
- Does Carroll think one can be appropriately emotionally aroused by a natural object about which one has false beliefs? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
- Given Carroll's account of aesthetic appreciation of nature as emotional arousal, explain how he accounts for the presence (or lack) of objectivity in nature appreciation.
- How does Carroll respond to someone who might argue that being moved by nature is mere enjoyment of nature and is not the deep level of appreciation of nature that is had by one with scientific knowledge of nature?
- How does Carroll respond to the suggestion that being moved by nature is to have a displaced religious emotion that needs to be demystified and psychoanalyzed away?
- Discuss the issue of aesthetically appreciating something while having a false belief about it. Is this a problem? (Does it lead to inappropriate or less than fully adequate aesthetic appreciation?) Why or why not? For Carlson? For Carroll?
Telfer, Food as Art
- Give examples of aesthetic experiences that might be considered negative (and explain why).
Distinguish them from non-aesthetic experiences (and explain why they are non-aesthetic). Give examples of positive aesthetic experience that involve pleasure. Now
give examples of positive aesthetic experiences that don't involve pleasure (and explain
in what way they are positive).
- Do all aesthetic experiences involve pleasure? Why or why not? Are all aesthetic
experiences positive? Why or why not?
- Using an example, explain the difference between the two sense of a work of art that Telfer discusses (the classifying and evaluative senses).
- According to Telfer, what is the difference between an art and a craft? How does she use this criterion to determine when food is art and not craft?
- According to Telfer, who is the composer and who is the performance artist when it comes to cooking?
- Cooking involves at least two works of art: What are they?
- Does Telfer believe the state should subsidize the art of food and provide education so that people can be knowledgeable about this art? Why or why not?
- What are Telfer's reasons for thinking the art of food is a minor rather than major art form?
- What would Telfer's reaction be the the following claim. Since there are to taste symphonies or taste sonatas, food is way too simple to be a major art form.
- On your own view, is food an art form? Why or why not? In answering this question, evaluate at the strongest arguments both for the claim it is and for the claim it is not (look at at least three different considerations on each side of this dispute). Make sure you look at this question from both the classifying and evaluative dimensions.
Stecker Preface and Ch 1
- What is one reason that Stecker givers for denying that philosophy of art and aesthetics are the same thing.
- What does Stecker think is wrong with the claim that "art is the one kind of thing that is made chiefly with the intention to create aesthetic value."
- Would Stecker agree with the following claim (why? why not?): Art is the privileged provider of aesthetic experience
- What does it mean to say aesthetic judgments are not purely subjective (as is taste in ice-cream)? Identify one reason for thinking this is true.
- Give examples of aesthetically positive qualities and aesthetically negative qualities other than overall judgments of beauty or ugliness.
Stecker, Ch 2: Environmental Aesthetics
- What are the object and landscape models of nature appreciation (according to Carlson and Stecker). What are Carlson's objections to these models? What does Stecker think about these models? Does he think these models distort nature appreciation? Why or why not? In your response you should use the distinction between a partial appreciation and a distorted one. Do you agree with Stecker and/or Carlson on the validity of these as models of nature appreciation?
- Assume God made nature. Does it follow from this that nature should be appreciated as an art object (made by God)? Why or why not? What is Stecker's view of this?
- Does Stecker think knowledge has a role to play in the aesthetic appreciation of nature? If so, describe this role; if not, explain why not.
- Does Stecker think false belief about the object of appreciation undermines aesthetic appreciation of that object?
- Using example, explain Stecker's view on whether or not env. harmful affects of an aesthetic object effect its aesthetic value. Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
Stecker, Ch 3, Aesthetic experience
- What does it mean to say aesthetic experience must be disinterested? Give some examples of disinterested aesthetic experiences and an example of an experience that is not disinterested and explain why it is not. Do you think aesthetic experience must be disinterested?
- Describe the selfless absorption account of aesthetic experience and explain one of the problems that Stecker has with this account.
- Describe the object-directed sensuous pleasure account of aesthetic experience and then explain one of the problems that Stecker has with this account.
- Does Stecker think eating a meal is aesthetic because it is object-directed sensuous pleasure? Why or why not?
- Describe Stecker's own "minimal view" of aesthetic experience and assess it from your own perspective. Is this a good way to understand aesthetic experience?
- Explain the difference between intrinsic valuing and instrumental valuing (use examples).
- Does Stecker think that aesthetic experience must involve intrinsic valuing? Why or why not? Use the example of Charles (and Jerome) to make this point.
- Can art objects that disgust, shock and unsettle be valued for their own sake? What does Stecker think? Is the experience we seek when we search out these type of art objects a pleasurable one? Is it an aesthetic one?
- Can there be negative aesthetic experience? Give reasons on both sides of this issue and then explain which side you think has the stronger argument.
Stecker Ch 4: Aesthetic Properties
- Give a plausible example of nonaesthetic experience of aesthetic properties.
- List half a dozen aesthetic properties, including general value properties and more specific properties.
- Explain the difference between descriptive dimension of aesthetic properties and value dimension of aesthetic properties. In other words, what does it mean to say some specific aesthetic properties both evaluate and describe. Give an example of what Stecker might consider to be a purely descriptive aesthetic property.
- According to Stecker, are color and shape aesthetic properties? Does the following make reference to aesthetic properties? "Thin, curved line."
- Explain how "graceful" can detract from the overall value of an aesthetic object.
- Explain why someone might claim the property of red is a response dependent property?
- What does it mean to say aesthetic properties are response dependent? Give an example that illustrated your explanation.
- Explain how ideal observers might be included in an response dependent account of aesthetic properties. Why might someone think it important to bring in this notion of an ideal observer? What sort of skills do ideal observers/appreciators have that ordinary appreciators do not?
- Might ideal observers/appreciators diverge on their account of the aesthetic properties of an aesthetic object they experience? Give a concrete (possible) example of this happening. Why would this matter if there was this possible divergence?
- Explain the distinction between realism and anti-realism in aesthetic properties.
- On Stecker's view, is the response dependence account of aesthetic properties realist or anti-realist?
- In what way is response dependence a relational account of aesthetic properties?
- Is Stecker a realist or anti-realist about aesthetic properties?
- Explain the naive realist account of aesthetic properties. Is this the account of aesthetic properties that Rolston gives?
- Using an example, explain the subjectivist view of aesthetic properties. What is the difference between the simple and the more complicated or sophisticated version of subjectivism. Why does this distinction matter (according to Stecker)?
- What is the relativist account of aesthetic properties? Explain this account using an example. What might vary between groups of people that would explain this relativistic account of aesthetic properties?
- What is your own view of aesthetic properties (or at least what are some of your own thoughts about this debate concerning aesthetic properties).
- If someone sincerely believed that there was no beauty in music, painting, nature (and no aesthetic value properties at all) (because they were unable to appreciate beauty in these domains), would they be missing some actually existing aesthetic properties? Would they be blind to the presence of aesthetic value? If your answer to this question is yes, does that commit you to realism about aesthetic properties?
Stecker, Ch 5: What is Art?
- What is a functionalist classification/definition of art? Give examples of functionalist definitions. What makes them functionalist definitions?
- What is the general problem with these types account of art that Stecker identifies? Do you think he is right?
- What is the representational account of art? How do instrumental music and photography challenge the idea that the nature of art is representation?
- Explain the difference between the ideas that art's essence is representation and the idea that art's essence is expression.
- Describe the expression theory that Stecker attributes to Collingwood and then identify some of his objections to this version of expression theory. Do these objections make sense? Why or why not?
Holmes Rolston, Evaluating Nature Aesthetically
- Explain the distinction between aesthetic experience and aesthetic properties, on Rolston's account.
- Does Rolston accept objectivity or subjectivity about aesthetic experience? What about aesthetic properties? Explain what he means by saying aesthetic properties are objective (or not). Do you think aesthetic properties are objective?
- On Rolston's view, if humans ceased to exist would aesthetic experience cease to exist? What about aesthetic properties?
- What is the thesis of positive aesthetics (for nature)? Distinguish between several different versions of this thesis.
- Explain the sense in which Rolston does and does not accept positive aesthetics. Does Rolston think anything in nature is ugly? Does he think nature is perfectly beautiful? Uniformly beautiful?
- What role do cognitive considerations play in Rolston's defense or criticism of positive aesthetics?
- Do you accept positive aesthetics (for nature)? Why or why not?
- Is the thesis of positive aesthetics more plausible for nature than for art? Explain what the Why or why not?
- What is the "scenery cult?"
Roger Scruton, The Decline of Musical Culture
- Do you agree with Scruton (and Gracyk?) that there is such a thing as better and worse music? Why or why not?
- Do you think that there is better and worse taste in art? Do you think society has a duty to educate the taste of its citizenry? Does this imply a distinction between good and bad taste?
- Explain this paraphrase from Scruton: "Because we structure our social lives through expressive objects that demand aesthetic discrimination, trivializing aesthetic judgment denies our humanity." Relate this to his rejection of relativism and subjectivism in aesthetic judgment.
- Do you agree with Scruton that the Western tradition of tonal music "is the richest and most and most fertile that has yet existed?" Why or why not?
- Scruton's account of music is made by suggesting listening to music is like another type of aesthetic activity/response. What is the is response and how does he use this to make is case that musical tastes reflect our social and moral values.
- Do you agree that "taste in music" tell us something about a persons social and moral values? Why or why not? Consider this argument, if a taste in porn videos tell us something about a persons social and moral character, then so does taste in music. Is this a helpful argument? Why or why not?
- Does Scruton distinguish between types of popular music or is his attack on all popular music?
- Does Scruton think music is important? Why or why not? What reasons does he give for his view? Do you agree with Scruton's views on this topic? Why or why not?
- Describe some of the specific criticism that Scruton levels at certain forms of pop music.
Theodore Gracyk, How I Learned to Love Led Zepplin
- Using examples, explain what it means to say there are objective musical emotions.
- Explain the ways in which Gracyk thinks (instrumental) music is like language. Is this a good analogy in your mind?
- What according to Gracyk is the meaning (content) of instrumental music?
- Why does Gracyk think that music tells us something about character? Is he right?
- Can "crude grinding noises" be expressions of tender love? What does Gracyk think about this? What do you think about this? If some find such noises expressions of tender love, does this say anything about who they are and what they are like?
- Why is Gracyk concerned about pop music's use of sound/noise; that is, its frequent drawing attention to the sound itself. What is the difference between music and noise/sound?
- What is Gracyk's view of Scruton's idea that the paradigmatic response to music is dancing? What does he accept this paradigm or propose another?
- Identify some ways in which Gracyk and Scruton agree.
- Briefly summarize Gracyk's response to Scruton's critique of pop music.