Notes on Alan Goldman, “The Aesthetic” 2001


1.       Aes began with perception of beauty by the senses, in both art and nature

          a.       Now moved beyond beauty

2.       Focus on aes properties and experience and if special attitude is involved in perception of such properties or generation of such experience .

3.       Interdefinability of aes attitude, aes properties and aes experience

          a.       Attitude as necessary or for perceiving the properties or getting the exp

          b.       experience as what perception of the properties generates or what attitude tries to produce

          c.       Properties are content of the experience or targets of the attitude.



4.       Types of aesthetic properties:

          a.       Sibley’s list that Goldman accepts

5.       A formal property (like being balanced) is being loosely woven

6.       An emotional property (like serene) is angry

7.       An evocative property (like powerful) is poignant

8.       A broadly evaluative formal property (like graceful) is elegant

9.       2nd order perceptual property (like delicate) is vibrant

10.     Can exclude properties like following; these are non-aesthetic "base" properties

          a.       Being predominantly red

          b.       Being rectangular

          c.       Lasting two hours

11.     So can distinguish aes from other kinds of properties


12.     What all have in common that leads us to classify them as all aes and dist from other properties?


13.     Sibley claims that no des of artworks in terms of non-aes properties entails any des in terms of aes properties, though one offers reasons for des of works aes properties by citing its non-aesthetic features

          a.       Painting contains pale colors and curved lines but this does not entail it is graceful, though one might point to those features to support claim it is graceful

14.     Lack of entailment due to (and an essential features of aes properties) is that they require taste on part of subject to pick them out

          a.       Unlike redness or rectangularity which require only functioning eyesight

          b.       People with great vision can fail to notice painting is graceful or delicate, but can’t fair to notice its green color or curved lines

          c.       Failure due to a lack of taste


15.     Ted Cohen argues that we don’t’ require taste in order to apply aes terms correctly

          a.       Anyone can distinguish clear case of graceful from opposite or somber melody from a cheerful one

          b.       Questioned distinction between aes and non aes properties by producing a list of terms like daring, powerful pompous linear restful which we would hesitate to assign unequivocally to either category

16.     Goldman thinks this only shows same terms can pick out aes and nonaes properties depending on what applied to and circumstances of use

          a.       Powerful applied to locomotive generally non aes

          b.       But to music, its aes

          c.       Pompous to professor non aes, but to film its aesthetic

17.     Cohen accepts a dist between what is aes and what is not

          a.       If not a distinction between types of properties, what sort of distinction is it?

          b.       How distinguish object w/o distinguishing their properties

18.     Distinction also useful for distinguishing ways of apprehending and app art

          a.       Aes qualities of painting

          b.       Dif from intrinsic physical properties (relevant if painting had to be moved or hung)

          c.       Dif from economic properties (cost or value on market


19.     Goldman accepts Cohen’s attack on notion of taste in his def of aes properties

          a.       Too similar to discredited appeal to special faculty of moral intuition to intuit strange nonnatural moral properties

          b.       Aes properties just as strange if they require some special faculty beyond ordinary senses to apprehend them


20.     Goldman thinks that many aes properties do require some training in the subject before they can be apprehended

          a.       Can’t hear gracefulness in a transition passage in Haydn quartet w/o some prior exposure to music in that style.


21.     Disagreements about aesthetic properties of artworks occurs even among knowledgeable critics

          a.       What is vibrant/powerful to one critic is raucous/strident/grating to another

22.     But this does not mean that one can’t be mistaken about judgments of aesthetic properties, especially if one is not knowledgeable or inattentive.

23.     There are objective components to aesthetic properties

24.     But aesthetic properties are also response dependent

          a.       They involve a response on the part of the subject

25.     Aes properties are relational properties

          a.       Emergent in the experience of observers as they react to the objective properties of aes object

                    i.        From below: Beauty and other aes properties not simply intrinsic properties of objects but involve responses on part of perceiving, cognizing and feeling subjects

26.     Aes properties defined in terms of shared responses of competent/ideal critics (who share particular tastes) to the intrinsic properties of objects


27.     He thinks aes properties are not just relational, but also relative (especially if you explain aes properties in terms of aes experience and aes value, for dif subjects have dif experience and make dif evaluations)

          a.       Non-aes base properties generate dif aes properties in relation to these dif subjects


28.     Rejects supervenience

29.     Same non-aes base properties (objective properties of object) can produce dif aes properties relative to dif observers

          a.       Means no principles linking non-aes properties with aes properties and no principles for constructing successful art

30.     Denies that aes properties supervene on nonaes properties

          a.       For that requires that for a change in aes properties need a change in base properties



31.     Aes experience involves a kind of pleasure in presence of the object

32.     It involves exercise (and harmony) of our sensory, cognitive and affective capacities in the app of artwork

33.     Beardsley (and Dewey?) think aes experience is unified, coherent (continuity of development), complete (expectations being resolved/satisfied), and intense/concentrated (exclusion of extraneous noise or distraction and full engagement of all our mental capacities leading to intensity of experience )

          a.       Goldman argues that many good modern works are intentionally disunified and better (or not worse) because of disunity.


34.     Beauty and other aes properties not simply intrinsic properties of objects but involve responses on part of perceiving, cognizing and feeling subjects


35.     Can be negative aes experience, we experience neg aes properties–ugliness and dreariness


36.     Zemach thinks we should analyze aes experience in terms of aes properties, rather than aes properties in terms of aes experience (as does Beardsley)


37.     Goldman emphasizes aes experience as involving the full engagement of all our mental capacities (perceptual, cognitive affective) and the felt intensity of the experience that results

38.     All great art–whether uplifting or depressing, arousing or calming--engage us in this way

39.     All artforms can give us the value derived from such experiences

          a.       Though they may vary in degree of expressiveness, cog meaningfulness, perceptual challenge

40.     Perceptual experience of art integrates senses (paintings appear to have tactile qualities, music described as bright or dark light or ponderous) and perceive expressive qualities and symbolic meanings as well as ordinary perceptual qualities

41.     Perceiving nature involves multiple senses and attend not only to sensuous/formal properties but see the natural objects as expressive, uplifting oppressive, majestic, delicate.


42.     Purpose of art may not be pleasure in narrow sense, purpose is the enjoyment, refreshment and enlightenment that such full experience provides

43.     Great art challenges our intellects as well as our perceptual and emotional capacities

44.     Meeting all these challenges simultaneously is to experience aesthetically



45.     Is a special attitude involved in perceiving aes objects/properties?

46.     Need it to produce aes experience or proper aes judge?

47.     Disinterest (DI) is key to aesthetic attitude

48.     DI usually means lack of interest in practical uses of aes objects

          a.       Attend to object only as object of contemplation, to is phenomenal properties simply for sake of perceiving them

          b.       Savor perceptual experience for own sake, instead of putting it to further use in our own affairs.

49.     Kant’s DI

          a.       For aes judge we are not interested in existence of the object (only its appearance)

          b.       No interest in object itself, only in how it appears

          c.       No interest in use, beyond contemplation

          d.       Contemplation is not passive; but active perception


50.     Stolnitz emphasized active aspect of aes attitude

51.     Aes perception is DI as aims at enjoyment of experience itself, grasping object in isolation from other things, instead of classifying or judging it

52.     Bullough adds emotional detachment: to aes app storm at sea must be detached from fear that prompts precautionary action


53.     Goldman rejects detachment (lack of emotional involvement )as part of aes attitude

          a.       Not detached when cry at tragedy, jump in fear at horror movie, lose ourselves in plot of novel

54.     Zemach argues that aes interest in object is one interest among others and a self-centered interest at that, aiming at one own enjoyment

          a.       Misleading to call this “disinterest”

          b.       We are interested in real existence of object we perceive aes

          c.       We would not enjoy an opera in same way if knew singers only moving their lips to the recording

          d.       Reproduction of painting does not affect us same way as originally, even if perceptually indistinguishable


55.     Dickie argues that DI perception is not really a dif attitude or way of perceiving or paying attention, but a freedom from distraction by personal associations, fear, economic preoccupation, daydreams and so on.


56.     Danto and Walton reject Stolnitz’s claim (and Beardsley’s) that aes perception aims at object in isolation from other things

          a.       How one classifies a work, where it fits in art-historical narratives affects those aes properties it appears to have

          b.       What is bold, daring or graceful in one style is not in another

          c.       Knowledge of historical context of work including its proper classification is nec for proper app of its aes qual

          d.       Sometimes the role of the artwork in practical life is essential to a best appreciation of it

                    i.        Taking part in religious service, using a cathedral for his purpose can heighten rather than distract from aes experience of building.


57.     To be fully engaged is not simply to play close perceptual attention to formal detail and complex internal relations in objects structure (scientists and stock brokers do that), but also to bring to bear one’s cog grasp of those external and historical relations that inform ones aes experience and to be receptive to the expressive qualities that emerge from interaction

58.     Knowledge can inform one experience of work includes artist intentions, techniques, attitudes, problems over come and so on

          a.       It is only aes relevant when it does inform one’s experience .


59.     Aes engagement is usually partly voluntary (though sometimes we ar struck by aes qualities)

          a.       Truth behind aes attitude idea that we can adopt or fail to adopt this attitude and this affects how we experience object


60.     When we full engage in app a work we often have feeling of entering another world

          a.       Lose ourselves in aes experience, in world of the work

          b.       Truth behind claim aes attitude removes us from world of practical affairs

61.     We are not detaching ourselves from the aes object, but the reverse

          a.       We are interested in its existence and relations to other objects as these can affect its appearance and our experience of it

62.     Removal of ourselves from our practical affairs is both a typical cause and effect of aes exp

63.     Escaping this world and temporally and metaphorically entering these other worlds is part of its value to us

64.     Could call this perceptual and cognitive activity and affective receptivity that makes this experience a special aes attitude.