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Banishment of Beauty

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"It is not surprising, therefore, to find [Ellsworth Monkton Toohey] with a reputation of "daring," "progressiveness" and "originality." He is all of that, in the sense that the total supremacy of the masses is a new idea in the world and he, as its apostle, may be considered daring or original. In that sense, he is the champion of everything "new," particularly if it helps in the fight against the individualism of the old. He is a great champion of the Art Moderne. He is the defender and publicizer for Gertrude Stein in literature, the "surrealists" in painting, the cacophony of "new" music, and the factory-made standardized modern house in architecture. He knows, half-subconsciously, that all these phony fakes are easy for anyone and deny the true originality, genius and rarity of great artists." Journals of Ayn Rand, p. 108

I don't have The Fountainhead in front of me at the moment, but, when I get a chance, I'll post quotes from Toohey which support my earlier comments about his similarity to Hicks.

"Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can't be ruled. We don't want any great men. Don't deny the conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept -- and you stop the impetus to effort in all men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection.... Don't set out to raze all shrines -- you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity -- and the shrines are razed." Ellsworth Monkton Toohey, The Fountainhead

Ah, so I'm a destroyer of greatness if I disagree with your opinions about what is beautiful, or if I identify the reality that you can offer no objective criteria for judging or measuring beauty? Hilarious.

Anyway, I don't agree with the above implied characterization that everyone who creates Modern or Postmodern art is "inept" or "mediocre." I don't agree with Hicks that a five-year-old could create any work of Modernism or Postmodernism. In fact, I don't think that Hicks, an adult, could create at the level of the worst abstract painters, since he doesn't appear to have the slightest understanding of visual composition and expression. I think the actual ineptitude is to be found in those who are incapable of experiencing the expressiveness of abstract art, and who apparently want to drag everyone down to their level.

I strongly suspect that that is what is probably motivating people like Hicks -- they envy and resent the fact that others can experience what they do not. They seem to take it as a vicious insult that they might not have the same aesthetic capacities or sensitivities as others, so they feel that they have to smear those who don't share their limitations. Their attitude seems to be, "No one can see beauty where I can't; no one can understand meaning where I can't; no one has knowledge, abilities or sensitivities beyond my own; I am the perfect human being with the perfect tastes, and anyone who claims to have any capacity that I lack must be brought down."

Do I think that declaring that one's esthetic tastes and opinions are objective somehow makes them more worthy of being considered? No, not if one's declaration is arbitrary or false.

By what standard would you determine if a person's declarations of aesthetic objectivity are arbitrary or false? When you and nine other people who claim to have objective tastes each have a different judgment of what is beautiful and what is not, how would you determine which of the ten are objective, and which are falsely declaring that they're objective?

You didn't answer my question: Given that, in your view, beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to suport anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's, why should anyone consider your opinion(s) on beauty and ugliness?

I haven't said that anyone should consider my opinions on what is beautiful or ugly. I'm not the person declaring that art became ugly, or presuming to advise everyone about what kind of art the world needs based on my subjective tastes. I'm not going around writing essays with the goal of rescuing the world with my tastes as an art consumer.

Now, why should I or anyone else consider your or Hicks' opinions on beauty just because you claim that your opinions are objective (especially when you can't identify objective standards or criteria for judging beauty)? Are your assertions of objectivity supposed to convince me that I've misinterpreted artworks when I disagree with you about whether or not they are beautiful? Are you expecting me to change my mind, and make myself dislike art that you dislike, and somehow that's going to make my life better? Were you expecting me to deny or suppress what I experience in certain works of art because you don't "objectively" experience it? Am I supposed to find it convincing that your inability to experience in abstract art what I experience is "objective" proof that there is nothing to experience in it, and that the goal of abstract art is to deny or destroy man's consciousness and to attack all values, etc.?

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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Ah, so I'm a destroyer of greatness if I disagree with your opinions about what is beautiful, or if I identify the reality that you can offer no objective criteria for judging or measuring beauty?

Here is my understanding of objective beauty in regards to painting:

Firstly, I'll write a common example regarding the relationship between visual perception and object. Further into my writing I will then tie in how visual perception, knowledge, and value judgments forge a relationship into seeing beauty in a painting. I assume you have knowledge that, contradictions don't exist in reality. There is no contradiction in two individuals, one color blind and another with the full faculty of their sense organ to see an object differently, and both be objectively seeing the object without contradictions. To perceive something requires an observer that uses his infallible sense organ and an object to perceive. Color, exists not intrinsically in the object, nor subjectively in the viewer, but rather objectively in a relationship forged between object (in this case color is seen relative to its surroundings) and observer.

Having said that example of non contradiction on the subject of perception I will then address an example about the objective relationship between perception, knowledge, and value judgments to judge a painting. Two individuals viewing a painting(representational) can both objectively know that it is created skillfully, and is good, but they may have different views on whether one would like it based on their value judgments. Perhaps one is a painter themselves, and in viewing a landscape painting this observer is interested in the depiction of truths rather than imitation. Having knowledge that can aid them in the volitional act of seeing, after perceiving a painting with truth and one without truth, the artist may prefer the more truthful one. . The observer who is not concerned with the depiction of truths, would find the painting just pleasing the way it is. Or take for instance the application of paint, and the handling of materials, which is secondary to the subject matter. One may prefer a certain look which is only attained through the mastery of technique applied to subject matter. The act of trying to attain beauty without a subject is similar to trying to paint an attribute of an entity without an entity to represent. In order for an observer to enjoy a painting they can only judge it within the context of their own knowledge. There is no contradiction between two observers both seeing a good artwork, but both having

different likes, and one preferring another painting. Each viewer understands that the painting is objectively good.

Beauty is not self-evident in that it is not contained in the object only, or in the eye of the beholder, but rather requires an observer and an object to have the result of beauty.It is important to note that if an object does not have the required attributes in order for the observer to see beauty, than beauty cannot be seen. If the object is bad to man in his goal of life sustaining action than no beauty can be seen in an objective relationship with man. it is important to note that if there is no man present, than nothing beautiful can be seen. I think man looks at beauty in a speciest view, that which benefits man. I think my analogy between poison and ugliness is effective. In a speciest view, poison is objectively bad. Food is objectively good. Beauty is objectively good, and the polar opposite, ugliness is objectively bad.

There are some artists, creating works that are representational that have the purpose of creating ugly art. Then, there are some artists who have the purpose of creating beautiful art. In order to purposely create ugliness, ugly and beauty must be objective.

Jenny Saville is a painter that uses skill and understanding to create purposefully ugly paintings. Notice how her works are representational and ugly.

Jenny Saville

John S. Sargent had used skill and understanding to create purposefully beautiful paintings. His paintings are representational and beautiful.

John Singer Sargent

There is a hierarchical order in judging an artwork, a painting in this case. Firstly, it must be an artwork, having an identity. Having an identity you can then judge it for the paintings subject matter, craftsmanship and skill, and style. There is no contradiction in saying that this painting is skillfully created but ugly.

Here is a contradiction: A non-representational artwork that is created to pass as a painting. A painting has an identity. It cannot be art and non art. It has to be one or the other. Accepting the subjective view has its consequences. Look around you today and see what passes as art. See what passes as a high market value and low philosophical value, while another artwork has as a high philosophical value while having a low market value. This is what a subjective view of beauty leads to.

Edit:composition and grammar

Edited by brianleepainter

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Jenny Saville is a painter that uses skill and understanding to create purposefully ugly paintings. Notice how her works are representational and ugly.

Jenny Saville

I don't accept your assertion that Jenny Saville's paintings are ugly, and neither would she. From what I've read of her views, and from what I've heard her say in interviews, she doesn't accept the traditional, collective notions of beauty. She seems to prefer women of substance -- both physical and intellectual -- and rejects the idea that waif-like models are the ideal of beauty. She seems to think of femininity as being represented by the bulk and sturdiness that she grew up seeing in the mothers, aunts and grandmothers around her, as opposed to the popular physical ideals which are based in nothing but shallow sexual allure. Isn't that an "objective" point of view by your standards?

Here is a contradiction: A non-representational artwork that is created to pass as a painting. A painting has an identity. It cannot be art and non art.

I agree that a painting cannot be art and non-art. I've never claimed that abstract paintings are non-art.

Um, you avoided answering my questions about non-representational art forms like music, architecture and dance. Why?

It has to be one or the other. Accepting the subjective view has its consequences. Look around you today and see what passes as art. See what passes as a high market value and what passes as a high philosophical value.

You make it sound quite dire! What are the dreaded consequences? Am I going to start randomly killing people it I accept non-representational and non-objective art forms like music and abstract painting? Am I going to suddenly turn into a savage cannibal if I find meaning in paintings where you don't, or if I think that architecture is art even though it contradicts Rand's definition and criteria?

J

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Jenny Saville is a painter that uses skill and understanding to create purposefully ugly paintings. Notice how her works are representational and ugly.

Quoting Saville from the link that you posted:

"I'm not painting disgusting, big women. I'm painting women who've been made to think they're big and disgusting..."

J

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It is important to note that if an object does not have the required attributes in order for the observer to see beauty, than beauty cannot be seen.

What are the attributes of beauty?

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Quoting Saville from the link that you posted:

"I'm not painting disgusting, big women. I'm painting women who've been made to think they're big and disgusting..."

J

Many of the poses/stylizations chosen by her would make even a fit body look very unflattering. Her paintings do not show us the beauty of a larger body. She does not portray these women as beautiful.

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What are the attributes of beauty?

In order for art(in this case a painting) to serve the purpose of concertizing an idea in the form of a painting to be perceived there

must be entities that are represented. In order to show what is visually beautiful in a painting it is to be done perceptually. Not in written words.

I think in order for an artist to paint an entity he must paint it’s identity , how it looks visually. This can only be done through a visual example. When an artist has chosen a subject, he cannot deviate from the subject's visual identity or else he is no longer representing an entity in reality.

To make a beautiful representation of reality in the form of a painting for an observer to then perceive and have his value judgments act on the painting, the painting in itself must first be beautiful. The metaphysical that can be perceived is the standard. Deviate from this by using incorrect measurements in the form of line, shape, value, mass, color,etc. and the painter is no longer representing reality but either gibberish, or blueness removed from an entity, or ugliness. The incorrect use of a measurement where a correct one is required to represent an entity’s identity will result in ugliness. Keep licking on paint with the brush, mindlessly with no volition and the artist will create non-representation.

As an example, the painter must first decide on a subject in order to create beauty in a painting. I’ll use the example of a portrait of a man. In order for the artist to create beauty each brushstroke, each thought made explicit with a visual marking must be based on the entity he is trying to make beautiful and represent in a painting. The artist explaining how to make something beautiful will act in an ostensive way with visuals, showing to place the brushstroke to indicate the entity’s facial feature “here” and “here.” He has chosen to include the positive to represent a man. He has omitted the negative. The negative would be that which is included to NOT make a man. The artist is dealing with direct, visual measurements.

In order to make a beautiful mountain scene, the artist would not use the same visual measurements based off of the visual identity of a man. The standard of beauty is now what can be seen by perception. Look at a man. Then a mountain. This can only be done perceptually. Deviating from these measurements will create either non-representation or ugliness.

John Singer Sargent had chosen the correct measurements to represent a man. Jenny Saville purposefully had chosen to use the incorrect measurements in representing a man. She purposefully had chosen to use measurements that are not seen visually in the subject of a man. Jenny Saville had chosen to not deviate so far from her subject matter based off reality so that it is still representational, but not beautiful. What is beautiful in a man? This is done only perceptually. What is ugly in a man? Again, only perceptually.

The attributes and standards of beauty are perceived from the metaphysical. In order for a man made representation of reality to be made of the metaphysical then these standards must be used.

edit:composition and grammar

Edited by brianleepainter

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John Singer Sargent had chosen the correct measurements to represent a man. Jenny Saville purposefully had chosen to use the incorrect measurements in representing a man. She purposefully had chosen to use measurements that are not seen visually in the subject of a man. Jenny Saville had chosen to not deviate so far from her subject matter based off reality so that it is still representational, but not beautiful. What is beautiful in a man? This is done only perceptually. What is ugly in a man? Again, only perceptually.

Those looked like quite accurate representations of people, actually. Now those paintings did not appeal to me at all, and I'd say it's because I think the artist is representing things in a way that doesn't convey any particular desirable way to exist. If beauty can be judged objectively, then you need to develop standards which to use. Your standards don't seem very good and *do* include Saville's paintings there. He didn't paint any of the people incorrectly as far as I can tell. I have no problem picking out what Saville is representing. My previous effort to provide objective standards for beauty isn't about accurate representation of something per se. My thoughts currently include the purpose of the object aesthetically speaking, and if the object serves some positive end. That is sort of vague, yes, as I'm mostly trying to figure this out, but that's my current lead. Anyway, Realism (as in, striving for near-photographic quality) isn't the only kind of good art I am sure, so there's no reason to suggest that beauty has to do with how well an artist copies what they see. If you use "beautiful" to describe things like sunsets, trees, cars, and interiors, then it is not quite good enough to talk about beauty *only* in relation to art.

What makes a mountain scene (before the painting was made) beautiful anyway? No one made the scene, it already existed.

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...My previous effort to provide objective standards for beauty isn't about accurate representation of something per se. My thoughts currently include the purpose of the object aesthetically speaking, and if the object serves some positive end. That is sort of vague, yes, as I'm mostly trying to figure this out, but that's my current lead. Anyway, Realism (as in, striving for near-photographic quality) isn't the only kind of good art I am sure, so there's no reason to suggest that beauty has to do with how well an artist copies what they see. If you use "beautiful" to describe things like sunsets, trees, cars, and interiors, then it is not quite good enough to talk about beauty *only* in relation to art.

What makes a mountain scene (before the painting was made) beautiful anyway? No one made the scene, it already existed.

While man needs an artwork that is representational, I do not favor realism if realism is defined by the artist recording everything in his sight without making value judgments, without omitting the negative and including the positive. What I want to see is an artists representation of what they value in a scene.I Just wanted to define my terms there.

I think a mountain scene, or sunset can be beautiful to an individual in that it is something that can be perceived as having beauty that is an end in itself. Once the observer sees this mountain scene, or sunset this can be something to focus ones attention on, and contemplate it and gain that life affirming value. There can be pleasure in the act of perceiving something beautiful in a way.

Once there is an existent, such as the mountain scene to perceive and then contemplate, the individual can then think as to why it is beautiful. The very act of an individual gaining an impression of something, from a relationship with the existent to think on, is an affirmation and can be an end in itself, or a beginning to look further into why it is beautiful. It is as if the vista, or other object, has something in it which when viewed by someone with their value judgments can be used to simply gain a value from it.

The impression, which I think can be a positive attribute that is noticed in an existent in part because of ones value judgments after having perceived the existent, can then be used to create an artwork, a painting of a sunset in this case. Perhaps the attribute which an artist had an impression of was color from the entity of the sunset. Now, how can color be turned into a concrete to give an affirming value to an observer? Color can’t just be placed onto a canvas without choosing an entity to represent in reality, it must be shown through the creation of painting a sunset and what standards the sunset requires because of its identity. I think the identity of the sunset sets the standards of what usage of measurements, principles, elements and truths are required to create a painting that can provide a life affirming value; beauty.

Edited by brianleepainter

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I think a mountain scene, or sunset can be beautiful to an individual in that it is something that can be perceived as having beauty that is an end in itself. Once the observer sees this mountain scene, or sunset this can be something to focus ones attention on, and contemplate it and gain that life affirming value. There can be pleasure in the act of perceiving something beautiful in a way.

But *what* is the beauty of the sunset? How does it differ from an emotion, which is also based on value judgments?

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But *what* is the beauty of the sunset? How does it differ from an emotion, which is also based on value judgments?

The harmony and relationship between the colors.

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Ah, so I'm a destroyer of greatness if I disagree with your opinions about what is beautiful, or if I identify the reality that you can offer no objective criteria for judging or measuring beauty? Hilarious.

Where did I say that if you disagree with my opinions about what it beautiful, you are a destroyer of greatness?

The "reality that you can offer no objective criteria for judging or measuring beauty"? (By "you" you do mean me in particular? Or just anyone other than you in particular?)

That's the issue. Is beauty subjective or objective (or intrinsic)? You have preempted it by declaring that beauty is subjective, that no objective criteria for judging or measuring beauty exists or can exists.

Anyway, I don't agree with the above implied characterization that everyone who creates Modern or Postmodern art is "inept" or "mediocre." I don't agree with Hicks that a five-year-old could create any work of Modernism or Postmodernism. In fact, I don't think that Hicks, an adult, could create at the level of the worst abstract painters, since he doesn't appear to have the slightest understanding of visual composition and expression. I think the actual ineptitude is to be found in those who are incapable of experiencing the expressiveness of abstract art, and who apparently want to drag everyone down to their level.

I understand and accept that such is your view.

I strongly suspect that that is what is probably motivating people like Hicks -- they envy and resent the fact that others can experience what they do not. They seem to take it as a vicious insult that they might not have the same aesthetic capacities or sensitivities as others, so they feel that they have to smear those who don't share their limitations. Their attitude seems to be, "No one can see beauty where I can't; no one can understand meaning where I can't; no one has knowledge, abilities or sensitivities beyond my own; I am the perfect human being with the perfect tastes, and anyone who claims to have any capacity that I lack must be brought down."

"Strong suspicions" are difficult to refute. I accept and acknowledge that you have such "strong suspicions."

Curiously, why is it that you, who holds that beauty (and ugly) is subjective, have some sort of epistemological right to assert what it is you find to be beautiful, but others, like Dr. Hicks, do not?

By what standard would you determine if a person's declarations of aesthetic objectivity are arbitrary or false? When you and nine other people who claim to have objective tastes each have a different judgment of what is beautiful and what is not, how would you determine which of the ten are objective, and which are falsely declaring that they're objective?

Where have I made any such claims?

I haven't said that anyone should consider my opinions on what is beautiful or ugly. I'm not the person declaring that art became ugly, or presuming to advise everyone about what kind of art the world needs based on my subjective tastes. I'm not going around writing essays with the goal of rescuing the world with my tastes as an art consumer.

You are entitled to your subjective opinions, but others are not? (With the assumption that there are no "objective criteria for judging or measuring beauty.")

Now, why should I or anyone else consider your or Hicks' opinions on beauty just because you claim that your opinions are objective (especially when you can't identify objective standards or criteria for judging beauty)? Are your assertions of objectivity supposed to convince me that I've misinterpreted artworks when I disagree with you about whether or not they are beautiful? Are you expecting me to change my mind, and make myself dislike art that you dislike, and somehow that's going to make my life better? Were you expecting me to deny or suppress what I experience in certain works of art because you don't "objectively" experience it? Am I supposed to find it convincing that your inability to experience in abstract art what I experience is "objective" proof that there is nothing to experience in it, and that the goal of abstract art is to deny or destroy man's consciousness and to attack all values, etc.?

You seem to think that others should consider your subjective opinions, noisily so. But Dr. Hicks should just shut up?

Where have I claimed that my opinions are objective? (Again, preemptively, you have declared that I ("you") "can't identify objective standards or criteria for judging beauty." By fiat, you've declared that beauty is subjective.)

I have made no assertions of objectivity; so I do not think that my non-assertions are supposed to convince you "that [you've] misinterpreted artworks when [you] disagree with [me] about whether or not they are beautiful. I'm not expecting you to change your mind and make yourself dislike art that I dislike or that your doing so would make your life better. I'm not expecting you to deny or suppress what you experience in certain works of art because i do not "objectively" experience the same thing. I'm not claiming that you are supposed to find it convincing that my inability to experience in abstract art what you experience is "objective" proof that there is nothing to experience in it, and that the goal of abstract art is to deny or destroy man's consciousness and to attack all values, etc."

For a subjectivist, you sure presume to know a lot about me.

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In the thread I linked, I was figuring out whether beauty could be an objective judgment rather than a subjective reaction.

Thank you. I've yet to read the thread, but will try to do so before long.

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Many of the poses/stylizations chosen by her would make even a fit body look very unflattering. Her paintings do not show us the beauty of a larger body. She does not portray these women as beautiful.

More subjective opinions and unsupported assertions. Will anyone who is claiming that their tastes are "objective" ever identify objective criteria to back up their assertions?

J

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Pressing face against a glass creates visual distortions which are very unflattering. In this way it is not hard to make even an otherwise beautiful face appear unattractive. Jenny Saville purposefully had chosen this technique for many of her creations. One example below.

jennysaville.jpg

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Pressing face against a glass creates visual distortions which are very unflattering.

Unflattering to whom, and by what objective standard? Continuing to post more of your subjective opinions will not serve as a valid substitute for identifying objective criteria of beauty.

In this way it is not hard to make even an otherwise beautiful face appear unattractive.

Beautiful and unattractive to whom, and by what objective standard? I've seen images of what I think are beautiful human forms pressed against glass which looked anything but unattractive to me. In fact, in some cases, they looked even more attractive or alluring that way.

Jenny Saville purposefully had chosen this technique for many of her creations. One example below.

I don't accept the implied assertion that distorted equals "ugly." I interpret some of Saville's work as representing the anxiety that large people can experience when people collectively try to impose their popular views of beauty on them, and of being brave and defiant enough to challenge that collective pressure.

J

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More subjective opinions and unsupported assertions. Will anyone who is claiming that their tastes are "objective" ever identify objective criteria to back up their assertions?

J

The painting itself, the content of the painting itself, sets the context for what and how much of a life affirming value can be gained from the painting once an observer comes into an objective relationship with the object, the painting.

I think when trying to answer your question as to what is beauty(in regards to a painting) that it can only be done most effectively by using examples of an individual’s value judgments acted upon an existent, in other words a painting. If an individual, questioning the objectivity of beauty and ugliness in paintings, perceives painting after painting and sees the similarities and differences between them, then he will see that some paintings are better than others, and the better ones have something(be it a universal, an attribute) that the artist had chosen to include while choosing to omit a negative universal, or attribute. The omitted can be seen by what the ugly paintings have in common that is included among them by the artist.

To emphasize my previous paragraph, I think writing about what is objectively beautiful and ugly in regards to painting is not enough, in that words cannot substitute for actually perceiving what is under question of being objective or not, beauty and ugliness in a painting.

This is how I understand it: If a painting is a recreation of reality based off of the artist’s value judgments and if the artist values beauty, then a viewer questioning the objectivity of beauty needs to perceive examples of paintings based off of the metaphysical and compare the painting to the metaphysical, the subject matter. The subject matter which has a specific identity will have a standard that the artist uses to represent beauty. If this is done again and again then certain universals, attributes, that are pleasing can be seen from painting to painting. But, if the artist had chosen to NOT include the positive and include the negative(rather than omit it) then certain universals, attributes, can be seen from painting to painting. I do not think only words can show that beauty is objective. It is ostensive in this way. When an individual is questioning the visually beautiful, only other artworks will do.

Edited by brianleepainter

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The painting itself, the content of the painting itself, sets the context for what and how much of a life affirming value can be gained from the painting once an observer comes into an objective relationship with the object, the painting.

I think when trying to answer your question as to what is beauty(in regards to a painting) that it can only be done most effectively by using examples of an individual’s value judgments acted upon an existent, in other words a painting. If an individual, questioning the objectivity of beauty and ugliness in paintings, perceives painting after painting and sees the similarities and differences between them, then he will see that some paintings are better than others, and the better ones have something(be it a universal, an attribute) that the artist had chosen to include while choosing to omit a negative universal, or attribute. The omitted can be seen by what the ugly paintings have in common that is included among them by the artist.

I don't know if I'm understanding you. Are you saying that the best way for me to understand how judgments of beauty are objective is to look at a series of paintings that you think are beautiful, and then to look at a series of paintings that you think are ugly, and then I'm just supposed to forget about my own opinions about what is beautiful and ugly, and replace my opinions with yours? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding you, but that's what it sounds like you're saying. And I'm getting the impression that you think that if I had proper, rational, objective values, then I would agree with your judgments of what is beautiful or ugly, and that when I disagree with you, that is evidence that I don't have proper, rational, objective values.

To emphasize my previous paragraph, I think writing about what is objectively beautiful and ugly in regards to painting is not enough, in that words cannot substitute for actually perceiving what is under question of being objective or not, beauty and ugliness in a painting.

This is how I understand it: If a painting is a recreation of reality based off of the artist’s value judgments and if the artist values beauty, then a viewer questioning the objectivity of beauty needs to perceive examples of paintings based off of the metaphysical and compare the painting to the metaphysical, the subject matter. The subject matter which has a specific identity will have a standard that the artist uses to represent beauty. If this is done again and again then certain universals, attributes, that are pleasing can be seen from painting to painting. But, if the artist had chosen to NOT include the positive and include the negative(rather than omit it) then certain universals, attributes, can be seen from painting to painting. I do not think only words can show that beauty is objective. It is ostensive in this way. When an individual is questioning the visually beautiful, only other artworks will do.

If I'm understanding you correctly, your proposed visual method of "objectivity" doesn't accomplish anything. It merely substitutes an unsupported ostensive assertion of the objectivity of your tastes for a verbal one.

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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Unflattering to whom, and by what objective standard? Continuing to post more of your subjective opinions will not serve as a valid substitute for identifying objective criteria of beauty.

To most people.

Objective criteria of beauty in relation to human form has already been identified. This was not an invention of such criteria but an identification - an explanation of human preference. The fact that judgment about human beauty involves classification of harmonious vs. distorted is not controversial for most people. Now days, there are studies on this topic. Those working in industries related to human visual form, for instance, makeup/movie characterization have been relaying on this identification to obtain the desired effect. If they want the audience to see a character as not attractive - they distort the face, make the skin appear not healthy. This is what they teach in characterization classes. The author wanted Cyrano De Bergerac to be perceived as physically ugly so he gave him, an unusually for a human, large nose.

Women have been taking advantage of this for centuries by using makeup as a corrective measure, for example, to even out facial complexion and to make the face appear more symmetrical and thus harmonious.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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To most people.

Are you saying that you've interviewed "most people" on the subject of what they think of images of people with their flesh pressed against glass? If so, that must have taken years of your time!

Objective criteria of beauty in relation to human form has already been identified. This was not an invention of such criteria but an identification - an explanation of human preference.

Which humans' preferences? Those who agree with your subjective judgments of beauty?

The fact that judgment about human beauty involves classification of harmonious vs. distorted is not controversial for most people.

"Harmonious" and "distorted" are not opposites, and I think that "most people" would recognize that. Do you seriously believe that you've never seen any images of distorted human forms which you thought were beautiful? Wow. I'm now wondering if you're even aware of how much imagery in the world is distorted, or if you have the visual capacity to recognize most deviations from how things look in reality.

Nowdays, there are studies on this topic. Those working in industries related to human visual form, for instance, makeup/movie characterization have been relaying on this identification to obtain the desired effect. If they want the audience to see a character as not attractive - they distort the face, make the skin appear not healthy. This is what they teach in characterization classes.

All of that is subjective and/or collectivistic. People's ideas of what is beautiful or ugly evolve over time, just like fashion. Skin which appears to be "not healthy" to you would have been seen as the ultimate in beauty at different times in different cultures. Having a bluish pale tone, for example, can be seen as aristocratic (lack of exposure to the sun and lack of physical stamina can suggest that one has been so successful that one need not labor for a living).

People can be trained, in effect, by the subjective views of others, especially when the others are the majority. Those who aren't in the arts professions don't spend much time analyzing what they think is beautiful or why. They generally follow what is popular. They let society define what is beautiful, and then they claim that the collective opinion of "most people" that they're following is "objective."

The author wanted Cyrano De Bergerac to be perceived as physically ugly so he gave him, an unusually for a human, large nose.

And in other cultures and in other times, other people have seen large noses as beautiful.

Women have been taking advantage of this for centuries by using makeup as a corrective measure, for example, to even out facial complexion and to make the face appear more symmetrical and thus harmonious.

Saville's point seems to be that women are covering themselves in makeup because they have been convinced by the pressure of the collective, subjective opinions of the masses that humans are naturally ugly. I think she has a good point. I think that anyone who views women as being so horribly ugly that they need to paint and disguise themselves is coming from a mindset of weakness and self-denial. It's an act of caving in to others' subjective tastes. And I think it's a sign of even greater weakness to argue that one's hopping on the bandwagon of common subjective opinion is "objective." You might as well argue that it is "objective" for women to "take advantage" of wearing burqas as a "corrective measure."

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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I don't know if I'm understanding you. Are you saying that the best way for me to understand how judgments of beauty are objective is to look at a series of paintings that you think are beautiful, and then to look at a series of paintings that you think are ugly, and then I'm just supposed to forget about my own opinions about what is beautiful and ugly, and replace my opinions with yours? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding you, but that's what it sounds like you're saying. And I'm getting the impression that you think that if I had proper, rational, objective values, then I would agree with your judgments of what is beautiful or ugly, and that when I disagree with you, that is evidence that I don't have proper, rational, objective values.

If I'm understanding you correctly, your proposed visual method of "objectivity" doesn't accomplish anything. It merely substitutes an unsupported ostensive assertion of the objectivity of your tastes for a verbal one.

J

I understand what is objectively good for man; that which promotes his life. In saying that I also understand what is bad for man; that which destroys mans life.

I think the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful are objective as well. Having said this, I think that if an individual argues that beauty is subjective he is also consistent in going along with the good being subjective, and that morality cannot be based on objectivity.

I do not know of any other means to explicitly show what is beautiful and what is ugly, in the from of an artwork made to be perceived with sight, other than a painting, drawing or sculpture.

If an observer is to simply see the world throughout their every day life they may encounter both beauty and ugliness. If a man is out on a photography trip, he may encounter both beauty and ugliness on his trip. If an observer goes to a gallery to view a painting or sculpture, he may only see beauty. The negative could be omitted in the relationship of a viewer observing a painting. I think this difference is very important. In reality, going about every day and viewing the world the negative and positive, the ugly and beautiful, the good and bad all exist and may very well be seen. But, in a painting, since the painter has already made a selective recreation based on his value judgments, he may have filtered out the ugly, so that only the beauty may be seen to the observer at a gallery. Now, the observer can have his value judgments act on the painting, but if the painting is already filtered one step from an existent towards being ugly, then the observer is viewing something that is already created towards being ugly.

In my earlier posts I had written about viewing paintings to become aware of similarities and also differences. Each painting has been filtered by the artist to either show beauty or ugliness. I think there is an important distinction between an individual living life and seeing beauty and ugliness throughout his life and then purposely perceiving something to be beautiful that has already been filtered by an artist in the form of an artwork.

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If an observer goes to a gallery to view a painting or sculpture, he may only see beauty.

How does this differ than seeing sadness in a painting? Sadness is based upon value judgments, but it is a subjective reaction related to your sense of life, right?

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If an observer goes to a gallery to view a painting or sculpture, he may only see beauty.

How does this differ than seeing sadness in a painting? Sadness is based upon value judgments, but it is a subjective reaction related to your sense of life, right?

I think that beauty, unlike sadness which is an emotion (and being an emotion an effect of an individuals value judgments), is a sense that man has when viewing an object that is seen or created in an ideal, harmonious way according to the identity of the represented object.

As an example regarding a painting from the artist, Jenny Saville: The Fulcrum

I think she skillfully handled paint, but it is not representative of the ideal object's identity, which sets the standard. I think Saville used skill, and

and knowledge in paint handling, but she purposefully had chosen to take the subject matter of man and then include negatives to create a painting. Negatives to whom? To the ideal identity of man. I do think Saville is more concerned with creating a painting that shocks the viewer, rather than one that is intended to be beautiful. A painting does not have to be beautiful, and I think this painting is an example of just that. If an artist knows what subject matter he is choosing, he also knows what the ideal standard to create harmony is according to what he is representing. If you know this, you can purposefully aim to make something objectively ugly. Ugly to whom? Ugly to the viewer who understands what the ideal harmony is of the represented subject.

Edited by brianleepainter

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I think the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful are objective as well. Having said this, I think that if an individual argues that beauty is subjective he is also consistent in going along with the good being subjective, and that morality cannot be based on objectivity.

Your notion of objectivity, as you described it earlier, was that two people could come to different objective judgments of what was beautiful or ugly, and both could be right. Therefore, the same two people could come to different objective judgments of what was moral, and both could be right, no?

How do you think your notion of objectivity squares with Rand's?

She wrote,

"Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver’s (man’s) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). This means that although reality is immutable and, in any given context, only one answer is true, the truth is not automatically available to a human consciousness..."

How can you hold the position that two people with differing views of what is beautiful can both be right if only "one answer is true"?

J

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Negatives to whom? To the ideal identity of man. I do think Saville is more concerned with creating a painting that shocks the viewer, rather than one that is intended to be beautiful.

Can you point out to me what necessarily makes that picture ugly?

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