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stevetherawman

Does aesthetics really belong in philosophy?

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Was just wondering why aesthetics is part of the Objectivist philosophy and why it has anything to do with philosophy in general. Different people find different things aesthetically appealing....

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Aesthetics, such as art or culture, is crucial to the survival of man's mind; the mind is crucial to man's physical existence. Personally, I find some appeal in certain nihilistic forms of art in their appropriate setting, or dissonant sounds within a musical composition. But consider the effects on a mind that ONLY consumes nihilistic art, loud irritating forms of music, and blood-sport as entertainment. I've met such people; they're not very rational, neither are they very good company in the long run.

Artistic creations are nutrition for the conscience.

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There are many threads on esthetics already. You can try the search at the top of the site, or the Google search at the bottom, using terms like "aesthetics" or "esthetics."

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Esthetics concerns itself with two issues which are essential to a fully integrated philosophic perspective: metaphysical value judgments and sense of life.

 

Qua branch of philosophy, esthetics studies the nature of art; its meaning and the role it plays in man's life. Esthetic principles, however, have application well beyond the evaluation of art works. Properly understood, they can shed enormous light on the way a man experiences himself, and how he sees himself in relation to the universe.

 

Esthetics represents "the soul of philosophy." A person could conceivably attain a high level of awareness of Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics, but lacking a clear grasp of its esthetics, he is unlikely to make Objectivism his way of life. Philosophy will seem somewhat distant to him — somewhat removed from his moment-to-moment existence.

 

Ayn Rand was an artist, and in a sense she had to be. While you can learn a lot from her nonfiction (as well as Peikoff's OPAR and other works), if you haven't read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, you haven't yet experienced the full impact of the Objectivist vision. These novels are literary and philosophic powerhouses; they make their ideas real to the reader in a way no treatise or series of lectures ever could.

Edited by Kevin Delaney
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Among other things, esthetics display abstractions as concretes, which is a way to present their applications to reality.

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why it has anything to do with philosophy in general.

Read the Romantic Manifesto.

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The philosophy of Objectivism began with Rand's aesthetic views and responses. Prior to consciously working out her philosophy, she had an aesthetic view of existence of mankind as capable, heroic, etc., and later she based her adult philosophy on that view.

 

J

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It’s only part of the philosophy to the extent philosophy is the study of “everything”, or basically fundamentals. Aesthetics is no different from science or ethics in that it is a different science which requires is a specific application. Philosophy just underpins everything since it covers the broadest abstractions.  From there you move to specifics which is where the sciences, politics, or aesthetics come in. 

 

As for Objectivism and aesthetics, Rand was an artist’s so naturally she made critical thoughts on it and applied her fundamental to this specific enterprise, much like she did to ethics and politics.  If you look around here you’ll see a lively debate on the subject and how to apply those principles. 

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On 1/16/2014 at 11:59 PM, KevinD said:

Esthetic principles, however, have application well beyond the evaluation of art works. Properly understood, they can shed enormous light on the way a man experiences himself, and how he sees himself in relation to the universe.

Esthetics represents "the soul of philosophy." A person could conceivably attain a high level of awareness of Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics, but lacking a clear grasp of its esthetics, he is unlikely to make Objectivism his way of life. Philosophy will seem somewhat distant to him — somewhat removed from his moment-to-moment existence.

Ayn Rand was an artist, and in a sense she had to be.

I agree completely with this. Aesthetics is a much more fundamental branch of philosophy than it normally gets credit for. I think hierarchically it should follow directly from metaphysics, and actually has implications in epistemology and ethics.

In the same sense that everyone has to be a philosopher to some extent, since man by nature must be guided by a comprehensive view of life, do you think in a sense everyone has to be an artist to some extent, since aesthetic principles also perform a necessary function in the guidance of life (when it comes to metaphysical value judgments and sense of life)?

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No, I don't think everyone needs to be an artist, but I do believe everyone should have at lest some art in their lives in whichever form it is in - some people prefer music or literature or painting or sculpture - or if like me all of it.

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On 12/28/2016 at 10:26 AM, RomanticRealism said:

No, I don't think everyone needs to be an artist

I disagree, I think they do.

Not as a career path, obviously, but I'm yet to meet someone who decided to try to create art, and regretted it. I don't think it would be possible: creating art fills a hole in us that nothing else could fill.

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On 12/27/2016 at 11:57 PM, epistemologue said:

In the same sense that everyone has to be a philosopher to some extent, since man by nature must be guided by a comprehensive view of life, do you think in a sense everyone has to be an artist to some extent, since aesthetic principles also perform a necessary function in the guidance of life (when it comes to metaphysical value judgments and sense of life)?

I would say that, to the extent that one intends to live an interesting and fulfilling life, he should develop within himself the soul of an artist.

Indulge greedily in works of art, yes — but more broadly, cultivate your personal values (what you like, enjoy, appreciate, etc.), and curate your life in such a way so that your daily existence reflects and embodies that which matters most to you.

Edited by KevinD
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