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Is art better than sports?

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If you were to compile a book on the Aesthetics of ancient Rome, you would cover such diverse things as poetry, architecture, clothing, jewelry, perfume, food, graffiti, plays, music, eating utensils, furniture, sculpture, pottery, frescos, etc.

Edited by New Buddha

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5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

My interest was piqued when you suggested subsuming art and beauty into a higher concept (I draw a sharp distinction between them).

We've agreed already that "art" and "beauty" are different; we both draw a sharp distinction between them. But that does not mean that they are not related in some fashion or that they do not belong to a common, wider category.

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Aesthetics is my life's passion, so feel free to make your ideas heard if you ever develop this point.

I've never yet been shy about sharing my ideas, lol. But my current reticence to commit too fully to this topic is because: I respect the limits of my knowledge and expertise (or I try to).

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

They certainly do go hand in hand. But there's an important distinction to make, between the decorative arts and the fine arts. The first category is concerned with the creation of beautiful objects, while the second one uses beauty only as one means of effectively concretizing the abstract meaning of an artwork. 'Aesthetics' would subsume beauty and the theory behind the decorative arts, but not the whole of the fine arts.

I'm a touch confused as to your point here -- perhaps you could clarify?

But first, I agree that there's a distinction between the "decorative arts" and "fine arts." I think that distinction is preserved, in fact, by our use of language. It's my understanding that Rand would not consider the "decorative arts" to be art at all, excepting perhaps for architecture (although I've read conflicting things about that on this very board, with at least one member claiming that Rand eventually decided that architecture is not art... but I can make no claim about that, either way).

If the decorative arts are not art, would this mean that they have no place within aesthetics? That doesn't seem right.

Yet you appear to agree with me when you say that aesthetics "would subsume beauty and the theory behind the decorative arts." That's precisely what I've been arguing. That aesthetics as a discipline is wider than "art" (i.e. "fine art") and includes decorative arts, beauty, etc. So at this point, I'm unsure as to what you're contending, and where we disagree.

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Rand's approach was that, apart from a view of the universe, a method of knowledge and a code of ethical and political values, Art is the only need of man within the province of pure philosophy.

It's my understanding that Rand saw philosophy as "provid[ing] man with a comprehensive view of life," and that philosophy itself can be divided into Metaphysics, Epistemology, etc. If philosophy has anything to say with respect to beauty (and I suspect that it does, for how else could philosophy be "comprehensive"?), then I would expect beauty to belong to some sub-section of philosophy.

I continue to regard aesthetics as the "best fit," for a number of reasons. (Along with Wikipedia and history providing support for this position, as I have earlier made mention, I would also observe that we are currently having this conversation in the "Aesthetics" section of the forum, sub-heading "Beauty.")

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

For her, the primary function of art is not to titillate the senses, but to help people hold in mind the massive context that underlies their daily existence.

If it is the implication, I do not believe that the primary role of beauty is titillation.

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7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I'm a touch confused as to your point here -- perhaps you could clarify?

The study of beauty would naturaly lead to the discovery of some principles of creating beautiful objects. So you could subsume beauty and the science of beauty into 'aesthetics'. But then you could not also subsume the principles of, for instance, plot construction into this wider category.

I consider the decorative arts to be crafts, not art. I distinguish between beauty as such, beautiful crafts (such as dress design, flower arrangements) and what is referred to as the fine arts. Restricting 'aesthetics' to the philosophy of art slashes off a great deal of confusion. The common historical usage of 'aesthetics' is precisely where most of the confusions come from.

7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

If it is the implication, I do not believe that the primary role of beauty is titillation.

I know. However, you could argue that the primary purpose of the decorative crafts is the pleasing of the senses. This is why you can't bundle them togheter with the fine arts.

Aesthetics was not included in Rand's model for comprehensiveness, but because man needs a way to hold that comprehensive view of existence in his mind. Art is blood-related to philosophy in the sense that it concretizes it.

Beauty, too, is very important, but it's not fundamental enough to include in such a system. But you can have a specialized 'philosophy of beauty', just like we have the philosophy of science, law, education etc.

 

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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On 7/30/2017 at 1:07 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

The study of beauty would naturaly lead to the discovery of some principles of creating beautiful objects. So you could subsume beauty and the science of beauty into 'aesthetics'. But then you could not also subsume the principles of, for instance, plot construction into this wider category.

I don't see why you couldn't put both the science of beauty and the principles of plot construction into a wider category of aesthetics (the distinctions would be retained on a lower level, just as, again, this subforum is labelled "Beauty" while another is "Literature," both under the standard "Aesthetics"; Objectivism Online has worked this out satisfactorily far before either of our contributions). If we have not settled upon a definition for aesthetics which satisfies us in incorporating both, while excluding that which clearly does not belong, that does not mean that no definition can be found or devised. "Man" was a fine and useful concept well before "rational animal" was settled upon; the definition need not come first.

But do you see no relationship in reality between "beauty" and the fine arts which would justify grouping them together in the first place? No relationship between the decorative arts and fine arts in their use of color and shape and line? Between the visual/"aesthetic" value in a landscape observed in reality and that same landscape photographed or painted? Between the beauty of the model who poses for the Venus de Milo and the statue itself?

On 7/30/2017 at 1:07 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

I consider the decorative arts to be crafts, not art.

That's fine. Neither do I consider the decorative arts to be fine art, though I do believe that there is also a difference between the decorative arts and what I consider to be "crafts." Rather -- and this speaks to the larger contention -- I believe that there is a clear aesthetic element to decorative arts.

This is, in part, why I find understanding aesthetics to be the study of "art" (i.e. fine art), and this alone, to be far too restrictive -- to the point where it causes conceptual confusion, and conflict with reality. I have no personal stake in the decorative arts, but I understand that those who work in some of the fields you've named, like dress design and floral arrangements, must have what I would otherwise call an "aesthetic" sense or ability. Otherwise, shouldn't we expect such disciplines to be strictly utilitarian?

On 7/30/2017 at 1:07 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

I know. However, you could argue that the primary purpose of the decorative crafts is the pleasing of the senses.This is why you can't bundle them togheter with the fine arts.

But even here it is possible that the "pleasing of the senses" is itself a deeper and more meaningful subject than it may initially appear. Or, if not, I would still argue that "pleasing of the senses" is a worthy topic for exploration, the senses and pleasure both being... rather important for life on Earth.

Of course, to explore all of this properly would require a philosophical exploration of "beauty," and associated.

On 7/30/2017 at 1:07 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

Aesthetics was not included in Rand's model for comprehensiveness, but because man needs a way to hold that comprehensive view of existence in his mind. Art is blood-related to philosophy in the sense that it concretizes it.

I was not speaking to Rand's motivation, but that she believed that the categories she outlined (Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics and Aesthetics) did suffice to provide a full philosophical system; and that, as such, it was comprehensive, capable of addressing everything in a man's life (qua philosophy).

Thus, the study of beauty should have a home somewhere in Rand's model.

On 7/30/2017 at 1:07 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

Beauty, too, is very important, but it's not fundamental enough to include in such a system. But you can have a specialized 'philosophy of beauty', just like we have the philosophy of science, law, education etc.

Indeed we have such specialized studies, but the categories are hierarchical. The philosophy of law, for instance, does not stand apart from Politics, let's say, but it is a subsection of Politics. (Unsurprisingly you will find that, again, our forum categories reflect this.)

And if beauty is a subcategory of aesthetics, as I maintain, then it is a mistake to conceive of aesthetics as "the study of art" and this alone. There is more to aesthetics than fine art.

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

But do you see no relationship in reality between "beauty" and the fine arts which would justify grouping them together in the first place?

Maybe an analogy will be helpful.

The principles of fitness teach you how to exercise for maximum benefits, how to avoid workout injuries, what to eat post-workout and so on. Football is a competitive game that makes use of those principles, and can even be considered a type of physical exercise. But the purpose of football isn't to become fit. Football is a competitive game. You're more likely to see people getting fit for professional football, rather than people going into professional football for the sake of becoming fit. 

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

No relationship between the decorative arts and fine arts in their use of color and shape and line?

Color, shape, line and beauty are the building blocks.

Beauty is generally associated with a sense of harmony. Using patterns is ideal in art for many reasons, including intelligibility, unit-economy, greater appeal etc. A deeper issue would be whether all art should be beautiful. If the artist wants to portray hell on earth, does he need to paint beautifully? 

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

I understand that those who work in some of the fields you've named, like dress design and floral arrangements, must have what I would otherwise call an "aesthetic" sense or ability. Otherwise, shouldn't we expect such disciplines to be strictly utilitarian?

The benefits of beauty pertain more to consciousness than to the body - but this does not make floral arrangements less 'utilitarian'. 

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Maybe an analogy will be helpful.

The principles of fitness teach you how to exercise for maximum benefits, how to avoid workout injuries, what to eat post-workout and so on. Football is a competitive game that makes use of those principles, and can even be considered a type of physical exercise. But the purpose of football isn't to become fit. Football is a competitive game. You're more likely to see people getting fit for professional football, rather than people going into professional football for the sake of becoming fit.

I don't see how this analogy is meant to map to the point of contention. I agree that the purpose of football isn't to become fit. If you're saying that the purpose of art isn't to create beauty, I'd agree; but then, I am not saying that the purpose of art is to create beauty. I'm saying that the study of beauty is part of aesthetics, just as the study of fine arts is part of (but not the whole of) aesthetics.

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Color, shape, line and beauty are the building blocks.

Indeed. And the study of those building blocks is part and parcel to aesthetics, including their applications in fine arts, decorative arts, "natural" phenomena (like a rainbow), and etc.

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

If the artist wants to portray hell on earth, does he need to paint beautifully?

This is an interesting question, and someday I would love to see folks more knowledgeable about the fine (visual) arts discuss it.

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

 The benefits of beauty pertain more to consciousness than to the body - but this does not make floral arrangements less 'utilitarian'. 

This is as may be -- if we wish to say that all art, and all aesthetics, are equally utilitarian. It remains that beauty (and floral arrangements) are worthy of study as they pertain to man (and if to the benefit of man's consciousness, as you say here, then I again think "titillation" does not do full justice to the subject). And within philosophy, I would again say that these studies (some more specialized than others, just as law is to politics) belong to aesthetics.

To bring this back 'round to the thread, the reason why I believe that this an important point (in part) is that, given Rand's claim that philosophy provides a comprehensive view of life, and the belief that Objectivism is a full philosophical system, addressing itself to the fundamentals of the various subdivisions of philosophy (Metaphysics, et al.), I believe that some Objectivists are stymied when they encounter aesthetic phenomena outside of (fine) art.

For instance, in this thread seemingly there has been a claim that "sports are art." Well, no. Sports aren't art, and art is not sports. But sports and art may well have things in common -- aesthetic things. This shouldn't be a problem for a comprehensive theory of aesthetics... but if aesthetics are wrongly (as I argue) limited to the fine arts, well then, how can any aesthetic aspect of sports be asserted, argued for, or defended (should one exist)? Only by claiming sports to be art. That's the way to make it "fit" into Rand's model, if it is accepted that her model expresses philosophy comprehensively, that Objectivism is a full philosophical system, and if it is accepted that aesthetics are limited exclusively to the fine arts. For if aesthetics are solely for the arts, and sports are not art, then where do our ideas about the pleasures of watching sports, etc., belong?

Or maybe sports and some of its features could be shunted into some other area? Regardless, I think that the simplest solution to difficulties such as these is also the correct one: that aesthetics is wider/more encompassing than fine art.

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Indeed. And the study of those building blocks is part and parcel to aesthetics, including their applications in fine arts, decorative arts, "natural" phenomena (like a rainbow), and etc.

This is correct.

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

For if aesthetics are solely for the arts,

 

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Regardless, I think that the simplest solution to difficulties such as these is also the correct one: that aesthetics is wider/more encompassing than fine art.

Yes.

Rand classifies Architecture as one of the  Visual Arts  (along with painting and sculpture) while in my above post I classify Architecture as "Design" (which, along with Art, is subsumed under the broader concept Aesthetics).   In addition to working in architecture (design) for 25 years, I also occasionally paint and draw (art).  While there are existential differences in the mediums of all three fields, there are also existential cognitive similarities too.  This is why it's unproblematic for me to subsume them under the broader concept, Aesthetics.

Add edit:  Working in architecture/interior design also includes the selection of furniture, window coverings, carpeting, etc.

Edited by New Buddha

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9 hours ago, DonAthos said:

If you're saying that the purpose of art isn't to create beauty, I'd agree; but then, I am not saying that the purpose of art is to create beauty. I'm saying that the study of beauty is part of aesthetics, just as the study of fine arts is part of (but not the whole of) aesthetics.

It all boils down to how you define aesthetics.

If you're using aesthetics to mean 'the beautiful', then subsuming beauty and the fine arts into a single category is out of the question. Let's assume for a moment that beauty is, indeed, crucial to the fine arts. Now let's draw a parralel. "Baking a cake (fine arts) requires flour (beauty). It's not the only ingredient that goes into a cake, but it's an important, foundational one. Therefore, cakes and flour are both part of the wider field, flour studies. They are related much too tightly. The study of flour production (or of its composition) is only part of the overall subject of flour, just as the study of baking cakes is part of (but not the whole of) the subject of flour".

However, if you're using your suggested wider meaning of 'aesthetics', one that subsumes beauty and inspirational experiences, subsuming art and beauty could work. But for the moment you haven't given a genus and differentia, so I can't argue for or against it. At most, I can only say that I've never thought of sports as being beautiful (and by extension, aesthetically pleasing). I did find some instances to be inspirational. This makes sports share a characteristic with art, even though sports are games and art is, well, art.

Using aesthetics to refer to beauty is fine. Renaming the fifth branch of Rand's system to 'Art' is also fine. But mixing them up is a stretch. Unless you can succesfully devise and defend a new concept of aesthetics.

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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4 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

It all boils down to how you define aesthetics.

Not if we are using "define" in a strict sense. "Definition" is important, but it does not have to be the first step in concept formation; in fact, that methodology (where we "define" a concept into being, and then rule out all instances in reality which do not measure up) can lead to problems.

Rather, we must look at the reality of the situation and try to assess what belongs grouped together. Later we may attempt to find a definition, although I'd said from the get-go that I do not trust myself to find a definition for (my conception of) aesthetics, at present. If I wanted to, it would have something to do with how one interacts with the world, or sees himself in the world, or what one is "attracted" to (and/or "repulsed" by), or how one's sense of life functions in the world (though this last seems especially treacherous, given the diversity of opinions I've seen attached to that concept over the years).

If one wants to model things other than how Rand did, breaking philosophy apart in some different way, where the term "aesthetics" has a more limited role, then sure, it could be delimited to "fine art" or "cheese connoisseurship" or anything you'd like. It would all boil down to how you define "aesthetics" (beauty and art would retain their actual relationship in reality, definitions notwithstanding).

But if Rand is right that philosophy provides a comprehensive view of life, and if Objectivism is a full philosophical system as has been claimed, then beauty necessarily belongs somewhere in the categories Rand outlined. I say it belongs to aesthetics, for the reasons I've discussed throughout our conversation.

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

If you're using aesthetics to mean 'the beautiful', then subsuming beauty and the fine arts into a single category is out of the question.

But that's not how I'm using aesthetics, to mean "the beautiful." You are refuting arguments I've never made.

Beauty is part of aesthetics, just as fine art is part of aesthetics. Neither is the whole.

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Let's assume for a moment that beauty is, indeed, crucial to the fine arts.

I make no such assumption nor any such argument. Beauty is related to art and it is worthy of philosophical examination: that is the extent of my claim.

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

However, if you're using your suggested wider meaning of 'aesthetics', one that subsumes beauty and inspirational experiences, subsuming art and beauty could work. But for the moment you haven't given a genus and differentia, so I can't argue for or against it.

"Genus" and "differentia" may come later. Again: men were using the concept "man" long before there was a definition for "man," let alone one that would satisfy you or me or Ayn Rand.

You can argue for or against my conceptualization of aesthetics based on what you know and what you observe in reality. That's the basis for my argument for a broader conceptualization of aesthetics, in fact: that based on my observations of reality (dress designers, etc.), there exists aesthetics (or something that is similar enough in terms of experience to what we would otherwise call aesthetics; similar enough to be meaningfully grouped together) beyond the fine arts.

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

At most, I can only say that I've never thought of sports as being beautiful (and by extension, aesthetically pleasing). I did find some instances to be inspirational. This makes sports share a characteristic with art, even though sports are games and art is, well, art.

Lol, well, I would say that sports are sports, games are games, and art is art. :) But otherwise, we are agreed on that point -- that these are distinct phenomena (whatever they otherwise share, and whether they can be grouped together under a wider category or not). And again: part of the reason why I consider this discussion to be important, and not some empty taxonomy, is because I believe that the present model inclines Objectivists to either redefine things to be art so that they can discuss its aesthetic elements (including sports, instances of decorative arts, photography, etc.) or, perhaps, to dismiss such items from philosophical consideration altogether.

It is by recognizing that aesthetics are wider than art that we can begin to examine those aspects of certain phenomena, like sports, that are not art, but still offer aesthetic value.

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4 hours ago, DonAthos said:

"Definition" is important, but it does not have to be the first step in concept formation

Well, yeah. I didn't request one or implied that it can be created at this stage. But without such a definitition it's tricky to see what you're hinting at/groping for. The way I see it, the similarities between beauty,  the fine arts and inspirational experiences are there, but they seem too shallow to form a category.

4 hours ago, DonAthos said:

But if Rand is right that philosophy provides a comprehensive view of life, and if Objectivism is a full philosophical system as has been claimed

Comprehensive does not mean encyclopedic, otherwise her system would also include psychology as a branch (among other things). The study of beauty relies heavily on psychology, so it's not pure philosophy. 

Here's a directly related quote by Rand:

Quote

The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics); the means of concretizing this view is given to him by esthetics.

(“The Chickens’ Homecoming,” Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, p. 45). Bold mine.

And another one:

Quote

Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.

(“Philosophy: Who Needs It,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 2). Italics in original.

Beauty is to aesthetics (Rand's use of the term) what physical exercise is to ethics. They can't be sundered. But ethics and aesthetics are pure philosophy, while exercise and beauty are not.

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Well, yeah. I didn't request one or implied that it can be created at this stage. But without such a definitition it's tricky to see what you're hinting at/groping for.

I don't think it's necessarily so tricky as you might otherwise believe, although this might be a strictly personal perspective, based upon our differing life experiences and etc. Yet I would again point to various philosophers and artists past and present, the editors of Wikipedia, the creators of this forum (and its categorization), for whom, I surmise, it was not so difficult to see the relationship between aesthetics, beauty and art at which I "grope."

But I don't expect that to convince you of anything. Rather, I would call upon you to reflect, neither on quotes you find nor on definitions, but on reality. Consider for instance the photo of the discus statue that New Buddha provided earlier in the thread. Perhaps we would disagree here, too, but I find that statue beautiful. And it is surely art. The original athlete -- whomever provided the sculptor with inspiration -- was not himself a work of art; he was a person, engaged (in this case) in sports, and probably utterly unconcerned with how he appeared or whatever inspiration he might provide others. And yet, I expect that the sculptor found beauty (or some equivalent; "arete") in his form, in his actions, in his movements, such that he considered him a subject worthy of such a monument.

The investigation of that, as much as contemplation of the resultant statue, is, I believe, properly an aesthetic inquiry.

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Comprehensive does not mean encyclopedic, otherwise her system would also include psychology as a branch (among other things). The study of beauty relies heavily on psychology, so it's not pure philosophy. 

It would be too great a divergence from the thread to go into psychology (even for me), but suffice it to say that I expect that all special science must cohere with Rand's philosophy (to the extent that Objectivism is true); the special sciences do not stand apart from the system... but within. For if psychology has anything to say, it will say something "of existence, of man, [or] of man's relationship to existence." It does so in a more specialized, narrow and focused way, which is why we regard it as a "special science," yet it is not otherwise of a different nature from general philosophy. Only more specific.

And if Rand is right about how philosophy is subdivided (or if we accept her model, in any event), then psychology, too, will find its home among her categories, as all special sciences must. It is either fish or fowl. Or, rather, it is to be found among (wholly belonging to one, or in combination): "the nature of the universe with which [man] has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics)." Or aesthetics.

"Comprehensive" does not mean encyclopedic in the sense of Rand herself commenting on every particular, but it does mean the part of her quote which you chose not to bold:

"The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential."

All of man's actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. So yes, based on my reading, I believe psychology is meant to be covered. And if beauty matters to man's life, such that it may matter to man's actions, then beauty must be covered as well. Yet conceiving of aesthetics as "the study of art" does not serve to provide a suitable "base" or "frame of reference" for the study of beauty, as such, whether we conceive of it as pure philosophy, psychology, special science, or somewhere in between. To provide that necessary base, that necessary frame of reference, we must expand upon our understanding of aesthetics.

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5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Yet I would again point to various philosophers and artists past and present, the editors of Wikipedia, the creators of this forum (and its categorization), for whom, I surmise, it was not so difficult to see the relationship between aesthetics, beauty and art at which I "grope."

I see certain similarities between atheltics, sex, and foot-tapping. I don't think it's terribly controversial to put them into a category called 'physical exercise'. History would probably agree. Yet this would still mean uniting them on the basis of non-essentials. 

5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

All of man's actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. So yes, based on my reading, I believe psychology is meant to be covered.

The answer ultimately lies in her writings. For now we'll have to agree to disagree. 

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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1 hour ago, KyaryPamyu said:

For now we'll have to agree to disagree.

Yes, of course. If you'd ever like to pick this up again, I'd be happy to join you.

But, before we leave off for the moment...

1 hour ago, KyaryPamyu said:

The answer ultimately lies in her writings.

The answers to some questions certainly may lie in Rand's writings, but this phrasing leaves me a touch uncomfortable. I would rather say that the answer ultimately lies in reality.

We cannot respond to everything in every post, obviously -- we all pick and choose to some extent -- but if there had been anything in my last post I wish you had responded to, it would have been my comments about the reality of the situation I'm attempting to point to: the discus statue. Perhaps, even as we agree to disagree, I could ask you to continue to give that question some thought?

You'd earlier said that you'd "never thought of sports as being beautiful (and by extension, aesthetically pleasing)." And that's fine. But can you imagine the sculptor of that statue as he examined the (real) discus thrower before him? You'd agreed that there could be "inspiration" found in athletes, and yes, I think that plays a role. I imagine that the sculptor found inspiration in the image of the discus thrower. But do you think the sculptor found beauty there, too? That he meant to convey some of that beauty through his work?

That the sculptor chose to immortalize his vision as a statue (albeit in a stylized fashion) certainly places this comfortably within aesthetics, whether we accept aesthetics as "the study of art" alone or something more than that. But suppose for a moment that the sculptor had never done so, for whatever reason. Suppose he had had some other, more demanding project before him. Or suppose sickness or death intervened before he could fashion his statue. Or that he did not have the funds to allow him to create it. Or anything else. What, then, would we make of his initial experience in observing the discus thrower? Of the beauty he observed there, and the inspiration, and the role that these may have played in his life?

Is that experience, in originally observing the discus thrower -- something, I would argue, possibly akin to what a later museum-goer might experience in gazing upon the statue he in fact subsequently sculpted -- important, such that it is worthy of philosophical examination? And if so, what should we call it? I would argue that it is fundamentally an aesthetic experience, and something like the wellspring of subsequent artistic creation. But those kinds of experiences do not belong alone to fine artists, and neither are they expressed alone by fine art. Though the decorative arts are not art, yet there is something aesthetic about them, too.

And if we were to mine Rand's writings for every last comma, because we are committed to the idea of orthodoxy, then we might even find (arguable) support for this kind of understanding, as for instance, when discussing photography and asserting that it is not an art, Rand writes, "[t]here is an artistic element in some photographs, which is the result of such selectivity as the photographer can exercise, and some of them can be very beautiful..." (and notice how she mentions "beauty" as though that has anything to do with "aesthetics"!) But concord with Rand is only of secondary importance, if it is important at all. Our true mistress, our true object of devotion, and the one towards which we should constantly turn our attention (especially when we disagree) is: reality, reality, reality.

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

I would rather say that the answer ultimately lies in reality.

"The answer lies in her writings", as in: the answer to what her actual views on philosophy were can be found in her written material. As far as I know, she disagreed that psychology should be part of philosophy.

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

But do you think the sculptor found beauty there, too? That he meant to convey some of that beauty through his work?

People sometimes use 'beautiful' when they mean that something is inspiring. They associate pleasant feelings with beauty. By this token, you can actually refer to anything you like as 'beautiful', even though somebody else with different values might look at those things and have no idea what you're talking about.

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Is that experience, in originally observing the discus thrower -- something, I would argue, possibly akin to what a later museum-goer might experience in gazing upon the statue he in fact subsequently sculpted -- important, such that it is worthy of philosophical examination?

Of course it is. It's a type of emotional fuel, as discussed early. That feeling of love for existence, or 'metaphysical joy' as Rand would call it, can be triggered by just about anything you like or pleases you. Which makes this type of thing a very broad category, just like 'physical exercise' is in relation to athletics, sex and foot-tapping.

Bottomline: beauty is everywhere. Physical exercise is everywhere. Bundling all beautiful/inspiring things togheter muddles the differences between, for example, plot construction, characterization, drug-induced ecstacy, cuteness of kids and animals, becoming aware of the vastness of the universe, sexually tantalizing women's clothing/attitudes etc.

Everything in the universe is interconnected, and every piece of knowledge has implications for countless other fields. But some cathegories are simply too broad to be of any practical use, except as broad descriptive terms. Imagine opening a fitness manual and seeing: pushups, squats, walk to the store, climb the stairs, have sex, dance to music, run from your fangirls, play volleyball.

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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22 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

"The answer lies in her writings", as in: the answer to what her actual views on philosophy were can be found in her written material.

Oh, I understand. I understood at the time, too, and referenced as much when I'd written, "The answers to some questions certainly may lie in Rand's writings..."

Yet I also fear that there seems to be more interest in lining up definitions, and adherence to quotes (or dogma), than an attempt to investigate the reality of what we are meant to be discussing. Or if not, then let it serve as a needful reminder to others who may happen to read our writing.

22 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

As far as I know, she disagreed that psychology should be part of philosophy.

Maybe. If "the answer lies in her writings," then perhaps it lies as much in her many digressions into psychology as any explicitly stated disavowal (the substance of which would itself have to be provided and examined). And in the name of consistency, we would have to consider this in the light of what she had said, and we have both quoted above, when she wrote that, "The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential." Presumably "psychological" was included meaningfully.

But then, I'm not arguing that "psychology should be part of philosophy": I am arguing nothing with respect to psychology, except that psychology (as all special science) does not stand apart from philosophy, but it is a narrower and more specialized focus. As law is to politics, and beauty (or art) to aesthetics, so, too, psychology to wider philosophy (i.e. the more generalized science) which provides its foundation.

Yet further, what Rand believed with respect to psychology is far less important than what is true about psychology. What Rand believed about aesthetics is far less important than what is true about aesthetics.

22 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

People sometimes use 'beautiful' when they mean that something is inspiring. They associate pleasant feelings with beauty. By this token, you can actually refer to anything you like as 'beautiful', even though somebody else with different values might look at those things and have no idea what you're talking about.

I don't doubt that people use "beautiful" in many different ways; some may use it improperly. A full philosophical investigation of the concept is likely in order. When we have it, let us put it in the "aesthetics" section of the board, as I would argue makes sense.

22 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Everything in the universe is interconnected, and every piece of knowledge has implications for countless other fields. But some cathegories are simply too broad to be of any practical use.

I would say that metaphysics as "the nature of the universe with which [man] has to deal," epistemology as "the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge," ethics as "the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character," and politics "in regard to society," are all rather broad. Suitably broad. Necessarily broad.

Broadest of all is "philosophy" itself, which subsumes all the rest. If we find such a category to be "too broad to be of any practical use," then we find merit in the way we subdivide philosophy into its respective domains; and we need not stop there: we may narrow our focus further, moving for instance from political philosophy to the philosophy of law (and there may be subdivisions of law, as well, into civil and criminal, corporate and environmental, and so forth), moving from philosophy as a general study towards the "special sciences," and scientist into specialist, as we narrow our investigations into the nature of reality.

Thus we may move from "aesthetics" to "beauty" which is is a narrower focus within the larger concept, so long as we understand "aesthetics" properly, to provide the necessary foundation for such a more focused investigation, which here means: that we cannot restrict "aesthetics" to "fine art" without lopping off the reality of (say) the artistic elements found in the (non-art) of photography.

But then, you had suggested that we "agree to disagree," and it was not my intention to draw you back in. I think we've both expressed ourselves to the point of diminishing returns. Or, speaking for only myself, I believe I have done so. So, feel free to have the final word (between us, for now), and perhaps we will pick this up another time. Thank you for the conversation.

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13 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

Yet I also fear that there seems to be more interest in lining up definitions, and adherence to quotes (or dogma), than an attempt to investigate the reality of what we are meant to be discussing.

Readers may decide for themselves.

25 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

Thank you for the conversation.

Thanks, you made some interesting points.

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4 hours ago, DonAthos said:

But then, I'm not arguing that "psychology should be part of philosophy": I am arguing nothing with respect to psychology, except that psychology (as all special science) does not stand apart from philosophy, but it is a narrower and more specialized focus.

There is an interesting quote from Peikoff, 1991:

Ayn Rand regarded her theory of concepts as proved, but not as completed. There are, she thought, important similarities between concepts and mathematics still to be identified; and there is much to be learned about man’s mind by a proper study of man’s brain and nervous system. In her last years, Miss Rand was interested in following up on these ideas—in relating the field of conceptualization to two others: higher mathematics and neurology. Her ultimate goal was to integrate in one theory the branch of philosophy that studies man’s cognitive faculty with the science that reveals its essential method and the science that studies its physical organs. 

This is pretty much the current program of today's field, Cognitive Science.  It's also important to realize that Rand developed her ideas at a time when linguistic analysis in philosophy and behaviorism in psychology were dominate.  But the science behind the operation of sense organs, childhood development, etc. played a large role in helping her to develop the ideas in ITOE.

Rand also says of Aesthetics:

The esthetic principles which apply to all art, regardless of an individual artist’s philosophy, and which must guide an objective evaluation . . . are defined by the science of esthetics—a task at which modern philosophy has failed dismally.

A "science of aesthetics" would be every bit as comprehensive as the "science of epistemology " as developed in  the ITOE.  She considers epistemology to be a science (and she's not just using the term "science" metaphorically):

Epistemology is a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge. 

There would also be a significant overlap and interdependency between the sciences of epistemology and aesthetics - they are not mutually exclusive.

 

Edited by New Buddha

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