Would it be a fair summary to say you're suggesting that aesthetics should study the art that is produced simply as art, and should also examine the artistic/aesthetic aspects of things that are not primarily produced as art?
Honestly? I don't know. When it comes to expressing/exploring these burgeoning ideas, I feel like I'm still in the process of trying to figure out exactly what I'm suggesting, either specifically or summarily.
But I think that there might be common elements between art and the "aesthetic aspects of things" which are not primarily produced as art (or perhaps not even "produced" at all, like a sunset, or a beautiful woman), and I suspect that, yes, aesthetics as a field would address itself to those common aesthetic elements.
I find myself wondering whether aesthetics is "the study of art... and things like art"...? Or whether a theory of art might not itself be properly subsumed within a larger aesthetic theory.
Edited to add: When you think of the referents of "art" do you think Rand's conception (i.e. the things she would include in that set) is significantly different from what any lay person would include?
No, I would not expect any significant difference.
Also, when there are borderline referents -- as happens for all sorts of concepts -- would Rand place substantially different referents in the border-area as compared to some lay person?
No. Again, I wouldn't expect so.
Agreeing with Louie. Rand's aesthetics are definitely lacking in terms of the subject's evaluative relationship with reality, which is what aesthetics really is.
I find this phrase "the subject's evaluative relationship with reality" to be very interesting, and perhaps akin to my own nascent views on the issue.
Based on the replies thus far to my initial query, I'm going to pretend as though what I've asked and implied is relatively "uncontroversial": aesthetics may indeed be a wider category of philosophy than simply "the study of art."
I agree that it is uncontroversial. Throughout history, aesthetics has been a much wider category than simply "the study of art." It includes art, but also deals with the nature of beauty, taste, sentiment and culture outside of the realm of art.
Do you think that Rand made a conscious decision to limit her explicit study of aesthetics to art? And if so, do you think she did so on any specific basis?
Consider the debate over "abstract art," and ancillary topics about whether architecture (or others) can likewise be considered art, and etc. [...]
To me the issue is more about epistemological consistency than aesthetics. [...]
I think epistemological consistency is an important issue, worthy of consideration in its own right, and that's a fine angle to take if that's what interests you. But I'd personally also like to clear up the score with regards to aesthetics, as such.
Frankly, I've found the arguments you've made about abstract visual art compelling, and should those arguments continue to seem correct to me, I would find it at least as important to come to terms with the reality of that situation as I would to point out any hypocrisy in those who would deny it.
I tend to hold the belief that truth will win out in the end. I can't force anyone else into "seeing the truth of things," of course, and it's difficult enough to be consistently honest with myself and give the world the attention it deserves. But I guess that's why I'd rather make the right argument for assessing aesthetics (or anything else) properly, and then just let others come to terms with it as they can.
Rand did talk and write about beauty, taste, etc., independently of art, but perhaps didn't realize that she was discussing aesthetics when doing so.
You know, in approaching this topic, I gave thought to Rand's description of the New York city skyline, and its majesty. (Or perhaps I'm just imagining reading such a passage? But I think it's there, somewhere.) And I wondered -- does my appreciation for that skyline only exist when I'm reading Rand's passage? Or looking at an artist's framed painting of it? What of my experience and thoughts as I'm looking at the skyline itself. While not a "work of art" strictly, I may find inspiration there to paint the skyline, or write poetically of it. Does not that initial experience fall within the purview of aesthetic consideration?
I suspect that it does.
I think that one can accept the Objectivist Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics and Politics and reject aspects of the Objectivist Esthetics. In fact, I think that if one adopts the Objectivist principle of non-contradiction, then one is required to reject aspects of the Objectivist Esthetics. The Objectivist Esthetics does not sufficiently, objectively or self-consistently identify the nature of all art.
This may be an inescapable conclusion.
Edited by DonAthos, 15 April 2012 - 12:29 PM.