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Checking Premises . ORG Statements and My Position

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This whole thread reminds me of the Peikoff Rape thread. When people are speaking extemporaneously, in the ring, so to speak, even if they are professional philosophers with something of a duty to ac

Neither. ARI's longstanding policy is to list only ARI donors as contacts for the community pages. (That's a perfectly reasonable policy, in my view.) I'm no longer a donor to ARI. That's why th

Well, your list of examples of the "subjectivist objectivst's" ideas, (converted to bullet-points) is: Most folk who are arguing with you in this thread would agree with your list. Of these, it's

If you understand that these things can convey "the glory of existence [and man's place in it]" then you do grasp the idea of how architecture can be art, since it can convey a wide abstraction.

The point is not that architecture isn’t Art, but that Rand contradicted herself. Or do you feel you’ve resolved the contradiction here?

As to your claims about Kant and Rand similarities, you'll have to point to specific passages of both to make your point. The problem is that Kant was never specific enough and tends to mean anything to anybody.

He already did. Are you going to address what’s already been put in front of you?

Now, please answer a direct question: what have you read by Kant?

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If you understand that these things can convey "the glory of existence [and man's place in it]" then you do grasp the idea of how architecture can be art, since it can convey a wide abstraction.

Oh, indeed I grasp the idea of how architecture can be art: Its means of expression is exactly the same as abstract painting and sculpture -- it is non-mimetic by Objectivist standards, and its means is abstractly relational. In other words, like music, architecture and abstract painting do not objectively portray likenesses of entities as Objectivism requires, but use abstract arrangements to both objectively and subjectively invoke a response in the viewer or listener.

As to your claims about Kant and Rand similarities, you'll have to point to specific passages of both to make your point. The problem is that Kant was never specific enough and tends to mean anything to anybody.

Did you not follow what I've already posted? Heh. Um, sorry, but, no, I do not have to jump through your hoops and follow the method that you prefer me to follow. Pointing to specific passages of both Rand and Kant is not the only way to show their similarities -- which isn't to say that there are not similar passages; I may post some of them at some point, but for now, I've given you plenty to address.

And are you not going to extend me the courtesy of returning the favor and answering my request that you demonstrate that the content and influence of Kant's Critique of Judgment makes him the "father" of the "modern art" that Rand hated?

J

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Oh, indeed I grasp the idea of how architecture can be art: Its means of expression is exactly the same as abstract painting and sculpture -- it is non-mimetic by Objectivist standards, and its means is abstractly relational. In other words, like music, architecture and abstract painting do not objectively portray likenesses of entities as Objectivism requires, but use abstract arrangements to both objectively and subjectively invoke a response in the viewer or listener.

Jonathan, I think you are leaving out an artform's function, depending on what that artform is in relation to all the other visual arts(i.e. painting,sculpture,architecture). Interesting, that the artwork of the artform, painting, is a recreation of reality on a two dimensional surface, but what of sculpture and architecture? Do you think sculpture is, unfortunately dead in mainstream art? Why is that? Perhaps that it is so closely related to architecture, in that a sculpture has to be seen in a context by the simple act of perceiving it. Context is everything after all, to gain a sense of life from a sculpture requires context, there is no escaping the negative space around it, the backdrop, the home it is housed in, the composition of the architecture itself is important if this sculpture is to be a focal point, or simply an ornament.

The wild youth have a way of dealing with sculpture when it(the artwork) is not housed in the appropriate context, without property rights, the sculpture, almost always succumbs to graffiti and similar slander(from what I've observed, statues that are contained on public land aren't treated very nicely). Similarly, a sculpture not in harmony with the architecture(again, not contained in the appropriate context) may not function as intended by the artist. Perhaps the artist first requires an architecture, to then have an idea to be carried out into the final product,a sculpture being an indivisible sum with the architecture, much like Roark first required to view the landscape in order to best create a harmonious whole.

As I see it, a work of art that is an architecture featuring representational sculpture(s) (focal point(s) and/ or ornaments of the whole composition) is an integrated, harmonious whole, each of the two depending largely on each other for the gestalt.

Edited by brianleepainter
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Would you say that it is possible for generally rational people to come to different conclusions sometimes over what is relevant to an issue, ie, what is part of the context and requiring factoring in and what is moot and/or not the way things actually are?

I would say that context is individual, as two or more different individual may know different facts about the topic, and therefore come to different conclusions, each one being rational. For example, I have heard in some history classes that argument made earlier that the Dark Ages were not a time of Theocracy, because there was so much chaos due to the collapse of the Roman Empire that the Church had no direct influence. And indeed, some edicts from the Church during that time took over one hundred years to reach the far reaches of the former empire. As an example, the Pope came out with an edict that priests could not marry, but that edict did not reach towards England until over a hundred years later. However, the laws were there and were written in such a way that priests via Church order held governance over civil disputes. And so the legal mechanism was definitely there, it just wasn't very efficient due to the primitive state of the society.

Regarding sophistry, it is not the same thing as having different contexts of relevant facts, but of deliberately dropping the known context in order to support a conclusion using pseudo-logic. For example, using the sophist's method, one could conclude that a snake was a kitten. The argument would go something like this: A kitten is a type of animal; a snake is a type of animal; therefore a kitten is a type of snake. Now Aristotle pointed out that this wasn't really logic. I don't think he had the term "context" but that is what he meant when he showed that in moving from one premise to another, the sophists were always dropping context or assuming different contexts for each premise, and therefore these were not compatible or commensurate.

But this is why it is always important in an argument to go to the facts insofar as you can, so that the context is specified.

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Jonathan, I think you are leaving out an artforms function, depending on what that artform is in relation to all the other visual arts(i.e. painting,sculpture,architecture).

No, I'm not leaving out an artwork's function. Perhaps you're confusing architecture's aesthetic function as a work of art with its utilitarian function as a shelter? Architecture serves two independent functions (which is another reason that its qualifying as a legitimate art form contradicts Rand's criteria).

Interesting, that the artwork of the artform, painting, is a recreation of reality on a two dimensional surface, but what of sculpture and architecture?

I'll repeat that my point has been that Rand stated that art is a "re-creation of reality" but that architecture "does not re-create reality." And I agree with her that architecture's means of expression is not imitating or creating identifiable visual likenesses of things in reality, just as I agree that music's means is not imitating or creating identifiable aural likenesses of things in reality.

Do you think sculpture is, unfortunately dead in mainstream art?

No, I do not think that sculpture is dead in mainstream art.

Why is that? Perhaps that it is so closely related to architecture, in that a sculpture has to be seen in a context by the simple act of perceiving it. Context is everything after all, to gain a sense of life from a sculpture requires context, there is no escaping the negative space around it, the backdrop, the home it is house in, the composition of the architecture itself is important if this sculpture is to be a focal point, or simply an ornament.

If you're suggesting that sculpture and architecture are inseparable, and that they cannot qualify as art independently of each other, then I disagree, just as I would disagree that music must be accompanied by lyrics in order to qualify as art.

The wild youth have a way of dealing with sculpture when it(the artwork) is not housed in the appropriate context, without property rights, the sculpture, almost always succumbs to graffiti and similar slander(from what I've observed, statues that are contained on public land aren't treated very nicely). Similarly, a sculpture not in harmony with the architecture(again, not contained in the appropriate context) may not function as intended by the artist. Perhaps the artist first requires an architecture, to then have an idea to be carried out into the final product,a sculpture being an indivisible sum with the architecture, much like Roark first required to view the landscape in order to best create a harmonious whole.

I would say that the idea that you've presented in the above paragraph represents the approach or aesthetic ideology of some architects, but not of others. Many artists would disagree with the mindset that you've presented, and even claim that it is deterministic: Rather than expressing his pure, untainted "metaphysical value-judgments," the architect has instead allowed his vision to be compromised by whatever random features the landscape happened to present at the building site. He has allowed random facts of nature to interfere with his selectivity. Imagine if a painter or novelist were to take the same approach and alter their creative vision so that their work matches the couch and drapes or otherwise takes into consideration elements which diminish the artist's true selectivity. It's what's referred to as artistically selling out.

Also, contrary to what you imply, there's nothing about the Objectivist Esthetics which requires harmony, either in architecture or any of the other arts. Conflict and contrast can be just as aesthetically valuable and effective. In fact, an artwork which stands out in contrast to its surroundings is probably more likely to effectively give viewers the feeling of concepts that Objectivism values: Independence, individuality, willfulness, rebelliousness, originality, non-confomity, etc.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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Oh, indeed I grasp the idea of how architecture can be art: Its means of expression is exactly the same as abstract painting and sculpture -- it is non-mimetic by Objectivist standards, and its means is abstractly relational. In other words, like music, architecture and abstract painting do not objectively portray likenesses of entities as Objectivism requires, but use abstract arrangements to both objectively and subjectively invoke a response in the viewer or listener.

Art is not defined as "anything that gives you an emotion one way or the other." The meaning of the artwork must be contained in the arrangement of the parts or the portrayal of an entity in reality that is posed in such and such a way as to convey, say, a joyful leap or a dower expression or a thoughtful glance. These are not subjective. Sculptures that convey these emotions are in a specific shape of that emotional expression.

As to Kant being the father of modern art, he had great disdain for the perceptually self-evident, for the facts of reality as given by perception. The arguments he made against the perceived reality being real, meant that anything goes, so long as one is not painting a specific object, since the specific object would not be held as real. Furthermore, he made the argument that the really real reality (noumena) was completely beyond human grasp, and that attempts to define it in terms of what could be grasped by the senses would necessarily come across as confusing to the human mind because it could never be perceived for what it really was. So, those smears on canvas are not conveying anything real; and this is held to be profound by some art critics precisely because it is not conveying anything real -- i.e. it gets closer to the noumena.

Also, regarding struggle and the sublime: Ayn Rand would never hold that struggle per se was sublime or held any meaning outside the struggle *to achieve a specific end* (Howard Roark struggling to become an architect). But, under Objectivism, suffering per se holds no sublime meaning -- it is the achievement of the end that is the meaning of the struggle, not the struggle itself. And besides, some may latch onto the struggle against bureaucracy in Atlas Shrugged, that Dagny's struggle was sublime because she didn't give up the battle to achieve the John Galt Line. However, John Galt had an entirely different grasp of the situation and advised not struggling against man-made obstacles any longer.

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Art is not defined as "anything that gives you an emotion one way or the other."

Who said that it was?

The meaning of the artwork must be contained in the arrangement of the parts or the portrayal of an entity in reality that is posed in such and such a way as to convey, say, a joyful leap or a dower expression or a thoughtful glance. These are not subjective. Sculptures that convey these emotions are in a specific shape of that emotional expression.

Then music and architecture are not art. By Rand's own admission, they do not re-create reality according to her criteria, they do have an objective "conceptual vocabulary." And remember that your position is that "Art is not defined as 'anything that gives you an emotion one way or the other,'" so music isn't art just because it gives you an emotion. If Rand's and your requirement of "portrayal of an entity in reality" (as you put it) must be followed, then music and architecture don't qualify as art.

As to Kant being the father of modern art, he had great disdain for the perceptually self-evident, for the facts of reality as given by perception. The arguments he made against the perceived reality being real, meant that anything goes, so long as one is not painting a specific object, since the specific object would not be held as real. Furthermore, he made the argument that the really real reality (noumena) was completely beyond human grasp, and that attempts to define it in terms of what could be grasped by the senses would necessarily come across as confusing to the human mind because it could never be perceived for what it really was. So, those smears on canvas are not conveying anything real; and this is held to be profound by some art critics precisely because it is not conveying anything real -- i.e. it gets closer to the noumena.

Here you're referring to your own personal judgments of Kant's writings other than his Critique of Judgment, but Rand's statement was about his Critique of Judgment -- when she falsely asserted that Kant was the "father of modern art," she advised readers to "see his Critique of Judgment." In other words, she was NOT referring to Kant's metaphysics, epistemology or any other aspect of his philosophy contained in his first two critiques, but to his aesthetics as contained in his third. If you want to make your own argument that you've done some detective work and tracked down proof that his first and second critiques strongly influenced the artists who first began exploring abstraction, I'd love to to see it, but it would have no bearing on Rand's position, which was that his Critique of Judgment caused "modern art."

Also, if Kant was the "father" of abstraction in the visual arts, how do explain the visual artists who began to explore abstraction before Kant's writings?

Also, regarding struggle and the sublime: Ayn Rand would never hold that struggle per se was sublime or held any meaning outside the struggle *to achieve a specific end* (Howard Roark struggling to become an architect).

Nor would Kant. Might I suggest that you read and understand Kant's views before making false assumptions and commenting?

You don't seem to be grasping the fact that the Sublime has a specific, historical meaning. It's a concept like Beauty, Drama, Tragedy or Comedy, describing a specific state of mind in reaction to specific types of entities and events. The Sublime is the aesthetic experience of feeling the pleasure of exhilaration or exaltation through something which stimulates a sense of fear through its horror and/or immensity of magnitude. You seem to be unfamiliar with the concept, and are substituting your own layman's understanding of "sublime," as if it is interchangeable with everyday concepts such as "wonderful" or "fantastic."

But, under Objectivism, suffering per se holds no sublime meaning -- it is the achievement of the end that is the meaning of the struggle, not the struggle itself. And besides, some may latch onto the struggle against bureaucracy in Atlas Shrugged, that Dagny's struggle was sublime because she didn't give up the battle to achieve the John Galt Line. However, John Galt had an entirely different grasp of the situation and advised not struggling against man-made obstacles any longer.

I would suggest that you do some reading on the philosophical concept of the Sublime. You don't seem to understand it at all, and you seem to be trying to invent an angle from which you can falsely accuse Kant of believing that "suffering per se" was essential to his concept of the Sublime and of great value to him. In other words, you currently seem to be more interested in wildly speculating and just making stuff up to vilify Kant rather than actually learning anything about his actual views and the history of the philosophical concept of Sublimity, and of the importance that it had in the development of Romanticism.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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The way Kant is connected to developments in art centuries later is not due to anything he wrote on the topic of aesthetics. He could have written the Objectivist aesthetics himself centuries ahead of his time and it would not matter. What we have today is due to the working out of the implications of Kant's self-styled "Copernican revolution" in philosophy, the redefinition of objectivity as inter-subjectivity. Hardly anybody cares what Kant thought about aesthetics, yet people who have never heard of him follow his lead by denying that objectivity is possible in any field whatever, including art.

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The way Kant is connected to developments in art centuries later is not due to anything he wrote on the topic of aesthetics. He could have written the Objectivist aesthetics himself centuries ahead of his time and it would not matter. What we have today is due to the working out of the implications of Kant's self-styled "Copernican revolution" in philosophy, the redefinition of objectivity as inter-subjectivity.

Without Kant, Romanticism would not have existed in the form which inspired Rand. As I've been saying, it would be closer to the truth to call Kant the "father of the Objectivist Esthetics and of Rand's art" than it would be to call him the "father" of the "modern art" that Rand disliked.

Hardly anybody cares what Kant thought about aesthetics...

But that's not Rand's position. Her position was that Kant's views on aesthetics as expressed in his Critique of Judgment were the cause of "modern art."

And it's also not true. Quite a lot of people believe that Kant's aesthetics are very important. He is almost universally seen as having great influence over Romanticism.

...yet people who have never heard of him follow his lead by denying that objectivity is possible in any field whatever, including art.

Do you have any proof of the invisible influence that you attribute to Kant?

When arguing with Michael Newberry in the past, such as here, I asked him, "Isn't Kant himself an example of the Sublime to you? Isn't the horror of the myth of the pervasiveness of his evil and influence something which allows you to delight in the satisfaction of your power to resist?"

I think that what I said about Michael is true of many Objectivists: Kant is not anywhere near as influential or as destructive as they believe, but rather, the Objectivists who believe that he is a powerfully influential (and quite invisible) destroyer are living, breathing examples of the importance and power of Kant's notion of Sublimity -- their belief in the myth of the terrible magnitude of Kant's destructive influence allows them to "feel their capacity to resist," and to "regard their estate as exalted above it." They are so dedicated -- one might even say addicted -- to experiencing Kantian Sublimity in Kant that they're unwilling to consider any facts which might burst the bubble.

Anyway, will you please give examples of purely objective aesthetic judgments of works of each of the non-literary arts (music, painting, architecture)? And I mean judgments that include no subjectivity smuggled in, and preferably which follow Rand's stated criteria of "objective esthetic judgment" ("...an objective evaluation requires that one identify the artist’s theme, the abstract meaning of his work (exclusively by identifying the evidence contained in the work and allowing no other, outside considerations), then evaluate the means by which he conveys it—i.e., taking his theme as criterion, evaluate the purely esthetic elements of the work, the technical mastery (or lack of it) with which he projects (or fails to project) his view of life...").

I've never seen a purely objective aesthetic judgment.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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Kant is not anywhere near as influential or as destructive as they believe, but rather, the Objectivists who believe that he is a powerfully influential (and quite invisible) destroyer are living, breathing examples of the importance and power of Kant's notion of Sublimity -- their belief in the myth of the terrible magnitude of Kant's destructive influence allows them to "feel their capacity to resist," and to "regard their estate as exalted above it." They are so dedicated -- one might even say addicted -- to experiencing Kantian Sublimity in Kant that they're unwilling to consider any facts which might burst the bubble.

I experience Kantian Sublimity in Rousseau. But maybe I just need help...

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Without Kant, Romanticism would not have existed in the form which inspired Rand. As I've been saying, it would be closer to the truth to call Kant the "father of the Objectivist Esthetics and of Rand's art" than it would be to call him the "father" of the "modern art" that Rand disliked.

I will not have any further discussion with you until you point to specific passages from Kant that lead you to this conclusion. One's esthetics is directly dependent on one's metaphysics and one's epistemology, and in Kant neither of these ever referred to a single fact of existence to give any evidence whatsoever for Kant's position that what we observe with our senses is not reality (noumena), but only phenomena. This idea and methodology and the literal senselessness of it means that the applications in the realm of art gives one modern art. Miss Rand's Lexicon has a whole page on modern art, and since you seem to be defending it as having some sort of profound philosophical meaning, I don't care to have anything to do with you.

[Added on edit] You are demanding the utmost objectivity from us -- specific references to specific facts to back up our assertions about Kant; but you do not hold Kant to the same standards and do not demand that of him. And you,yourself, make claims about Kant that fly in the face of reality, and yet you won't be so specific yourself.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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And you,yourself, make claims about Kant that fly in the face of reality, and yet you won't be so specific yourself.

If I may butt in, again, what have you read by Kant? Not what propaganda about Kant can you parrot, but what have you read?

Bold, overhanging, and, as it were, threatening rocks, thunderclouds piled up the vault of heaven, borne along

with flashes and peals, volcanos in all their violence of destruction, hurricanes leaving desolation in their

track, the boundless ocean rising with rebellious force, the high waterfall of some mighty river, and the like,

make our power of resistance of trifling moment in comparison with their might. But, provided our own

position is secure, their aspect is all the more attractive for its fearfulness; and we readily call these objects

sublime, because they raise the forces of the soul above the height of vulgar commonplace, and discover

within us a power of resistance of quite another kind, which gives us courage to be able to measure ourselves

against the seeming omnipotence of nature.

468px-Caspar_David_Friedrich_032.jpg

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I will not have any further discussion with you until you point to specific passages from Kant that lead you to this conclusion.

I've already provided specific passages, which you then ignored and/or failed to understand.

One's esthetics is directly dependent on one's metaphysics and one's epistemology, and in Kant neither of these ever referred to a single fact of existence to give any evidence whatsoever for Kant's position that what we observe with our senses is not reality (noumena), but only phenomena.

If one's aesthetics is directly dependent on one's metaphysics and epistemology, how can something which "does not re-create reality" quality as something which "re-creates reality" in a philosophy which doesn't accept contradictions?

And, as Ninth keeps asking, you haven't read Kant's Critique of Judgment, have you? You don't know anything about what his actual views are on aesthetics. You're still trying to divine his aesthetics from your interpretation of what you've heard elsewhere about his other Critiques.

This idea and methodology and the literal senselessness of it means that the applications in the realm of art gives one modern art.

And you think it is "sensible" to define art as a "re-creation of reality" but then to claim that something which "does not re-create reality" is art? You think it's rational and logical to assert that art must present objectively intelligible subjects and meanings, but then to accept music as art despite the fact that it does not present objectively intelligible subjects and meanings?

Miss Rand's Lexicon has a whole page on modern art, and since you seem to be defending it as having some sort of profound philosophical meaning, I don't care to have anything to do with you.

Yet you have no problem having anything to do with people who assert that music and architecture can have profound philosophical meaning despite the fact that they do not re-create reality? That's odd. Quite the double standard.

[Added on edit] You are demanding the utmost objectivity from us -- specific references to specific facts to back up our assertions about Kant...

And, like Rand, you have provided no references to back up Rand's assertion that the ideas in Kant's Critique of Judgment make him the "father" of the "modern art" that she disliked. On the other hand, I've provided quotes from Kant and an explanation of what they mean.

...but you do not hold Kant to the same standards and do not demand that of him. And you,yourself, make claims about Kant that fly in the face of reality, and yet you won't be so specific yourself.

Do you really know so little about the history of art and philosophy as to assert that Kant's notion of the Sublime played no part in the Romantic movement?

Perhaps it's better that you don't continue this discussion with me, for I fear that I'd have to give you an entire course in the basics of art history and the philosophy of aesthetics to get you up to speed, and that would be a lot of work for me with little or no reward.

J

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If I may butt in, again, what have you read by Kant? Not what propaganda about Kant can you parrot, but what have you read?

Bold, overhanging, and, as it were, threatening rocks, thunderclouds piled up the vault of heaven, borne along

with flashes and peals, volcanos in all their violence of destruction, hurricanes leaving desolation in their

track, the boundless ocean rising with rebellious force, the high waterfall of some mighty river, and the like,

make our power of resistance of trifling moment in comparison with their might. But, provided our own

position is secure, their aspect is all the more attractive for its fearfulness; and we readily call these objects

sublime, because they raise the forces of the soul above the height of vulgar commonplace, and discover

within us a power of resistance of quite another kind, which gives us courage to be able to measure ourselves

against the seeming omnipotence of nature.

468px-Caspar_David_Friedrich_032.jpg

From Wikipedia's entry on Romanticism:

"The movement validated strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and terror and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities, both new aesthetic categories."

J

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For the record,I do have a BA in both physics and philosophy and had to study Kant in college. I've read Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics and Critique of Pure Reason by Kant and some of hisCritique of Judgment; and that was sufficient for me to understand how Kant set about to destroy reason, including the ability to have rational judgements about anything (including art). Kant's effort was to totally disconnect man's mind from reality -- from the existence that we perceive with our senses, since, to him, this was a total illusion of what was really real. He gives no references to existence, points to no facts, and draws no logical conclusion from the facts in a logical, non-contradictory manner. It is total bullshit, yet people think it is profound because they do not understand it; likewise for modern art. And Kant gave rise to all of this with his philosophy.

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For the record,I do have a BA in both physics and philosophy and had to study Kant in college. I've read Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics and Critique of Pure Reason by Kant and some of his Critique of Judgment; and that was sufficient for me to understand how Kant set about to destroy reason, including the ability to have rational judgements about anything (including art).

Reading "some of" Kant's Critique of Judgment is not sufficient to understand his views on aesthetics. One must also have knowledge of the history of the concepts that he and other thinkers before him were addressing. Even reading the entire critique without an understanding of the history of art and aesthetics isn't sufficient. For example, the Objectivish artist Michael Newberry read the entire Critique of Judgment, but, in his haste, and in his apparent desire to vilify Kant, he failed to grasp the importance of understanding the philosophical concept of the Sublime, and, like you, he decided that he could substitute a current layman's definition for the concept, and therefore he came to erroneous conclusions. He spent years publicly promoting the ridiculous opinion that Kant's aesthetics valued terror, destruction and war and such, and not realizing that Rand's novels are probably the best and most powerful examples in existence of Kantian Sublimity in the arts.

Kant's effort was to totally disconnect man's mind from reality -- from the existence that we perceive with our senses, since, to him, this was a total illusion of what was really real. He gives no references to existence, points to no facts, and draws no logical conclusion from the facts in a logical, non-contradictory manner.

You still haven't answered my questions: Do you think that one is employing a "logical, non-contradictory manner" when claiming that something which "does not re-create reality" can be categorized as something which "re-creates reality"? Why do accept that contradiction? If Kant had said it, you'd be presenting it as proof that he was trying to disconnect man's mind from reality, no?

J

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I would say that context is individual, as two or more different individual may know different facts about the topic, and therefore come to different conclusions, each one being rational. . . .

Regarding sophistry, it is not the same thing as having different contexts of relevant facts, but of deliberately dropping the known context in order to support a conclusion using pseudo-logic. For example, using the sophist's method, one could conclude that a snake was a kitten. The argument would go something like this: A kitten is a type of animal; a snake is a type of animal; therefore a kitten is a type of snake. Now Aristotle pointed out that this wasn't really logic. I don't think he had the term "context" but that is what he meant when he showed that in moving from one premise to another, the sophists were always dropping context or assuming different contexts for each premise, and therefore these were not compatible or commensurate.

But this is why it is always important in an argument to go to the facts insofar as you can, so that the context is specified.

Suppose these people have the same information, but different conclusions about it. The rest on sophistry is irrelevant now since you've said you don't think there are people around in Oist spheres guilty of this often, right? You've said the problem is typically rationalism. It seems you contend that both sophistry and rationalism contain arguments built in absence of context. However, is it still dropping context and therefore rationalism (not that dropping context is all that rationalism involves) if one *has* looked at all of the facts, but just come to different conclusions about them?

For example, say there is a discussion over whether or not somebody has committed a crime. Party A says there is a crime, party B says there is not. Parties A and B have the same information, but A contends that using the spare key to go into the neighbor's house which the neighbors once mentioned to them counts as forcing their way into the house while B contends it is not forcing their way into the house. Now, one party may be wrong, but would it be accurate for party A to say that party B is dropping context of force being initiated when B says there has not been a crime? Could A legitimately say that B is rationalizing? B is not ignoring or ignorant of anything.

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It is total bullshit, yet people think it is profound because they do not understand it; likewise for modern art. And Kant gave rise to all of this with his philosophy.

How would you know if anything is bullshit if you haven't read it or understood it? That's the problem, isn't it? When you don't understand something which others understand easily, you feel inferior and insulted and therefore need to attack the knowledge as "bullshit"? Likewise, when millions of people report that they experience something in an art form which does nothing for you, it makes you feel as if they are claiming to be superior to you in some way, and you resent that, so you need to attack them and claim that they don't experience what they say they do, or that they are somehow evil or psychologically defective for claiming to experience what you can't?

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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Without Kant, Romanticism would not have existed in the form which inspired Rand.

You can stop right there because what is conventionally referred to as Romanticism does not have much overlap with what inspired Rand. Going by the conventional wisdom gathered on the Wikipedia page for Romanticism or this material used in Humanities 303 offered by Washington State University, the element that Rand might have approved of is a focus on the individual and nothing else. Rand rejected everything else: the malevolent universe premise she reported to perceive in Wagner and Shakepeare, the lone starving artist as heroic martyr, spontaneity, reliance on emotions as cognitive guides, religion, folk art, nature worship. If there is inspiration here it is a negative inspiration, the desire to contradict everything that was wrong and wrongly associated with individualism. Yes there was a Nietzsche period but we know that was definitely due to his apparent individualism and not the other elements—and she had to fix up the individualism and reject Nietzsche to reach her mature work and philosophy.

But that's not Rand's position. Her position was that Kant's views on aesthetics as expressed in his Critique of Judgment were the cause of "modern art."

In an actual parallel with Rand (perhaps she was inspired) Kant recapitulates his epistemology in the Critique of Judgement and uses it to reach his aesthetics. I take it that the epistemology is what she is referring to, not to mention such features as Kant's version of sensus communis as 'what other people think', or that there is no conceptual universal behind the judgment of beauty (and perhaps no concept).

I don't read German and have not read the Critique of Judgement. I have picked up his Critique of Pure Reason and verified that I will never to put the effort into understanding Kant's 18th century German which is too frequently near incomprehensible in its sentence structures even translated (and I do pretty well with modern technical, legal, and scholarly gobbledygook). I am reliant on reporting by secondary sources such as Wikipedia and Stanford's Plato resource.

And it's also not true. Quite a lot of people believe that Kant's aesthetics are very important. He is almost universally seen as having great influence over Romanticism.

Right, but the Romanticism period is over. There were intervening movements before we reached the present Post-Modernist period.

Do you have any proof of the invisible influence that you attribute to Kant?

The philosophical movement from Kant to the modernism of Weimar Germany is described in Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels. The movement from Kant to Post-Modernism is described by Stephen Hicks in several works, but start on his "art page" at http://www.stephenhicks.org/art/ .

When arguing with Michael Newberry in the past, such as here, I asked him, "Isn't Kant himself an example of the Sublime to you? Isn't the horror of the myth of the pervasiveness of his evil and influence something which allows you to delight in the satisfaction of your power to resist?"

I think that what I said about Michael is true of many Objectivists: Kant is not anywhere near as influential or as destructive as they believe, but rather, the Objectivists who believe that he is a powerfully influential (and quite invisible) destroyer are living, breathing examples of the importance and power of Kant's notion of Sublimity -- their belief in the myth of the terrible magnitude of Kant's destructive influence allows them to "feel their capacity to resist," and to "regard their estate as exalted above it." They are so dedicated -- one might even say addicted -- to experiencing Kantian Sublimity in Kant that they're unwilling to consider any facts which might burst the bubble.

It is part of the premise that ideas matter that good ideas have good consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences.

Anyway, will you please give examples of purely objective aesthetic judgments of works of each of the non-literary arts (music, painting, architecture)? And I mean judgments that include no subjectivity smuggled in, and preferably which follow Rand's stated criteria of "objective esthetic judgment" ("...an objective evaluation requires that one identify the artist’s theme, the abstract meaning of his work (exclusively by identifying the evidence contained in the work and allowing no other, outside considerations), then evaluate the means by which he conveys it—i.e., taking his theme as criterion, evaluate the purely esthetic elements of the work, the technical mastery (or lack of it) with which he projects (or fails to project) his view of life...").

I've never seen a purely objective aesthetic judgment.

I would not pretend to do what Rand could not, nor is there even a thorough account of what objectivity consists of that we could agree upon.

Edited by Grames
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How would you know if anything is bullshit if you haven't read it or understood it? That's the problem, isn't it? When you don't understand something which others understand easily, you feel inferior and insulted and therefore need to attack the knowledge as "bullshit"? Likewise, when millions of people report that they experience something in an art form which does nothing for you, it makes you feel as if they are claiming to be superior to you in some way, and you resent that, so you need to attack them and claim that they don't experience what they say they do, or that they are somehow evil or psychologically defective for claiming to experience what you can't?

J

Please be careful you don't get into psychologizing territory. Such would not help your case. The first question you have is a fine one, though even if something was not actually bullshit that may not stop plenty of people from not understanding it and concluding therefore that it is profound. Also, just because a ton of people claim that they do get some kind of grasp and understanding from something doesn't necessarily mean they are right or else Christianity and oodles of other popular religions would be true. You've got to do more to prove intelligibility than presenting numbers and saying basically, "You either get it or you don't." It isn't like there is some necessary sense that people who get it have that others don't which prevents conveying the meaning like trying to convey what blue looks like to somebody who was born blind.

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For the record,I do have a BA in both physics and philosophy and had to study Kant in college. I've read Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics and Critique of Pure Reason by Kant and some of hisCritique of Judgment; and that was sufficient for me to understand how Kant set about to destroy reason, including the ability to have rational judgements about anything (including art). Kant's effort was to totally disconnect man's mind from reality -- from the existence that we perceive with our senses, since, to him, this was a total illusion of what was really real. He gives no references to existence, points to no facts, and draws no logical conclusion from the facts in a logical, non-contradictory manner. It is total bullshit, yet people think it is profound because they do not understand it; likewise for modern art. And Kant gave rise to all of this with his philosophy.

Then get to it, refute George Walsh. Peikoff and his minions have been too busy fielding questions on the moral status of doctors who perform sex changes (and such) to deal with this essay. For about 20 years now.

http://enlightenment...ctivity/walsh1/

We now come to a point on which I believe Rand misinterprets Kant. She attributes to him the view on which she says “[t]he entire apparatus of Kant’s system . . . [rests as] on a single point: that man’s knowledge is not valid because his consciousness possesses identity” (Rand 1990, 80). By “possesses identity” Rand means having “a specific nature.” When she attributes to Kant the view that consciousness is not valid, she means that he holds that “reality, as perceived by man’s mind, is a distortion,” “a permanent pre-determined collective delusion” (Rand 1961, 32–33).

Consider the form of the argument Rand is here attributing to Kant. It is the following hypothetical syllogism: If man’s consciousness has a specific nature, it cannot have true knowledge. Now Kant never said this, and, in fact, no evidence has ever been presented that he did. First, he never asserted the major premise: “If man’s consciousness has a specific nature, it cannot have true knowledge.” As a matter of fact, if this view was ever held by a great philosopher, that philosopher was Aristotle. He said that the intellect “must, then, since it thinks all things, be unmixed . . . in order that it may know . . . hence too it must have no other nature than this, that it is potential” (Aristotle 1968, De Anima 3.4.429a18–23). The exact meaning of this is disputed by scholars, but here is at least some evidence that Aristotle held the view in question, whereas there is no evidence whatever that Kant ever did or that he ever argued from it to the impossibility of our having knowledge of reality by means of adding a minor premise that man’s consciousness indeed has identity.

Of course, Kant did hold that the specific characteristics of consciousness determine in part the way objects appear to us. These characteristics are the pure intuitions of space and time. But Kant presented these characteristics of sensibility as conclusions to his argument, not as premises. His argument ran like this: We have synthetic a priori knowledge. This cannot come from things in themselves. Therefore, it must come from the nature of sensibility, i.e., from the specific nature of sensible consciousness, which must be capable of generating pure intuitions. Kant arrives at this conclusion by eliminating the only other possible source of such knowledge, things in themselves.
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We now come to a point on which I believe Rand misinterprets Kant. She attributes to him the view on which she says “[t]he entire apparatus of Kant’s system . . . [rests as] on a single point: that man’s knowledge is not valid because his consciousness possesses identity” (Rand 1990, 80). By “possesses identity” Rand means having “a specific nature.” When she attributes to Kant the view that consciousness is not valid, she means that he holds that “reality, as perceived by man’s mind, is a distortion,” “a permanent pre-determined collective delusion” (Rand 1961, 32–33).

Trivial. We are only conscious of the phenomenal world, while the noumenal world is forever beyond our comprehension. The noumenal world is what really matters, the things as they are in themselves. The phenomenal world is defined by the consciousness that perceives it.

From the Stanford Plato website:

Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but all attempts to find out something about them a priori through concepts that would extend our cognition have, on this presupposition, come to nothing. Hence let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition, which would agree better with the requested possibility of an a priori cognition of them, which is to establish something about objects before they are given to us. This would be just like the first thoughts of Copernicus, who, when he did not make good progress in the explanation of the celestial motions if he assumed that the entire celestial host revolves around the observer, tried to see if he might not have greater success if he made the observer revolve and left the stars at rest. Now in metaphysics we can try in a similar way regarding the intuition of objects. If intuition has to conform to the constitution of the objects, then I do not see how we can know anything of them a priori; but if the object (as an object of the senses) conforms to the constitution of our faculty of intuition, then I can very well represent this possibility to myself. Yet because I cannot stop with these intuitions, if they are to become cognitions, but must refer them as representations to something as their object and determine this object through them, I can assume either that the concepts through which I bring about this determination also conform to the objects, and then I am once again in the same difficulty about how I could know anything about them a priori, or else I assume that the objects, or what is the same thing, the experience in which alone they can be cognized (as given objects) conforms to those concepts, in which case I immediately see an easier way out of the difficulty, since experience itself is a kind of cognition requiring the understanding, whose rule I have to presuppose in myself before any object is given to me, hence a priori, which rule is expressed in concepts a priori, to which all objects of experience must therefore necessarily conform, and with which they must agree. (Bxvi-xviii)

This is a "constructivist" theory of experience according to the Plato article, consciousness constructs its own content. Strangely, this is actually anti-Coperican in that now consciousness is the center about which everything revolves. Two comments on this theory of Kant's that I mined out of Kelley's dense The Evidence of the Senses are:

"We can make sense of the idea of explaining experience only by stepping outside of it (and taking with us the category of causality)." - David Kelley

"Experience requires a mechanism to explain it only if one makes the assumption, not warranted by experience itself, that experience must have emerged from a manifold of unrelated sensations" - Kelley paraphrasing Richard Rorty

In Objectivist terms, this is the primacy of consciousness perspective adopted without justification, arbitrarily.

Edited by Grames
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"Hardly anybody cares what Kant thought about aesthetics, yet people who have never heard of him follow his lead by denying that objectivity is possible in any field whatever, including art."

I think you're giving far too much credit to Kant. The impulses driving the visual arts at the time had far more to do with the political/cultural context of the times. Skill was out, "feeling" was in. This was a very handy and acceptable criterion, as it meant, for the first time, that skill mattered little. In fact, any evidence of skill was denounced as counter-whatever the new standard-bearers declared was OK. And you all swallow it up as so many sheep..........I doubt that many here are familiar with the Declaration and the Constitution. If they were I think they would have to be honest and state that they wished to promote a very different state (Objectivism) than traditional values. I haven't seen any data that shows that abandoning traditional values is a positive force (quite the opposite). So -- just how are you trying to transform society, and why? Since historically the "family" has stood in the way of Utopian idealsim, just how does your Utopia better that record?

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I will remind the reader that the topic of this thread is that of objectivity -- of making specific references to the facts of reality and then integrating those facts into a non-contradictory whole. This is the methodology of Ayn Rand, and it is not a methodology followed consistently by any philosopher before her (including Aristotle, who had mixed views of objectivity and rationalism, having been a student of Plato for twenty years). In this regard, it is not necessary to refute Kant. All one has to do is to ask him or his followers to point to the facts and how they are organized in a logical, non-contradictory manner to arrive at the conclusion that the noumena exists or that turning away from the senses and evidence will bring forth true knowledge (which he didn't claim anyhow, since he never said he proved anything).

Regarding the issue of context, such as one person claiming force was involved in the use of a key to enter a home, it would depend if you have permission to use that key or not at your convenience. If you just know that the key is there, because you were told or because you discovered it under the door mat, and you do not have explicit permission to use the key to enter the home, then, yes, I think this would be breaking and entering. However, I am not certain about how the law would handle the situation.There are a lot of times when something might be strictly legal to do, though one has violated the rights of the individual. Entering a home without permission may be one of those cases. No, the door wasn't broken in and a window was not smashed to lead to entry, but no permission was granted (which does not make it a common thoroughfare for anyone to enter). It's like the question of whether or not one needs to post a "no trespassing" sign on one's lawn before one can restrict entry onto one's property. That is, does one have to post a sign on one's door stating that one does not have the right to use the key under the door mat to enter the home without expressed written permission before entering without permission can be considered trespass? I don't think so.

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