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Is Nostalgia a Valid Criteria in Esthetic Judgement?

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theestevearnold
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Yes. When positive images from my past, or a general sense of when times were good, are triggered by a work of art, I include that into my judgement. This implies that a man with a different history will get different, or no positive associations to the same artwork, even if he shares my sense of life and objective esthetic judgement.

Music is an easy example: Now that I am a serious musician, there are a few songs from my mid-80s teenage post-punk years that I would judge to be poorly written and performed. But since those songs are a link to the nostalgia of those great years, nostalgia adds value to the songs.

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Hi Steve,

 

The way I understand you to be using the term, nostalgia refers to your own response, something along the lines of enjoying the way some familiar art reminds you of the past.  There is not necessarily any nostalgic element in the work of art itself, in the sense of a reference to the past included by the artist as a result of a value judgment.

 

Although your nostalgic response is a valid reason for valuing a work of art, it's not an esthetic criterion.  The nostalgic impact of a particular song in this sense derives entirely from the history you share with it, and not an aspect of the song itself which can be evaluated.

 

An esthetic criterion is a standard of judgment.  There is a sense in which nostalgia can be such a criterion, at times:  once it has been identified as the theme, or an aspect of the theme of a work of art, it can be taken as a crterion for judging the means by which the artist projected his theme.

Edited by Fawkes
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Hi Steve,

 

The way I understand you to be using the term, nostalgia refers to your own response, something along the lines of enjoying the way some familiar art reminds you of the past.  There is not necessarily any nostalgic element in the work of art itself, in the sense of a reference to the past included by the artist as a result of a value judgment.

 

Although your nostalgic response is a valid reason for valuing a work of art, it's not an esthetic criterion.  The nostalgic impact of a particular song in this sense derives entirely from the history you share with it, and not an aspect of the song itself which can be evaluated.

 

An esthetic criterion is a standard of judgment.  There is a sense in which nostalgia can be such a criterion, at times:  once it has been identified as the theme, or an aspect of the theme of a work of art, it can be taken as a crterion for judging the means by which the artist projected his theme.

You're right. I was wrong and I knew it somewhere in my sub-conscious, that's why I asked the question. A critic of a work of art's esthetic merits shouldn't allow his feelings to be included in his objective standards, even if he can isolate his emotional responses and recognize their origins. Objective standards for esthetic merit are applicable to everybody, regardless of personal taste, sense-of-life, philosophical agreement, and nostalgic links, which are separate forms of criteria.

In fact, I should make an effort to identify a nostalgic link when judging a work of art on esthetic merit, so as not to let it influence my judgement.

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