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Does aesthetics really belong in philosophy?

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The difficult thing about fictional representations in literature is that they seem to be concretizations of already-created abstractions. These representations might assist you in forming concepts in the sense that the artist is showing you their own concretizations of abstractions. If Rand concretizes independence in Howard Roark, it is the concretization of her own concept of independence - which may or may not be valid. You may then wonder if the concept makes sense, or it may provoke your thinking, or what about the concept is essential, but the work is still something completely invented by Rand including all of his characteristics.

Because the material is fictional, I think the material should not be thought of as the material that can be used to form the concept. That is, when you talk about independence, you aren't referring to Howard Roark. He might be inspirational to considerations about what counts as independence, or get you to ask where in reality you can see such independence. At best, you have an approximation of the concept independence if Roark is the only concrete of independence you have ever observed. Whether or not you know to use or build on the concretization you see in fiction probably depends on your reaction to the work and whether it provokes your creativity and imagination. If it doesn't, then there is probably no point to use that fictional material. 

Remember, the benefits of art for concept formation or validation are wonderful, but this is a side benefit. Art is first about sense of life, that's what's essential here. If it resonates with you, that's usually reason enough to think more about it. Sometimes to me that's just a matter of thinking "oh that's cool" and I go from there. 

Edited by Eiuol
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On 2/9/2021 at 10:06 PM, Eiuol said:

The difficult thing about fictional representations in literature is that they seem to be concretizations of already-created abstractions. These representations might assist you in forming concepts in the sense that the artist is showing you their own concretizations of abstractions. If Rand concretizes independence in Howard Roark, it is the concretization of her own concept of independence - which may or may not be valid. You may then wonder if the concept makes sense, or it may provoke your thinking, or what about the concept is essential, but the work is still something completely invented by Rand including all of his characteristics.

Because the material is fictional, I think the material should not be thought of as the material that can be used to form the concept. That is, when you talk about independence, you aren't referring to Howard Roark. He might be inspirational to considerations about what counts as independence, or get you to ask where in reality you can see such independence. At best, you have an approximation of the concept independence if Roark is the only concrete of independence you have ever observed. Whether or not you know to use or build on the concretization you see in fiction probably depends on your reaction to the work and whether it provokes your creativity and imagination. If it doesn't, then there is probably no point to use that fictional material. 

Remember, the benefits of art for concept formation or validation are wonderful, but this is a side benefit. Art is first about sense of life, that's what's essential here. If it resonates with you, that's usually reason enough to think more about it. Sometimes to me that's just a matter of thinking "oh that's cool" and I go from there. 

OK, I'm following now: so the assistance is in provoking you think about an abstraction from a potentially new perspective. E.g., you see independence essentialized and concretized in Roark and you start reconsidering what is and isn't essential about it. Non-essentials: wearing a suit (doesn't mean dependent), dressing unconventionally (doesn't mean independent). Now with this in mind you go out into the world and start attempting to observe instances of independence and reorganizing the concept in your mind by reweighting the considerations that characterize it (essentials vs. non-essentials).

And when we say what is essential about art is sense of life, we are saying an equivalent of the purpose of art is to fuel man's consciousness in accordance with the philosophy he is responding to, right?

 

 

 

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Yes, a potentially new perspective in terms of how Rand conceptualizes independence and her concretization of that conceptualization. Then when you go out into the world, you can compare Roark to other people and see if he stands for anything essential, or if something about him corresponds to reality. It isn't necessarily definite in the writer's mind exactly what concept they are presenting as a concrete, or what essential they are capturing, but as a reader, you can explore what they are presenting.

As a definition, Rand says that art is "a selective recreation of reality according to an artists metaphysical value judgments", and I believe that metaphysical value judgments should be considered aspects of sense of life. That's what I mean essential about art. But if we talk about the cognitive role of art, I'd simply say that's about the connection between epistemology and aesthetic philosophy. 

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