"Being unable to cure death, wretchedness, and ignorance, men [and women] have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things." ~ Blaise Pascal, Pensees (133).
"Our lives are empty. We cannot face the vacuum. So we fill our lives up with junk, with trash, with refuse.... we divert ourselves from our real needs.... We invent little problems and hold them close, fixating on them to block us from seeing the bigger problems." ~ Thomas V. Moore, Making Sense of it All: Pascal and the Meaning of Life, pp. 32-33.
"The only good thing for men therefore is to be diverted from thinking of what they are, either by some occupation which takes their minds off it, or by some novel and agreeable passion which keeps them busy, like gambling, hunting, some absorbing show, in short by what is called diversion" ~ Blaise Pascal, Pensees (136).
Now if a man believes in the existence of beautiful things, but not of Beauty itself, and cannot follow a guide who would lead him to a knowledge of it, is he not living in a dream?" Plato's Republic, 476c.
Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that focuses on the nature of beauty, the value of art, and the human responses to those topics.
"Man does not like to remain alone; and as he loves, he must look elsewhere for an object for his love. He can find it only in beauty. Since, however, he is himself the most beautiful creature that God has created, he must find within himself a model for the beauty he seeks beyond himself." Blaise Pascal, Discours sur les passions d'armour, Oeuvres completes (ed. de la Pleiade, 1954, 539-40).
"Art is a mode of prediction not found in charts and statistics, and it insinuates possibilities of human relations not to be found in rule and precept, admonition and administration."
John Dewey, Art as Experience, 363.
In his Gifford Lecture series, William Temple makes an interesting statement:
"It takes a considerable time for a secure aesthetic judgment to be formed, and with regard to contemporary art there is much debate. But when a common judgment is reached after long periods of discussion, it is secure as scientific theories never are. Many may be uncertain in this second quarter of the twentieth century about the aesthetic rank of Epstein as a sculptor or T.S. Eliot as a poet. But there is no serious dispute about Pheidias or Aeschylus, about Giotto, or Piero, or Botticelli, about Velasquez or Rembrandt, about Dante or Shakespeare. No doubt I 'date' myself by the precise list which I select; Beethoven to Bach; but every name thus mentioned is securely established in the list of Masters; and the actual works of the earliest touch us now they touched the hearts of those who knew them first.... It takes longer for the aesthetic judgment to become stable than for the scientific, but when it reaches stability it also achieves finality as the other does not." ~ Nature, Man, and God (Macmillan, 1956), 158-9.
"Art is power; it can weaken or destroy a civilization that created it. It can enlarge or trivialize the imagination." ~ Jacques Barzun
"...philosophy of art and beauty is as old as philosophy and as new as the present.... reflects the temper of an age and provides leading ideas for artists, critics, and the society that nurtures art." ~ Albert Hofstadter & Richard Kuhns
"Art is a mode of prediction not found in charts and statistics, and it insinuates possibilities of human relations not to be found in rule and precept, admonition and administration." ~ John Dewey, Art as Experience, 363.
"Through art we can know another's view of the universe." ~ Marcel Proust
"Art tries, literally, to picture the things which philosophy tries to put into carefully thought-out words." ~ Hans Rookmaaker
Art is "the nearest thing to a sacramental activity acknowledged by our secular society." ~ Susan Sontag
"Art and science... becomes rivals about who owns the truth." ~ Jacques Barzun
"Let me write the songs of a nation-I don't care who writes its laws." ~ Andrew Fletcher
"... the concept of truth is intimately linked to the biases of forms of expression. Truth does not, and never has, come unadorned. It must appear in its proper clothing or it is not acknowledged, which is a way of saying that the 'truth' is a kind of cultural prejudice. Each culture conceives of it as being most authentically expressed in certain symbolic forms that another culture may regard as trivial or irrelevant." ~ Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Business (New York: Penguin Books, 1985, 2005), 22-23.
"Industry has been mechanized and an artist cannot work mechanically for mass production.... Artists find it incumbent... to betake themselves to their work as an isolated means of 'self expression.' In order not to car to the tend of economic forces, they often feel obliged to exaggerate their separateness to the point of eccentricity." ~ John Dewey, Art as Experience (cited from Cynthia Freeland, But is it art? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 6.
"The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products. Images of movie stars and famous athletes, of serene lakes and macho fishing trips, of elegant dinners and romantic interludes, of happy families packing their station wagons for a picnic in the country-these tell nothing about the products being sold. But they tell everything about the fears, fancies, and dreams of those who might buy them. What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer. And so, the balance of business expenditures shifts from product research to market research. The television commercial has oriented business away from making products of value and toward making consumers feel valuable, which means that the business of business has now become pseudo-therapy. The consumer is a patient assured by psycho-dramas." ~ Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Business (New York: Penguin Books, 1985, 2005), 128.
Lecture 27: Aesthetic Universals by Denis Dutton
Please read this article and offer a response to it by answering whether you find his argument to be convincing. Be sure to defend your position. It is due this coming Monday at beginning in class.
Mid-Term Review Guide:
Here is a review to help prepare you for mid-term exam. It is in PDF. Be sure to bring number 2 pencill and 882 E Scantron. Best regards, Doc Shock