• NKBJ
    894


    Can I say that that "cat" also means "piano"?
  • Isaac
    579
    Can I say that that "cat" also means "piano"?NKBJ

    In context yes. If you and I gave pet names to our musical instruments and your piano was called "cat", then cat also mean piano.
  • NKBJ
    894
    In context yes. If you and I gave pet names to our musical instruments and your piano was called "cat", then cat also mean piano.Isaac

    Sooo.... that would mean I cannot read Hamlet's soliloquy (or the standard directions on shampoo bottles, for that matter), and claim that these are about green hippos and twenty-foot tall centipedes visiting earth from a planet called Garoomba?
  • Isaac
    579
    Sooo.... that would mean I cannot read Hamlet's soliloquy (or the standard directions on shampoo bottles, for that matter), and claim that these are about green hippos and twenty-foot tall centipedes visiting earth from a planet called Garoomba?NKBJ

    No, you could claim that as you can 'read into' the words any additional meaning you like. This is evidenced by the fact that critics can read meaning into anything (random daubings, black spaces...). That the words have at least one objective meaning is a consequence of the fact that they are moves in a game (with rules) and if you don't play by those rules then you are simply not playing the game.

    Additional meanings are not part of the game
  • NKBJ
    894
    That the words have at least one objective meaning is a consequence of the fact that they are moves in a game (with rules) and if you don't play by those rules then you are simply not playing the game.

    Additional meanings are not part of the game
    Isaac

    Ah... so there IS an objective framework of possible interpretations. :snicker:
  • Terrapin Station
    8.4k
    Can I say that that "cat" also means "piano"?NKBJ

    Meaning is the associative mental act as such. It's not identical to what's being associated. So, for example, a text string isn't the meaning of another text string. The text strings (or sounds or whatever) are not the meanings. Meaning is the inherently mental act of associative "aboutness."
  • Isaac
    579
    Ah... so there IS an objective framework of possible interpretations.NKBJ

    No, all interpretations are possible, at least one interpretation is objective.
  • NKBJ
    894
    No, all interpretations are possible, at least one interpretation is objectiveIsaac

    Hmm... okay, we'll call them "possible" (from my perspective in a very loose sense). But are they "plausible"? Does it make sense to have such interpretations?

    Another question: can't we say that there are thoughts and ideas that may be triggered for a particular individual rather randomly by an art piece, but which actually have nothing to do with said piece? And in which case, we must ask ourselves, is that really an interpretation of the art piece? Isn't it more aptly described as a random firing of the brain?

    For example, I might read Hamlet and by some word or phrase or image be reminded of afternoons in my grandmother's kitchen. HOWEVER, that memory is not an interpretation of the art piece.
  • Isaac
    579


    Interesting, but I have to head out and so will pick this back up tomorrow, if that's OK.
  • NKBJ
    894
    Interesting, but I have to head out and so will pick this back up tomorrow, if that's OK.Isaac

    Looking forward to it! Have fun with whatever you're doing :smile:
  • Terrapin Station
    8.4k
    Another question: can't we say that there are thoughts and ideas that may be triggered for a particular individual rather randomly by an art piece, but which actually have nothing to do with said piece?NKBJ

    No. If they're triggered by the piece, then they have something to do with the piece. That's the case because we're stipulating that they're triggered by the piece.

    You could say that they're triggered by the piece but where the person in question isn't thinking about what was tiggered as being about the piece, and then it's not going to be about the piece in their view. (Which should all be pretty obvious, no?)
  • Isaac
    579
    Hmm... okay, we'll call them "possible" (from my perspective in a very loose sense). But are they "plausible"? Does it make sense to have such interpretations?NKBJ

    Plausibility and 'making sense' are both subjective judgements too. What one person finds implausible and making no sense, another may be able to see the sense in.

    can't we say that there are thoughts and ideas that may be triggered for a particular individual rather randomly by an art piece, but which actually have nothing to do with said piece? And in which case, we must ask ourselves, is that really an interpretation of the art piece? Isn't it more aptly described as a random firing of the brain?NKBJ

    Yes, I think we must accept that possibility and indeed ask ourselves that question. But it is not a question which is amenable to empirical investigation, and therefore still not an objective judgement. We'd merely have to speculate.

    I might read Hamlet and by some word or phrase or image be reminded of afternoons in my grandmother's kitchen. HOWEVER, that memory is not an interpretation of the art piece.NKBJ

    I'm not so sure you can go this far. How do we know what level of collective experience the artist had in mind? Maybe he selected that word deliberately because of its propensity to be associated with such things.

    We can certainly say that some interpretations are more or less likely to be that which the author intended. Historical limits for example (Shakespeare cannot possibly have been referring to aeroplane travel). But for this to be relevant we'd have to argue that interpretation of art is about accurately discovering the intent of the artist. This we could specify (I'm not precious about definitions), but it wouldn't yield any progress on the matter of whether any art is objectively better.
  • ZhouBoTong
    181
    I have a suspicion, however, that in fifty years, people will still be reading Hamlet and will be like "Michael who?"NKBJ

    I should just about live that long, so we will see :grin: I am actually more worried that in 50 years I will be defending the artistic merits of Transformers against some dumb youth who thinks his favorite YouTube personality eating a spoonful of cinnamon is the pinnacle of artistic achievement :roll: I would start to argue that Transformers is better, but would quickly have to conceded that I cannot support the argument. If they say it is art, it is.

    I also still think that there's more to be learned philosophically in Hamlet than Transformers.NKBJ

    This is a point I have been trying to attack the whole thread. But nobody cares to describe a philosophical lesson from Shakespeare. I would say it is likely that philosophical points in Shakespeare are deeper or more nuanced than those of Transformers. However, when you use the word "learned", simple lessons are often the best for learning (and will stick with you the longest). I STILL have not learned ANYTHING from Plato's Allegory of the Cave. (It is possible that I already understood the main point when I first read it - but IF I didn't already know it, I still don't).

    And I don't think most, even educated people, are able to come up with that stuff on their own.NKBJ

    And yet Shakespeare came up with it, absent inspiration from Shakespeare :grin: Sorry, bit jerk-ish, and doesn't help the discussion, but I can't resist.

    The caliber of that philosophy will hinge on the philosophical abilities of the viewer in question.Terrapin Station

    VERY important point.

    Somewhat relevant to our discussion, Justin Weinberg asked people to contribute links to philosophical visual art. The pieces and the comments on them are pretty interesting.NKBJ

    Thanks for those. When I read the title, all I could think of was "anything by MC Escher" and sure enough, one of those was on the list. But generally speaking I view art far too literally to actually get much philosophy out of it. Something like Zadig by Voltaire is so directly focused on philosophy that the points are fairly clear, but it is not much of a novel. However, paintings or sculptures are going to be far more difficult to use to communicate a philosophical message - unless the message is about perspective or some other philosophical concept that is also a direct component of the art itself.

    Oh, and this article was nice too!NKBJ

    Ooof, that one is a bit more for the connoisseur. IF I enjoy the works of art they are discussing, THEN I will enjoy analyzing the philosophy in those works. There was one line that helped to prove a point I have been trying to make about "art" though:

    "Moreover, the layers of meaning in the painting—intended and unintended"

    Once we admit that art interpretation can (should?) go beyond the artist's intentions, we have given away any authority to say what ANY piece of art symbolizes (means, teaches, etc). THAT is why I am so confident that any lessons from Shakespeare can be matched by those in Transformers. I have spent WAY too much time helping students to assess meaning in some random story. This has given me the ability to find meaning and symbolism in almost anything. Once one determines a potential meaning for any piece of art, all they need is minimal justification (can't be completely made up) and they are "right".

    And as if he knew the point I was going to make, Isaac provides support:

    Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer.

    ...was the response of one art critic to the random daubings of a chimpanzee which the journalist Åke Axelsson pretended were done by an upcoming modern artist.
    Isaac

    hahahahaha, that was good.

    Dang, I thought I was going to get caught up today, but I think I have about a half-page of posts to go. I know this thread has been going for quite a while, just respond if you feel inspired, hehe.
  • Olly
    3
    Most people would agree that Shakespeare was an infinitely better storyteller and writer than Michael Bay. There's a fair consensus that shakespeare was an exceptional writer/artist, only a tiny percentage of people would say Michael Bay was as good, better, or even an artist at all. Shakespeare explored the human condition with almost unmatched eloquence, Bay makes movies with explosions and hot models because Bay likes explosions and hot models, not because he has any interest in people or telling a compelling story.

    One important (and usually, for the most part largely accepted) view of good/high art is that is communicates something important effectively, that resonates with people for a very long time. Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Beethoven... all these people made "high art". Their work has a timelessness to it, that resonates with people across all time, that survives and stays as strong as it was when first created. Most "popular" or "low" art fades away after a few decades or less. It was not created with the talent or vision, and therefore does not possess, the ability to remain relevant and survive after it ceases being new and exciting, because it was made more to be new and exciting than it was to achieve artistic status.

    So the distinction we as a kind of semi-united "western" culture have made between "high" and "low" exists for a reason. Although it is subjective to an extent, it's not baseless- it relates to the idea of the "western canon", a collection of artworks from our cultures that exists as a kind of lasting legacy of what we are at our best.
  • ZhouBoTong
    181
    I was called out for off topic, so I just responded to your post in this thread.

    Yea, you know, if you're one to believe that an elephant's painting is as aesthetically valuable as is a human's, to each their own.javra

    What we pointed out in the art thread, was that an educated art critic is the one most likely to ascribe some great artistic significance to an elephant's rambling scribbles (as long as you tell them it was by some brilliant young up and coming artist).

    Next I would point to Jackson Pollack and other examples, why can't an elephant make something as aesthetically pleasing?

    Some white paint on a white canvas sold for $15 million. Somebody liked it.
  • ZhouBoTong
    181
    Do we love some things more than others? Of course! How will you measure the difference? If you reduce life to what is measurable, what will be left?Janus

    I can say "I love x more than y". That says nothing about "x being better than y".

    So what if you show there are no such unequivocal arguments to support ethical or aesthetic judgements?Janus

    Then we have shown that it is just nonsense made up by art "elites".

    All you have shown is that such judgements are not analytic or empirical judgements, but that is trivially obvious to anyone who has given it any thought.Janus

    So it just feels right? Why is it obvious? And surely I have thought about this more than most (not you of course, but most)? I may be a terrible thinker, but again care to point me at the obvious?

    It doesn't follow that artworks and ethical judgements do not embody more or less understanding of the human condition, or that such understanding is not what is near universally valued above all else by those who value human intelligence and the compassion and sensitivity that come with it over mere entertainment or self-serving pleasure seeking.Janus

    Hmmm, I didn't see where the definition of art prioritized some emotions over others (compassion vs entertainment {what if I am entertained by compassion} - neither are exactly emotions but both are composed of them - I think). What is the "human condition"? Is our desire to be entertained part of it?

    People come to see these ethical and aesthetic truths because they develop and transform their ability to see them, not because they could be convinced by some deductive argument or undeniable empirical observation or theory.Janus

    Can you give ONE example of an aesthetic truth that is taught in "art" you consider valuable? And then know that I am going to find that same truth in the most "low brow" piece of art I can come up with.

    This is off-topic but I think it is relevant.Janus

    Haha, nicely done (getting back on the thread topic by saying "this is off topic").
  • ZhouBoTong
    181
    Most people would agree that Shakespeare was an infinitely better storyteller and writer than Michael Bay.Olly

    I have to run for the day, but just know that I will take time in the future to respectfully disagree :grin:
  • Janus
    6.9k
    And anyone who completes a Master's Degree to prove to them self that something is wrong with that field of study, is kind of a bad-ass.ZhouBoTong

    More of a sad-ass.
  • Janus
    6.9k
    I can say "I love x more than y". That says nothing about "x being better than y".ZhouBoTong

    Well, firstly the point was to show that something can be more than something else even if we cannot measure it. But there is also the point that if something is loved more than something else, then for those who love it the more beloved thing is better. Of course you will now probably retort that for example more people love some silly pop song than they do Bach's music.

    But the question is, do they really love it, or are they merely sentimentally attached to, or infatuated, with it? So, the further point here is that taste for more original, inventive, subtle and profound things may be developed by education, and consciousness can be transformed in the process, such that we become able to see things we previously were not able to see.

    Then we have shown that it is just nonsense made up by art "elites".ZhouBoTong

    How does that follow? Why would you expect aesthetic judgement to be deductively certain or empirically demonstrable? As I said before that is an obvious category error, so how can you justifiably use it to argue against the idea that aesthetic judgement is not merely a matter of opinion, simpliciter? What you really seem to be arguing is "I can't see it, so it must be wrong".

    So it just feels right? Why is it obvious? And surely I have thought about this more than most (not you of course, but most)? I may be a terrible thinker, but again care to point me at the obvious?ZhouBoTong

    It is obvious because aesthetic judgements cannot be rendered in deductive or inter-subjectively definitive terms in the way analytic truths or empirical propositions respectively can. I can't give you a knockdown argument to support my contentions, as I already acknowledged; all I can do is to say what I know from experience, presuming that there is enough commonality to aesthetic experience and that it is something that may be cultivated that you may be open enough to come to see that I am talking about something which is a real possibility for your, or anyone's experience. That may sound elitist, but I don't think coming to understand the arts more deeply is any different than coming to understand mathematics or science more deeply, except the skill-sets in the latter two are more readily determinable.

    Hmmm, I didn't see where the definition of art prioritized some emotions over others (compassion vs entertainment {what if I am entertained by compassion} - neither are exactly emotions but both are composed of them - I think). What is the "human condition"? Is our desire to be entertained part of it?ZhouBoTong

    For me the human condition obviously consists in both what is debased and what is elevating, in what is trivial and what is profound, in what is original and interesting and what is banal. Of course the apparently trivial kinds of lives of many people can be treated in literature, for example with profundity and compassion or they may be treated with fatuous admiration, as if life is and should be nothing more than titillation, amusement, or alternatively drudgery and boredom alleviated only by novelty and endless acquisition and consumption.

    I don't think you will disagree with me that very many people's lives are characterized by thoughtlessness and acceptation of the swill that is served up by popular culture. I think it is ethically better to think for yourself while acknowledging that there are, not merely different understandings, but different levels of understanding at work in every human pursuit. Call me an elitist: I probably deserve it!

    Can you give ONE example of an aesthetic truth that is taught in "art" you consider valuable? And then know that I am going to find that same truth in the most "low brow" piece of art I can come up with.ZhouBoTong

    What you are asking for is like asking for the explanation of a joke or a poem. You either get it or you don't, and the joke or poem will probably lose all its value if it needs to be explained. Some things cannot be directly said, but must be shown by allusion, and allusion is one thing that most crappy works of art do not embody.

    Good luck with your aesthetic education!
  • javra
    748
    I was called out for off topic, so I just responded to your post in this thread.

    Yea, you know, if you're one to believe that an elephant's painting is as aesthetically valuable as is a human's, to each their own. — javra
    ZhouBoTong

    To reword my initial argument, to which your quote alludes:

    Premise: We humans value sapience; we, for example, want ourselves to be sapient, rather than non-sapient. As another example that is applicable to the philosophy forum: we almost by definition value those historical philosophers we deem to have been of greater wisdom, and do not value those whom we deem to have been utterly devoid of wisdom (given that philosophy is a love of wisdom).

    Is there anyone who disagrees with this premise? If so, please explain on what grounds the disagreement stands.

    If this premise stands—and if wisdom is not concluded to be an irrational or fallacious concept in respect to what is real—then I offer that this conclusion then rationally follows: We, thereby, likewise value those artworks which to us expresses great sapience over those artworks that to us are either devoid of sapience or express minimal amounts of it. This regardless of whether it’s Shakespeare, the Transformers, or the Simpsons. To find aesthetic value in a blank canvas as a finished work of art, or in a musical piece that is devoid of sound, one will need to experience it as endowed with worthwhile wisdom; otherwise, one will not find aesthetic value to such pieces of art.

    If the offered premise stands, how would the given conclusion be erroneous?

    -----

    By the way:

    This is not to deny the truism that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But, as previously illustrated by comparison between a chimp and a human (both of which have been known to paint), that beholder of greater sapience will likewise be privy to greater awareness of aesthetics as direct experience. No dog or cat will witness beauty in any artwork, much less endeavor to create it. Many humans will.

    Yes, of course, complexities abound in what is and what is not aesthetic—as contrasted to mere attraction toward (most will agree that a heap of cash does not embody the aesthetic; while proportionality of form and color often time does). Not to even mention that no one in the history of mankind has as of yet discovered a satisfactory philosophical description of the experience—an experience which we nevertheless all seem to recognize as real. Yet, unless one wants to drastically redefine it, it is a facet of experience at large that strictly pertains to minds capable of abstraction and, hence, of wisdom. Aesthetics does not pertain to the experiences of insects, cats, or dogs, and only marginally to some chimps and elephants.

    To emphasize: I am not saying that wisdom equates to aesthetics; the former is a property of psychological being whereas the latter is an experience applicable to the former. And no, magnitude of wisdom cannot be linearly plotted on some chart. Many forms of wisdom can and do occur—and to each their own aesthetic calling.

    Nevertheless, just as a human’s arithmetic is better than a chimp’s, so too is a human’s awareness of aesthetics better than that of a chimp’s. To doubt the second is on par to doubting the first.
  • javra
    748
    What we pointed out in the art thread, was that an educated art critic is the one most likely to ascribe some great artistic significance to an elephant's rambling scribbles (as long as you tell them it was by some brilliant young up and coming artist).ZhouBoTong

    Yea, I’ve already written a bunch. But to not be lopsided about my reply given your post:

    The issues addressed in this quote represent, at least to me, an all too commonly occurring instantiation of the emperor’s new clothes. People who don't have the courage to stay true to their own aesthetic tastes - but instead label beautify/aesthetic that which they think will earn them greatest social status. Thereby making a farce of what is aesthetic.

    To me, good art is emotively powerful, felt from the guts if not also intellectually, at least relative to the audience for which it is intended. It has power to transfix and to transform; to change one’s worldview and understanding via the expression of truths (personal to universal) that are best conveyed via means other than ordinary language. But one can only subscribe to this perspective once one also subscribes to there being such a thing as good art v. bad/stupid/ineffective art.

    How much of today’s art has the power to bring vast proportions of young adults into states of awe? That, to me at least, is roughly equivalent to the amount of modern art that is good. A good artist (painter, poet, sculptor, musician, etc.) has enough wisdom to know how to transmute her/his personal truths into expressions that captivate a large number of people. A relative rarity, to be sure. But, imo, this is a large factor in what makes artists good.

    Furthering my spiel, most of today’s good art is found below the belt, so to speak: in advertising. Bummer that it has no inherent worth to its artists—that it doesn’t express any truths which the artist per se values; nor, for that matter, any personal truths pertaining to those who pay his/her wages for the artistic creations. The art is instead a means of getting costumers to purchase things that they/we don’t need and wouldn’t otherwise want, this via emotively powerful expressions—ones that are for the most part devoid of any inherent aesthetic value, but are instead fully instrumental in the accumulation of somebody’s stashes of cash. I’m not claiming it’s the only type of modern art out there that has an impact on society … but do find that it, today, is the most prolific among these.

    Anyway, my two dimes on the matter.
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