• NKBJ
    1.1k


    Can I say that that "cat" also means "piano"?
  • Isaac
    714
    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
    1.1k
    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
    714
    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
    1.1k
    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
    9.7k
    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
    714
    Ah... so there IS an objective framework of possible interpretations.NKBJ

    No, all interpretations are possible, at least one interpretation is objective.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    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
    714


    Interesting, but I have to head out and so will pick this back up tomorrow, if that's OK.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    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
    9.7k
    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
    714
    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
    289
    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
    289
    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
    289
    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
    289
    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
    7.5k
    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
    7.5k
    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
    768
    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
    768
    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.
  • ZhouBoTong
    289
    If the offered premise stands, how would the given conclusion be erroneous?javra

    Sorry, I was just re-reading the other thread and realized that I did not respond to this portion (but thanks for the little reminder :grin: )

    Based on the definition of art I would think that the ability to reach MORE people MIGHT make transformers better?

    Doesn't your logic here suggest that Calculus is better than basic arithmetic? But that doesn't seem right, does it?

    I think these questions provide my argument? If not, let me know and I will try to address your premises/conclusions in a more formal structure.

    I have to read a lot more of your post, and still have to respond Janus as well.
  • javra
    768
    Sorry, I was just re-reading the other thread and realized that I did not respond to this portion (but thanks for the little reminder :grin: )ZhouBoTong

    no worries

    Doesn't your logic here suggest that Calculus is better than basic arithmetic? But that doesn't seem right, does it?ZhouBoTong

    Within what contextual purpose is one better than the other, is the implicit question. If aesthetics has the purpose of drawing us toward greater sapience (arguable, but I believe this) this given analogy doesn't stand.

    Based on the definition of art I would think that the ability to reach MORE people MIGHT make transformers better?ZhouBoTong

    One might forget that Shakespeare was quite popular in his days, and that his language was not at the time outdated.

    Still, your reply doesn’t address the premise and conclusion I presented—upon which the rest of my opinions are grounded.

    Nevertheless, to answer this question: If my premise and conclusion are valid, it would then further follow that greater magnitudes of aesthetics which pertain to greater sapience will not be able to be conveyed to others whose degree of sapience is below a certain threshold. In Shakespearian slang, its caviar for the masses. (Certain types of caviar I myself can't stand)

    Offer a cat or dog a wondrous bouquet of flowers and the animal won’t know what to do with it (the Romanian saying translates into “giving flowers to a pig” ... whose “tastes” will at best only manifest in finding these flowers good to eat).

    Is there no such thing as a distinction between refinement and baseness of sentient nature, of character? And—if as with most people—one would say there is, are their respective tastes of equal worth relative to our aspirations to be endowed with greater sapience?

    Yes, my opinion is that the optimum artistic expression can convey a refined aesthetic to a vast quantity of the populace. But—to use some different examples—this does not place the comic book stories of the X-Men on the same aesthetic level as those expressed, for example, by Kafka. I like both, btw. Neither are perfect. But Kafka’s does tend to embody more universal truths pertaining to the human condition.

    “Elitism” I hear being cried out by certain members of the audience. As though no human is in any way better than any other in any capacity, including those of talent and taste. Thinking of myself, I’ve always improved in asking others why it is that they find aesthetic those things I so far have no taste or understanding for—given that I didn’t utterly dislike their personality. Couldn’t find the aesthetic value to minimalism until I asked someone who does. It’s still not my favorite, but I get it now. It’s when we start bashing each other over the head with “what I like is good and what you like is inferior crap” that, imo, elitism emerges.

    Well, this is doubtlessly a very complex topic … Due to time constraints, I’m planning on shying away from it and giving others the final word. Be this elitist of me or not. :wink:
  • Terrapin Station
    9.7k
    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.Olly

    This is true, but there's no implication to it. It simply tells us a fact about what most people would say.

    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.Olly

    How are you separating out the social aspects of this--for example, the fact that many people are swayed by consensuses, that they conform to norms, etc., while ignoring a lot of stuff that doesn't have popular support simply for that reason, versus how people would react to works if we could expose them to works in complete isolation of others' opinions, knowledge of popular support or a lack of it, etc.?
  • ZhouBoTong
    289
    Hi Olly - since I saw that Terrapin also responded, I just wanted to mention that many people here (seemingly most) seem to be in agreement with what you have said in your post. It just happens that Terrapin and I disagree with you :grin:

    And you will notice that I have a tendency to respond to EVERY word you say. I have been reprimanded, but it feels disrespectful for me to not respond to everything. Feel free to respond to or ignore as much of this as you please.

    Most people would agree that Shakespeare was an infinitely better storyteller and writer than Michael Bay.Olly

    Probably true. And yet "most people" also have NOT read Shakespeare since high school and cannot give a decent summary of any of his stories other than Romeo and Juliet.

    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.Olly

    That "consensus" is exactly the point of this thread. Since everyone thinks Shakespeare is better it should be a piece of cake to show why.

    Why are we defining "art" and "artist" in a way that suggests the creator of any work of fiction is NOT an "artist"? The dictionary definition makes no such suggestion.

    Again, what people say does not matter as much as what they do. If EVERY art critic says Michael Bay is NOT art, then when the average person is asked which art is better, what will they answer? EXPONENTIALLY more people are willing to pay for a ticket to a new transformers movie than buy one of Shakespeare's books. The VAST majority of Shakespeare's sales are as required reading for school, right?

    Shakespeare explored the human condition with almost unmatched eloquenceOlly

    Shakespeare's commentary on the "human condition" has been mentioned. Care to give examples? I still have a few replies to read, but so far, every time I ask for examples of Shakespeare's brilliant exploration of the human condition, I tend to get crickets. My point is that any "commentary on the human condition" found in Shakespeare, can be found elsewhere. Shakespeare's analysis has resonated with a lot of people, but JUST AS MANY have found nothing much there. Neither side is wrong.

    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.Olly

    You are missing the level of his genius. Those movies are full of deep symbolic meaning. I am sort of bullshitting here; once a person is experienced at finding the meaning/symbolism/etc in stories or poems, they can CREATE them even if they are not there. Does it matter what the artist intended? How often does ANYONE interpret a painting exactly as the artist intended? There are many artists that when asked what their art means, have answered that it is up to the viewer.

    Also, your quick dismissal of explosions and hot models suggests you might not have much interest in people either (most people like those things?) . Why do people spend billions going to these movies? Surely there are tons of free YouTube videos full of explosions and hot models?

    Most "popular" or "low" art fades away after a few decades or less.Olly

    Ok, so if I say Die Hard instead of transformers, then it is Ok? I guess we can wait 100 years and then see which movies people still watch?

    Their work has a timelessness to it, that resonates with people across all time,Olly

    Hmmm, and yet I still do not know anyone who regularly enjoys the art of any of those old guys. I am assuming that everyone here who argues in favor of "high art" does partake of "high art" more frequently than "low art" - but I don't actually know you all.

    Why is "low art" consistently more popular if what you said above was true?

    It was not created with the talent or visionOlly

    Any movie in the top 10 of the box office sales surely had at least some talent and vision behind it, right? Even if we give a lot of the credit to producers and marketers, surely it is not that easy to create a movie that grosses a billion dollars?

    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.Olly

    I would just say it is a legacy of what a few "important" people deemed to be "important" (how would you even begin to prove this statement wrong?). "High art" is only "high" by authority. Has anyone EVER even attempted to show how one piece of art resonates with more people? What would that experiment look like? Does making someone cry count as more or less than making someone laugh?
  • ZhouBoTong
    289
    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

    Hmmmm? So there is nothing admirable about a student that finds dark matter/dark energy explanations to be inadequate, so they delve into the subject? Are you opposed to the action of learning about what you disagree with or maybe you were just poo-pooing college degrees in general? I am more OK with the latter.

    I don't suppose you read the article being referenced?
  • ZhouBoTong
    289
    Well, firstly the point was to show that something can be more than something else even if we cannot measure it.Janus

    But you only showed that "I" value it more. It makes no objective (I mean tending toward objectivity - not PURELY subjective) statement unless we can measure it outside our own head

    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.Janus

    I agree. But don't see how that contradicts anything I am saying.

    Of course you will now probably retort that for example more people love some silly pop song than they do Bach's music.Janus

    More people do love some silly pop song than Bach, but I wouldn't say that to prove my point, only to suggest yours might be flawed. Again, the consensus doesn't make anyone right on matters of personal taste. What is better, some fancy restaurant with a Michelin star or McDonald's? The answer depends on who you ask.

    But the question is, do they really love it, or are they merely sentimentally attached to, or infatuated, with it?Janus

    Hahaha. Awesome stuff. I think we are unlikely to find agreement here. I actually distrust EVERYONE who says they love Shakespeare. As soon as I press them for details, they have not read it since high school and can't actually remember any details. Hilariously, you distrust the common man's art taste while I distrust the elitist's. So agree to disagree on that point (unless you can think of some bridging aspect that I am missing).

    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.Janus

    First, everyone is required to learn a good amount of "high art" in high school (I think it is "secondary school" in Europe). But you must be referring to FAR MORE education than that because it clearly was not enough to convince the common man. I have had to teach a lot of Shakespeare along with other literature and poetry. If I have not had enough "education" I am not sure you are being realistic. Maybe you think "high art" is made by the top .1% of intellectuals for the top .1% of intellectuals? If so I will leave you to it, and just ask that you all stop forcing it on us common folk in school.

    Why would you expect aesthetic judgement to be deductively certain or empirically demonstrable?Janus

    I actually wouldn't. You are the one that said "high art" is better than "low art". That statement seems to require some amount of empirical demonstrability or deductive reasoning?

    What you really seem to be arguing is "I can't see it, so it must be wrong".Janus

    So I keep being told. And yet nobody want to compare Shakespeare knowledge. Maybe I can see it, I saw it, and it is meh.

    I guess you didn't read the article by the guy with a master's in Shakespearian studies? Why was he wrong?

    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.Janus

    Again with the, "if you just understood it better". How do you know I don't know it? Would a person with autism or Asperger's relate to Shakespeare the same as the rest of us? We are all very different. It is ridiculous to think we will all like and emotionally respond to the same things in the same ways.

    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.Janus

    I am happy to find examples of "profundity and compassion" in "low art" if you want to provide examples from "high art"?

    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.Janus

    Yes, just as many thoughtlessly accept Shakespeare's stories as brilliant without engaging in any sort of a critical analysis.

    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.Janus

    Well I think this suggests you have a FAR (infinitely) higher opinion of art than I do. I can see levels of understanding in math or science or history as MATTERING. There are levels of art knowledge, but they only matter to professional critics and art professors (notice the artists themselves don't need to know that stuff - and often {usually?} don't - well they certainly didn't in the past). I do not need to know how to paint to enjoy a painting. And someone who knows how to paint does not necessarily appreciate any specific painting any more than I do. Also, knowing how to fully analyze literature does not mean that one will automatically like Shakespeare.

    Call me an elitist: I probably deserve it!Janus

    Just know that I do not mean the word as negatively as it is typically used (which you seem to get :smile:). I just mean the definition of elitism - the attitude or behavior of a person or group who regard themselves as belonging to an elite (in some way better than other humans).

    What you are asking for is like asking for the explanation of a joke or a poem.Janus

    The inspiration for this thread were the garbage art assignments that students are given in English class (which is required for 4 years - no other subject requires 4 years- in America/California). You do realize that students do have to explain what poems and literature means, right? And they are graded based on "correct" answers. You may want to reign in your fellow elites who do think there is a right answer.

    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.Janus

    And yep, high school students DO have to recognize and explain (in writing, so directly said) allusions. Allusions are artistic summaries (sort of). We can say everything directly, can't we? It might take 20 pages to thoroughly explain a single image, but it can be done? What aspects of existence cannot be captured in words? You may have interested me in an entirely new topic :grin:
  • ZhouBoTong
    289
    If aesthetics has the purpose of drawing us toward greater sapiencejavra

    Ok. I did not pick up on this idea at all the first time (the drawing toward part). As this seems a complicated sentiment, I want to be sure I am understanding.

    If aesthetics is: a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art.

    And sapience is: the quality of being wise, or wisdom
    (these were first 2 definitions I found that seemed applicable, I am open to alternatives)

    I am not sure I even understand how that could be the case. Let me take the most simple and obvious "appreciation of beauty". How does a guy admiring a pretty girl lead to wisdom? Feel free to play with the words a little, but I don't see the connection? How does watching a sunset lead to wisdom? You may have meant something else entirely?

    And I am going to have to apologize again, Javra, for not getting to your entire post (or 3, I don't think I entirely addressed your original, and you have already given a couple replys to my mini reply). The response for Janus took way too long and I am out of time. I will get to the whole thing soon so I can give you a nice long annoying response like I give everyone else :smile:
  • javra
    768
    I am not sure I even understand how that could be the case. Let me take the most simple and obvious "appreciation of beauty". How does a guy admiring a pretty girl lead to wisdom?ZhouBoTong

    When I’ve admired the beauty of the human form via aesthetics I’ve then appreciated the symmetries of figures, the elegance and grace of structures and dynamics, and the like. Young or old, male or female, it wasn’t about who I’d like to kiss but about the presence of the aesthetic as it applies to the human body. My experience is that aesthetics draw me closer toward truths or understanding of the world that are to me so far unknown—in relation to biology, human or otherwise, these for me can include an attraction toward the golden ratio and of fractals, such that I want to understand them better. Sometimes—just sometimes—in asking myself “why I find X aesthetic” the sensual pleasure of the experience transforms into an intellectual eureka moment. Sexual attractions, on the other hand, are in one way or another always about the sexual drive—and not, of themselves, about aesthetics. Michelangelo's David is aesthetic to me as a human form, but not sexually attractive. Still, there’s no law that says the two—aesthetics and sexual attraction—cannot co-occur; and they often do when it comes to heartfelt romance.

    But you are correct: it’s a complicated sentiment and mine is only an opinion regarding why aesthetics matter. BTW, Keats wrote it that, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” If this in any way resonates, my guess is that there might be some deeper truth to it that attracts you, waiting to be uncovered. If not, then likely not. (It could be a bit too Platonic for many.)

    I will get to the whole thing soon so I can give you a nice long annoying response like I give everyone else :smile:ZhouBoTong

    Well, you may have noticed that I’ve so far done my best to answer a number of your questions. At this point, I’d simply like for you to answer my initial two: those of 1) how is my given premise false if you happen to think it is and 2) how would the conclusion not rationally follow if the premise is true?

    ... Also, I'm still wanting to shy away from the conversation.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    I see in things what I see in things, and experience tells me that whatever I can see others can also see, or come to see. But it is also not merely a matter of opinion as to what is there in artworks. I also acknowledge that others can see things I cannot, and that if I had the requisite experience I could come to see what they see.

    It is not a matter of being right or wrong in the kind of sense we could be right or wrong about logic or any empirical matter. I maintain that there is simply more to be seen in some things than in others, and this is a function of what awareness, thought, association, emotion, liveliness, insight, and so on has been put in by the creator.

    Anyway, thanks for your efforts . I can see that we will probably not agree about this, and that's fine with me.
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