February 1

Which painting is more beautiful: the Mona Lisa or Dogs playing poker?

Then we tried to answer the question, what is beauty? Does beauty even exist?

I apologize for having some gaps in the information but we eventually come back to the same question>

What we talked most about today is Kant and the faculty of taste.

What puzzles Kant is that, on one hand taste seems to be subjective but on the other hand there are two judgments about taste:judgments about beauty and judgments about sublimity. Despite their subjectivity we are warranted in asserting their universality and their necessity. To Kant, these things are generally thought of as incompatible categories due to their subjectivity.

Review from last week. What is meant by reflexive judgments? All judgment requires connecting something that is singular in the world to a universal concept.
1) determinant judgment-we go from a particular or singular concept to a universal concept.
2)reflective judgment-we go from a universal concept to a singular concept. (we have a thing in mind and we want to assert its universality, for instance, we look at a chair and just sit in it without thinking about all the things that make it a chair.
In Kants view, determinant judgments are the main use of concepts. Which means, I suppose, that we, as animal human people things, do not mentally choose the particulars of our concepts but rather it is done automatically. A good example of determination would be to observe other animals in the wild, they appear as if they do not think but just react to a given situation. We are no different then other animals!
Kant wants to find a place where two different kinds of reflective judgments can claim a normative status.
Normative claim-does not describe how the world is but rather, how it ought to be.
Kant suggests ethics as the best place to find normalcy (treating others with respect). However, to me, ethics are nothing more than just reflective judgments.
For Kant the two normative reflexive judgments are Aesthetics (the study of feeling and art or what are their connections) and teleology (the study of ends or we would study a cell in reference to the human body being the end instead of a cell in reference to the environment or whatever your end is).

What is beauty?
What Kant wants to know is why is it that if beauty is subjective then why do we argue about it or why do we have professional critics? This is because we are determined and it is the easiest way for the human thing to make decisions about the world. There is no thinking involved here.
German Idealism is one of the first places where the philosophy of art becomes important.
Kant prefers natural beauty over artistic beauty. What the difference is is unclear.

The idea of feeling is what made art interesting to philosophers in a certain way.

Why would we assume that there are sensations that specifically pick out moral qualities in things?
What does 18th century capitalism and liberal philosophy have in common? humans are self interested, another deterministic traite and on that principle humans are ripe for a good economic or political order.(see Smith and Locke)

What does this have to do with beauty? If we are to show that there is something like a moral feeling we need to show that people are naturally inclined to the good. If people are not naturally inclined to the good then the whole product of the enlightenment is in trouble.

What is it that beauty is supposed to be in the 18th century? it is this quality of goodness in objects.

How do we scene the beautiful? What does beauty exist of? Just visual perceptions?

Aesthetics is how I can sense beauty.

Beauty is connected to perfection and perfection is connected to the idea of goodness. Beauty is related to ethics.
The thing that my sense of beauty picks out is the same as what my sense of morality picks out.

Then Dr. Allred asks, why is it that the Mona Lisa is more beautiful than Dogs Playing Poker?

Hume was against the possibility of there being a rationalistic ethics

What are some of the things we discover about our classical notion of beauty?
(Kant page 211)…
(1.) "taste is the ability to judge an object or a way of presenting it by means of liking it or disliking it devoid of all interests", example, when we say something is beautiful we are saying that we like it without attaching any significance or possessiveness to that liking. Beautiful things are not interesting. If fact, if we were blind, beauty is absolutely nothing at all.

(2) Its a universal liking. All rational things think this thing is beautiful. Selective purposiveness- it seems like it is for us even though it is not. Art has to seem artless, if it is contrived then it is no good. The beautiful thing seems to have a purpose but when we ask what it is for, the purpose seems to be non-existent. Some beautiful things seem as if they have a purpose but they do not.

(3) Its necessity is not objective but only subjective.

How do we tie these 3 notions of classical beauty together?

The point is here that Kant is taking, what was regarded in his age, as just obviously beautiful: symmetrically, harmonious and orderly things, and he is saying, the reason why we are allowed to say that these things command you to regard them as beautiful because the things that appeal to your subjectivity is not accidents but rather it is the very conditions in which we cognize objects. It is the very way we take sensual things and think about them in rationalistic terms. Beautiful objects are perfectly suited to do that. In other words, we want to assimilate them and we do. And it is easy and it feels really good.

The sublime is thought of as the terrible or the awesome, e.g. a thunderstorm or the idea of a god thing. The sublime is something that you just can not grasp.

In Kant, beauty becomes about the human body, or things that are cut to the image of the human body and made for us to look at. The sublime are things to massive for our body's to capture but our souls can master them. The human being can crush nature and in return crush ourselves without even realizing it.

The point is that the beautiful is the human body, the sublime is the soul and the abject is when the human body becomes an object.

The beauty and the sublime have great influences in 19th and 20th century art.


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