What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 363
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm

Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 28th, 2018, 11:36 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
January 28th, 2018, 4:12 pm
Count Lucanor:
That is basically the same I'm saying, except that I highlight the fact that the variations of aesthetic experiences depend on both cognitive and social factors, which converge at the moment of judgement as an expectation (from the individual subject) of "agreement among observers". That's why there's a nuanced distinction between an statement describing my response to the presence of an object ("I like that flower" or "that flower pleases me") and a qualification of that object ("the flower is beautiful"). And given that some biological factors seem to play a role in configuring our perceptions and responses, the subjects might feel justified in their pretensions that certain properties are inevitably tied to certain responses.
But I see no difference between liking X (as art, or, aesthetically) and saying X is beautiful, assuming beauty is the response in question for each.

Let's take a look at the fixity, or better, universality. Take the observation of the stars mentioned above. To gather data, one needs the requisite observational tools as well as the the proper cognitive faculties we possess as agencies of scientific inquiry. The entire enterprise rests with this latter. The observer must be properly engaged, educated to record and interpret sensory information; and yes, have a functioning mind/brain. The objectivity rests, in other words, on a community of observers with minds capable of certain types of concrete perception. If one does not share this, one is out of the consensus. But the important point is, this "sharing" is nothing more than agreement between "like-minded" (literally) observers.

As to beauty, some like Beethoven, others despise him. They like rap. But this is no less than belonging to a group of like minded aesthetes, with minds/brains similarly attuned to a kind of music.
By the moment you state "I have a headache" it has ceased to be only a subjective perception of a headache and has become a proposal of an objective fact taking place in your body. Independent observers could analyze data and confirm that effectively you're having a headache as defined in medical literature, or having the body conditions that normally produce a headache in similar subjects.
But how is this at all different from an analysis of the data regarding "I am having an aesthetic experience"? Alas, the medical literature has not yet caught up with aesthetic experiences, their brain chemistry and the rest. But the solid fact of aesthetic rapture is no less a fact.
There's indeed a difference in the judgement of taste, of beauty, and the recognition of pleasure in the observer while perceiving the object. The latter one is what Kant calls the judgement of the agreeable. That feeling of pleasure itself is not enough to identify the judgement of beauty, and this is only made evident when the subject proposes the object as a model of formal composition for everyone, as universally valuable, AS IF the object contained in itself that property. It is possible to dislike something, for whatever reasons, and still recognize in them an aesthetic value. And vice versa, one can very much find pleasure in something that finds of low aesthetic value. In these cases, as Kant pointed out, aesthetic judgement seems disinterested. This is what makes possible the existence of art galleries and art critics, there's some kind of qualitative norm implicit of explicit.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 1919
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 29th, 2018, 8:50 pm

Count Lucanor:
There's indeed a difference in the judgement of taste, of beauty, and the recognition of pleasure in the observer while perceiving the object. The latter one is what Kant calls the judgement of the agreeable. That feeling of pleasure itself is not enough to identify the judgement of beauty, and this is only made evident when the subject proposes the object as a model of formal composition for everyone, as universally valuable, AS IF the object contained in itself that property. It is possible to dislike something, for whatever reasons, and still recognize in them an aesthetic value. And vice versa, one can very much find pleasure in something that finds of low aesthetic value. In these cases, as Kant pointed out, aesthetic judgement seems disinterested. This is what makes possible the existence of art galleries and art critics, there's some kind of qualitative norm implicit of explicit.
So, without making this too much an examination and critique of Kant's theory of taste and judgment, I would look at the the comments above. Taste goes to judgment, and this presupposes what I think needs to be shown, namely, what I will call (borrowing a bit from Kant's terminology, though not his application) pure aesthetic. By this, I mean what is there to be judged and standardized in the first place; the given, just as judgment itself is a given for the rational purity that it deploys. A faultless case of beauty: A seascape by the British painter Turner. I see it, and I am moved to aesthetic rapture.
Loreena McKinnet's Celtic renditions. Before putting questions of taste to these, what are they? Are they not at least the content of judgment, what judgment and systems of critique-in-taste are all about? To begin here, is to drop Kant's prejudice against desire and pleasure, at least until some justification is made. Sex and sandwiches are clearly beneath qualification. But why??

This is the question I pose to you: I may actually agree that music and visual art (others too) are of a different and far superior valuative nature. But as to what distinguishes them, this is the matter, not taste and rationalizing critique, but the "pure aesthetic" of that musical phrase that is a clear break from the mundane, intimating something entirely other. And as purity goes, it is not reducible, like a Kantian category. This is where universallizing one's aesthetic maxim, so to speak, should start.

Post Reply