Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

Pedagogy and Art

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2059
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Hereandnow » September 12th, 2018, 10:36 am

BG
It is the “little to do with explicit education” that interests me. If actual intruction does little then what is the subject of “art” for? My position is that exposure to art through practicing the techniques will give an understanding if the talent and dedication involved if nothing else. I don’t really think art class should be a place to tell students how to appreciate art as “art” (if you get what I mean?), yet it should at least equip them with some technique and knowledge of how to set themselves onto the road of discovering what art is to them for themselves.

Personally I am stringly in favour of “facilitating” rather than “teaching”. My view is that the “teacher” is more of a “student” than the “student” themselves - meaning the students, by being students, unconsciously guide the teacher; and “good” teachers are aware of this and continually amending theri approach from student to student and subject to subject.
Well, art appreciation is all about exposure, I think. Specifically of the kind that imparts genuine appreciation, and this goes to what was there in critical moments. I appreciate music I grew up with, for example. Crazy about it. Objectively, there are features to "appreciate" but it is the exposure to an impressionable mind that made the difference. Clearly, one can grow into appreciation, but it is not the mechanical features, the cleverness or the archetechtonics; it is whether it registers. Everyone is different in their hard wiring, surely. Exposure through playing? Those who want to teach music in high school have to learn many instruments, and they usually end up playing them all badly, but they can teach the basics. Do they learn to appreciate musical aesthetic in this? I don't think so. They love music, can't go pro, so they settle. Appreciation was there at childhood.

Sure, teachers are best when they yield to the learning process rather than their own egos, like professors do. Students help teachers in the way you say, though, it should not be so unconscious: They question and the question has its possibilities, and those are available independently, to an extent, to the student (though not so much in the rigorous disicplines, eh? Philosophy's logic has very little wiggle room). Teachers need to encourage this independence. (But on the other hand entirely, students, even the best of them, are not adult people and they know shockingly little about anything.)

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2059
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Hereandnow » September 12th, 2018, 10:48 am

Steve3007
It seems clear to me that some kind of appreciation of this kind of context is useful for appreciating the work.
The visual arts are so much more complicated than music, isn't it? It is because visually, there is so much more representational possibility. One can SAY so much more with an image than with a musical phrase. But this raises what i think is an interesting question regarding art appreciation: when I know that the skull is there and it has political importance, isn't this merely knowing, and an appreciation of the art as knowledge, not aesthetics? There is a difference between appreciation of a Ferris Wheel ride by being on it, and appreciating a discussion about how wonderful it is. Take an art history class and appreciation comes, not by instruction, but by exposure, seeing it and acknowleging how amazing it is to behold. (This is why I am so against modern art assessments: entirely extraneous to the "appreciation".)

User avatar
ThomasHobbes
Posts: 1122
Joined: May 5th, 2018, 5:53 pm

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 12th, 2018, 4:59 pm

Art teaching can point out the potential of art, but it would be a foolish teacher to impose a set of hard objective criteria for what is and what is not 'good' art.
On the matter of methods and techniques is where good teaching is possible. This can extend the capability and the repertoire of the student so that they are more able to have a widest of sources from which to express themselves.
On this level there it is far more easy and effective to offer criteria to judge work good or bad.

For my money if an artist is to stupid or lazy to equip themselves with techniques, the potential for expression is dulled.

For example if you wish to depict a madonna and child, you could paint a realistic picture, carve a marble statues, or get a mop and balloon stuck together with sellotape.
There is no doubt that the latter is a pile of crapology.

User avatar
ThomasHobbes
Posts: 1122
Joined: May 5th, 2018, 5:53 pm

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 12th, 2018, 5:00 pm

errata: "
For my money if an artist is to stupid or lazy to equip themselves with techniques, the potential for expression is dulled.'"

Should read
For my money if an artist is TOO stupid or lazy to equip themselves with techniques, the potential for expression is dulled.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2059
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Hereandnow » September 12th, 2018, 6:20 pm

Thomas Hobbes:
Art teaching can point out the potential of art, but it would be a foolish teacher to impose a set of hard objective criteria for what is and what is not 'good' art.
On the matter of methods and techniques is where good teaching is possible. This can extend the capability and the repertoire of the student so that they are more able to have a widest of sources from which to express themselves.
On this level there it is far more easy and effective to offer criteria to judge work good or bad.

For my money if an artist is to stupid or lazy to equip themselves with techniques, the potential for expression is dulled.

For example if you wish to depict a madonna and child, you could paint a realistic picture, carve a marble statues, or get a mop and balloon stuck together with sellotape.
There is no doubt that the latter is a pile of crapology.
As to crapology, half of what you will see in certain Picasso exhibitions would be crapology if the laziness and stupidity were criteria. For so much of what he did was "lazy" and thoughtless and without the any strict appreciation of form and detail and representational features. The art world is a strange bird, but certainly is not accessible by standards of mirroring the world. Some of what is obviously skillless, has extraordinary presence.

Having said this, I am a strong critic of BS. A "Can of Human ****" I observed once in a gallery, famous then and now, is almost without significance, I would argue. But then again, as I second guess myself, you can see an important point made here: It is the irony of it.

This IS an age of irony, for that is all that is left after the grand narratives have been thrown into disillusionment.

User avatar
ThomasHobbes
Posts: 1122
Joined: May 5th, 2018, 5:53 pm

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 12th, 2018, 6:44 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
September 12th, 2018, 6:20 pm
Thomas Hobbes:
Art teaching can point out the potential of art, but it would be a foolish teacher to impose a set of hard objective criteria for what is and what is not 'good' art.
On the matter of methods and techniques is where good teaching is possible. This can extend the capability and the repertoire of the student so that they are more able to have a widest of sources from which to express themselves.
On this level there it is far more easy and effective to offer criteria to judge work good or bad.

For my money if an artist is to stupid or lazy to equip themselves with techniques, the potential for expression is dulled.

For example if you wish to depict a madonna and child, you could paint a realistic picture, carve a marble statues, or get a mop and balloon stuck together with sellotape.
There is no doubt that the latter is a pile of crapology.
As to crapology, half of what you will see in certain Picasso exhibitions would be crapology if the laziness and stupidity were criteria. For so much of what he did was "lazy" and thoughtless and without the any strict appreciation of form and detail and representational features. The art world is a strange bird, but certainly is not accessible by standards of mirroring the world. Some of what is obviously skillless, has extraordinary presence.

Having said this, I am a strong critic of BS. A "Can of Human ****" I observed once in a gallery, famous then and now, is almost without significance, I would argue. But then again, as I second guess myself, you can see an important point made here: It is the irony of it.

This IS an age of irony, for that is all that is left after the grand narratives have been thrown into disillusionment.
I'm basically on the same page as you.
Urinal, "The Fountain"; Tracy Emin's Bed; Sh1t in a Can; a Pile of Bricks; really does not qualify as art in my view.
There is more than meets in the eye in much of Picasso, but even with him I think he was taking the piss somewhat in his later years.

And much as I hate "modern art" I think I might like to actualise the Madonna and Child made from a mop and balloon!!!

Steve3007
Posts: 5625
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Steve3007 » September 13th, 2018, 7:38 am

Burning ghost wrote:That is the kind of contentious issue I was hoping to arise from this. Personally I believe a piece of art should be able to stand the test of time purely on it’s aesthetic merit rather than the historical context - this is not to say I believe the historical context is unimportant or frivolous.

I would strongly argue in favour of historical context in the medium of writing. History obviously being a record of events in writing puts written art firmly within a historic context. Whilst I would say listening to Mozart or gazing at a painting by Dali, although possibly enhanced , if you understand the cultural context and times of these people it doesn’t affect the underlying objectivity of the artwork itself.
I'm not entirely convinced. I think saying that visual art should be able to stand the test of time purely on its aesthetic merit is a bit like saying that literature should be able to be appreciated purely by the way that the words sound, without any knowledge of what they mean. I think we always bring a cultural background to art of all kinds and appreciation of its historical context is just an extension of that.
Given that I’m talking about pedagogy in particular I do think your point is important. Appreciation of art in a historical context may lead a student who has not interest in actually painting to maybe dabble and try it for themselves once they see how much poetry and prose was used to express emotions of the time. Written art would, I imagine, be of more appeal to them than audio/visual stuff.
Yes, I see your point about pedagogy. My sister has actually been a high school art teacher for many years but she recently changed jobs and started working with children who have severe learning difficulties and behavioural problems of various kinds. The immediacy of visual art is apparently a useful tool for building communication with them.

Gertie
Posts: 608
Joined: January 7th, 2015, 7:09 am

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Gertie » September 13th, 2018, 9:20 am

HAN
Hereandnow wrote:
September 12th, 2018, 9:56 am
Dachshund
Wordsworth and you would not get along very well, HAN. By the time he was in his mid-thirties, Wordsworth was a crotchety, old , self-righteous political Conservative ( a high "King and Country" British Tory who was very impressed by Edmund Burke, just like me :) ) . He would never have invited a disreputable, liberal progressive leftist, like yourself to "Dove Cottage" to chat about poetry over tea and scone !

I agree with you that good (aesthetic) taste can be cultivated in young people when they are taught how to properly appreciate the artistic masterpieces of Western culture. But, remember, to fully experience for oneself, the intensely spiritual beauty in the poetic works of a genius like Wordsworth or, say, Shelley, takes a lot of good old fashioned hard work and effort, a lot of disciplined study; not to mention an experienced teacher who has an expert knowledge of his canon.

Don't forget also, that it was due to the protests of PC liberal progressives like yourself , HAN,that that "dead, white, elitist, Western males" such as Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Southey,Tennyson, Shakespeare and Co were all banished from the English classrooms of of modern high schools so that our kids could study watered-down neo-Marxist crap like "The Vagina Monologues", or transgender, "YA fiction" drivel like, "The Art of Being Normal" !

Shame, HAN, shame !!
On the left, we have to put up with excess just as you do on the right with your goose stepping nazis, your racial insanity. And Wordsworth's personality has nothing to do with the poetry. At most it is....disappointment.

Cultivation has at its principle thrust, exposure. We love what we know, and the art appreciation is to art what grammar instruction is to language use: useful to know, perhaps, but not that helpful in the aesthetic appreciation. The study of Beethoven's compositional features does not make it more beautiful to behold.

No shame at all. Those who want changes in curriculum to reflect multicultural changes in society are right. It has always been that the old yields to the new. Used to be that scholar knew Latin, even Greek, studied Cicero and Quintilian, Dante, read Plato. Now this is all but gone, relegated to to that mausoleum of literary obscurity, the Classics. It is not all good. Not at all! Shakespeare is on the way out, as is philosophy itself! But that is the way of it. I fight to retain a lot of the old ways, but still a liberal through and through elsewhere.
The younger Wordsworth was a revolutionary, and probably what we'd call a pantheist, very aware of the French Revolution which ultimately disappointed him in its cruel excesses. (At that time a Revolution in England was seen as a real possibility btw). But Wordsworth's revolution was literary, a leading member of the Romantic movement which was deliberately over-throwing the contemporary classically stylised Augustan fashion for a 'back to basics', almost primitivistic approach to poetry. He spells it out (a bit defensively) in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads. https://www.bartleby.com/39/36.html

He wanted to capture the essence of truth/beauty/ nature, in a straightforward way which gets you in the gut. To communicate his respones to it as directly, passionately and spontaneously as he could. As he famously put it his poetry is 'emotion recollected in tranquility'. His subject matter was nature and the ordinary people who worked land, whose language was uncluttered with the contrivances of contempoary poetry, conveyed through simple, sympathetic meter and rhyming patterns.


As regards the OP, for Wordsworth it was about getting out there and being open to fully experiencing nature, and finding ways to communicate that, rather than showing off your book learnin, classical allusions, clever technique - 'we murder to dissect'


Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Personally I like lots of different types of art, sometimes understanding technique and context enhances my appreciation a lot. Depends.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2059
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Hereandnow » September 13th, 2018, 10:12 am

Gertie
Like many, I have particular fondness for his Ode to Intimations of Immortality, for it makes us consider the importance of childhood. Is growing up a process that corrupts the spirit? One must remember that the language we use to describe this process, that of psychology and the norms that make up our daily lives, are conceived in the minds of who are the collective afflicted already. That is, it is the adult world already "fallen" that looks to childhood and rates it according to it own values. We tend not to like this romantic extravagance at all when we know better that the world is getting to work on time and paying taxes. Another world is simply forgotten:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

User avatar
ThomasHobbes
Posts: 1122
Joined: May 5th, 2018, 5:53 pm

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 13th, 2018, 6:51 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 10:12 am

That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
Not so much Here and Now, as Been and Gone.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2059
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Hereandnow » September 13th, 2018, 7:57 pm

a Buddhist would beg to differ, and say that all that once was is there still beneath encumbrances of becoming a "person".

Dachshund
Posts: 510
Joined: October 11th, 2017, 5:30 pm

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Dachshund » September 17th, 2018, 2:49 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 10:12 am

Like many, I have particular fondness for his Ode to Intimations of Immortality, for it makes us consider the importance of childhood.
HAN,

Given this is a philosophy forum, I thought the following verses from stanza VIII of "The Ode" might be worth highlighting...



"Thou whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy soul's immensity;
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
They heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, readst the eternal deep,
Haunted forever by the eternal mind,--
Mighty Prophet ! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,

In darkness lost..."


To me, what Wordsworth is saying is that when we use the term "philosopher", it is taken for granted that we are referring to an adult, and we tend to assume, moreover, that the best philosophers are those "wise elders" among us, those venerable old souls who have - after dedicating a lifetime to quiet contemplation and reflection - perhaps managed to acquire at least some genuine insight into the true meaning of life. The great irony, however, is, as Wordsworth says in the lines I have quoted above, that the best philosophers are in fact children; it is they, and not adults, who are are the ones that possess a genius for true insight. Children have the ability to see the truth clearly because their vision has not yet been tainted and corrupted by age. As we grow older we progressively lose the pristine clarity of vision that we had when we were young children, we become increasingly blinded and unable to see clearly that which is most real. As adults, we are "In darkness lost" and " toiling all our lives" just to recapture hazy, fleeting glimpses of those ultimate truths which we could see so very vividly and effortlessly when we were infants.


When Wordsworth describes the child as "Thou best philosopher", he is, of course, speaking metaphorically, he does not mean that infants are actually philosophers in a literal sense- the very idea that they could be is - (it goes without saying) - utterly absurd. Having said this, I am going to argue that although they are not professional philosophers, children are, in fact, naive (though nonetheless strict) practitioners of a formal method of philosophical inquiry; namely, phenomenology. Infants and young children are I believe, master exponents of the phenomenological method as it was originally conceptualised by the founding father of the modern school/movement of philosophical phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, in his seminal work "Logical Investigations" (1900-01). Let me explain...


Phenomenology is the the study of phenomena (singular, phenomenon), and the word "phenomenon" is derived from two Greek words: phainomenon meaning "that which appears", and phainesthai, which means to "shine forth". So, in short, the term "phenomenon" refers to something that appears before us, and especially to something that "shines forth" and catches our attention because we find it to be, for example, interesting , unusual, intriguing or otherwise "striking" or "outstanding" in some particular way.


So, to continue. The phenomenologists (people like Husserl) were interested in the "shining forth" of things, and they made the presumption that the things that manifested themselves to you as most meaningful were the the most real things. And I think we can make a strong case that this is actually how our brains are "wired up", because our brains are wired to react to things that have meaning BEFORE they construct the perceptions that we think of as objects. The reason for this is because the meaning of things is more real (in some sense) but more IMPORTANT than the view of things as objects. To give an example, when you approach a cliff, you don't see "a cliff"; what you "see" is a "falling off place". It isn't that it's an object "cliff" to which you attribute the the meaning of the "falling off place" perception to, it's the "falling off place perception" that comes first, and the abstraction of the objective "cliff" - if it ever happens at all - comes much later; much later conceptually, because even babies and Dachshund dogs can detect cliffs, and much later historically.


In "The Ode", Wordsworth, as you know, notes this phenomenon of the "shining forth" of reality and associates it with childhood. He recalls how as a child, every simple thing in the world appeared to be invested with an intense "dream-like vividness and splendour"; how "The earth and every sight" seemed "Apparelled in celestial light. There are, I think, good reasons for Wordsworth having observed the sense of wonder children manifest in their perception of ordinary, day-to-day commonplace objects; in the simple, mundane things of the world that hold no special significance for adults. One is that your brain is not so much of an inhibitry structure when you are a child before it is fully developed, so their are neurological reasons for noting it; but their are also reasons that stem from the level of lived experience. You can tell when you are around children that they're open to the things of the world in a way that adults aren't. Children are literally wide-eyed with wonder, and adults like being around children for that reason. Wordthsworth celebrates the joy that adults experience just by being having children around them in the following lines from Stanzas III and IV of "the Ode"...


III ...

Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou
happy Shepherd - boy !

IV

Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of you bliss, I feel - I feel it all...




I think every parent has felt this "bliss" that Wordsworth is referring to; the bliss mothers and father experience merely by being close to their own children when they are young. I can clearly recall myself that although looking after my own son when he was still very young was hard work and took a tremendous amount of effort, and although he was, in many ways, a terrifying object to behold because he was so vulnerable, part of the way he paid me back was by re-opening my eyes. What I mean is that as we grow other our eyes become increasingly closed by experience, as we mature into adulthood we learn to shield out the things in the world that once "shone forth" with such heavenly brilliance in our childhood. When you have your own child, you can look through the child's eyes again have, as William Blake famously put it, "the doors (of your own) perception", "cleansed" and reopened, so that the celestial light of true rreality can shine in again. I remember how when my own son was very young , it seemed to me as though he was one fire" in a sense, - and I think all parents with young children have felt this, - how it seems like their young children are "aflame" , like candles, or something that's burning brightly , and I think this is partly because we actually don't screen out fire; we actually see fire and that's why we can't not look at it when it's around.


HAN, you ask...

Hereandnow wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 10:12 am
Is growing up a process that corrupts the spirit?

And you say of this process...

Hereandnow wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 10:12 am
One must remember that the language we use to describe this process, that of psychology and the norms that make up our daily lives, are conceived in the minds of who are the collective afflicted already. That is, it is the adult world already "fallen" that looks to childhood and rates it according to it own values. We tend not to like this romantic extravagance at all when we know better that the world is getting to work on time and paying taxes. Another world is simply forgotten:

I think the question of whether adults are all irretrievably "fallen"; that is the question of whether or not experience, i.e; the process of growing up progressively "corrupts the spirit" in such a manner that by the time we are fully matured adults we are "afflicted" with an irreversible, indelible and permanent spiritual blindness is extremely important, and never more so than today where the dominant worldview in the West is scientism. Our Western scientific worldview assumes that what is most real is something that is dead, like a stone - dead, like dirt; that at its deepest level reality is something that is essentially like a lump of physical matter, that it is something "heartless" and "soulless", something objective and external; something "amoral" ; something that has no shred of inherent value or meaning or purpose in itself



The first point I would like to make is that I do not think Wordsworth views the process of growing up as something that is innately malign. He makers this clear in stanza VI of "The Ode"...


VI


Earth fill her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And even with something of a Mother's mind,
And no unworthy aim,

The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate, Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.



Wordsworth was a Christian; he believed that when we are born we are "thrown" down into the world ( i.e. down onto the Earth) from the "imperial palace" of Heaven.Thus, man's real mother is Heaven, and so, as Wordsworth puts it (above) the Earthly world is merely his foster nurse. It seems that as his foster carer, the Earth believes that the best thing she can do for her new foster child to "do all she can " to make him forget all about the exquisite dream-like splendour of Heaven and learn how to live in his new and far humbler home, the material world. In doing this, Wordsworth accepts that "The homely Nurse" is demonstrating a sincerely caring maternal instinct ( "something of a Mother's mind") and that what she is trying to achieve is "no unworthy aim". While we are young, our memories of Heaven are still quite fresh and so all of the things we see on Earth are still vividly bathed in the dream-like splendour and glory of Heaven's divine light. But our foster nurse knows that we will not be able to survive in the harsher material realm of the world if we continue to remain awe-struck and bedazzled by a sense of intense wonder ( however blissful it may be) in everything that we see on Earth. She knows that sometimes one has to be "cruel to be kind" and this is why in the process of growing up the splendid brilliance of our childhood vision is progressively dimmed and the doors of our perception narrowed in order that we not be "blinded by seeing too much of Heaven's celestial light" and rendered vulnerable, paralysed like rabbits caught in the glare of an oncoming car's head-lights.



To continue, I think what Wordsworth is saying in Stanza VI of "The Ode" is that as you develop as a competent adult, which is precisely the direction towards which you should develop, much of what you're doing in the process is actually closing in and narrowing. You are closing in and narrowing towards a particular goal and a particular way of being. (And) this is necessary; as you mature and grow in experience you must be developing towards a particular way of being because if you aren't you will not develop at all, and you simply cannot stay a child forever - that goes sour of its own accord. In short it's the way of the world that human beings are all destined to to close the doors of our perception, to sharpen and narrow ourselves, to focus on very little so that at least they are able to do that. But, sadly, the price we pay for this is that in the process of growing up we progressively diminish the relationship we originally has with untrammelled reality, we increasingly replace what was a solid, concrete relationship with the shadows that are only complex enough to let us do what we have to do and no more. So, in some sense, while we become more competent with the benefit of experience,, we also become more blind. As to how it happens, well that's no secret - we know exactly how it happens and that is from the bottom up. We build our perceptual and action structures from the bottom up. For example, when you're an infant, you first learn to move your arm; next you learn to close your hand; then you learn to do practical things with those abilities, such as lifting a spoon to your mouth, (which is something you need to do to feed yourself). After this you learn to move a plate, and then you learn how to set the table; thus you are now acquiring social skills because you can set the table for yourself and also for other people. After you can do this you go on to learn how to make a meal for yourself, which demands an even more complex sequencing of motor activities and perceptual abilities - it's a very focussed activity. In short, aS you continue to grow up and develop, the things you chain together become more and more complex, but also more and more SPECIFIC; for instance, as an adult, you have to care for your family ( which means there's all sorts of other things that you're not doing); you also have to find good job, which almost everyone when they're young experiences as the contemplation of an unpleasant limitation. That is, when you're young, you think "Woe is me !", it looks like I'm going to have to settle for some particular role in life and there's nothing I can do about it, but I don't want to only be that role ! What young people tend not to understand is the fact that it's actually better to be "that particular role" than to be no role at all. Moreover, perhaps it might be the case that the only way to " break on through the other side" ( apologies to Jim Morrison and "The Doors") is to go through the role and not around it, because it certainly seems like there's no avoiding the responsibility of narrowing and shaping and specialising. To continue. As a grown up adult, you need to be a good parent, because that's a sacrifice you must make for the next generation; you also need to be a good partner for precisely the same reason. Likewise you must strive be a good citizen; and young people are particularly skeptical of this demand because they see the old society as always being corrupt and archaic and blind; and to become a member of that can seem ,in part, to be be allowing yourself to adopt the same aged blindness. But this is precisely the thing that has also educated them - that has shaped every word that comes out of their mouths, so it's something that they should learn to be grateful for - even in its aged and archaic form ! In any case, it's a part of the NECESSITY of human responsibility that one endeavours to become a good citizen, and this means, in some sense, having to give up even more of what you COULD be ( at least to sustain what IS). There's a wonderful late 19th century ( i.e. "Victorian") English song that lampoons the narrowing, restrictive and limiting nature of good citizenship as follows...



"I am the very model of
a modern Major
General;
I've information
vegetable, animal, and
mineral
I know the kings of
England, and I quote the
fights historical,
From Marathon to
Waterloo, in order
categorical..."




Here we have the "Good Citizen", a man who has all the knowledge his society regards as being desirable/worthy, a man who is proud to declare himself a high-ranking functionary of the State; and it was, we can be sure, not easy at all for him to have achieved all of this, but in the same way it's all very narrowing, limiting and confining - all so very "categorical". No artist would ever approve of this, and hence the author of the song satirises his society's conventional model of the exemplary "Good Citizen".



In "The Ode" Wortdsworth makes it very that in his view once we have grown to full maturity as adults we can never fully recapture the brilliance and divine, dream-like splendour of our childhood vision, it is - alas ! - gone forever; and the only compensation we receive lies in the fact that it is still possible for us to find some comfort by recalling to mind the misty memories we have of our youthful bliss - some comfort in the hazy intimations these memories carry with them of what we one had, but have now irretrievably lost. As he says in stanza X...



"What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind... "



What "remains behind" are the faded memories we have of our childhood bliss; i.e; what Barbara Streisand referred to in her famous pop song as those: "misty, water-coloured memories of the way we were".



So, is Wordsworth right ? THAT is the question ! Well, according to one poet - the great, romantic visionary, William Blake (who was one of Wordsworth's contemporaries), no, he was not. In Blake's famous collection of poems: "Songs of Innocence and Experience" he divides man's life up into two phases in very much the same way that Wordsworth does in "The Ode". For Blake there is the phase of "Innocence" and the phases of "Experience"; during the phase of "Innocent" which he associates with childhood one is possessed of "Imagination", Blake, like Wordsworth was a Christian, and his conception of "Imagination" is extremely complex, but, in short, he views it is a faculty of mind that, when possessed, enables one to become a visionary, one who is capable of clearly perceiving the light of divine truth stand revealed before him/her in all its magnificent heavenly splendour and beautiful, graceous brilliance. Thus , for Blake children, because they are pure and "Innocent" are endowed with "Imagination" and thereby able to see the things of the world bathed in the same kind of exquisite "celestial light" that Wordsworth likewise believes characterises the vision of children. Blake's phases of "Experience" are also very much like the progressive stages of maturity that Wordsworth notes human beings going through as they grow from being infants/children to finally become fully - matured adults. For both Blake and Wordsworth, "Experience" ( "growing up"/aging) has the effect, namely, of diminishing the dream-like visionary splendour of youth - of steadily "closing the doors of perception" so that the light of heavenly truth is increasingly shut out and man is consequently reduced, more and more, to a state of blindness, so that by the time he reaches adulthood, he is only able to see, at best, the dark shadowy outlines of what actually exists before him in absolute, ultimate reality.



Notwithstanding the strong affinities I have just noted that exist between the views of Wordsworth and Blake on the matter at hand, there is, I must emphasise, one crucial - and IMO vitally important difference in their thinking. This is that Blake, unlike Wordsworth, does not regard "Innocence" and "Imagination" to be the sole monopoly of the child. Blake, that is, argues that it is possible for men and women of all ages - be they children or fully grown adults - to have "Imagination" at their command; that it is not impossible, in other words, for s/he who is experienced and mature to yet possess "Innocence" regardless. Thus, Blake places a tremendous importance on the need for men of all ages who have acquired "Experience" to strive in an effort to cultivate their "Imagination", whereas Wordsworth, on the other hand, is resigned to the sad fact that such striving would be futile, and it would only be by remaining a child for ever that man could ever hope to succeed in retaining, throughout his lifespan, a capacity to see the untrammelled light of divine truth "shine forth" before him, bathing, as it did, all of what he saw about him in the wonder and glory of its celestial brilliance.

So is Blake right ? The answer, I believe, is, "Yes, he is". To explain why I think this, let me begin by going back to the issue of the responsibility we have to make ourselves good citizens. It's true, I believe that we do indeed have this responsibility, but I don't think that being a good citizen is where our human responsibilities ends. It seems to me that there must be something above achieving status as a good citizen. Why ? Because sometimes being a good citizen is not so good; I mean, if you were a good citizen of Nazi Germany, or a good citizen of the Soviet Union, or Mao's China, then you were certainly narrowed in a particular way, but also in a very pathological way. Thus, it seems to me that even though adopting the viewpoint of the good citizen is necessary, there has to be something higher above it, and I think that's also the thing that can restore the true sense of entanglement with the deepest and most meaningful realities of life, and this is the issue of being a good person.Being a good person is above being a good citizen, it's something else, it has to do with the development of individuality and I think we're neurologically wired for this. So, it seems to me that Wordsworth is right insofar as we're wired to lose what we has as children, that is to narrow and specialise as we grow up, BUT then once we're specialised to re-open. That is, once we've got the skills built into our body and then can handle reality because we're more adapted, more fluid and more flexible, then we can cab start to re-open the doors of perception again, and I think our nervous system is set up to help us do this provided we don't interfere with it and we notice. We notice that by paying attention to the things that manifest themselves to us as - that "shine forth" as interesting; the things that grab us, and where we're grabbed is where the obscuring map map we live in isn't obscuring the reality that's underneath it. It like there's a hole in the map and the light shines through that and that will pull you along. This is when our interest is seized by something, and it our nervous system that's doing this - WE don't do it, it's an unconscious force, you could even say that it's the world itself talking to you. This is actually what the phenomenologist like Husserl believed. It's a REAL phenomenon, it's not a secondary thing and we know this because none of us could live with it, we would all die, we would become abnormally and unhealthily cynical and skeptical, we would get nihilistic or begin to adopt wild belief systems if we did not have the attachment to some genuine, life-giving meaning in our own lives. And it's a hard thing to follow that, because it doesn't necessarily put you in perfect juxtaposition with society, precisely because it's not society, it's not being a good citizen, it's something else. It's also the thing that rebuilds how you would be a good citizen.


To conclude it is in the process of actively paying careful attention to the things in the world that "shine forth" for us, we are, I believe effectively using what Blake refers to as "Imagination". Because when we do this, what we are actually "seeing" is true reality instead of our obscuring, superficial maps; we're actually gaining real access to the the real information that's in the world. And it's not pre-packaged information, because that can be false, it's the real information that's flowing out from the ground of being. If we pay careful attention to it, it will help us move towards the goals that we've already established for ourselves as good citizens that are part of the inbuilt value structures that we've adopted, but, at the same time, it will do something else as well. It will lead us to transform the nature of those goals. This is because as we actively pursue the things that "shine forth" and guide our interest and more and more information is revealed, then by absorbing this information ( which is learning essentially) we will be building ourselves into different people - stronger and more informed people, more intact people, people with more integrity and with more direction, and at the same time we will be differentiating/diversifying our maps so that we're actually living more and more in the real world. In sum, as we then approach our specific goals - even if they're culturally conditioned goals, the learning we do along the way will transforms us, and it also transforms the nature of our goals.


I can provide you will compelling, concrete evidence of how this all really does work if you are interested, but I'm afraid that would necessitate a separate post. This one is already far too long.



Regards


Dachshund

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 2863
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Burning ghost » September 17th, 2018, 3:08 pm

Steve -
I'm not entirely convinced. I think saying that visual art should be able to stand the test of time purely on its aesthetic merit is a bit like saying that literature should be able to be appreciated purely by the way that the words sound, without any knowledge of what they mean. I think we always bring a cultural background to art of all kinds and appreciation of its historical context is just an extension of that.
Of course. I was ont saying anything is utterly devoid of historical reference. I think I can persuade you a little though by saying to hear someone singing a person doesn’t need to appreciate the words being sung. The emotion can tell the story all by itself. With the written word it is hardly a fair comparison. No one need understand the sheet music of Mozart to appreciate the beauty of the music played by those who do.

Within art the mediums each possess there own little peculiarities and that is why I focused on painting, drawing and sculpting being easier to be appeciated mostly on aesthetic quality alone compared to written works of literature. Now you made be bring up the analogy of music I guess, now I think about it, music is the most obvious in terms of its aesthetic value - harmony and scales are quite apparent to all cultures.

A beautiful picture of a landscape or an orchestra are easily recognised as being valuable across multiple artistic/cultural traditions.

One thing that strikes me about paintings is how much more I appreciate them understanding the trick of the eye and how the artist knew how to give the impession of detail - something of the neuroscience involved in figuring out how human perception can be fooled made me appreciate the work all the more (I particularly noticed this is Dali.)
AKA badgerjelly

Steve3007
Posts: 5625
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Steve3007 » September 17th, 2018, 4:30 pm

Burning ghost wrote:I think I can persuade you a little though by saying to hear someone singing a person doesn’t need to appreciate the words being sung. The emotion can tell the story all by itself. With the written word it is hardly a fair comparison. No one need understand the sheet music of Mozart to appreciate the beauty of the music played by those who do.
True. It is interesting that music can create emotions while being, apparently, completely abstract. How strange the change from major to minor! Why are major notes uplifting and minor notes sad? It is interesting that each 'C' note is twice the frequency of the previous one. It's not difficult to see why music has long been seen as somehow intimately connected to the harmony of Nature.
One thing that strikes me about paintings is how much more I appreciate them understanding the trick of the eye and how the artist knew how to give the impession of detail - something of the neuroscience involved in figuring out how human perception can be fooled made me appreciate the work all the more (I particularly noticed this is Dali.)
Yes, it's often interesting to look at the simple strokes of paint, try to stand outside of our natural human tendency to translate those stokes into something meaningful, and see them objectively - as simple, apparently crude, blobs of paint. I think a large part of the talent of at least some artists is to do that; to turn off the perceptive filters.

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3484
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Pedagogy and Art

Post by Fooloso4 » September 17th, 2018, 6:00 pm

Modern Western harmony and scales is only one of many. Most westerners do not immediately hear the traditional music of India or China, for example, as beautiful or harmonious. They may in fact find it quite annoying. Because our ears have been trained to hear equal temperament tuning other temperaments, and this means all music before the keyboard, will sound out of tune.

Locked