jlb.alb9.art.love.beauty.kant.baumgarten.aesthetics - Art...

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Art, Love, and Beauty 9 2/12/08 Harries 1 9. Free and Dependent Beauty 1 In my last lecture I focused on Kant's analysis of the beautiful as object of an entirely disinterested satisfaction. What does Kant mean by interest? As we saw, Kant links interest to need. Human beings are interested because their being is a being in need. Indeed, we human beings are in need in two quite distinct senses, corresponding to our dual nature: as on one we belong to nature, have bodily needs; on the other hand we belong to reason. Last time I had quite a but to say about the former. But what about the latter? What are our needs as beings of reason? As beings of reason, Kant holds, human beings have an interest in the good. If we can call the confusion of the beautiful with the pleasant the hedonistic fallacy, a fallacy of course only if we accept the claim that the proper task of art is to provide occasions for what Kant calls an entirely disinterested satisfaction, we can refer to the confusion of the beautiful with the good the moralistic fallacy. We praise a work of art because it accords with our understanding of what ought to be, because it edifies. Think of the art of Norman Rockwell of Tom Kinkade, the self-styled painter light. Such art paints a picture, rather rosier than the world we live in, of a gentler and kinder America. Reality is confronted with its idealized image. That image calls us to what is taken to be a better life. It thus may be said to edify, where to edify art need not oppose to reality a more positive image; it can also do the reverse.
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Art, Love, and Beauty 9 2/12/08 Harries 2 Think of representations of hell. They admonish us to change our ways lest we end up like those unfortunate souls we see being boiled by a bunch of nasty devils. In all these cases the work of art serves and is measured by an understanding of the good. The confusion of aesthetic and moral categories, of the beautiful and the good — if indeed it is a confusion — is familiar from Winckelmann, the leading theorist of neo-classicism. Winckelmann speaks of the quiet grandeur and noble simplicity of the Greek soul, finding its expression in the work of art. The greatness of Greek art is here sought in its ability to translate a noble ideal into readily apprehended images. The general idea was very much part of neo-classicism, the dominant approach to art when Kant wrote his Critique of Judgment . Classicists thus tended to identify their fight for linearism, as opposed to a more painterly approach, and for simplicity with a fight for morality and against irrationalism in general. The appeal of thick paint was suspect as being in part a visceral appeal, an appeal not just to the eye and the intellect, but to the body, with its passions and emotions. In this connection, it is interesting to note how often paint has been understood as a figure of the erotic. In this connection you might wish to consider Jackson Pollock’s use of paint; or, on the other side Marcel Duchamp’s critique of Courbet
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jlb.alb9.art.love.beauty.kant.baumgarten.aesthetics - Art...

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