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Darkademic's Philosophy - Part IV


This is the fourth and final part of my philosophical writeup. It continues where I left off in Part III and explores the realm of aesthetics. This article is much shorter than the previous three, as Aesthetics is a much smaller area of philosophy.

Part IV - Aesthetics

Esthetics is the study of art. It includes what art consists of, as well as the purpose behind it. Does art consist of music, literature, and painting? Or does it include a good engineering solution, or a beautiful sunset? These are the questions that aimed at in esthetics. It also studies methods of evaluating art, and allows judgments of the art. Is art in the eye of the beholder? Does anything that appeals to you fit under the umbrella of art? Or does it have a specific nature? Does it accomplish a goal? ImportanceOfPhilosophy.com


Art is a product of abstract thought that has existed throughout human history. Art is a way of concretising abstract concepts into a form that people can see, hear or feel, and it is a way of satisfying the intellectual needs of a human being. Abstract concepts lack the direct relation to reality that percepts have, and this is why art is a useful tool as it allows abstract concepts to be portrayed in a directly perceivable form. It is a way of bringing abstractions to the perceptual level.

Art is a selective re-creation of reality. An artist chooses both the form and the subject of an artwork - whether it be music, dance, painting, sculpture, literature, poetry, drama or song.

I would add that art stems from the individual who creates it, and is completed by the spectator who views and interprets the art. Art is there to engage the spectator and these responses could include disgust, fright, confusion, anger, delight, wonder, amazement and awe. They can be intended to make a statement or create controversy. To encourage or to enrage. To inspire or to infuriate. In all such cases, the reactions are based on value judgements. Art can represent things which are of value, as well as things which are of disvalue. Art can represent good, and it can represent evil. What the artwork represents is not an indication of whether the artwork itself is good or bad; this is based on how well the artwork concretizes that which it represents, and what is being said about this content. An artwork intended to portray pure evil, which instils a sense of horror and disgust in all those who experience it, is a great success. An artwork intended to portray that which is good, yet which has the same results, is a dismal failiure. That is not to say art should glorify or praise evil, it certainly should not, as this would be a contradiction; suggesting that evil is in fact good. Evil is by definition unwanted and negative, and should be portrayed according to its nature; impotent and capable only of destroying.

Art is not design. Design is intended to serve as a schematic for some utilitarian end, like architecture is the planning for the construction of buildings. Art's purpose is to express one's self, or one's ideas stemming from one's values and creativity, into a form which you and others can experience. It is not the technical ability to draw realistically or accurately, this being a seperate skill itself, but it can be the use of these other skills to create art in a particular style.

Forms of Art

Two dimensional art such as painting is perhaps one of the most well known and traditional forms of art. It also includes drawing and sketching. It is a way of visually representing abstractions in a two-dimensional manner. Sculpture is another visual art form that differs from painting and drawing in being three-dimensional as opposed to two-dimensional. Shape is the most important element of sculpture, so it is through shape that sculpture expresses abstract concepts.

Music is the use of sound to express emotions, moods or behaviour. Particular sound patterns reflect particular emotions and states of mind, and music is an attempt to create such patterns of sound. Song is an element of music where the sounds are created by the human voice. Song can enhance music, or it can be treated as music by itself. Song also adds words to music, thereby combining literature or poetry with it. The combination of music and song is a powerful one, and can be very effective at conveying particular emotions, thoughts and concepts. Dance is another derivative of music which is expression through human movement which can further clarify whatever subject is being conveyed.

Literature is the use of words and language to express a subject. It is the creation of perceptions through the use of language. Poetry, novels and stories all constitute literature. Literature may also be combined with drama / acting through films and theatre.

Aesthetics & Symbols

Aesthetics not only includes art, which is purposeful, but also one's symbolic likes and dislikes. Aesthetic values are not subjective - that is, they are not chosen or set arbitrarily. They are personal however, which means different things can mean different things to different people based on their individual experiences and values. These personal values can include a person's favourite colours, whether a person favours cats or dogs and whether a person likes minimalist or ornate furniture. There is no universal right or wrong which is true for all people, but has to be objective and at least partially deliberate reasoning behind one's aesthetic or symbolic choices. One person may associate the colour red with passion and enthusiasm, whereas another may associate it with blood and pain: Both are valid. Some people may like and dislike particular colours depending on the context in which they are placed. The ability to select amongst different aesthetics and symbols is part of what helps to define an individual. Certain people may value independence a great deal, and therefore favour cats over dogs, whilst other people may value loyalty and companionship a great deal, and therefore favour dogs over cats. Different people have different values at different times, and their aesthetic tastes should be a reflection of their values. Everything from preferring rounded shapes or angular shapes, to preferring gold or silver, to preferring brown hair to blonde hair, falls within this domain of aesthetic symbolism.