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The Aesthetic and the Artistic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2009

David Best
Affiliation:
University College of Swansea

Extract

In the literature and discussion on aesthetics there is a widespread failure either to recognize that there is any significant distinction between the aesthetic and the artistic, or to characterize the distinction adequately. While in some cases the conflation of the two concepts is of little or no consequence, in others it can lead to serious misconception. Although it is widely overlooked the distinction is often of central importance, and is more complex than is commonly supposed.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1982

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References

1 L. A. Reid, ‘Sport, the Aesthetic and Art’, British Journal of Educational Studies 18, No. 3 (1970), 249.

2 Monroe C. Beardsley, ‘In Defense of Aesthetic Value’, Presidential Address at the American Philosophical Association, 52, No. 6 (August 1979), 729.

3 Op. cit.

4 E. F. Carritt, ‘Croce and His Aesthetic’, Mind (1953), 456.

5 R. W. Hepburn, ‘Contemporary Aesthetics and the Neglect of Natural Beauty’, British Analytic Philosophy, B. A. O. Williams and A. Montefiore (eds). (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966).

6 R. W. Beardsmore, ‘Two Trends in Contemporary Aesthetics’, British Journal of Aesthetics 13, No. 4 (Autumn 1973).

7 J. O. Urmson, ‘What Makes a Situation Aesthetic?’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Suppl. Vol., XXXI (1957).

8 Richard Wollheim, Art and Its Objects (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd, 1970), 112.

9 Margaret MacDonald, ‘Art and Imagination’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1952–1953), 206.

10 Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to the Theory of Symbols (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), 33.

11 Karl Britton, ‘Concepts of Action and Concepts of Approval’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1972–1973), 116.

12 The only exceptions I can think of are concepts. For instance, it would sound very odd to ask: ‘What do you think of the concept of mind, or of knowledge, from an aesthetic point of view?’ It would not do to conclude that therefore the aesthetic cannot be applied to abstractions since, as I have said, it can be applied to philosophical arguments.

13 Ruth Saw, ‘What is a Work of Art?’, Philosophy 36 (January 1961), 18–29, reprinted in her Aesthetics: An Introduction (London: Macmillan, 1972), 48.

14 David Best, Philosophy and Human Movement (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978), Ch. 7.

15 Op. cit., section 42 et seq.

16 F. N. Sibley and Michael Tanner, ‘Objectivity and Aesthetics’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. (1968).

17 I have considered this issue in relation to the objectivity of artistic appreciation in ‘Objectivity and Conceptual Change in the Arts’, forthcoming in Philosophical Investigations.

18 I am indebted to my colleague Tom Thomas for a most illuminating discussion of this play.

19 I am, of course, aware that a phrase such as ‘can give expression of a conception of life issues’ gives only a vague indication of the characteristic I have in mind. It seems to me that such vagueness is unavoidable, since, as I am trying to emphasize, the arts can take as their subject matter almost, if not quite, every aspect of life. Moreover, the question of the character of the relationship between art and life is far too complex to be included within the scope of this paper. For an interesting series of papers on this issue see C. Radford and M. Weston, ‘How Can We Be Moved By the Fate of Anna Karenina?’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 49 (1975), 67–93; B. Paskins, ‘On Being Moved By Anna Karenina and Anna Karenina’, Philosophy (1977), 344–347; H. O. Mounce, ‘Art and Real Life’, Philosophy (April 1980).

20 I have considered this issue in relation to the objectivity of artistic appreciation in the paper referred to in note 17.

21 I have discussed the issue more fully in Chapter 7 of my Philosophy and Human Movement. There is an excellent discussion of the same issue in a different context in R. W. Beardsmore's Art and Morality (London: Macmillan, 1971).

22 I have considered an aspect of the particularity of the emotions expressed in ‘Intentionality and Art’, Philosophy (July 1981).

23 B. Lowe, ‘Toward Scientific Analysis of the Beauty of Sport’, British Journal of Physical Education 7, No. 4 (July 1976), 167.

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