Chapter

Aesthetics II. The Uses of Art

Karol Berger

in A Theory of Art

Published in print December 1999 | ISBN: 9780195128604
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785803 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195128605.003.0002
 Aesthetics II. The Uses of Art

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The repertory of mediated experiences allows us to begin deliberating on the question of how we should live, to choose the extent that it is possible through our actions and passions, and to justify our choices. The most basic kinds of works — history, art, science, and philosophy — divide among themselves various tasks that allow us to understand ourselves and our world, to know how we should live. Since philosophy uses arguments to make explicit, criticize, and improve the norms that govern our already current practices, and hence its arguments cannot exist in separation from the representations of history and art, Hegel’s thesis of the end of art cannot stand. But art is more than an instrument of self-knowledge and self-invention; no less important than education is pleasure. The various views concerning the possible worth of the disinterested aesthetic pleasure that have been historically derived from Kant’s analysis: all variants of the claim that to the extent that we value human freedom, we must also value those activities in which the possibility of such freedom is most clearly and characteristically demonstrated, do not persuade; any pleasure, unless it is harmful, is self-evidently valuable and does not require any further arguments in its favor. It is argued that there is nothing inartistic or improper in deriving interested pleasures from the experience of art. Against puritanical moralists, it is argued that such interested pleasures may function not only as a means of self-escape or of corrupting the young and irresponsible, but also as a means of self-discovery, in which pleasure is edification.

Keywords: ethical life; history; art; philosophy; Hegel; end-of-art thesis; education; pleasure; aesthetic; Kant

Chapter.  24074 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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