The Ethics of Aesthetic Bootstrapping

Peter Goldie

in The Aesthetic Mind

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691517
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731815 | DOI:
The Ethics of Aesthetic Bootstrapping

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Sometimes, not only in our youth, we know on good evidence that a particular work of art, or a particular kind of art, is good. And yet we don’t like it: we can’t properly appreciate what’s good about it. The strategy that this paper recommends in such not unfamiliar circumstances is aesthetic bootstrapping. In this chapter, I will begin by outlining three elements which are involved in the strategy of bootstrapping, starting with an example to do with food and drink—gustatory bootstrapping—and then turning to the aesthetic case. Then I seek to provide a justification of the strategy on the grounds, roughly, that the aim of the strategy, namely appreciation of what is aesthetically good, is a reasonable aim, and that the strategy is often the most effective way of achieving that aim. Lastly, I turn to a number of criticisms and problems that are faced by the idea of aesthetic bootstrapping: that the strategy is irrational because it involves self-deception; that the strategy is not to be trusted because it begins with the testimony of others, and thus is not to be relied on; that aesthetic bootstrapping is pretentious, or that it can easily be allied to a certain kind of snobbery; and, finally, that it is often difficult, or even sometime impossible, to know whether one is yet a full appreciator of an aesthetic object, or whether one is still, at least in part, an aesthetic bootstrapper.

Keywords: ethics; education of sentiments; gustatory bootstrapping; aesthetic appreciation

Chapter.  5409 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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