The Fragility of Aesthetic Knowledge: Aesthetic Psychology and Appreciative Virtues

Matthew Kieran

in The Aesthetic Mind

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691517
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731815 | DOI:
The Fragility of Aesthetic Knowledge: Aesthetic Psychology and Appreciative Virtues

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This paper outlines a challenge to traditional aesthetics arising from experiments in the psychology of taste. We are often extremely bad at identifying why we like what we do, mistaking the pleasures of familiarity, status or price for the pleasures of aesthetic appreciation. Matters are further complicated given that appreciation often makes good use of the situational and social markers that can be distortive. In the real world, for example, price or popularity amongst a certain group can sometimes be a useful marker of value. It is argued that motivation to appreciate an aesthetic object for its own sake must govern the activity of appreciation. Motivation can and often does make a difference to what we attend to, why and how we come to form our judgement. Thus aspiring to be a good aesthetic appreciator depends upon cultivating a range of aesthetic virtues and avoiding aesthetic vices.

Keywords: taste; aesthetic appreciation; knowledge; virtue and vice

Chapter.  6220 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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