Talons Philosophy

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The Aesthetic Experience – Concentration

“The aesthetic experience has one universal characteristic, among all people, at any time, concentration.”

“The longer and more intensely concentrated the experience, the more lastingly vivid and intensely vivid the experience, and therefore the greater the aesthetic experience.”

Concentration in terms of the aesthetic experience is involved in some aspect of the environment. Concentration is directly involved and correlated with our vivid experiences. In reference, the more one concentrates on certain things, the more lasting and vivid the experience will be, and thus the greater aesthetic experience one will have. Positive or negative, what you focus and concentrate on, will directly affect you. Experiences when not concentrating isn’t considered a “quality aesthetic experience”. The basic concept of concentration is: with full concentration, one can achieve full capacity in the aesthetic experience, whether positive or negative. With everyday experiences, our mind is not fully concentrating on one task, and thus taking away from the full aesthetic.

There are two separate “ideas” that outline the classic aesthetic and the more science based aesthetic. The classic thesis being of Beardsley’s. Beardsley believes that:

  1. OBJECT FOCUS: attention must be fixed on a subject
  2. FELT FREEDOM: you cannot worry about past or future events, focus on present now
  3. DETACHED AFFECT: detaching yourself from your likes/dislikes emotionally
  4. ACTIVE DISCOVERY: “active exercise of powers to meet environmental challenges”
  5. WHOLENESS: personal integration and self expansion, enlightenment.

Beardsley’s classic idea can be misconstrued into a biased opinion of the aesthetic experience. It can be contradictory of what the aesthetic experience is defined as, and limits the boundaries as to what the aesthetic experience can be. For example, because the aesthetics can be positive or negative, then having “felt freedom” would be contradictory because the negative experience can still be classified as a “vivid and lasting aesthetic experience”. The second concept is from a psychologist, Csikszentmihalyi, who based his criteria on “flow experience”.

  1. MERGING OF ACTION AND AWARENESS: attention is centered on activity
  2. LIMITATION OF STIMULUS FIELD: no awareness of past or future, blank
  3. LOSS OF EGO: distanced from ego and loss of self-consciousness
  4. CONTROL OF ACTIONS: uses skills to overcome challenges.
  5. CLEAR GOALS, CLEAR FEEDBACK
  6. AUTOTELIC NATURE: doesn’t need external rewards, internally satisfying.

We believe there are different “ways” of concentration and have found two examples to help identify with the concentration theory.

  1. Attention control: refers to an individual’s capacity to choose what they pay attention to and what they ignore.
  • For example; A student could choose to not pay attention in Math class and thus have no recollection of an aesthetic experience. Or, the student could choose to pay attention and have either a positive or negative aesthetic experience.
  1. Samadhi: meditative absorption, attained by the practice of dhyana. The mind becomes still, one pointed or concentrated while the person remains conscious.
  • The meditative absorption allows for one to completely open the mind to the full aesthetic experience and have the full vivid experience through total concentration.

Questions:

“Let us consider experience when we are not concentrating:when we are doing one thing and thinking about another. This is the attribute of most everyday experience that keeps it from being quality aesthetic experience.”

Example: During the event of 9/11 most people involved, or even bystanders could completely recall where they were when they found out about this devastating event. For most people, even though it was a terrifying experience, they could still vividly recall what they did prior, during, and after.

Situation:

  • Where were you when Michael Jackson died?
  • When and where did you first sign up for Facebook?
  • When and where was your first… (kiss, friend, embarrassing moment)
 

3 Responses to The Aesthetic Experience – Concentration

  1. Avery C says:

    Hi Shiyun,

    At least for me, concentration/focus is definitely one of the more interesting areas of aesthetics. It ties both into everyday use, such as homework, and scientific use, such as quantum mechanics and the collapsing of superpositions.

    One question I’d like to ask is in regards to multi-tasking. Some believe that multi-tasking is a useful way of getting multiple tasks done, while other research shows that it fails to achieve any of the tasks to a high level. Do you think that multi-tasking is a valid method of spreading concentration out to multiple activities, or it is just a waste of time and concentration that should instead be focused on one task at a time.

     
  2. samthom says:

    Hi Avery,
    Good question, multi-tasking is basically the spreading out of tasks among a shortened period of time, generally used to save time and be effecient throughout the day as I am sure you are aware of. However, my personal opinion on multitasking, (to answer your question in short) is that while it is an effecient way to get tasks done, it doesn’t provide a positive and lasting aesthetic experience for most people. I feel that because the conentration is spread out so thinly towards many tasks, the un-practiced mind would have a hard time concentrating and thus the aesthetic experience is ruined. On the other end of the spectrum, I also believe that to the practiced mine (I belive you would be good at this), once can accomplish many things and still get a decent aesthetic experience. For example; studying for a test, watching your favorite tv show, and making tea, is all possible if one can maintain the focus and concentrate equally and without mistake.
    Any thoughts on this opinion or do you agree?

     
  3. davidwaffles says:

    Avery’s question is actually a very interesting one, but the truth behind the matter of multitasking is that we cannot do it. For a long time we thought we could, but the reality is that we don’t actually multitask. What we consider “multitasking” is actually switching our attention from one object to another at a really high pace.

    Although some people switch their attentions in an impressive manner, I do believe that “multitasking” compromises the quality of the things we do.

     

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