Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Claire Argues with Dead Dudes!

Hello, welcome back to Claire Argues with Dead Dudes! We have a very special show for you today, with the theme of aestheticsooo! Ahhh!

I have some serious issues with some serious guys who have been seriously dead for a seriously long time. Seriously. Stick around to watch the fight ensue! First, though, we need to understand why I am fighting with people who no longer exist (but they still Exist through their works, you see? I’m never letting go of metaphysics.)

Let’s start with the basics: my questions before going into aesthetics were along the line of “how do philosophy and art co-exist?” and “does our definition of beauty change as our philosophies change?” With that, of course, we must understand what beauty and art are. While it’s easy enough to google definitions, I’ve come to believe that everyone has their own. Through this unit, I was able to understand what I perceive as beauty and art; it’s a process that you have to go through on your own, I believe, as it is through experience that we learn.

So, on the topic of experience, I want to discuss three aesthetic experiences I had and how those impacted me and what I believe to be beauty and art. My first one was song writing (art and philosophy), my second, going on a trip downtown (art and beauty), and my third, grad dress shopping (beauty and philosophy). Two out three of these experiences were not intended to be aesthetic experiences that I would use for this blog post. I found pleasant surprises and discoveries through all of these experiences.

Okay, so back to dead dudes. First up, we have John Dewey. I’m sorry, but when I hear ‘Dewey’ I automatically imagine Jack Black portraying his role in School of Rock —“You’re in the band!” For the sake of my argument, please imagine this as well as we discuss my competitor. You see, Dewey (are you picturing Jack Black? Good.) has discredited me as a song writer, as a creator and as an artist. Dewey, who believes that “art becomes meaningful only when experienced by an audience” has stripped the meaning from my songs and turned them into nothing more than a project. A project! That sounds like something you tell your parents you’re doing for fun when you’re really working on your portfolio to get into art school in secret, because you know that they want you to go to business school in stead! “What are you working on there, dear?” “Oh, nothing mom, just an art project.” From our aesthetics reading, we learn that Dewey think that an “art project does not become a work of art until an audience engages with it.”

Why, Jack Black, why?


In case you did not know, I write songs. I write a lot of songs about a lot of things and I have been doing so for a very long time. I also write books which I would argue is a much more complicated process. I believe that my songs and stories are all pieces of art, but it is rare that I share them with others. My art is a way of expressing myself and a way of releasing my creativity through means that I find to be enjoyable. I believe that my songs are meaningful because they are personal and come from the very depths of me (wow, that’s deep) and for them to be waved off as an “art project” because I do not share them with an audience makes it feel unimportant. We also have Arthur Danto, who made the dramatic statement “art is dead.” Danto believes that “artists became philosophers, and art became nothing more than artists’ attempts to understand themselves.” While I agree that art and philosophy have a tendency to co-exist, I do not agree that it can only be one or the other. When I am writing songs, I am focused on both creating art and making discoveries. Yes, song writing helps me understand myself better, but I am also trying to create something that I find to be both pleasing to the ear and mind. I try to create lyrics that tell an honest story in a captivating way, not only so others might hear it, but so I might hear it myself. In fact, I think that the best kind of art is not just something thrown together; I believe that it is when art and philosophy coincide that we have something truthful to the artist. Because of this, I disagree with yet another dead dude: I’m talking to you, Plato! While Plato believes that artists must be censored and controlled, I believe that an artists job is to speak their truth, whether it’s what people want to hear or not. It’s these artists who we relate to; who tell stories that we would normally keep quiet.  Who, often times, end up telling our stories.

Now, while I disagree with Dewey from the standpoint of someone who values the arts and creates what I believe to be pieces of art, I do understand where he was coming from. Think about our society today and our need to share. What did Claire do yesterday? Check Snapchat. What event is Claire in next? Check Facebook. What does Claire think about Hamilton? Check Twitter. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but people have come to create careers out of filming their lives and sharing their stories. When something aesthetically pleasing happens, whether it be a sunrise we witness or a day downtown, we take photos and post them all over social media for the eyes of others. One of my aesthetic experiences over the break was to go downtown with some of my peers and take photos. My pictures did not turn out as expected; in fact, I was very disappointed when I first got them back from being developed. As I used a disposable camera, I could not see the photos after they were taken; I had expected some nice, aesthetic-y shots of downtown, but was instead met with dark, blurry photos that had a green tinge to them. I was not pleased. Something kept me from throwing them out, though. There was something about these photos that, while not what I had been hoping for, was still aesthetically pleasing. They had a haunting look to them. I realized that just because an aesthetic experience does not turn out as planned does not make it any less positive. In that same sense, just because something does not meet our definition of beauty does not mean that beauty cannot be found in it.

Photo creds @me

My final aesthetic experience that I want to discuss is Grad dress shopping. Oh, what a joyous occasion this was (note the sarcasm, as you cannot hear it through the blog. I assure you, it is there.) I’m a retail worker, but dealing with retail employees who are trying to sell me a Grad dress? Not fun. Still, I was surprised when I realized how much I learned from this experience. You see, I’ve been planning what to wear to Grad for years. Only, my taste has changed. A lot. I went from wanting to wear a mint green dress with a high cut neckline and poofy skirt in grade 10 to buying myself a blush, more form fitting, lower cut, open back dress this year. Why? Because as I grow and change, what I find aesthetically pleasing does as a result of my changing philosophies. It was something I had wondered about, and was confirmed through this experience. No, my Grad dress is not shocking or too revealing, but it is does not hide me as much as the dresses I preferred two years ago would have. From then to now, I have become firm in my belief that it’s important to feel comfortable in your own body. If I really like a dress and want to wear it, I’m not going to let any insecurities I have stop me from doing so; not anymore, at least. With this change in perspective has come a change in my taste; hence a Grad dress I would have never felt confident in two years ago, but am eager to wear this June.

Wow, that was a long one.  I never realized how much aesthetics had an impact on my life until recently, so thank you for pushing through with me.

That’s it for this time, folks. Thanks for watching Claire Argues with Dead Dudes; tune in next unit to see her take on Ethics!


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