Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


The Aesthetic Experience™ is when you can sing every single part to Rose Gold by Pentatonix at once -Benedict Mendes

Aesthetics. It’s a word that, before the philosophy unit in this class, I didn’t have a lot of experience with. It was, for me, associated with heavily filtered images of snow on Tumblr blogs and “oddly satisfying” videos of bath bombs, but after learning more about this topic in the philosophical sense it became infinitely more interesting.

So, the question here is, what is my personal aesthetic. Well, as it turns out that’s a pretty good (and complicated) question. As you might have seen in Katie Crompton’s post (shout out) I was a part of her aesthetics photo shoot, and in that we were asked to choose the first word that came into our head when we heard the term “beauty”. My word was “Flow”, and here’s the picture:

Photo creds to Katie Crompton (Ignore the fact that I look like I have just unashamedly killed someone)

Now, it was pretty difficult to find a single word that encompassed what I found to be aesthetically pleasing, but I feel like this does it some justice. The reason I picked “Flow” is that I find any kind of art most pleasing when each part of the art piece meaningfully and effectively leads to the next. It keeps you enticed into continuing to immerse yourself into the art piece, whatever it may be. Pieces of art that are disconcerting and jarring take you away from the actual art and back into the real world, which for me devalues the experiment. It’s almost like the way we view the world is completely different from the way we view art, and that they can be separated from each other which leads to authentic aesthetic experiences. Which leads me to a more clear definition of what is aesthetic to me, an experience that evokes emotion and keeps you immersed and attentive which can be appreciated separately from the “real” world around you. As for the purpose of art, it can be whatever the artist intends it to be, but it can also be whatever the observer wants it to be. These two things are not mutually exclusive, as it can satisfy both the purposes that the observer and the artist have for it at the same time. This means art is extremely diverse, and also that art cannot be objectively judged because everyone will experience different emotions when exposed to it.


This can be boiled down to “art must make you feel something, must keep your attention, and must be considered separately from everything else”. This view is similar to Kant’s view that art is autonomous and should not be judged in comparison to anything else, which I agree with. Comparing pieces of art to anything else is not doing the piece itself justice, because they were not created (usually) to be compared to anything. In terms of art being valued by how it captures your attention, this is supported by the paper “The Aesthetic Experience” that we read by Colin Leath, in which he states that “Concentration is the only universal defining characteristic of aesthetic experience”. I perhaps would not fully agree with it being the only universal characteristic, but I would agree with it being an extremely significant part of one’s experience with art.


Now, how does all this tie in with my winter break experiences? Well, not over winter break, but a tiny bit before, I went to see the annual Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert and it was absolutely fantastic. I was amazed by the quality of the players in the orchestra, and of course of the singers in the choir as well. The music was of course excellent, but what elevated the entire experience even more was that the transitions between pieces were smooth and kept the audience enthralled. The host was Christopher Gaze, an amazing actor and artistic director, and also apparently an exceptional host. Between each song he would read short Christmas stories, or excerpts from them and they seemed to pair together with the music so well that the experience was never truly interrupted. There was never a moment in which I was detached from the experience and more invested in the real world rather than the music, it was a truly satisfying experience. Also, as an additional note, the VSO actually played the same arrangement of “Sleigh Ride” as our school did last year, of course they absolutely obliterated us, but there’s something very satisfying (at least I think) in hearing a professional group play a piece you have played before, because it’s almost like “wow that could be me one day”.


But that pretty much sums up what I think about aesthetics and the way I approach it. It’s something I could talk about forever really, but there has to be a limit somewhere. I will leave you with one of my favourite songs, as per the title, Rose Gold by Pentatonix:




美学: A Journey Into VAPORWAVE


I had a hard time defining what an aesthetic was on it’s own, so I looked to the internet and other people I knew for help. Webster dictionary defined aesthetic as “concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.”, but I wanted to look at what people found beautiful and what forms of art were considered beautiful. I turned to Google image search, to no doubt show me the aesthetic artistic works of great artists like Bernini and Picasso. I expected Velazquez’s “Las Meninas”, but instead was shown a sculpture of “Venus of Milo”, shown with a random floating pole and some extremely serene but saturated waves. I came across the same feeling of wonder and amazement that those who have only achieved true enlightenment can feel, along with the overwhelming sense of confusion. If this was the highest form of aesthetic art that google could show me, I was afraid and confused. The vibrant, neon photos with palm trees and Japanese kanji that I can’t translate drew me in, and I set about pursuing this higher aesthetic in my search for beauty.

The Most Aesthetic Photo Ever

Turns out, it’s vaporwave. The video below was one of the first things that showed up when I searched for similar images. You don’t have to listen to all of it, but I’d recommend playing it quietly in the background for a while.

But what’s so special about Diana Ross’ 80’s hit “It’s Your Move” slowed down 70%? リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー by MACINTOSH PLUS seems boring and uninspired at first glance, and I suddenly felt like I knew exactly what Plato meant when he called art “a cheap imitation of reality”. I decided to start my descent into vaporwave culture.

Vaporwave apparently began as a subgenre of plunderphonics, a type of music made by taking existing audio and sound samples and altering them to fit into a new “song”. For those of you who ever had a keyboard as a kid – remember when you’d set the sound setting to the random drum beats and whistles and you’d press all the keys at once? That’s exactly what plunderphonics sounds like. Vaporwave is mostly characterised by slow, drawn out synth sounds paired with samples from the 80s and 90s – mostly things from commercials or iconic things like the AOL Dial-Up screech. I put on a couple playlists while reading articles on vaporwave, and it eventually grew on me. The music at first seemed bland and a cheap way to remix a song, but I realized that that’s almost the point.

Vaporwave invokes the feel of synth-pop and consumerist culture of the 80s, and what us in the modern age expect the 80’s to be. Traditional 80’s aesthetics and sounds are turned around completely, with each music artist putting their own personal philosophy of vaporwave into the tracks that they make. The synth-pop sound has been smudged and drawn out, paired with a slow reverb and choppy beats, like if elevator music had a cool cousin. The music videos of the 80s focusing on capitalism and the decadence of consumerist life are turned on their heads in vaporwave renditions as an ironic critique of modern culture and overspending. The globalization and modern manufactured dollar-store nostalgia seems to be one of the things that makes vaporwave what it is – a counterculture to the obsession over 80’s and 90’s kids and a mockery of consumerism. Vaporwave turns the visuals and sound of capitalism – the dings and beeps of dial-up devices, the flashy neon lights used in advertising, and the tacky songs used in commercials into samples to give a hypnotic and and nostalgic tone. There’s no set limits of what the genre can cover, which is part of the magic – boxing it in, making vaporwave a cookie-cutter sound package would ruin the commentary and identity behind it. Vaporwave is the beautiful aesthetic music smoothie of synth-pop, techno, smooth jazz, and J-Pop. The genre of vaporwave plays upon everything that was promised by consumerism – like that $9 Fiji water was going to solve everything that was going wrong in the world.

Vaporwave reminded me of modern art and the arguments against it – that anyone can create “modern art” – that it’s tasteless and art has now just been reduced to a blank white painting selling for $1000 cowering under the shadow of The Greats™. I never found what was beautiful to other people, but I found the beauty and art in something I didn’t expect. Beauty doesn’t have to be in the pained expression of a painting, or the ways that a marble sculpture can seem almost too real. Vaporwave isn’t obviously considered traditional art, but the beauty is that out of the mess that of consumerism, a counterculture was born out of 80’s samples and upbeat chill synth music. Like a shooting star in our capitalist sky, vaporwave rose to internet fame in the form of memes, and died out just as quickly.



Nothing beats homemade porridge -eric

(Found on imgur)

Food has always had a special place in my heart, and I’m sure everyone can relate to the pleasure of beautifully looking food (highly recommend /r/foodporn). Whether it is a gourmet steak, or that perfect macaroon, food manages to provide an aesthetic experience across all five senses.

When I think of aesthetically pleasing food, the main focus is almost always on its presentation. The visual aspect is so huge to our perception; it can make your $12 steak look like a $35 entrée and turn a regular bowl of oatmeal into something worth your Instagram feed. So what makes food look good?


First, I have to my best to define an aesthetic experience. For an experience or perception to be deemed an aesthetic experience, it has to meet some criteria. First, it must evoke some strong emotions, which can be positive or negative. Aesthetic experiences should gives us in essence, ‘the feels’. Secondly, I agree with Leath that a high level of concentration is also needed. As he puts it, to “focus on one type of activity, the one we do in the present moment”. I don’t believe one can have an aesthetic experience when not in focus. Imagine, eating a bag of chips while watching TV. It’s basically impossible to appreciate and invoke a deep emotional reaction to the potato chip when really you are just scarfing them down as you watch Friends. (Speaking from experience)

Working at Montana’s during my winter break, I was always cooking food. My goal was to find out why some food looked so much better than others. If you take a look at the photos below, it’s not hard to tell which is more aesthetically pleasing. The two plates or more or less the same content, but one looks way better than the other. But what exactly made it look so much better? What could be improved to raise the aesthetic quality? As I was working, my goal was to produce the most aesthetically pleasing dishes possible. I believe creating and experience require the same two things I outlined in an aesthetic experience; emotion and sole focus, which is quite hard to have in a busy kitchen. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows the importance of multi-tasking and especially not to get over-emotional. So finding these moments to concentrate on maximizing the aesthetics was very rare, but very rewarding. Of course my coworkers did not appreciate me rearranging the same plate multiple times,but to me there’s no better feeling then seeing all the care and focus I put into creating something as beautiful as the photo on the left.

In the end, when I ask “what makes food look good”, restaurants and coworkers have taught me that they are measurable, tangible things: golden brown, tall, crispy, bright. I’m sure these all make for more aesthetically pleasing food, but philosophically, I think the reason why those characteristics make them look better, is because we have always associated these characteristics with good food in our memory. Many people love crispy, bright food because it tastes great, but that doesn’t mean it is the most aesthetically pleasing for everyone.


In fact, maybe what makes food look good doesn’t have anything to do with the food at all. Whether it’s crispy or soft, golden brown or soggy and purple may not even matter. It may just depend on our memories and past experiences, and the feelings they have associated with a certain experience . Take a look at this korean-style porridge. To many of you guys it may look really boring; yellowish-gray and soupy isn’t aesthetically pleasing to most people, but it is to me weirdly enough. In fact, I think it is more aesthetically valuable than any food from Montana’s. If my original criteria was to produce a deep emotion or feeling, all I can say about Montana’s is “that looks good”. On the other hand, this porridge gives me feelings of comfort and home, and that’s why I really want some good porridge right now.



The Eye of the Beholder ✎

What do you see? A nice painting, the face of “beauty” staring you in the face, or is it the sun grazing the horizon sinking beneath the clouds? These scenes that I described likely painted a picture inside your head prompting you to recall the momentary essence of an aesthetic experience you’ve had in the past. Just as Rene Descartes once said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” where the defining factor of beauty is entirely subjective to individual taste. My internalized definition of an aesthetic experience is primarily based on this principle of taste. Simultaneously, I am also a believer that an aesthetic experience does require some form of rational thought, sometimes enhanced by more senses initiated by the preceptor sense of vision and even memory. Yes, beauty does go beyond what meets the eye. After all, the etymology of the word ‘aesthetic’ relates to perception by the senses, or as the beloved Kant puts it: “science which treats of the conditions of sensuous perception” [OED].

On a personal note, an aesthetic experience can be enhanced (or created) with the simultaneous stimulation of various senses. Say you’re sitting at the beach as the sunset slowly approaches and you find it aesthetically pleasing regardless of the theories of immediacy (taste) or rationalist judgment (“actual” thinking). If you were to put on some ear-phones and play a fitting tune to the scene, how would this affect the entirety of the aesthetic experience? Now focus on the distinct smell of the sea breeze, the feeling of sand in your hands? If the combined essence of each sense is creating an increase in appeal to the sunset, then your aesthetic experience is being heightened by various external senses— sound, smell, feeling, and of course sight. As the experience is subjective to each individual, my experience would likely be a rational one, not an innately immediate aesthetic experience. The sunset itself may instigate immediate sensations of disinterested aesthetic appeal, yet as more senses are being stimulated, the more thought-provoking the experience becomes—each sense adding an element of internal pleasure in the judgment of beauty. In my mind an aesthetic experience can be one or a combination of the internalist and externalist theories of the aesthetic experience, just as I believe that an individual is not pre-fixed to be a rationalist or an empiricist thinker since conclusions of thoughts are drawn circumstantially.

Internalist theories appeal to features internal to experience, typically to phenomenological features, whereas externalist theories appeal to features external to the experience, typically to features of the object experienced.[1]

In this excerpt, the debate of contemporary philosophers Monroe Beardsley (internalist) and George Dickey (externalist) in the mid-late twentieth-century draws the difference–to put it simply– between the experience of features (internals) and the features of experience (externalism).

Whilst an aesthetic experience can require rational thought there is often plentiful ‘space’ for immediate appeal. As the University of Stanford’s Department of Philosophy puts it: 

The fundamental idea behind any such theory—which we may call the immediacy thesis—is that judgments of beauty are not (or at least not primarily) mediated by inferences from principles or applications of concepts, but rather have all the immediacy of straightforwardly sensory judgments.[1]

When judging the beauty in a landscape, a street corner, a person or a piece of art– whether that be verbal, visual or both– sometimes we activate this sense of immediacy, this seemingly intuitive and pleasing experience not challenged by rational thinking. If we directly refer to Kant’s point of view on the fine arts, illustrating the boundaries of rationalism drawn within aesthetic judgments, he argues that there exists an absence of concepts, or things that can be known about a subject that provides an aesthetic experience purely based on intuitive sensation. In other words, if you find something physically appealing you’re not deliberately thinking about why or how it pleases you, the subject matter just makes you feel that way. When strictly speaking of art, Kant argues that while we may appreciate the technique and skill used to craft an aesthetically pleasing work, it is often forced upon our judgment of beauty. Appreciation of ‘beauty’ derives from its form, but not on its process of creation

During the holidays I went on a trip to Mexico City to see the family. It was a unique kind of trip. Just me and my brother going back to visit after three years of not being back “home”. To be entirely honest, I did not retain many ‘new’ aesthetic experiences in a deliberate form of immediacy other than looking at San Francisco from my airplane window some form of attraction to particular women— I know, it sounds kind of cheesy but we’ve all been there. I did however, re-visit the architecture of the City as well as the good food which all offered their own unique form of aesthetic appeal.

Tacos Al Pastor in ‘El Tizoncito’, Mexico City

Image result for soumaya

Soumaya Plaza Carso Museum, Mexico City

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Torres de Satelite in the night, Mexico City

Instead, I experienced aesthetic appeal to places of my childhood, with a sense of nostalgia manipulating my sensuous perception. Re-visiting the houses of my family members– and my own for that matter– restaurants, buildings or even parks generated an aesthetic experience where I was fascinated and appraising of settings in which I felt inherently unified with. While I did feel a sense of immediate pleasure upon arriving to Mexico (because I hadn’t been there for so long) this form of aesthetic pleasure was a much more rational one, situated on an epistemological foundation. My experiences were heightened–as seen in my post on epistemology– by the accumulated synthesis of conscious experiences.

As the US National Library of Medicine states, my aesthetic was defined:

as an experience qualitatively different from everyday experience and similar to other exceptional states of mind. Three crucial characteristics of aesthetic experience are discussed: fascination with an aesthetic object (high arousal and attention), appraisal of the symbolic reality of an object (high cognitive engagement), and a strong feeling of unity with the object of aesthetic fascination and aesthetic appraisal.,[2]

What I discovered is that often an aesthetic experience is more meaningful when an epistemological foundation is inherently linked to the aesthetic (which usually tends to occur). In my case, going back to Mexico City re-amped my emotions towards places linked to my memory. Each building, restaurant, house, park and street corner re-visited was an aesthetic experience in itself.



Shelley, J. (2009, September 11). The Concept of the Aesthetic. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aesthetic-concept/#ConAes [1]

Marković, S. (2012). Components of aesthetic experience: aesthetic fascination, aesthetic appraisal, and aesthetic emotion. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3485814/ [2]

Kant and the Problem of Disinterestedness. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://public.wsu.edu/~kimander/teraray.htm [3]




Personally, when I think of the term ‘aesthetics’, I picture things I’ve seen on social media. I’m not sure wether im being forced into thinking I find the thing I see aesthetically pleasing because social media tells me I do, or if the things I see are actually my personal aesthetic.

When trying to understand and figure out what my own personal aesthetic actually is, I took interest in what Kant had to say about aesthetics. He describes how “flowers, free patterns, lines aimlessly intertwining”, as pleasing despite having no signification, and he having a disinterested and free delight in the experience. I took this into consideration when discovering what my personal aesthetic is. The way he described it caused me to think of the word ‘beauty’. But first I need to ask myself what beauty truly is.

Kant’s idea that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”, really caught my attention. I very much agree with his statement/idea. Everyone finds different things beautiful. I may find beauty in watching the sun set. Where as you may find beauty in a pair of shoes, a field, anything. I truly feel that we all are such different people, it is an almost absurd idea for everyone that we all would find beauty in the exact same things.

Photo provided by marxistsfr.org

I get to experience beauty and aesthetics first hand everyday. Especially during winter break I had a lot of very aesthetically pleasing experiences. Most of my experiences had to do with the decorations and lights that were displayed during the Christmas season. My first aesthetic experience took place while I was at my friends house. Her living room had been covered in white Christmas lights and once we turned the main room lights off and got to focus just on the Christmas lights specifically, it was absolutely gorgeous. Another experience I had was while walking around Lafarge. The lights were all different colours and shapes. It was such an amazing aesthetic experience. The lights at my friends house gave a very cozy aesthetic experience where as the lights at Lafarge gave off a more breath-taking aesthetic experience.
My last aesthetic experience was downtown. Outside of Nordstrom they had an absolutely stunning display. It was a big globe the u could walk through which was made of lights.

What I think I got out of this experience was that aesthetics can be found in anything and everything. I still don’t know what exactly my personal aesthetic is, all I can say is that I agree with Kant. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. I find beauty in strange things sometimes. Im not sure exactly why so I can’t give a reason, but thats what I think personal aesthetic is to everybody– beauty found in unexpected or expected things/ simply anything.

Photo provided by foodology.ca



Fashionably Late (Aesthetics) – Matthew Gosselin

As a prerequisite: Here were my answers to the questions we were given to complete in class! (Trying to guess what the questions were from memory and my responses actually….)

A: What were your questions/topics you wanted to explore?

Can you force or plan an aesthetic experience? Does your mental state affect your ability to have an aesthetic experience? Is it possible to have a truly aesthetic experience when mentally drained or tired?

B: Explain an aesthetic experience that you had that related to one of your questions.

I went to watch Star Wars: Rogue One (A film series that I am typically vividly entertained by) on Christmas, possibly the most aesthetically pleasing day of the year. The catch was that I had slept for a mere 2 hours the night before. Although the plot was strong, my concentration was simply unable to be engaged to the degree I’d call an aesthetic experience. It may not be impossible, but it is exponentially harder to have an aesthetic experience the less mental energy left in the system.

C: Explain an aesthetic experience that you had that didn’t relate to any of your questions.

I went skiing (I typically snowboard every year.) for the first time in eight years, and after a few minutes of frustration due to my skill level not meeting the challenge, my brain clicked and I was having a blast. It was simply an aesthetic experience without an objective. (I was very surprised I could still ski, and felt nostalgic towards the times when I was very good at it.) I admit that an argument can be made that as I grew more physically tired  through the runs, the intensity of my aesthetic experience declined. (Which it did.)

D: What were your results or conclusions? What did you find?

I found that aesthetic experiences can only be as strong as your mind and body, depending on the activity. I also found that with a planned activity such as going to the movie theatre, expectations of an aesthetic experience can diminish or enhance the intensity of the experience. For instance, I went under the premises that the new Star Wars movie was a huge success, and I was mildly disappointed. Had I not been expecting much, I may have appreciated the good points more than I noticed the bad ones.

E: What’s next on the agenda? Is there anything you still have left to answer or would like to delve further into?

I would like to experiment to see if it’s actually truly possible to have an aesthetic experience while mentally and/or physically drained, as my last attempt was unsuccessful. Also, I’d like to explore the realm of planned/projected aesthetic experiences vs. “natural” aesthetic experiences. Finally, I want to explore the differences and what you can get out of a strong negative aesthetic experience.

The three objectives of this assignment were: (Sorry I’m much more used to writing lab reports than freely-written stuff so that’s how most of these end up.)

  1. Define your aesthetic perspective.
  2. Align your aesthetic perspective with what you can find of other philosophers’ perspectives.
  3. Describe your holiday experience(s) as examples of this aesthetic.

(Prepare yourself, this will answer both 1 & 2.)

Trying to formulate and then articulate a coherent individual response to the first question is often difficult, and working backwards helps. Therefore, I read up on each popular philosopher and tried to connect with each of their ideas and found out where my agreements and disagreements were, leading myself to a better understanding of my own aesthetic perspective. Lo and behold, YOUR BOY PLATO had it in my heart all along. I originally wanted to agree with Descartes, and I still do to a degree, but I couldn’t fully. This was due to the reason I believe solipsism retains merit on occasion, even if just for a second perspective, I couldn’t find a bridge between the two. If all the world was a figment of my imagination, I don’t believe there would be a way that I wouldn’t understand how others and therefore other parts of my imagination could not see my perspective on art and beauty. I believe that the world AGREES on a set principle of art and beauty, in the same way that I believe that every single thing in the world can be a metaphor for something else. (Most likely the reason I connected Philosophy to a Neapolitan pizzeria.) In my opinion, the objective of art is to mimic reality. (Also to mimic a future or past reality! Not just how life is in the present.) If there came a day when virtual reality was so good that you couldn’t tell the difference between it and real life, and you could be content living in a virtual reality, that would be the purest form of art in my eyes. Not necessarily healthy for society or the individual, but I believe it would be pure art, and Plato would most likely agree. However, there are ways in which I stray from Plato’s ideals. If there was a simplistic painting of a blue house with a white picket fence, and a cracked glass frame on top, Plato would look away in disdain, for the artist would have failed in his eyes. I disagree. To me, even though the painting may not be detailed, it has metaphorical value. I see the house and fence as an idealistic world, plain and simple, where everything seems to make sense. The cracked frame represents our flawed sense of perception and lens on reality. Life is always more complicated than we think it to be. Every artwork can have metaphorical value, and I believe that it is judged as good or bad (from an objective standpoint) subconsciously on two things: the degree as to which it may relate to reality, both in detail and metaphorical value, and the number of people who experience this relation. The more people who can find the metaphorical value in an artwork, the better! On the flip side, a subjective standpoint will always reason with Descartes upon the principle that one artwork may not please every person the same way, leading to the simple judgement that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find enjoyment in taking the path less travelled. Is that immoral? Maybe, but I find intrinsic value in augmenting my own happiness without the cost of others’.

I’d like to relate this aesthetic perspective to the time I went to see Star Wars: Rogue One. I find that science fiction movies lose value as more and more logical mistakes are made. For instance, (SPOILERS AHH) when only 6 rebellion ships are able to join in a fight on Scarif, the tropical planet, I expect there to be only 6 ships. However, after a few minutes of individual character plots, the ships are still fighting and popping up as if they have an entire rebel fleet. This takes it away from the reality of the position they were in. I lose value in the pilots of the ships, and the bleakness of their position! A major predicament has been altered without most of the audience knowing. The metaphorical value of a situation so desperate that unbelievable luck and skill are required to overcome the obstacles was ultimately disappointed in that moment. (Also there were many things in the movie I didn’t find appealing such as a lack of lightsabers. I mean that’s one of the main reasons I watch Star Wars..) Anyways I had a great holiday and hope everyone did as well! Thanks for reading!

Matthew Gosselin

Current Philosopher, Eventual Jedi



Jason’s Aesthetic Experience

Aesthetics, a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty. But, what does this mean?



It will always search


Never be found

It can surround us

And be


In its ways its utterly real


Utterly not

Proposition to Aesthetics

My stance on aesthetics may be bias by just of what it is. An aesthetic experience is something we do not choose to embark on. Instead this experience whether it’s looking on a mountain view or taking fentanyl for the first time, finds us. By this the aesthetic experience isn’t so much a journey or a quest we chose to feel, but more of a discovery. My aesthetic experience will prove this.

My Aesthetic Experience

It was Monday, 6:00 am and we were tired. The airport lines to get out of the airport were long and endless. My dad and I were stuck in this together. All of a sudden a bellowing came from the east hall of YVR and it continued to grow. It was only moments later that the bellowing transformed like Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hide and it shrieked. There were about eleven, chubby security guards all chasing a ninety year-old lady with a custom supercharged scooter that could run at a top speed of 27 miles per hour. The shrieking was caused by not her scooter but an immense laughter that filled YVR airport. My dad and I were no stranger to this bellowing and we continued to laugh. This was a truly aesthetic experience.


After this fiasco I was greeted by a pleasant surprise. A, I was right before the break about aesthetic experiences coming from only lifes accidents and B, how something so ugly like eleven fat dudes chasing a ninety year old lad on a scooter could be such an aesthetic experience.


Aesthetics is our journey and only part of it we can control is enjoying the current aesthetic experience that we surround ourselves with. I will be enjoying every mountain view and every ninety year old lady because these things are a part of life, the ultimate aesthetic experience.


Old Lady on scooter-courtesy of criticallyrated.com

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Aesthetic Experience

Who has the right to name something as beautiful or not beautiful?

Definition: an aesthetic experience is based on the perspective that all experience is perception. the aesthetic quality of an experience is based on the amount of concentration involved in the experience. a piece of art or specific specimen may be the object of pleasure but never the source.

There’s beauty in everything. No matter who perceives it. Who believes it. Anything and everything has beauty.

What are Aesthetics for

I think that whatever pleasures your eye, is what’s aesthetic. There couldn’t be one pin point definition of aesthetic, as beauty can be perceived in so many different ways. To put it in a casual way; guys or girls that your friends may think are attractive, you may not find so at all. Isn’t it weird that we’re looking at the exact same person and but we’re getting a different perspective of them? Some find brown eyes adorable, some don’t. Some find tall girls appealing, some don’t. That’s just preference. Isn’t aesthetic just preference? After all…

Image result for beauty is in the eye of the beholder


Schools of Thought

To put it into aesthetic perspective: I’ve came to the realization that nothing can be named, labelled, or dictionary defined as beautiful. Artwork is a frequent example – some find the most perfectly spaced out, organized, and well placed artwork beautiful. Probably because it’s in its proper form; use of the ‘right’ colours and balanced perfectly. Others however, could find the most bizarre pieces beautiful. Picasso for example, where he decides to use art as a way to express himself. Maybe his mind was always wandering because his masterpieces are not exactly proportioned. The people’s skin are green, the sky is pink, or facial features are mangled. But that’s creative, that’s unique, that’s what some find beautiful.

Even with talent; expressing yourself in the way that YOU want to may not necessarily be considered as talent. Maybe doing everything the way you’ve been told as right, perfectly, is what’s talent. To me, either or are both talent. There couldn’t be anything more admirable than someone who talks passionately about something they love or are proud of. In particular, I want my significant other to be passionate, motivated and inspiring. Not having goals, not having ambitions is boring. Who cares if your dream is insane or maybe even impossible? Walt Disney said that if you can dream it you can do it. I could listen to someone I genuinely care about talk for hours about whatever it is that they love. Doesn’t matter if they want to be 100% perfect with everything following the instructions of the book // or if they’re reaching out of their comfort zone and trying something new and different. Either way, the way their face lights up and end up apologizing for going on a tangent cause they got so carried away with the beauty of what they’re interested in.. that’s their aesthetic. Even if it’s not what I’m particularly interested in, I’d love to hear about what it is about this certain hobby/interest/job/dream that you are oh so passionate about.

During the break, I was researching about all the different careers I could go off into. I realized that what I find pleases me, my aesthetic, is what I’d want to make money off of. With all of us being grade 12 and only having a couple more months of high school left, I realized that everyone’s going to go off into something that they adore. How lucky are we that we have so much opportunity to make money off of something we’d love to do for free. We get to do something as a job, something that we love but we get a pay check with it. // As of right now, I’m interested in makeup. Everything from zombie makeup to prom, I find a lot of beauty in creativity. Being able to create your art on your face, to completely transform, to get a completely different view of yourself because of a few products.. that’s my aesthetic.

In conclusion, I think that aesthetic is all about how you perceive beauty and what your perspective is. Everything has beauty, it just depends on who sees it and who doesn’t. Just because your best friend sees something as perfect and you don’t, doesn’t mean that one of you is wrong. We all have 2 eyes and 1 brain – but we function in a million different ways that we could never compare. What’s pleasing to your eyes?





You can’t hide from everything!

I believe beauty is all around us. Everything in our world, and even beyond, has a sense of beauty. Beauty is such a personal thing that some people find in much different places than others. Something that I may find beautiful, the person beside me may disagree, and that’s okay! Although we are all very different, finding beauty in something is sometimes more common than others. For example, it’s very common to have a common interest in things like a vibrant sunset, twinkling lights, etc. But not every beauty can be shared. Sometimes you have to be selfish and keep that something to yourself.



In the spring of last year I took a trip to Orlando, Florida. I am not a person that travels often, leaving me beyond excited for my adventure. As soon as I got off the plane I looked at everything so differently. It was like I was an alien on a new planet. I wanted to save each moment- even if it wasn’t exciting to anybody around me. I had a thousand photos when I got home. Some were useless, some were pleasing to my eyes, but I still loved them all because they reminded me of moments that i’ve attached to that photo.




Descartes says that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I couldn’t agree more, Descartes. Everybody has a different view on beauty, which makes it unique, and a wonderful thing.



Over the winter break, I had many esthetic experiences, but one that sticks out in particular is a photo that I took of my father and his friends on Christmas Eve. This is a beautiful picture in my mind because their smiles are larger than possible, while wearing goofy hats. This picture makes me happy and has a sense of beauty that connects with me on a certain level that you may not see- but it is beautiful to me.  




I think of aesthetics as something that you can either embrace, or ignore. I’m not the type of person to walk through life without thinking of all the beautiful moments and opportunities around you, so i’m unclear as to what that’s like. Take a moment to realize the hidden values around you- it could change your view on the world.



Finding Beauty in a Flaming Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

To begin I think it is important to state my own definition of an aesthetic experience. I believe that an aesthetic experience can be positive or negative, lasts for a limited amount of time, and is markedly different from everyday experiences. There are three criteria for an experience to be aesthetic, the first being an emotional connection to the experience. If an experience is able to elicit strong emotions associated with pleasure or disgust and a feeling of personal connection within someone, I believe it becomes vivid and aesthetic. Secondly, a high degree of mindfulness is necessary during the experience. I agree with the definition of mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” The final criterion is a sense of novelty or rarity surrounding the experience, more specifically, an experience that is either new, or familiar but rare. When an experience is new there is a higher level of concentration associated with it and you are more in the moment. When an experience is familiar but rare there is a strong emotion and connection but it still requires concentration.

In terms of how aesthetics fits with other areas of philosophy, I believe it fits very well with both metaphysics and epistemology, especially the inquiries that I chose to pursue for these topics. In metaphysics I looked into the self and concluded that the self is a product of our life experiences, in epistemology I looked into memories and how they are created and become knowledge. I believe that the aesthetic experience is a major contributor to our memories which in turn contribute to our knowledge which makes us who we are and builds up the self. The more diverse a range of aesthetic experiences we collect, the more complex and intricate the self becomes.

My aesthetic experiences over the holidays led me to develop my third piece of criteria, that an aesthetic experience should have a sense of novelty or rarity. A few examples of new aesthetic experiences I had include meeting my baby cousin for the first time, watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and taking a foam rolling class. Although this collection is very diverse, each experience required a state of mindfulness, provoked emotions or sensations, and was pleasing. In each case, I feel as though I gained new knowledge and made connections to previous knowledge resulting in a contribution to the bundle of my “self”.

In terms of familiar but rare experiences, I found that all of mine were either traditions or culturally specific. This led me to believe that our culture plays a significant role in shaping our perception of aesthetics. Our opinions regarding fashion, food, music and even physical attractiveness can be influenced by our culture and upbringing. For example, my family has many German Christmas traditions including getting a scraggly uncultured Christmas tree, putting real candles on it and lighting them. While some people might not find beauty in a flaming Charlie Brown Christmas tree, it is aesthetically appealing to me because of the connections to my family and culture and past happy memories that it represents.

I also took part in celebrating Hogmanay or Scottish New Year by playing Auld Lang Syne on the pipes at 4:00pm on December 31st for a crowd of already inebriated people at the local legion. Bagpipes are a very polarizing instrument, you either love them or hate them, but I have found that the reasons people appreciate them are far deeper than the sound they produce. Bagpipes represent Scottish culture, are played at funerals and weddings, have strong ties to the military. When the pipes are played they rouse feelings of patriotism, grief, and joy. The majority of people who dislike them are judging them on their sound alone, they haven’t had experiences that led them to connect with the music on a personal level.

On a basic level aesthetics is about keeping us alive, as a species there are somethings that we all find pleasurable or disgusting and these instincts are linked directly to survival and procreation. However, these instincts constitute only a basic level of aesthetics. When it comes to an individual finding something aesthetically pleasing or revolting, I believe it comes down to a combination of nature and nurture or biology and experience. Beyond basic survival, aesthetics becomes very individualized and personal, the specifics of what people find attractive or repulsive depends on the thousands of prior experiences they have collected in their life up to that point.

When it comes to the opinions of other scholars of aesthetics, I agree with Leath and his point that the only universal defining characteristic of aesthetic experiences is concentration. My criteria of mindfulness is very similar to concentration in the sense that it requires being consciously present in the moment and aware of your own feelings and sensations. I also agree with Fromm when he says “if one is concentrated, it matters little what one is doing; the important, as well as the unimportant things assume a new dimension of reality, because they have one’s full attention.” I believe that by practicing mindfulness it is possible to begin to find beauty or aesthetic value in everyday objects and routines and gain more pleasure from life.

I don’t agree with Bullough on his point that emotional detachment and distance are essential for an aesthetic experience or with Kant’s idea that art should be judged autonomously. I think that the emotions provoked by a piece of art, poem, or play make it more vivid and profound for the person experiencing it, they create a personal connection with the viewer and cause them to leave with a deeper understanding of the piece as well as themselves. Art is meant to be provocative or communicate a deeper message, in many cases it is meant to be perceived and interpreted differently by different people.

I agree with Descartes ideas that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that beauty pleases. I think that the reasons for a person to regard an experience or piece of art as aesthetic or beautiful are as complex as the person themselves and depend greatly on said person’s previous experiences. For this reason, I think it is narrow-minded of Hume to believe that taste is universal, especially when he was the one to develop the bundle theory with premise that the self is a unique and constantly evolving collection of impressions and sensations.

In conclusion, seeking out a diverse range of aesthetic experiences especially new ones is key to building one’s “self” and having an enjoyable, full life. I believe that this can refer to the external stimuli of the experience itself or to the way in which we perceive it, for example approaching everyday experiences with mindfulness.