Converging on an aesthetics unit, I expected only absurdity from my philosophy class. Of course, beauty is something wonderful to talk about, and works of art are something fascinating to spend your time analyzing. The problem is that I don’t appreciate art, to the extent that people would expect.
I made this opinion very clear in the opening days of discussion, given the topic of art. I don’t feel art possesses everything that the majority of society typically pertains to it. It’s just art, don’t you realize? But it seems to be a popular topic of discussion, and is commonly perceived as ‘deep and meaningful’, regardless of any purpose behind its creation.
Obviously, my viewpoint on this was opposed, despite my self-proclaimed clever retorts. Regardless of my opinion, I still wondered why art gathers such attention, and is analyzed so often for meaning. And I concluded with this: art’s meaning is sought for because of its intangibility. People seek the meaning because the meaning cannot always be easily found.
A common parallel to this is society’s changing opinion and reflection on the meaning of the passages of the Bible. The way that we assess the verses given in the Bible changes with the transformations that our paradigms experience, as well. And we often seek far beyond, what could potentially be, a simple message.
Anyway, back to art. What’s important is that we examine art rigorously due to its intangibility. Which leads into the next point that philosophers examining art have made: all art possesses moral qualities.
Morality in Art
“Wait, what?!”. When first reading this idea, I was blown away with the stupidity these philosophers exemplified. While there were a few who had concluded all art had to have moral qualities, I found other rational ones (mainly Plato and Kongfuzi) who stated that art should inspire morality, but not necessarily be created for the purpose of. I felt this to be somewhat reasonable.
This ties in to my original conclusion, that people seek meaning because meaning cannot be easily found. I believe that while art (usually) does not possess inherently moral or immoral qualities, and external source can often gather one from their viewpoint. The only problem is, is there a way to assess the morality ‘well’? Works of art can be interpreted in many fashions, and the moral principle resulting from that interpretation could be vastly different depending on the viewer.
This is the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. It is currently the tallest standing building in the entire world. I’ll get into the details later, but pertaining to morals: what moral statements could you conclude from this photo?
I could say that this tower stands above the rest, and it is a metaphor for life: that one person should and could stand above the rest, towering over them, with great power and size. Or I could say that humans are capable of great things – look at the size of this building! We can do anything we set our minds to. Comparing the outskirts of the photo to the center, I could come to the conclusion that some people are meant to live poor, and others rich.
I could also reverse all those statements – that this photo is an example to show that we shouldn’t…(insert conclusion here). What I am getting as is that there are no normative aspects to assessing art in terms of morals. So why should we pretend like there are?
Often, critics will decide that a specific piece of art is portraying a specific moral concept. What we need to realize is that morality is not something definite. It is not certain. So we cannot treat it as such, when considering works of art.
The Photo – “The World’s Tallest Tower”
Some quick insight into the photo (not related to morals):
The image used above is, as said, a photo of the Burj Khalifa, and the surrounding city. Dave Alexander, a professional photographer, took it from a touring helicopter in 2008. Dave took it for the love of photography (art for art’s sake – first brought forth by Aristotle). Or you could say, the love of beauty, not just for art’s sake (George Sand). Either way, this photo can be viewed in a series of ways, consisting of metaphorical and literal, moral and aesthetic as well as descriptive and normative aspects. Seeing as this was taken for the purpose of normative appeal, here’s a quick analysis of its normative components.
The Photographer’s Critique
This photo possesses a lot of the material necessary for a stellar photograph. The colour contrast and density in specific sections of the city make the photo truly breathtaking… as well as interesting to look at. In addition to that, the tone of the weather, the use of horizons, and the depth of field are tuned to perfection. This photographer definitely took advantage of his opportunity. I am impressed – in a normative sense, this photo has every component necessary to be classified as ‘perfect’.