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  1. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post

    I think one has to begin with Idealism, which is really the study of concepts and how thought and understanding/meaning happen. Art is a kind of reification of conceptual thought. As Inness said, The art of painting is the development of the human mind. Plato is credited with founding idealism, but if you start at the start it would take years to get up to speed. So I would jump right to somebody like Susanne Langer whose work is really an update of the entirety of aesthetics put into the modern paradigms of linguistics/semantics/semiotics. There is no one Aesthetics that puts everything into one book, so ya gotta churn through the books if you want that. As foundation I would recommend, yes, Aristotle's Poetics. And also Dewey's Art as Experience (which has some pretty dense language, but is worth it for the insights).
    Thanks for this Kev! If you remember I made a thread a little while ago about books about Aesthetics. This gives me some idea about where to start.

    Just out of curiosity what books would you recommend reading for philosophy in general (and in what order)? I guess chronologically is the best way to go for that stuff. I'm going to take a real philosophy course eventually at my school but I've considered just getting a philosophy text book and reading through it. That could be excruciating depending on the textbook, though. It's my understanding that theories and schools of thought arise out of the context of the cultures that surround them, and so it's important to learn about the time period, culture, and history, not just the philosophies themselves. I'd also like to learn the philosophical method, the "criteria" for philosophies, and how they are tested. Those things would be covered more thoroughly in a class than I could likely learn on my own.

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  3. #122
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    Jacob,

    FWIW, I went to AAU, which I believe is the school you go to, correct? If so, the reading list you'll get will probably be similar to what I had. Although, it was "History of Aesthetics" that I took, which would obviously be different from a general philosophy class.

    "Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote

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  4. #123
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    Jacob,

    I actually don't recommend studying aesthetics because the books are pretty academic and difficult and generally won't really help you make better art. I would rather you got some aesthetics training by osmosis while learning from The Famous Artists Course, or Loomis, or Gurney, or Dow, or whoever is the absolute best local artist you can train with. It is better to get an intuition for how the language of art might work by doing art, than to spend too long with your nose buried in a book. Do art to learn art. Reading teaches you how to read. And very few people can make money at reading.

    So, speaking straight here, I recommend getting excellent training at what you plan on making a living at and pursuing it whole hog. If that's art, pursue it hardcore. I don't recommend getting distracted from the pursuit of a marketable skill except to have enjoyable real life experiences now and again.

    As an overall learning aid, I would recommend S.I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action as an assist to learning how to learn and preventing language from screwing up your clarity of mind.

    Best wishes,
    kev

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  6. #124
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    well said.

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  7. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Jacob,

    I actually don't recommend studying aesthetics because the books are pretty academic and difficult and generally won't really help you make better art. I would rather you got some aesthetics training by osmosis while learning from The Famous Artists Course, or Loomis, or Gurney, or Dow, or whoever is the absolute best local artist you can train with. It is better to get an intuition for how the language of art might work by doing art, than to spend too long with your nose buried in a book. Do art to learn art. Reading teaches you how to read. And very few people can make money at reading.

    So, speaking straight here, I recommend getting excellent training at what you plan on making a living at and pursuing it whole hog. If that's art, pursue it hardcore. I don't recommend getting distracted from the pursuit of a marketable skill except to have enjoyable real life experiences now and again.

    As an overall learning aid, I would recommend S.I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action as an assist to learning how to learn and preventing language from screwing up your clarity of mind.

    Best wishes,
    kev
    Surely there is something valuable in pursuing interests for the sake of being interested in them? That's where I stand with philosophy and many other things. I am interested in aesthetics, not necessarily to make my art better, but rather to understand how and why humans are attracted to certain visual characteristics (IE why do we find certain things beautiful.) I will read that Hayakawa book though, thanks.

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  8. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Kobryn View Post
    Surely there is something valuable in pursuing interests for the sake of being interested in them? That's where I stand with philosophy and many other things. I am interested in aesthetics, not necessarily to make my art better, but rather to understand how and why humans are attracted to certain visual characteristics (IE why do we find certain things beautiful.) I will read that Hayakawa book though, thanks.
    I seem to remember Danto's "The Transfiguration of the Commonplace" as one of the least confusing texts in my Aesthetic Philosophy course. (Most of the readings were in the form of a course pack, so we went through dozens of excerpts and essays I've largely forgotten).

    For reading (philosophy in general), I went through some Aristotle, Plato, skipped medieval philosophy, read Descartes, Pascal, Hobbes, Berkeley, went into Kant in a more in-depth fashion, Hume, Hegel, Mill, Marx, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Nietzche and Sartre. I'm sure I'm missing a few I either read on my own or that we covered very sketchily.

    I started with Metaphysics, which isn't that bad of a place to start since it's the study of the nature of being and existence.

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  9. #127
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    I'd say start with the pre-Socratics. Getting a feel for the the superparadigm shift from Mythos to Logos...ees pretty important for any dabbler in theory of thought

    Then, plow through history, most canons on the history of philosophy will probably do. Reading core texts comes later. (That said, Plato's dialogues can be read and basically understood by pretty much anybody, so that'd be a good place to start if you're eager for a taste!)

    Wouldn't worry too much about aesthetics. Once you get into this stuff, you'll eventually have confirmed that both ethics and aesthetics are about values, and promptly continue confusing the two, only now you'll have an arsenal of fancy words to reinforce you circular reasonings.

    Good luck, and have fun!

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  10. #128
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    I thought that Russell's History of Western Philosophy was a fun read, even though he has a bias in favor of analytic philosophy.

    Aesthetics are only about values if you convert aesthetics into sociology, fashion, ethics, morals, or politics... which then means you aren't talking about aesthetics.

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  11. #129
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    Russel's should be an excellent choice.

    Not really sure I understand what is meant by aesthetics not being a matter of values. Having hastily browsed through the thread, I'd guess you're referring to some variant of Platonic idealism. I don't remember -exactly- Plato's take on mimesis, but I'm pretty sure he'd frown upon most of the stuff posted on these forums.

    ...which means my guess is most likely wrong

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  12. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by squidmonk3j View Post
    Not really sure I understand what is meant by aesthetics not being a matter of values. Having hastily browsed through the thread, I'd guess you're referring to some variant of Platonic idealism....
    Yeah, there's some real misapprehensions about aesthetics floating around. Probably because nobody is reading it in depth anymore as a discipline and even fewer are understanding it. And don't get me started on the humanities (oh, the humanities!).

    I think what trickles down to most (or nearly all) artists is that aesthetics just means style. I do hear ignorant artists say, "Hey man, its just my aesthetic" using the word aesthetic interchangeably with style.

    To people who have grown up around this misuse, (most everybody by now) will naturally think simple declarative bumper sticker statements like, "hey, screw you man... its just my style" or "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" or "everybody likes what they like because of their conditioning and how could you tell anybody their cultural heritage is wrong" -- the enlightened multi-culti stance -- should pretty much end all aesthetic arguments... unless one is a provincial dimwit or monomaniacal cultural imperialist.

    When somebody makes (or implies) such an argument, I know it precipitated out of pomo pop culture and was not part of a serious engagement with the best of the academic literature on the topic, let alone with art that is advanced beyond the literature. There is a real and growing problem with people who fancy themselves smarter than the average bear not having the slightest clue how bad their education actually was. (I speak as a former denizen of jellystone.)

    At least Icarus tried!


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  13. #131
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    ha ha you crazy greybeards, i love you really.
    can you imagine all the work you couldve been doing, not to mention noisy meaningless computer games you couldve been playing instead of reading all these "books," and then confirming to one another you understand them?
    however, ive heard a lot about how great the concepts they contain are and as a provincial rube id love to see what they can do. can you, like, plug in art or objects and get results about it that tell you interesting things?
    what does it crunch for, say, the flight of the navigator?
    id also like to hear what it thinks of a lot of stuff. shakespeare, phone calandars, cocaine, scissors, modern art, pepsi, addresses, the sea, mirrors, seasickness, road signs, being old, the sun, glue, in fact anything at all would be interesting.
    ive heard the pitch, im sold, show me the merchandise.
    physics has loads to say about every facet of the world; can aesthtics be put to work in our daily lives?

    When you say theres a growing problem, do you feel thats a real effect or an increasing cantankerousness quotient?

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  14. #132
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    VC, you are still confused about the physics analogy made earlier. Your attempt at baiting me is a waste of time. My interest in engaging you in conversation, let alone teaching you anything, remains nil.

    At least Icarus tried!


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  15. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    ha ha you crazy greybeards, i love you really.
    can you imagine all the work you couldve been doing, not to mention noisy meaningless computer games you couldve been playing instead of reading all these "books," and then confirming to one another you understand them?
    "Philosophy has the same relationship to the real world as masturbation has to sex."

    --Karl Marx.

    It's not very often that I agree with Marx on anything. :-)

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  17. #134
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Yeah, there's some real misapprehensions about aesthetics floating around. Probably because nobody is reading it in depth anymore as a discipline and even fewer are understanding it. And don't get me started on the humanities (oh, the humanities!).
    To be honest, I could never really take theories of aesthetics seriously. I'm not really sure why, but I do, for instance, remember actually skipping Kant's words on the matter. I -think- my rationale was that these things, to whatever extent they were interesting, would follow, by necessity, from the the "deeper" matters. Of course, it could just be that I grew tired of page-long sentences.

    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    I think what trickles down to most (or nearly all) artists is that aesthetics just means style. I do hear ignorant artists say, "Hey man, its just my aesthetic" using the word aesthetic interchangeably with style.
    I don't the situation is this bad, yet. To me this is equal to saying most people think they're ethical being just because they "know what's right and what's wrong!".

    Uh. Maybe you're right.

    Well, to continue shooting myself in the foot regarding ethics/aesthetics, perhaps that whole "it's mah style! can be understood in the same sense that a man can be said to be moral without living by an explicit set of ethical standards. He has a sense of right and wrong, but has never actually (critically) looked at the rulebook.

    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    To people who have grown up around this misuse, (most everybody by now) will naturally think simple declarative bumper sticker statements like, "hey, screw you man... its just my style" or "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" or "everybody likes what they like because of their conditioning and how could you tell anybody their cultural heritage is wrong" -- the enlightened multi-culti stance -- should pretty much end all aesthetic arguments... unless one is a provincial dimwit or monomaniacal cultural imperialist.

    When somebody makes (or implies) such an argument, I know it precipitated out of pomo pop culture and was not part of a serious engagement with the best of the academic literature on the topic, let alone with art that is advanced beyond the literature. There is a real and growing problem with people who fancy themselves smarter than the average bear not having the slightest clue how bad their education actually was. (I speak as a former denizen of jellystone.)
    Two-pronged reply to this:

    1) It's as easy to write the anti-aesthetic art (...yes, it's a multi-level oxymoron) movement off in the same way as most of what is generally considered "post-modern" - think of it as art criticism, and the problem goes away...or changes into something more intellectually diabolic, all depending upon what ethics you ascribe to.

    2) Well, people aren't likely to stop confusing information with knowledge any time soon. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

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  19. #135
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    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post
    "Philosophy has the same relationship to the real world as masturbation has to sex."

    --Karl Marx.

    It's not very often that I agree with Marx on anything. :-)
    For people who disagree with most of what Marx says, sex is pretentious masturbation.

    Sorry, couldn't help myself

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  21. #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by squidmonk3j View Post
    For people who disagree with most of what Marx says, sex is pretentious masturbation.

    Sorry, couldn't help myself
    I confess: I actually never read Marx. His books are bricks, and by all accounts densely written and reader-unfriendly. Thus I had to rely on hearsay evidence for what exactly it is that he said. Still, I have a feeling my rather anarchistic views would not appeal to the man.

    He had a magnificent beard, though.

    :-)

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  23. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by squidmonk3j View Post
    To be honest, I could never really take theories of aesthetics seriously. I'm not really sure why, but I do, for instance, remember actually skipping Kant's words on the matter. I -think- my rationale was that these things, to whatever extent they were interesting, would follow, by necessity, from the the "deeper" matters. Of course, it could just be that I grew tired of page-long sentences.
    Kant's work on aesthetics is just cracking open the door to the subject. And he was wrong about a lot and didn't consider a lot more aspects which eventually came to be prominent questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by squidmonk3j View Post
    perhaps that whole "it's mah style! can be understood in the same sense that a man can be said to be moral without living by an explicit set of ethical standards. He has a sense of right and wrong, but has never actually (critically) looked at the rulebook.
    One of the funny things about "It's just my aesthetic" is that generally, styles are decorative in nature/origin, not aesthetic, in its original sense.

    But, to reply to your point, I think eventually a style defines itself, just like somebody's ethics eventually reveal its rules. Whether the rules are made explicit or not doesn't really matter. If you look at enough sunrises, the sun rising is understood to be one of the "rules" of mornings. Nobody needs to write it down to make it so.

    In the late 50s and early 60s you had a wave of illustrators who simply applied "an aesthetic" to a tracing of a photo to create new styles. Within months other smart illustrators, having quickly figured out the formula, could copy the "new aesthetic" and get work in that style. Then somebody else plops on a different "aesthetic" until a few months later that gets old too.

    This pattern is strikingly similar to the wave of different "isms" in early modernism. The smartest designers of styles knew they had to keep moving in order to stay on top. Which is why Picasso was one of the best designers of the century.

    At least Icarus tried!


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    "VC, you are still confused about the physics analogy made earlier."

    You say. but as you refused to clarify what you meant, at all, I guess thats here to stay.
    Why VC? Its VK. Oh wait is VC short for something hilarious?

    "My interest in engaging you in conversation, let alone teaching you anything, remains nil."

    yay. remember that time when "the very thing [you were] tying to accomplish is to challenge you to emotionally handle the fact of your fallibility" instead of actually explaining yourself at all? That sucked.

    Kev youve used a lot of weasel words to ensure you can back out of any assertions you do make.

    Heres a good example

    "Art itself has a finite set of base components and ways of meaning when related through nonlinear grammar. "

    Finite. The only thing finite really says is you can fit the set of components inside the finite universe. Thats it. or something. actually maybe not even that.
    If you replaced art with film, or painting, or ballet, or showed examples of links between these fields, then sure, there are grammars and conventions. but all of art? which brings me to the worst weasling youve done so far.
    After you claimed "As well, aesthetic philosophy isn't arbitrary. ..the arguments didn't arise from some provincial cultural state. They amount to a unified theory of human perception and conception"

    you then backpeddaled as fast as you could and said

    "I think the real TOE of art would have to marry aesthetics to consciousness cybernetically. And we're nowhere close to that. For one thing, I can't think of a single study on consciousness or cybernetics that has demonstrated even the most basic grasp of aesthetics. And we're really in early days in terms of understanding consciousness."

    So art is as complex as consciousness, and we dont understand consciousness. maybe one day a supersmart cyborg will do it. What a fascinating insight. Not.

    "If you look at enough sunrises, the sun rising is understood to be one of the "rules" of mornings. Nobody needs to write it down to make it so."

    But someone will write it down, and in internet forums say its a universal truth, and scoff at anyone who disagrees, having never experienced morning during the north polar winter.

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    All these sentences of mine which you are pitting against each other are actually perfectly sensible in the context of what I have said and in the context of Aesthetic philosophy. Your assertions that I have contradicted myself or backpedaled on certain points are, again, confused. I am sure this is due to the fact that you have no education whatsoever in the area you are asserting knowledge in.

    However, it is true that I have backpedaled on the desire to help you.

    At least Icarus tried!


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    "All these sentences of mine which you are pitting against each other are actually perfectly sensible in context and in the context of Aesthetic philosophy. "

    More vague information-free assertions about the encompassing nature of aesthetic philosophy without any examples of what it might actually be useful for.
    Where are the masterworks its helped you to produce?

    "However, it is true that I have backpedaled on the desire to help you."

    Dont pretend you ever had any, you never offer advice in the crit section, and your snide putdowns are why everyone I ask about you says youre a troll Kev.

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; May 15th, 2012 at 07:50 PM.
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    Ah, the Lounge...

    Last edited by kev ferrara; May 16th, 2012 at 12:00 AM.
    At least Icarus tried!


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    Was that your farewell speech?
    bye then

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  29. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    All these sentences of mine which you are pitting against each other are actually perfectly sensible in the context of what I have said and in the context of Aesthetic philosophy. Your assertions that I have contradicted myself or backpedaled on certain points are, again, confused. I am sure this is due to the fact that you have no education whatsoever in the area you are asserting knowledge in.

    However, it is true that I have backpedaled on the desire to help you.
    Hehe, "Every mistake I make is not really a mistake, it's just me being so super extra smart that you can't even understand it 'cos you're so dumb". I remember playing as a kid, eventually some kid would always say "I've got an invincible forcefield!" as a last ditch effort to avoid losing, instead of just accepting that they'd been shot by a laser rifle fair and square. Pew pew!
    Also, Dunning-Kruger

    *Edit* Actually, the comment above was out-of-line and mean-spirited and I regret it. I apologise Kev, keep rocking! */Edit*

    Last edited by gjpetch; May 17th, 2012 at 05:24 AM. Reason: I don't want to be a jerk
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  30. #144
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    My questions boil down to

    1: What is aesthetics?
    2: Why should I care?
    3: What can it do for us?

    Since Kev has decided for whatever reason to be a stereotype heres a guy who expressly sets out to answer these questions, starting with the basics.

    Its easy to make fun of his slightly confusing presentation at times ("sensuality in the sense of the senses themselves") but I like how hes making a genuine effort to try to express these concepts without jargon and in short words for non-artist attention-deficit dummies like me to digest.

    "Philosophy is thinking in slow-motion"



    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; May 16th, 2012 at 07:59 AM.
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  31. #145
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    Imagine a 15 minute youtube video about how black holes work without being allowed to rely on the audience's graps of basic math. Sure, it'll be fun watching a professor blow up and poke at balloons, but would you really claim to have learned anything substantial about advanced physics afterwards?

    The one thing I would say that video succeeds at, is conveying the difficulty of casually conveying the complexity of a philosophical issue without relying on the context that is the history of philosophy.

    If you're really interested in this, I would suggest picking up a book on the history of philosophy. You might even skip the chapters on aesthetics, and -still- be able to claim that Plato wouldn't have liked pretty pictures of landscapes and unicorns

    As to:

    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    My questions boil down to

    1: What is aesthetics?
    2: Why should I care?
    3: What can it do for us?
    In a philosophical discussion, this is a slap in the face, imho. I might as well ask:

    1: Why do you want to know?
    2: Why should I care?
    3: What can answering your question do for us?

    EDIT: Bottom part of my post disappeared. Short version follows:
    EDIT2: I should post more often. I've forgotten how to spell check.

    ...for me, at least, the specific answers found in philosophical discussions are seldom as interesting as the questions and lines of thought that lead to them. And, snack-sized questions lead to snack-sized answers. Have you ever heard a fully satisfying answer to "What is the meaning of life?"

    Be well

    Last edited by squidmonk3j; May 16th, 2012 at 11:30 AM.
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  32. #146
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    Just so we're clear on what an actual contradiction looks like....

    Page 3:

    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    aesthetics are value judgments of clever monkey brains, not laws.
    Page 5:

    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    My questions boil down to

    1: What is aesthetics?


    At least Icarus tried!


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  33. #147
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    I thought you werent talking at me Kev?

    "Have you ever heard a fully satisfying answer to "What is the meaning of life?"

    Yes. To add meaning to your life. Its not rocken science.

    Or is it?
    "Imagine a 15 minute youtube video about how black holes work without being allowed to rely on the audience's graps of basic math."

    Hang on so are we allowed to compare aesthetics to physics, or not?

    "The one thing I would say that video succeeds at, is conveying the difficulty of casually conveying the complexity of a philosophical issue without relying on the context that is the history of philosophy. "

    yep. which was why it was surprising when Kev seemed to say it could be reduced to finite componants and grammar. Which was exactly what made me ask him about it in the first place.

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  34. #148
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    Remember when this thread was about some Romanian douchebag?


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  36. #149
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    As the door slowly shuts on this thread?

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    This war isn't going anywhere. I have a legitimate interest in this subject and having looked a Kev's work and read his posts I think he knows a lot about this. I have the same struggle as velocity_kendell with this topic. I believe the fallacy is ours for not understanding him.

    I think I have an intuitive grasp of aesthetics based on the fact I know what I like and why I like things. What I struggle with is the rational theory behind it all. Knowing after the fact doesn't allow predictions.

    What I would like to gain from this discussion is a way to streamline my art creation process. From what I've read here, it sounds like having a deeper understanding of aesthetic theory could provide a valuable tool for composing my art.

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