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Aesthetic Valuing and the Self
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Aesthetics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9906-4973
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

This thesis concerns the relation between aesthetically valuable objects and the agents that aesthetically value them. An investigation is undertaken into the psychology and rationality of such agents. I argue that self-related elements such as emotions and standing value commitments play an irreducible role in successful aesthetic engagement. I further demonstrate that these psychological elements of aesthetic engagement are both self-related and subject to rational constraints. In this connection, I propose a revisionary account according to which valuing agents are subject to a coherence requirement pertaining to their aesthetic judgments and aesthetic likings.

The first essay, “Aesthetic Autonomy: Acquaintance, Competence and Authenticity”, addresses the nature of aesthetic autonomy. What it means to be autonomous and its normative significance is generally considered to be ambiguous in the aesthetic domain. In this essay, I propose a way to disambiguate this elusive concept by distinguishing three varieties of autonomy: experiential autonomy, competency-based autonomy, and personal autonomy. Some important issues concerning the nature of aesthetic agency and appreciation are discussed in the course of this critical discussion.

The second essay, “Non-Standard Emotions and Aesthetic Understanding”, discusses the role of our emotional responses in the context of aesthetic appreciation. My main argument will reveal that the non-standard or ‘intellectual’ emotions, the emotions which are in fact most important to appreciation, can play a significant epistemic role in our reason-giving aesthetic practices. 

The third essay, “The Aesthetic Enkratic Principe”, examines what it means to be aesthetically rational. Although some philosophers claim that aesthetics falls within the scope of rationality, a non-akrasia constraint prohibiting certain akratic combinations of attitudes is yet to be developed in this domain. This essay is concerned with the question of whether or not such a requirement is plausible and, if so, whether it is a true requirement of aesthetic rationality. 

The fourth essay, “Aesthetic Self-Transformation: A Guide for Aesthetic Aspirants”, investigates the nature of aesthetic self-transformation. Two problems arise in this context. First, aesthetic transformative experiences can lead to cases of local irrationality in the form of a mismatch between what is aesthetically judged and what is aesthetically liked. Second, in attempting to resolve this conflict, we encounter two opposing principles that appear to guide aesthetic appreciation with equal force: self-cultivation and aesthetic improvement. I explain the first issue by invoking a coherence requirement (as defended in the previous essay) and resolve the second by outlining a hybrid view of what constitutes good aesthetic reasoning.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala, 2023. , p. 29
Keywords [en]
Aesthetic Judgement, Personal Autonomy, Emotions, Aesthetic Agency, Akrasia, Rational Requirements, Transformative Experiences
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Aesthetics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488979ISBN: 978-91-506-2984-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-488979DiVA, id: diva2:1713360
Public defence
2023-01-30, Humanistiska teatern, Engelska Parken, Thunbergsvägen 3C, Uppsala, 14:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-12-22 Created: 2022-11-24 Last updated: 2022-12-22
List of papers
1. Aesthetic Autonomy: Acquaintance, Competence and Authenticity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Aesthetic Autonomy: Acquaintance, Competence and Authenticity
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper concerns the nature of a special kind of autonomy: aesthetic autonomy. Aesthetic autonomy is commonly used both to denote a normative requirement for proper aesthetic evaluation and a condition of aesthetic agency. However, what it means to be autonomous and its normative significance is generally considered to be ambiguous in the aesthetic domain. Aesthetic autonomy could refer to the (i) the kind of experience that grounds one’s aesthetic judgements, (ii) the abilities we exercise in trying to make sense of an object’s aesthetic value, (iii) or the capacity to identify oneself with what one judges as aesthetically valuable. In this essay, I propose a way to disambiguate this elusive concept by distinguishing three different varieties of autonomy in the aesthetic realm: experiential autonomy, competence-based autonomy, and personal autonomy. Some important issues concerning the nature of aesthetic agency and appreciation arise in the course of this critical discussion.

Keywords
aesthetic autonomy, aesthetic agency, personal autonomy, aesthetic testimony, aesthetic experience
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Aesthetics; Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488918 (URN)
Available from: 2022-11-24 Created: 2022-11-24 Last updated: 2022-11-24
2. Non-Standard Emotions and Aesthetic Understanding
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Non-Standard Emotions and Aesthetic Understanding
2020 (English)In: Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics, ISSN 0014-1291, E-ISSN 2571-0915, Vol. 57, no 2, p. 135-149Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

For cognitivist accounts of aesthetic appreciation, appreciation requires an agent (1) to perceptually respond to the relevant aesthetic features of an object o on good evidential grounds, (2) to have an autonomous grasp of the reasons that make the claim about the aesthetic features of o true by pointing out the connection between non-aesthetic features and the aesthetic features of o, (3) to be able to provide an explanation of why those features contribute to the overall aesthetic value of o. In this framework, aesthetic emotions have traditionally been confined to the level of aesthetic perception (1) and dismissed from the process of reason-giving (2, 3). I argue that this dismissal is due, firstly, to a questionable perceptual reading of the connection between emotional experience and value, and, secondly, to a narrow focus on the basic emotions. My argument will reveal that the non-standard or ‘intellectual’ emotions, the emotions which are in fact most important to appreciation, can play a significant epistemic role in our appreciative practices. They can do this because they (a) help us to deliberately focus our attention and (b) place the appreciator in a state of second-order awareness of their mental states. I conclude the paper by showing how these two epistemic tools (a, b) can help the appreciator to meet the explanatory/justificatory conditions (2) and (3).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Helsinki University Press, 2020
Keywords
aesthetic appreciation, intellectual emotions, aesthetic understanding, aesthetic rationality
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-420001 (URN)10.33134/eeja.211 (DOI)000571119300002 ()
Available from: 2020-09-20 Created: 2020-09-20 Last updated: 2024-02-12Bibliographically approved
3. The Aesthetic Enkratic Principle
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Aesthetic Enkratic Principle
2023 (English)In: British Journal of Aesthetics, ISSN 0007-0904, E-ISSN 1468-2842, Vol. 63, no 2, p. 251-268Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is a dimension of rationality, known as structural rationality, according to which a paradigmatic example of what it means to be rational is not to be akratic. Although some philosophers claim that aesthetics falls within the scope of rationality, a non-akrasia constraint prohibiting certain combinations of attitudes is yet to be developed in this domain. This essay is concerned with the question of whether such a requirement is plausible and, if so, whether it is an actual requirement of aesthetic rationality. Ultimately, this paper defends the view that aesthetics is no different from other domains in that it requires coherence between a subject’s mental states (in the aesthetic case, between what is judged and what is aesthetically liked). 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2023
Keywords
rational requirements, structural rationality, aesthetic akrasia, aesthetic rationality, aesthetic appreciation
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Aesthetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-486542 (URN)10.1093/aesthj/ayac059 (DOI)000891986000001 ()
Available from: 2022-10-11 Created: 2022-10-11 Last updated: 2023-10-06Bibliographically approved
4. Aesthetic Self-Transformation: A Guide for Aesthetic Aspirants
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Aesthetic Self-Transformation: A Guide for Aesthetic Aspirants
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In our aesthetic life we regularly come across objects and practices the appreciation of which can lead to a radical change in our core aesthetic preferences. But how do we come to value items that are distant from those that we presently value? Is it rational to attempt such appreciation? Inspired by similar questions concerning the nature of transformative experiences, this essay explores the process by which one acts upon oneself to create a self with new aesthetic ideals. I begin by showing how aesthetic self-transformation involves a change in one’s perceptual and emotional sensibility. I then focus on two problems that arise in this context. First, how this revision can lead to an akratic-like mismatch between what is judged as aesthetically valuable and what is aesthetically liked. Second, how in attempting to resolve this conflict, we encounter two opposing aesthetic considerations that seem to guide aspirants with equal force: self-cultivation and aesthetic improvement. I propose that we explain the first issue by invoking a coherence requirement and resolve the second by outlining a hybrid view of what constitutes good aesthetic reasoning which takes into account considerations that have to do both with preserving one’s aesthetic identity and expanding one's aesthetic horizon.

National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Aesthetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488410 (URN)
Available from: 2022-11-15 Created: 2022-11-15 Last updated: 2022-11-24

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