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Re: aesthetic evaluation (was: RE: (OT) Music

From:Andy Canivet <cathode_ray00@...>
Date:Thursday, June 13, 2002, 21:54
>From: JS Bangs <jaspax@...> >Reply-To: Constructed Languages List <CONLANG@...> >To: CONLANG@LISTSERV.BROWN.EDU >Subject: Re: aesthetic evaluation (was: RE: (OT) Music >Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2002 14:08:06 -0700 > >Andy Canivet sikyal: > > > > > a set of aesthetic principles, just as we may not agree on moral > > > > principles, it's still better to attempt to formulate and justify > > > > aesthetics and morals, instead of simply acquiescing to "anything > > >goes." > > > > IMHO. > > > > > > > > > > >How does one justify moral or aesthetic principles other than with > > >respect to a set of moral or aesthetic principles? > > > > I think ultimately the only justification for moral or aesthetic >principles > > would have to be on A) the basis of emotion (esp. compassion and empathy >in > > the case of morality), and B) the argument that moral and aesthetic > > principles are good for social harmony and therefore survival, but then > > survival is only justifiably good for emotional / substantive reasons as > > well. But if it all defaults to emotion then I guess you're right, the > > notion of justification seems pretty ridiculous in any objective sense. > > Erk... > >Eh? The most popular justification for moral principles is, and long has >been, appeal to an outside, absolute standard. Standards are usually set >down by [gG]od(s?), but need not be--the Platonic Forms are non-personal, >as is the Tao, but both can be used as moral principles. It is only a >short leap to propose that aesthetic principles may be similarly derived. > >I am aggressively agnostic about the existence of such *aesthetic* >principles, though. >
Stephen Bachelor says its good to be aggressively agnostic about everything, and I quite agree. You're right, typically western philosophy has appealed to an objective standard for morality, but ultimately it fails because it is impossible to prove the existence of such a standard. This is what Nietzsche meant when he said that God was dead, and what the existentialists were all about - finding some subjective yet reliable and universal basis for moral action. Ultimately, the existentialists fail because they remain trapped in the Platonic-Cartesian framework that distinguishes between subject and object, even though they are trying to reject it. Be careful you aren't applying Cartesian thinking to the Tao. Granted, different sects of Taoism believe different things about it and about morality - but the philosophical concept of Tao (and Buddhist "emptiness") is not external to the existence of individual objects. It is not a godhead or platonic realm that sits outside the world - it IS the world. Existence itself is interpreted as a relational process, and each object only exists with reference to others (and therefore is dependent on them for its very being). In fact, there are no objects, because they themselves are only impermanent processes (hence, the world is "empty"). This seems to be what the pre-socratics meant by the "logos." A good western account of a similar concept can be found in Martin Buber's "I and Thou." Morality falls right out of the metaphysics - we are dependent on each other for our very existence, so we ought to be good to each other as much as we can. Of course, because it trancends subject-object distinction, morality can't be objectified into a standard for behavior - what is right is always situational, experiential, and subjective (and thus impossible to justify logically). Andy _________________________________________________________________ Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at


JS Bangs <jaspax@...>