Aesthetic Attitude Jerome Stolnitz (From Aesthetic and the Philosophy of Art criticism, 1960)
Attitude “It is the attitude we take that determines how we perceive the world” An attitude is a way of directing and controlling our perception (sense faculties) toward the world. An attitude also determines our actions.
No Neutral Attitude It is impossible to perceive the world indiscriminately. That is, it is impossible to have no-attitude that guides our perceptions or in our relation toward the world. To perceive is to have an attitude of some kind.
Discriminate We discriminate with respect to WHAT we perceive (i.e., hear, touch, see, feel, taste, and smell). We are always perceiving SELECTIVELY. We are ACTIVE perceivers as opposed to purely PASSIVE perceivers.
Discrimination-Purpose Unconscious-Telos Conscious-Telos Discrimination can be conscious and cognitive (i.e., derived from thinking). Conscious discrimination is guided by an agent's intended purposes. • Discrimination can be inherent and the result of evolutionary forces (i.e., instincts, desires). • Evolutionary discrimination is guided by survival.
Purpose-Perception Different purposes lead to different perceptions (possibly interpretations and visions of reality). Two individual perceiving the same thing will perceive it differently. All perception is INTERPRETATIVE.
Attitude-Evaluation Our evaluation of our surroundings, circumstances, and environment is guided and determined by our attitude and purpose. We view things positively insofar as they support or further our purpose, and negatively insofar as they are obstacles toward achieving our goals.
Stolnitz “To sum up, an attitude organizes and directs our awareness of the world.”
The Common Attitude The most common attitude people have is the PRACTICAL attitude. The practical attitude sees things in terms of their USEFUL to our goals and our purposes (as means to an end).
The Practical Attitude People with the practical attitude aski the following sorts of questions: What can I do with it? What can it do for me or to me?
The Practical Attitude The practical attitude see the world and the things in it as a tool box. The “furniture of the world.”
The Aesthetic Attitude “Disinterested and sympatheticattention to and contemplation of any object of awareness whatever, for its own sake lone.”
Disinterested No ulterior motive. There is no purpose of having the experience except the experience itself. Practical Attitude: emotional or financial motives (art collector) Practical Attitude: cognitive motives (meteorologist) Practical Attitude: evaluative motives (art critic)
Disinterested The motive cannot be to classify, study or judge something. Being disinterested is not the same as being uninterested.
Sympathetic Stolnitz argues that the aesthetic attitude requires that we perceive a work (novel, painting, etc.) open minded and “on the works own terms.” If we impose our non-aesthetic value system or see the work through our preconceived belief system (e.g., ethical or religious), we interfere with aesthetic attitude. “to give it a chance”
Attention Attention is a matter of degrees. Aesthetic attitude (disinterestedness) does not mean to be uninterested. Aesthetic attitude requires intense attention, “getting into” the music, or “getting into” the novel.
Attention-Empathy To be intensively attentive in the aesthetic attitude means to FEEL the work of art or FEEL the music. Attention (or such an intense degree of attention) is not a necessary or sufficient condition for the aesthetic attitude. However, the attention of the aesthetic attitude requires bodily activity and involvement.
Attention Attention to the details and individuality of the work requires much exposure to the work. It also requires an extensive amount of knowledge of the art form and technique.
Contemplation Contemplation is really a combination of alert, informed and vigorous attention and disinterestedness. “Lost in contemplation”
Any Object Stolnitz seems to argue that the aesthetic attitude can be anything whatsoever. There is no limit to what the aesthetic attitude can be directed at. (Disconnect aesthetics from beauty)
Object Any object can be apprehended aesthetically. No object is inherently unaesthetic. This means that dull, ugly and even horrific things could become objects of the aesthetic attitude.
Awareness Perception (too narrow): refers to the sensations of experienced adults and entails a high level of pre-cognition. Pure sensation: refers to sensations with no background, pre-cognitive understanding about the sense data. The kind of perception experienced by young children. Intellectual nonsensuous awareness refers to the kind of awareness exemplified in mathematical and logical reasoning.
Aesthetic Attitude Aesthetic experience is the total experience of having the aesthetic attitude. Aesthetic object is the object toward which the aesthetic attitude is adopted. Aesthetic value is value of the experience of having the aesthetic attitude toward some object, or the value of the object.