Emotions and Judgment

What is art? What is beauty?

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tbieter
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Emotions and Judgment

Post by tbieter » Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:56 pm

Yesterday I had an appointment with my physician. After seeing him, I had to go to the lab to give blood and then to another office to schedule an appointment with the educator.

At the latter office, there was a colorful painting hanging next to the door and directly in front of where I was seated. The painting depicted a Ferris wheel in a carnival scene. As I looked at the painting, I experienced an immediate dislike for it.

Surprised at my spontaneous dislike, I then started to closely study the entire scene and especially the people depicted in the painting more closely, searching for some reasons for my dislike.

Not finding any reasons implicit in the painting (artist's technique, colors, depiction of people, etc.), I then started to think generally. Then a thought hit me like a brick:

I have a fear of heights. In fact, I think that the last carnival ride that I went on many years ago was on a Ferris wheel. And as I recall, I found the ride to be terrifying. When I experience a height, I actually start to become dizzy. When I initially looked at the painting, I re-experienced that fear.

So regarding my aesthetic judgment on the painting, it was defective and caused by an emotion, to wit: my fear of heights.

Obviously, as a critic any judgment on the painting expressed by me should be disregarded.

I wonder how many of the judgments that I have during the day are significantly affected by factors other than reason?

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TSBU
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by TSBU » Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:03 pm

All of them.
Not all of them at the same level.
When you deal with other human beings, the important thing is know what can you explain and ehat you cant.

Walker
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Walker » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:21 pm

Obviously, as a critic any judgment on the painting expressed by me should be disregarded.
Attachment can also tip the scales of judgment to preference instead of aversion, particularly in recent converts. The judging mind factors in the relevance of attachment to preference, and attachment to aversion, according to the situation.

I’d say that when the aim is to critique a painting, when mindfulness identifies the possibility that a personal aversion to subject matter is influencing the critique of the painting, then as long as this factor is openly part of the critique, the judgment is valid, though the quality and depth of your critique is made possible by your knowledge.

In fact, the subject matter of a painting is not random. Highlighting aversions and preferences is a painterly objective, though it may not be a primary objective for a particular painting. However, if in your critique you highlight your fear of heights, and explain how the emotional power of fear leapt from the canvas and into your very being, upon hearing your judgment the artist just might say, “Here’s someone who gets it.”

A legal judge is a whole other ball game under a rule of law system.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:58 pm

tbieter wrote:Yesterday I had an appointment with my physician. After seeing him, I had to go to the lab to give blood and then to another office to schedule an appointment with the educator.

At the latter office, there was a colorful painting hanging next to the door and directly in front of where I was seated. The painting depicted a Ferris wheel in a carnival scene. As I looked at the painting, I experienced an immediate dislike for it.

Surprised at my spontaneous dislike, I then started to closely study the entire scene and especially the people depicted in the painting more closely, searching for some reasons for my dislike.

Not finding any reasons implicit in the painting (artist's technique, colors, depiction of people, etc.), I then started to think generally. Then a thought hit me like a brick:

I have a fear of heights. In fact, I think that the last carnival ride that I went on many years ago was on a Ferris wheel. And as I recall, I found the ride to be terrifying. When I experience a height, I actually start to become dizzy. When I initially looked at the painting, I re-experienced that fear.

So regarding my aesthetic judgment on the painting, it was defective and caused by an emotion, to wit: my fear of heights.

Obviously, as a critic any judgment on the painting expressed by me should be disregarded.

I wonder how many of the judgments that I have during the day are significantly affected by factors other than reason?
Interesting that you did not immediately realise why you disliked the painting.
I do no think your vertigo is a bad reason to judge the painting. Subject matter is a valuable and valid point of critique.
I used to dismiss militaristic, romantic paintings which valorised warfare.

E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland_Forever!

If you get ten minutes try to look at a high res version and check out the energy of the horses and the composition. This is one of the world's greatest ever realist paintings. Maybe the best painting by a women on earth.

Walker
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Walker » Sat Oct 22, 2016 8:23 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:Interesting that you did not immediately realise why you disliked the painting.
Good point. Low grade fear that moseys into the waiting room is a more accurate description, more truthful to events, than fear leaping off the canvas.

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Conde Lucanor » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:05 am

Judging a painting (or any other type of artistic work) not necessarily means judging its universal artistic value, that is, its aesthetic value. Art usually provides non-artistic semantic content and elicits emotions for different reasons, as personal and subjective in the authors, as they are in the public. The insertion of the work in a social context with a set of institutionalized practices also contributes to add content and interpretations that go beyond what the author intended and the interpretation context he/she might have assumed from the beginning. The reading of the content of the painting, its explicit or implicit meaning, will then become almost arbitrary and highly relativistic. In that way, art in general simply serves a communicative and symbolic function, which can be judged subjectively, in terms of each person's own interest, his/her likes of dislikes. In Literature, Umberto Eco calls this approach the one from the "empirical reader", which often is more concerned about the non-artistic values of WHAT is delivered, as opposed to the approach of the "critical reader", which seeks objectively the structural, deliberate formal strategies, the composition itself, the HOW is delivered, and compares it with other works of the genre. An empirical reader will judge according to the non-artistic meanings evoked by the work of art; the critical reader will judge according to rules of composition and techniques, in relation to other works of art. Two painters can make the same military horse scene and most likely will produce the same reaction of like or dislike for a particular observer. But the two scenes, being painted by different hands, will represent different levels of performance, evident in the composition and techniques used. That means you can appreciate artistically things that you may find awful in other domains and viceversa: love or hate things, despite their artistic value.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:39 pm

Conde Lucanor wrote:Judging a painting (or any other type of artistic work) not necessarily means judging its universal artistic value, that is, its aesthetic value. Art usually provides non-artistic semantic content and elicits emotions for different reasons, as personal and subjective in the authors, as they are in the public. The insertion of the work in a social context with a set of institutionalized practices also contributes to add content and interpretations that go beyond what the author intended and the interpretation context he/she might have assumed from the beginning. The reading of the content of the painting, its explicit or implicit meaning, will then become almost arbitrary and highly relativistic. In that way, art in general simply serves a communicative and symbolic function, which can be judged subjectively, in terms of each person's own interest, his/her likes of dislikes. In Literature, Umberto Eco calls this approach the one from the "empirical reader", which often is more concerned about the non-artistic values of WHAT is delivered, as opposed to the approach of the "critical reader", which seeks objectively the structural, deliberate formal strategies, the composition itself, the HOW is delivered, and compares it with other works of the genre. An empirical reader will judge according to the non-artistic meanings evoked by the work of art; the critical reader will judge according to rules of composition and techniques, in relation to other works of art. Two painters can make the same military horse scene and most likely will produce the same reaction of like or dislike for a particular observer. But the two scenes, being painted by different hands, will represent different levels of performance, evident in the composition and techniques used. That means you can appreciate artistically things that you may find awful in other domains and viceversa: love or hate things, despite their artistic value.
Nicely put, and pretty much covers most of the ground. Difference might be about performance, but emotional content will also differ markedly regardless of technique.
So it's worth adding the two artists can do the same scene - even where the composition is predefined; one artist can make you cry about the horses and the waste of human life that is war; whilst the other can paint a picture which is all about the glory of war and the courage of the men.
Neither artist will reach everybody with those disparate messages, and some people could read both pictures in one of the two ways. Yet that would be about the observer and not the intentions of the artist.
Art is, and has to remain fluid in this sense, but rather than declare the 'death of the author', it is worth considering all aspects of a painting.

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Conde Lucanor » Wed Oct 26, 2016 3:18 am

The word "art", in the English-speaking world, seems to cover a wide range of manifestations, which are a little narrower in other cultures, at least in the Spanish-speaking world, where "arte" usually only means big time art, the unique, revolutionary work of a genius, that must be revered and preserved for future generations. A concept like "kid's art" just doesn't fit. But the truth is that most of the time, humanity has dealt with art in a different way than this, and the idea of the artist as individual genius with a mystical aura is a product of just two or three centuries in Europe. Therefore, it wouldn't be unfair to consider any painting as just another piece of decoration, as another product of design, with very little subjects of importance at stake. You paint horses and some will like and others won't. Some will see human decay and others glory. If they are not depicted realistically, you can always say it was not the intention. One of the millions of works so massively reproduced will end up on the wall of a physician's office and someone will express a judgement of like or dislike. It serves its purpose as a painting, it has provoked a reaction as such, even though it has very little to with "arte", and is very unlikely that its producer really cared about being considered a "real artist". Pretty much like things that you find in other domains, where there is still a concern with form and aesthetics, like gastronomy or fashion.

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Greta
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Greta » Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:13 am

We might also question other aspects of our tastes. Consider the obvious health-based implications of our enjoyment of blue skies, blue waters and green foliage.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:15 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:The word "art", in the English-speaking world, seems to cover a wide range of manifestations, which are a little narrower in other cultures, at least in the Spanish-speaking world, where "arte" usually only means big time art, the unique, revolutionary work of a genius, that must be revered and preserved for future generations. A concept like "kid's art" just doesn't fit. But the truth is that most of the time, humanity has dealt with art in a different way than this, and the idea of the artist as individual genius with a mystical aura is a product of just two or three centuries in Europe. Therefore, it wouldn't be unfair to consider any painting as just another piece of decoration, as another product of design, with very little subjects of importance at stake. You paint horses and some will like and others won't. Some will see human decay and others glory. If they are not depicted realistically, you can always say it was not the intention. One of the millions of works so massively reproduced will end up on the wall of a physician's office and someone will express a judgement of like or dislike. It serves its purpose as a painting, it has provoked a reaction as such, even though it has very little to with "arte", and is very unlikely that its producer really cared about being considered a "real artist". Pretty much like things that you find in other domains, where there is still a concern with form and aesthetics, like gastronomy or fashion.

There is also the same tendency in English to use Art as Arte (but perhaps with less force), the establishment art. I think the difference is that Spain-phones have missed the Protestant re-thinking and democracy has come late to many of their countries: this might explain why Anglophones are more likely to have seized the word to give to their children.

Personally I feel that Art has been so bloody disgraceful since The Fountain, that people have felt more free to apply the word to the things they do, rather than things that have lofty value. There can be art in cooking, talking, driving etc.. Art is democratized.

Impenitent
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Impenitent » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:47 am

it isn't art alone but the language itself that has been democratized...

does a photo of a landscape have more artistic value than a urinal?

-Imp

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Terrapin Station » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:35 pm

First, aesthetic judgments are necessarily informed by emotional reactions.

We might guess that the distinction you're getting it is rather one of emotional reactions that are seen as not having anything to do with the work itself versus emotional reactions that do have to do with the work itself, but that distinction doesn't actually hold water, because the reason someone prefers one composition over other possibilities, one way of handling paint texturally over another, etc. isn't rooted in the painting itself--it's rooted in how the person in question's brain is/how their brain works, and that is determined by both their genetic make-up and their personal histories.

I'd agree that there does seem to be some sort of distinction between judging artistic works by factors that are "ancillary to the work itself" versus factors that somehow aren't, but I don't know how we could specify a distinction there that turns out to hold water.

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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Terrapin Station » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:44 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:Interesting that you did not immediately realise why you disliked the painting.
I do no think your vertigo is a bad reason to judge the painting. Subject matter is a valuable and valid point of critique.
I used to dismiss militaristic, romantic paintings which valorised warfare.

E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland_Forever!

If you get ten minutes try to look at a high res version and check out the energy of the horses and the composition. This is one of the world's greatest ever realist paintings. Maybe the best painting by a women on earth.
I'm like 90-something percent on the side of being a formalist. I can't think of an example where I've not liked a work (paintings, music, etc.) because of its subject matter or because of facts about the artist or anything like that.

That's certainly not to say that my judgment of works isn't biased and emotional. Everyone's is. But the biases and emotions from which I judge works are 90-something percent about a work's formal properties.

Well, except for fiction perhaps (literature and film). I'm far less of a formalist there, as there are a lot of works I don't care for because I'm not interested in the subject matter/the stories are boring in my view. But maybe to an extent that's an upshot of formalism after all. I tend to not like realist dramas, soap opera-type stuff, etc., and those tend to have different formal properties from horror fiction, SciFi, fantasy, action, comedy, etc.

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Terrapin Station » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:55 pm

Conde Lucanor wrote:Judging a painting (or any other type of artistic work) not necessarily means judging its universal artistic value, that is, its aesthetic value.
Although of course there's no such thing as universal artistic/aesthetic value.
Art usually provides non-artistic semantic content
The notion of artistic versus non-artistic semantic content seems dubious though.
The insertion of the work in a social context with a set of institutionalized practices also contributes to add content and interpretations that go beyond what the author intended and the interpretation context he/she might have assumed from the beginning. The reading of the content of the painting, its explicit or implicit meaning, will then become almost arbitrary and highly relativistic.
That's highly relativistic in any event, because meaning is period. I'm a subjectivist/internalist on meaning by the way. I'm kind of the anti-Putnam. (And anti-Wittgenstein.)
In that way, art in general simply serves a communicative and symbolic function, which can be judged subjectively, in terms of each person's own interest, his/her likes of dislikes.
Which is really the only way that anyone judges any art. The only other option is to basically report (and or make guesses about) other persons' judgments.
An empirical reader will judge according to the non-artistic meanings evoked by the work of art; the critical reader will judge according to rules of composition and techniques, in relation to other works of art.
The one thing that might make some sense there is the idea of judging something in relation to other works of art versus not doing that. The only problem I have with that is that any judgment necessarily involves a lot of stuff that doesn't have anything to do with works of art, so the distinction is still kind of messy.
Two painters can make the same military horse scene and most likely will produce the same reaction of like or dislike for a particular observer. But the two scenes, being painted by different hands, will represent different levels of performance, evident in the composition and techniques used. That means you can appreciate artistically things that you may find awful in other domains and viceversa: love or hate things, despite their artistic value.
Which is basically about looking at works formally versus not doing so, but formal assessment is still informed by biases and emotions that have nthing to do with artworks--they have to be, because prefering one composition to another, prefering one way of handling paint to another, and so on, aren't somehow contained in artworks themselves.
Last edited by Terrapin Station on Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Emotions and Judgment

Post by Terrapin Station » Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:00 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:There is also the same tendency in English to use Art as Arte (but perhaps with less force), the establishment art. I think the difference is that Spain-phones have missed the Protestant re-thinking and democracy has come late to many of their countries: this might explain why Anglophones are more likely to have seized the word to give to their children.

Personally I feel that Art has been so bloody disgraceful since The Fountain, that people have felt more free to apply the word to the things they do, rather than things that have lofty value. There can be art in cooking, talking, driving etc.. Art is democratized.
Are you sympathetic to the "Art Renewal Center" folks?

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