Part I: What is evaluative aesthetics?
in Aesthetic evaluation and film
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The concept of the ‘aesthetic’ is best considered as a cluster of interrelated meanings. Part I attempts to elaborate its multifaceted nature. The ‘aesthetic’ is not synonymous with the ‘artistic’, as Marcel Duchamp’s anti-aesthetic artwork ‘The Fountain’ demonstrates. Nor is it equivalent to Formalism – an adherence to form at the expense of content – or Aestheticism – an exaggerated devotion to beautiful forms. Crucially, aesthetics does not discount or demean moral, political, emotional, cognitive, or conceptual content. This content is important, and often essential to an aesthetic evaluation; however, the engagement here is with the value of its expression through the form of the work. The conception of aesthetics that motivates this volume is that of the philosopher Robert Strecker, namely ‘the study of a certain kind of value’. To distinguish this from other possible definitions, it is referred to as ‘evaluative aesthetics’. Part I illustrates this concept through discussions of attitude, taste, pleasure and a variety of other qualities.

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