This article provokes me a lot of thoughts on 「Beauty」, 「Art」 and 「Aesthetics」. Just as what author said, when I say something is beautiful and something is ugly, it seems I have some criteria in my mind while it seems I have no criteria at all, because I cannot tell others what my criteria is. After reading of this article I feel like I switched from a normal man with natural, or inborn judgments to this beautiful world to a skeptical philosopher-to-be that try to reason anything I would say, try to define any word I would say, and try to argue with others what do they mean by 「beautiful」 or some other subjective words they used when they talk to me, hopefully I would not be beaten up.
Okay, seriously, in this book author did provide me with a lot of examples trying to clarify the various problems and positions. But the questions such as what is my own aesthetic experience and how to 「interpret」 my aesthetic experience bothered me a long time (which I have to admit here I did not even realize such things before.) I was trying to define 「beauty」 「art」 and 「aesthetics」 on my own, but once I tried to define them to my friends, they can literally name an example that countered my definition, making me, like those many philosophers the author mentioned in the book, 「skeptical about the possibility of defining key aesthetic terms such as 「beauty」, 「art」, or 「aesthetic」 or of devising theories that explain what is special or unique about them.
But even so, I was still unwilling to give up and tried to define them, maybe not in a concrete way, but in an abstract way. To my understanding for now, I also believe anything in this world is definable, if it is not definable, then it would not, philosophically speaking, exist, which I know it is kind of a paradox for me. Actually I had a very interesting conversation with one of my friends who has art background on this topic, which I would very like to list it as below:
Me: So I think 「art」 is basically a collection of abstract stuff
He: How about sculpture?
Me: Okay, do you agree that every specific art presentation, like Mona Lisa, can be describable and definable?
He: Probably right
Me: Then art is the aggregation of every specific art presentation, right?
Me: Then why art is not definable?
After this conversation I started to think if it is its abstraction that makes it undefinable. But I think it is not. Math is abstract, but every its abstraction has a very clear definition to make it understandable in a precise way. So it should not be its abstraction that makes it undefinable. I am guessing there will be an interesting discussion about this tomorrow in class.