Volume 29, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2009
Ki Joo Choi
The Deliberative Practices of Aesthetic Experience
Reconsidering the Moral Functionality of Art
THIS ESSAY PROPOSES A CONCEPTION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN art and ethics that moves away from popular causative understandings. Turning to select themes treated in the work of the literary theorist Elaine Scarry, the moral and aesthetical theology of Jonathan Edwards, and finally the philosophical reflections of Marcia Muelder Eaton, a more positive theoretical account of the moral relevance of art and various aesthetic experiences emerge. Central to this account is the observation that art objects, specifically those objects that can be judged as beautiful, provoke a number of deliberative practices. These practices range from the solitary to the relational. Special emphasis on the latter practices provide the conceptual space to reflect more imaginatively about the significance of art for the building of political community and the task of Christian ethics more generally.