Volume 1, 2008
Aesthetics and Philosophy of Arts
Julia Jansen, Francis Halsall, Tony O’Connor
Aesthetics as Cross-Disciplinary Discipline
One of the important aspects of recent aesthetics is its focus on cross-disciplinary approaches. This implies that, although claims to generality and objectivity continue to be made, no single practice, science, or approach is able to provide absolute evidential support for arguments and claims. Aesthetics as a critical enterprise, therefore, is open to a plurality of explanations. As a result, art becomes more than another object of scientific or philosophical inquiry. It becomes a model for philosophical practice that can complement or compete with dominant scientific paradigms. However, such aesthetic practice must respond to at least two grounds for skepticism: that a turn to aesthetics involves withdrawal from either critical and rigorous thinking or from social action and life. By discussing three core themes relevant for recent debates across the fields of philosophy, art history/theory and art pratice we would like to show how these concerns, while serious, can be taken up by aesthetics. These themes are: 1. the issue of validity (motivated by inquiries into the peculiar validity of aesthetic judgments); 2. the issue of subjectivity (motivated by the stipulated ‘special link’ between aesthetics and the human subject); and the political dimension of aesthetics (highlighted by the political implications of pluralist approaches to aesthetics, such as the need for negotiation and appeal).