Volume 1, 2008
Aesthetics and Philosophy of Arts
Characterizing Aesthetic Experience
In this paper, I suggest what I think is an appropriate characterization of aesthetic experience. I do this by critically assessing Noel Carroll’s position and Gary Iseminger’s counterposition. Carroll claims that aesthetic experience should be understood only as an experience of the aesthetic content of an object. Although I accept many of Carroll’s points, I find his position unconvincing. I contend that, in addition to the content, positive value plays a significant role as a constituent of aesthetic experience. Unlike Carroll, Iseminger formulates a value centered view of aesthetic experience. However, I find Iseminger’s position even more
problematic. Since having an aesthetic experience is such a general phenomenon, and does not seem to require an introspective response, neither a subject’s meta-belief, nor judgment concerning the value of her own experience, should be required. Also, I believe that intrinsic value is not necessary for aesthetic experience, because the value aesthetic experience has could be instrumental. I suggest that we can better characterize the aesthetic experience as an
experience of aesthetic contents combined with positive value. I reject the additional meta-belief requirement.