THE THEORY OF ARTS AND AESTHETICS, A REALITY TO CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY: KATIAN APPROACH
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Aesthetics is a subset of philosophy that looks at the nature of art and our experience of it. It appeared in the course of the eighteen century in Europe and advanced in England as philosophers grouped together such fields as poetry, sculpture, music, and dance. They classified all the arts into one category and called them les beaux arts or the fine arts. (Severyn)
Philosophers argued that reason on its own fail to explain beauty in that beauty may have some rational properties, such as “order, symmetry, and proportion,” but it is really an experience not explained by reason alone. It is understood through intuition and experienced with human feeling and emotion. An aesthetic experience could include a mixture of feeling, such as pleasure, rage, grief, suffering, and joy. (Severyn)
However, Immanuel Kant construed aesthetics as a field giving main concern to form over function. He then said that beauty was independent of any particular figure with which it was attached. A horse might be beautiful apart from whether it raced well. He proclaimed that knowledge is not something that is created merely by outside institutions but also by our natural constitution. The seat of judgement now moved from medieval reasoning toward the idea that human intuition could be a source of knowing. And aesthetics began to develop as a university discipline. (Severyn)
From many critics today aesthetics does not belong as a university discipline. Art historians have claimed that there is no such thing as art, there are only artists. And postmodernists question whether aesthetics should exist as a university subject, whether it is a legitimate inquiry. On the other hand, some critics repudiate that any universal criteria exist for judging art in all cultures and historical epochs. (Severyn)
Given that art historians had argued that there is no such thing as art, therefore definition of art is controversial in contemporary philosophy. Even though art can be defined has also been a matter of controversy, the philosophical usefulness of a definition of art has also been debated. Coming to contemporary definitions they are of two main sorts.
- One distinctively modern, conventionalist, sort of definition focuses on art’s institutional features, emphasizing the way art changes over time, modern works that appear to break radically with all traditional art, and the relational properties of artworks that depend on works’ relations to art history, art genres, etc.
- The less conventionalist sort of contemporary definition makes use of a broader, more traditional concept of aesthetic properties that includes more than art-relational ones, and focuses on art’s pan-cultural and trans-historical characteristics.
However, any definition of art has to square with the following uncontroversial facts:
- entities (artifacts or performances) intentionally endowed by their makers with a significant degree of aesthetic interest, often surpassing that of most everyday objects, exist in virtually every known human culture;
- such entities, and traditions devoted to them, might be produced by non-human species, and might exist in other possible worlds;
- such entities sometimes have non-aesthetic ceremonial or religious or propagandistic functions, and sometimes do not;
- traditionally, artworks are intentionally endowed by their makers with properties, usually perceptual, having a significant degree of aesthetic interest, often surpassing that of most everyday objects;
- art, so understood, has a complicated history: new genres and art-forms develop, standards of taste evolve, understandings of aesthetic properties and aesthetic experience change;
- there are institutions in some but not all cultures which involve a focus on artifacts and performances having a high degree of aesthetic interest and lacking any practical, ceremonial, or religious use;
- such institutions sometimes classify entities apparently lacking aesthetic interest with entities having a high degree of aesthetic interest;
- many things other than artworks for example, natural entities (sunsets, landscapes, flowers, shadows), human beings, and abstract entities (theories, proofs) are routinely described as having aesthetic properties.
By these very facts, those having to do with art’s cultural and historical topographies are accentuated by some definitions of art. Other definitions of art give main concern to explaining those facts that mirror art’s universality and continuity with other aesthetic phenomena.
Traditionally, at least as generally described in contemporary discussions of the definition of art, take artworks to be characterized by a single type of property. The standard candidates are representational properties, expressive properties, and formal properties. So there are representational or mimetic definitions, expressive definitions, and formalist definitions, which hold that artworks are characterized by their possession of, respectively, representational, expressive, and formal properties. (Severyn)
It is however not difficult to find fault with these simple definitions. For example, possessing representational, expressive, and formal properties cannot be sufficient conditions, since, obviously, instructional manuals are representations, but not typically artworks, human faces and gestures have expressive properties without being works of art, and both natural objects and artifacts produced for the homeliest utilitarian purposes have formal properties but are not artworks. (Severyn)
Disbelief about the likelihood and value of a definition of art has been an important part of the discussion in aesthetics since the 1950s on, and though its influence has subsided, uneasiness about the definitional project persists. ( Kivy 1997, and Walton 2007).
Nonetheless a common domestic of arguments, enthused by Wittgenstein’s famous remarks about games (Wittgenstein, 1968), has it that the phenomena of art are, by their nature, too diverse to admit of the unification that a satisfactory definition strives for, or that a definition of art, were there to be such a thing, would exert a stifling influence on artistic creativity. One expression of this impulse is Weitz’s Open Concept Argument: any concept is open if a case can be imagined which would call for some sort of decision on our part to extend the use of the concept to cover it, or to close the concept and invent a new one to deal with the new case; all open concepts are indefinable; and there are cases calling for a decision about whether to extend or close the concept of art. Therefore art is indefinable (Weitz, 1956). Against this it is claimed that change does not, in general, rule out the preservation of identity over time, that decisions about concept-expansion may be principled rather than capricious, and that nothing bars a definition of art from incorporating a novelty requirement.
Notably, it is however self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident anymore, not its inner life, not its relation to the world, not its right to exist and given to that the penalty of what could be done spontaneously or unproblematically has not been compensated for by the open infinitude of new possibilities that reflection confronts.
In numerous respects, development shows up as withdrawal. The depths of the in earlier times inconceivable, on which around 1910 revolutionary art movements set out, did not bestow the promised happiness of adventure. As an alternative, the process that was unchecked consumed the categories in the name of that for which it were undertaken. More was relentlessly hauled into the maelstrom of the newly taboo; everywhere artists rejoiced less over the newly won realm of freedom than that they immediately sought once again after ostensible yet scarcely adequate order.
For unconditional freedom in art, constantly limited to a particular, comes into illogicality with the perennial unfree-dom of the whole. Alternatively art became uncertain and therefore the independence it achieved after having freed itself from cultic function and its images was nourished by the idea of humanity. Thus, as society became ever less a human one, this autonomy was shattered. Therefore as drawn from the ideal of humanity, art’s constituent elements withered by art’s own law of movement, yet art’s independence remains irrevocable and all efforts to restore art by giving it a social function of which art is itself uncertain and by which it expresses its own uncertainty are doomed.
Actually, art’s independence shows signs of blindness. Blindness was ever an aspect of art; in the age of art’s emancipation; however, this blindness has begun to pre-dominate in spite of, if not because of, art’s lost ingenuousness, which, as Hegel already perceived, art cannot undo. This binds art to a naiveté of a second order: the ambiguity over what purpose it serves.
On the turn over page, it is uncertain whether art is still possible; whether, with its complete emancipation, it did not sever its own preconditions. This question is kindled by art’s own past. However, artworks detach themselves from the empirical world and bring forth another world, one opposed to the empirical world as if this other world too were an autonomous entity. Therefore, though tragic they appear, artworks tend a priori toward affirmation.
Theoretically, the concept of art is situated in a historically changing group of elements; it refuses definition. Its essence cannot be deduced from its origin as if the first work were a foundation on which everything that followed were constructed and would collapse if shaken. The belief that the first artworks are the highest and purest is warmed-over romanticism; with no less justification it could be claimed that the earliest artistic works are dull and impure in that they are not yet separated from magic, historical documentation, and such pragmatic aims as communicating over great distances by means of calls or horn sounds; the classical conception of art gladly made use of such arguments. In bluntly historical terms, the facts blur.2
Therefore the effort to incorporate the historical genesis of art ontologically under an ultimate motif would necessarily flounder in such disparate material that the theory would emerge empty-handed except for the obviously relevant insight that the arts will not fit into any gapless concept of art.
Moreover in those studies dedicated to the aesthetic, positivistic sampling of material and such speculation as is other-wise disdained by the sciences flourish wildly alongside each other; Bachofen is the best example of this. If, all the same, one wanted in the usual philosophical fashion categorically to distinguish the so-called question of origin as that of art’s essence from the question of art’s historical origin, that would amount only to turning the concept of origin arbitrarily against the usual sense of the word. The order, and therefore it is not substantial in art either. That explains the inconsistency of aesthetic construction. Construction is equally able to codify the resignation of the weakened subject and to make absolute alienation the sole concern of art which once wanted the opposite as it is able to anticipate a reconciled condition that would itself be situated beyond static and dynamic.
Furthermore, the numerous interrelations with technocracy give reason to suspect that the principle of construction remains aesthetically obedient to the administered world; but it may terminate in a yet un-known aesthetic form, whose rational organization might point to the abolition of all categories of administration along with their reflexes in art.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Aestheticians have wandered more and more from the usual ground of aesthetic theory into the philosophies of specific arts, such as music, film, dance, or literature. The philosophies of the arts provide an invigorating role for philosophers. By focusing on particular arts, philosophers have been able to speak usefully to art historians, musicologists, and literary critics and answer questions in their disciplines: the nature of our comprehension of film narrative, pictorial perception, moral education in the novel, or composition versus performance-based standards in music, to name only a few.
The study view, however, is that aesthetics has not yet faced one the most troubling features of aesthetic life: the very difficult of knowing our aesthetic experience and the consequent confusion and unreliability of what we take as our taste. This problem could be referred to as aesthetic unreliability which returns us to the very foundations of aesthetics and raises questions about the authority of individuals’ assessments of their aesthetic experience and all that follows from those assessments.
On the other hand, aesthetic unreliability requires us to reconsider the individual as both good judge and consumer. It suggests alternative explanations for some of the more curious features of cultural life, namely, that our taste is often incoherent, the practice of criticism largely arbitrary and creative practices something of a free-for-all. Aesthetic unreliability supports the view that our inner aesthetic lives are more anarchic, protean, and unknown than we have been willing to admit.
It is noted that the philosophical discipline of aesthetics deals with theoretical problems arising out of the critical examination of art and the aesthetic. Monroe Beardsley in his book titled general aesthetics Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism as of 1958, implying that aesthetics is about philosophical concepts that are used repeatedly undiplomatically by critics of the arts, when they say that a work of art such as a painting is beautiful or has aesthetic value, that it represents some subject matter, has a well-composed form, is in a particular style, and expresses some emotion. But aesthetics also deals more broadly with the aesthetics of nature (Budd 1996, Carlson 2000) and gardens (Ross 1998), and with the aesthetic appreciation of objects and activities in everyday life (Dewey 1934). And even when focused on the arts, philosophical aesthetics is concerned with the philosophical problems that arise from the artist’s point of view as well as the critic’s.
Consequently creativity, expression, representation, form, and style are problems that can be addressed from the artist’s point of view as well as the spectator’s. Besides, “the philosophy of criticism” does not do justice to the breadth of concerns addressed by philosophical aesthetics today. Some of the thorniest issues in aesthetics relate directly to problems in general philosophy: What is aesthetic value? Do the arts provide knowledge? Is there a special kind of aesthetic experience or aesthetic perception? Most of the questions that come up in theorizing about particular art forms the philosophy of literature, the theory of the visual arts, the philosophy of music, the philosophy of film, environmental arts and so on are general questions having implications for other art forms.
Some theorists, on the other hand, think that the individual arts come with their own exceptional sets of philosophical problems (Kivy 1997). The problem of the experience and value of absolute music, for example, does not have a clear parallel in any of the other arts, including the other abstract arts (Kivy 1990). Authenticity is a particular problem in the performing arts such as dance and music. But for the most part, questions in the philosophy of art have general application across the arts. Thus the problem of the nature of fictional characters has usually been taken to be a problem about literature, but representational works of visual art also contain fictional people, objects and events (Walton 1990). Similarly, the question as to why people get emotionally involved with fictional characters may seem to be unique to films and novels (Carroll 1990, Currie 1990, Feagin 1996, Lamarque 1996), but it applies equally to fictions in works of visual art. Again, the question why people enjoy tragedies is not peculiar to tragedies: It is the same kind of question as the question why do people listen to sad music if it makes them feel sad (Davies 1994, Levinson 1990)?
This ephemeral overview first discusses the aesthetic in general and then turns to problems peculiar to the arts. It ends with some general remarks about how aesthetics connects to more general questions about knowledge, emotion, and value. Some effort has been made to point out how the most important concepts of aesthetics came to be considered important. The tendency of late-twentieth-century philosophy especially analytic philosophy has been to treat the problems of aesthetics as timeless problems having correct answers that will be true of all art works and aesthetic experiences no matter where or when they occur. For that reason, one should approaches aesthetics with an eye to the historical background from which its characteristic problems emerged and one will however have a better sense not only of what those problems are but also of the different ways they have been conceptualized and why which is one of the ways to solving the problem of the study.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Though countless researchers have printed on paper the theory of arts and aesthetics, a reality to contemporary society in Nigeria, it is significance to note that the theory of arts and aesthetics was brought to light as far back in 18th century. However, as regards the aesthetic principles. These include the expectations that art is to be found principally in objects, that the evaluation of art objects is the major goal of aesthetics, and that in order to evaluate art objects a set of classificatory principles is necessary, so that appropriate objects may be grouped together for comparative judgment. Therefore the study exercise is significant to the extent that one should be able;
- To know the evolution of the theory of arts and aesthetics.
- To proffer a lasting solution to the disbelief about the likelihood and value of a definition of art.
- To re-examine the rights of the principles of the theory of arts and aesthetics.
- To determine what satisfactory and fair contribution of the theory of arts and aesthetics.
- To appraise the several statutory influence of the theory of arts and aesthetics related enactments, pointing out their adequacies, shortcomings and making suggestions for way forward.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The study is aimed at assessing the theory of arts and aesthetics, a reality to contemporary society: Katian Approach. On the other hand, the choice of this topic stems from the very fact that though the course is a technical one and many researchers have written on the theory of arts and aesthetics, it is significance to note that the theory of arts and aesthetics was brought to light as far back in 18th century, classificatory principles is necessary, so that appropriate objects may be grouped together for comparative judgment. In view of that, objectives in this work will be to
- examine the theoretical framework which backed the theory of arts and aesthetics and define definite technical terms
- assess the katian approach to the theory of arts and aesthetics, a reality to contemporary society.
- highlight weaknesses and shortcomings in the existing establishment.
- offer solution to the confusion existing in the theory of arts and aesthetics
- make certain that propositions are made geared towards ensuring that further improvement can be made to enhance the implementation of the theory of arts and aesthetics over unnecessary issues.
- reorganize the theory of arts and aesthetics in setting independent argument
- What is an aesthetic experience?
- How can an aesthetic value be distinguished?
- What is so important about this experience?
- Why does an object become beautiful? How do we define beauty?
- How is art to be judged?
- How is a judgement the expression of an epoch?
- Is art independent of politics?
- How is a work of art produced?
SCOPE OF THE STUDY:
The major thoughtfulness of our consideration is the question is aesthetics a legitimate discipline for the university? This is the subject of our examination. To do this commendably, we will suggest that the answers come slowly as we learn more about our nature and the universe. However, we will look at an appraisal of aesthetics from the standpoint of race, class, and gender. The critique below proposes to eliminate aesthetics as a subject in the university. Therefore, we will also examine how a new aesthetics could be constructed as a university discipline. Furthermore, we will set forth a basis for its new agenda. The agenda begins with what we call theoretical and general aesthetics. Finally, i will conclude that art is a vital discipline for development in civil society through adequate verification.