Aesthetic relativism

Aesthetic relativism

Aesthetic relativism is the philosophical view that the judgement of beauty is relative to individuals, cultures, time periods and contexts, and that there are no universal criteria of beauty. For example, statuettes like the Venus of Willendorf or the women in the paintings of Rubens would have been considered ideal forms of beauty when painted, but today may be regarded as fat, while contemporary standards of beauty (such as those that feature on the covers of contemporary fashion magazines) may have been considered less than ideal in Rubens' time.

Aesthetic relativism is a variety of the philosophy known generally as relativism, which casts doubt on the possibility of direct epistemic access to the "external world", and which therefore reject the positive claim that statements made about the external world can be known to be objectively true. Other varieties of relativism include cognitive relativism (the general claim that all truth and knowledge is relative) and Ethical Relativism (the claim that moral judgments are relative). Aesthetic and Ethical relativism are sub-categories of Cognitive Relativism.

Philosophers who have been influential in relativist thinking include:
*David Hume, particularly his "radical scepticism" as set out in A Treatise of Human Nature
*Thomas Kuhn, with regards to the history and philosophy of science, and particularly his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
*Friedrich Nietzsche, in moral philosophy and epistemology
*Richard Rorty, on the contingency of language

Philosophers who have made influential objectivist accounts include
*Plato, and in particular his Theory of the Forms
*Immanuel Kant, who argued that the judgment of beauty, despite the standards of which being unique to individuals, is a universally practiced function of the mind.
*Noam Chomsky, whose "nativist" theory of linguistics argues for a universal grammar (i.e., that language is not as contingent as relativists have argued that it is).

The question whether or not such agreement pre-exists social conditioning is an ongoing one, and mirrors the broader nature versus nurture debate within the social sciences, and within science and philosophy in general. (For example, an informed and educated public might have been informed and educated in different ways, and their tastes might then have been quite divergent.) The extent to which taste might be explained in fundamentally sociological as distinct from aesthetic terms, is a matter of ongoing debate.

On the relationship between aesthetics, sexual attraction and reproduction see Arthur Schopenhauer "On the Metaphysics of the Love of the Sexes". For Schopenhauer, the criteria for sexual attraction are (in women from the perspective of men) beauty, youth and health; and (in men from the perspective of women) status, strength and wealth. This is because these are believed to be the optimal conditions for the reproduction of the species: the well-being of the potential offspring is always the key concern, although one or both of the partners may be quite unconscious of this.

ee also

*Grotesque body
*Semiotics of Ideal Beauty

References

*Thomas Kuhn, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"
*Richard Rorty, "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity".
*Arthur Schopenhauer "On the Metaphysics of the Love of the Sexes", in "The World as Will and Representation" ("Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung")


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Relativism — Compare moral relativism, aesthetic relativism, social constructionism, cultural relativism, and cognitive relativism. Relativism is the idea that some elements or aspects of experience or culture are relative to, i.e., dependent on, other… …   Wikipedia

  • Cultural relativism — Compare moral relativism, aesthetic relativism, social constructionism, and cognitive relativism. Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human s beliefs and activities should be understood by others in terms of that individual s… …   Wikipedia

  • Factual relativism — or epistemic relativism is a mode of reasoning which extends relativism and subjectivism to factual matter and reason. In factual relativism the facts used to establish the truth or falsehood of any statement are understood to be relative to the… …   Wikipedia

  • Aesthetics — or esthetics (also spelled æsthetics) is commonly known as the study of sensory or sensori emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. [Zangwill, Nick. [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aesthetic judgment/ Aesthetic… …   Wikipedia

  • Perpessicius — Dumitru S. Panaitescu Born October 22, 1891(1891 10 22) Brăila Died March 29, 1971(1971 03 29) (aged 79) Bucharest Pen name Perpessicius, D. Pandara Occupation …   Wikipedia

  • SEAR — South East Asia Region (Regional) * Superultramodern Ethical / Aesthetic Relativism (Academic & Science) * Superultramodern Ethical Aesthetic Relativism (Miscellaneous » Science Fiction) * Stop Everything And Read (Community » Educational) …   Abbreviations dictionary

  • List of topics in aesthetics — List of topics in aesthetics. (See also: List of aestheticians.)* A Mathematician s Apology * A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful * Abhinavagupta * Abstract Illusionism * Abstract art * Academic art * …   Wikipedia

  • Taste (sociology) — Taste in the general sense is the same as preference.Taste is also a sociological concept in that it is not just personal but subject to social pressures, and a particular taste can be judged good or bad . This theory was first put forward… …   Wikipedia

  • Grotesque body — NOTOC The grotesque body is a concept, or literary trope, put forward by Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin in his study of Francois Rabelais work. Through the use of the grotesque body in his novels, Rabelais related political conflicts to… …   Wikipedia

  • Glossary of philosophical isms — This is a list of topics relating to philosophy that end in ism . compactTOC NOTOC A * Absolutism – the position that in a particular domain of thought, all statements in that domain are either absolutely true or absolutely false: none is true… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.