These approaches, it is said, will always be insufficient in capturing and communicating the immediacy of pre-reflective excess that is the most basic characteristic of experience as such.
For advocates of the latter, on the other hand, experience is more of a public phenomenon that can be explained objectively and indeed needs to be supplemented with properly cognitive and scientific registers — since otherwise it will remain caught in the irrationalism of raw immediacy and lived excess, and in mere practice and custom as opposed to theory and explanation. And crucial to this metacognitive perspective was a genuinely objective model of experience, which was to be explicated by transposing the parameters of the experiential from that of the individual to impersonal technological instruments by treating experience itself as an object such as any other.
Unsurprisingly, this perspective did not sit well within the discourses of aesthetics and theology, whose proponents strongly criticised this understanding of experience on the basis of various accounts of the experiential as pre-reflective life, organic and spiritual wholeness, pure feeling, and so on. Central to this model of experience was a particular form of emotion and irrationalism — both in the encounter with artworks but also as a whole way of life — which operated according to the belief that aesthetic experience is vital for restoring the order of intelligible meaning in the wake of the scientific labour of disenchantment.
As we just have seen, historically, aesthetic experience has usually been positioned against the disenchanting vectors of techno-scientific objectification, and while one reaction to the scenario outlined above indeed may be that it posits a fundamental threat to aesthetics — construed as a realm of human enchantment and imagination — my basic contention is that the techno-scientific objectification of experience opens up untapped cultural and aesthetic resources, and that the cognitive discrepancy that emerges between the culturally acquired image of ourselves as humans and the naturalistic image of man constructed by modern science should not be viewed as a mere threat to our immediate self-understanding or to the integrity of aesthetics and culture.
On the contrary, it should be understood as a privileged site for future cultural interventions insofar as it points to cognitive and cultural landscapes hitherto alien to us. Hence, what is necessary here is the overcoming of the problematic dichotomy between aesthetic experience and techno-scientific objectification by the repositioning of aesthetic experience within a critical framework in tune with the transformative potentials of the natural sciences.
I have no philosophy of art worth speaking of. See Brassier, R. Needless to say, this has implications on any form of aesthetic that seeks to operate from the perspective of cognitive subversion — yet it also points to the importance of aesthetics as a program of cognitive subversion insofar as it seems to me that the cognitive import of aesthetics, from this perspective, is that it provides us with an actual way of getting out of the myth of experience that philosophy only can allude to. For whereas philosophy by itself is incapable of actually interrupting the myth of experience — indeed, no matter how much we do so at the level of theory, we are still as much experiential subjects as we were before — aesthetics, precisely insofar as it addresses experience directly, can be utilised as a practical program for implementing the techno-scientific disconnections from human experience that this perspective calls for.
For without actual ways of doing so, the philosophical rejection of the myth of experience remains an empty promise. In a recent essay , I have nominated the formal experiments of modernism as the aesthetics that most cogently have sought to move beyond the inherent restrictions of human experience. Of particular relevance in this case is the shared interest of several modernist artists in augmented models of experience — for example through various experiments with vision, hearing, psychedelia and synaesthesia — which may be understood as aesthetic experiments that do not simply operate at the level of the content of experience, but instead seek to explore its overarching form.
For instance, in her book Writing on Drugs , the philosopher Sadie Plant suggests that the vivid colours and symmetrical patterns that occur with remarkable frequency in various forms of art and craftsmanship across cultures all over the world in fact may be understood as different attempts at visualising the abstract, cognitive patterns that constitute the fabric of a psychedelic experience.go to site
Art and Aesthetics Essay
In other words, what a psychedelic experience brings to the fore according to Plant are culturally invariant, abstract cognitive patterns which she hypothesises may be phenomenal manifestations of the workings of the brain during extreme states of excitation such as of the kind induced by psychoactive drugs — when local modifications brought about by changes in synaptic connections bring about global alterations in brain-wave amplitude, speed and frequency. Hence, the key points here are that in phenomenal states such as psychedelic experiences the cognitive subject seems to be able to experience objective neurobiological processes that explicate experience as an object — and that the cognitive import of psychedelic and similar forms of art thus may turn out to be the aesthetic unpacking of these neurobiological processes.
Accordingly, rather than utilising aesthetics for the purpose of communicating various kinds of experiences, it is here approached as a medium for explicating its underlying artificiality — that is, the fact that experience is a plastic medium that can be approached objectively and also be augmented beyond the confines of the default first-person perspective. The shift from aesthetic content to form thus marks a concomitant cognitive shift from the subjective to the objective, which may be elaborated on by thinking of the techno-scientific disconnection from the myth of experience as a form of spatial dispossession.
For Callois, the natural sciences is one of the primary examples of this spatial dispossession insofar as scientific objectification indeed may be understood as operating according to a logic in which psychological individuality gradually slides towards the immanence of impersonal exteriority.
Beyond aesthetics : philosophical essays / Noel Carroll - Details - Trove
As he puts it:. The objectivity underlying the formal overturning of the myth of experience consequently has to be linked to a specific form of spatial dispossession: experience is overturned by cognitive objectification insofar as it is robbed of its transcendental self-differentiation and re-inscribed into the impersonal exteriority congruent with de-individuated space. Evans's focus is almost exclusively on the situation in the United States. His book is especially timely, given recent and ongoing disputes about public art, such as the controversies and violent confrontations over removing Confederate statues e.
His study is extremely well informed about the history of US public art, from the first controversies concerning memorials to George Washington ca. Evans here extends and enriches his valuable earlier work on voice and citizenship, as in The Multi-Voiced Body: Society and Communication in an Age of Diversity There and in the current study although now more implicitly he builds creatively on Mikhail Bakhtin's critical concept of a plurality of voices and discourses, or heteroglossia. He argues that a democracy necessarily involves a multiplicity of distinct views, perspectives, and interests, a "multi-voiced body.
For Evans, a democracy should enable and encourage a plurality of voices, and avoid submitting to what he calls "oracles," that is, unquestionable dogmatic voices of authority. On this view, a democratic polity will have the virtues of solidarity, heterogeneity, and fecundity.
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It will foster the sense that we're all in this together, that we respect others in their otherness, and aim at an ever more flourishing public life. Rather than engaging in reactionary nostalgia "make America great again" we should aspire to become great. Evans is quite aware that no constitution, law, or mythical national character can secure a democracy in the virtues of solidarity, heterogeneity, and fecundity that he takes to define democracy.
His contribution is to defend these virtues while critically identifying authoritarian obstacles oracles that impede them. In this respect, the book is much more than an essay on public art. Public art becomes a crucial locus for exploring the promise of pluralistic democracy in the light of a sober assessment of its inherent fragility. Evans proposes a broad definition of public art: it "will encompass any artistic creation that has the intent or effect of addressing democratic values and occurs in public space" This definition implicitly excludes art in those regimes certain monarchies, theocracies and the like that do not profess democratic values.
Of course, virtually all polities today excluding perhaps a few religious kingdoms and theocracies claim to be democratic in some sense. Evans's definition is wide enough to embrace a spectrum of works, ranging from those that are government sponsored to dissident or guerilla art that aims at challenging official orthodoxies. Evans first introduces some dilemmas concerning public art -- and the very meaning of public space -- by discussing several controversies concerning the Confederate statues, whose glorification of the "lost cause" and the Jim Crow era demonstrate the fragility of democracy.
He finds an alternative to such degradation of the democratic experiment in Krzystof Wodiczko's work, which contested the gentrification and depoliticization of New York's Union Square. From its beginning in the space was aligned with the value of liberty, serving public gatherings, especially in times of crisis. The growing neo-liberalism of the s saw the Square not only surrounded more intensely by commercial enterprise, but its internal structure altered by removing trees and consolidating paths to render it more panoptical, more subject to surveillance.
Homeless people and political assemblies were to be brought under control. Wodiczko enacted a telling form of artistic resistance to this process, illuminating the existing statues of Washington, Lafayette, Lincoln, and Charity with transfiguring projections that associated them with the homeless, immigrants, and other marginalized groups. The oracle of neo-liberal "revitalization," actually a massive real estate deal, was briefly transfigured to suggest an open pluralization of voices.
Drawing on Claude Lefort, Evans focuses on the "empty space" in the public square that necessarily characterizes the topography of democracy. Stimulated also by Savage's indispensable history in Monument Wars , he refers throughout to the competing paradigms of the monumental structure think Washington Monument or the "plain tablet" proposed by an early nineteenth century Congressional representative on which citizens would be encouraged to write their own testimonies concerning the nation's founder.
These are meaty chapters that offer much provocative material for philosophers thinking about the intersections of art and politics. The discussions are enriched as Evans problematizes the concept of time as linear and continuous that is often thoughtlessly assumed in discourses about the monumental and other forms of public art. Here he finds important suggestions for conceptualizing alternative ideas of temporality, modernity, and contemporaneity in 20th century art like Robert Smithson's and art writers such as Terry Smith, Keith Moxey, and Peter Osborne.
The Aesthetic Philosophy Of The Art World
In marking a time and a place, public art also invokes a multiplicity of coexisting time schemes, or heterochronicity. This theme is usefully encapsulated in the principle that there is no natural hierarchy of times.
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In the first gigantomachia that Evans stages, between Rawls and Derrida, issues of temporality and diversity come to the fore. Rawls's concept of the original position, in which participants tend to arrive at a consensus concerning principles of rights and distribution, is seen as having real, if limited value, with regard to its implications for public art.
As Evans observes, a Rawlsian approach gives priority to consensus, so it would presumably exclude the allocation of public space and resources for blatantly divisive works such as the US Confederate "monuments. Rawls is good on solidarity, but we recall that this is only one criterion of a democratic polity.
With respect to the others, heterogeneity and fecundity, Derrida's notion of a "democracy to come" fares much better. In that perspective, democracy is understood as an open-ended agonistic interchange, an unpredictable process open to including and listening to new voices, or in Evans's terms a "multi-voiced body. A democracy to come would be premised on a radical hospitality that would open the polity and its public space to the overlooked and excluded.
Both are concerned to develop a political thought that would make us more aware of the implicit and unexamined exclusions that characterize all political states, even those claiming the title of democracies. Badiou regards contemporary parliamentary and electoral "democracies" as instruments of conservative oligarchies. Authentic politics for him involves the production of truths, principles that emerge unpredictably from a prior situation and that mark a genuine event.
The French Revolution was such an event; its declaration of a new set of universal rights constitutes a truth that calls for fidelity from those who have comprehended it. Badiou's fundamental ontology, drawn from set theory, involves a constant duality of that which has been recognized counted as significant and the void or excluded that has not so far attained recognition. Communism, rather than democracy as imperfectly practiced, would be the project of continually expanding the realm of the included.