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02 SEPTEMBER 2014

Aesthetic disinterestedness: axiom of modern Western aesthetics

"The concept of aesthetic disinterestedness is surely one of the axioms of modern Western aesthetics, if not its central principle. Developed mainly in the eighteenth century in the writings of Alison, Shaftesbury, Addison, Hutcheson and others of the British school, the notion of disinterestedness denoted the perception of an object 'for its own sake.' This central idea became the mark of a new and distinctive mode of experience called the aesthetic, a kind of experience that was distinguished from more common modes, such as practical, cognitive, moral, and religious experience. During the same century many of these writers grouped what we now call the fine arts into a generally accepted set in which they were all organized by the same principles and could be compared with one another.[1] Finally, in the latter part of the century and especially in Germany, the general theory of the fine arts achieved the status of a separate discipline and, in the work of Kant, came to occupy a distinct and integral place in a philosophical system. Kant's formulation of disinterestedness is generally regarded as definitive:

'...[T]aste in the beautiful is alone a disinterested and free satisfaction; for no interest, either of sense or of reason, here forces our assent...Taste is the faculty of judging of an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The object of such satisfaction is called beautiful.'[2]

...What might we say is the historical significance of aesthetic disinterestedness? Disinterestedness served to identify intrinsic normative experience. As first developed it was used in a moral context to help the recognition of things and actions that were good in themselves, apart from their usefulness. Thus Shaftesbury, who, along with Hutcheson and Alison, was one of the principal contributors to this view, contrasted 'the disinterested love of God,' a love pursued for its own sake, with the more common motive of serving God 'for interest merely.' The disinterested love of God has, then, value that is entirely intrinsic.[3] When applied to the experience of beauty, it denoted the same recognition of intrinsic value. There is a valid insight here, for we often find ourselves valuing a work of art for its own sake. Somehow the value of good art seems to be self-contained. The work commands respect and admiration in itself, apart from practical considerations such as monetary value, the conferring of social status, or its association with the hand of genius."

(Arnold Berleant and Ronald Hepburn, Contemporary Aesthetics)

[1] Paul Oskar Kristeller, "The Modern System of the Arts," in Renaissance Thought II (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), pp. 163-227.

[2] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (l790), Sect. 5. For an extended critical account see A. Berleant, "The Historicity of Aesthetics I," The British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol.26, No.2 (Spring 1986), 101-111; "The Historicity of Aesthetics II," The British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol.26, No.3 (Summer 1986), 195-203; and "Beyond Disinterestedness." The British Journal of Aesthetics, 34/3 (July 1994).

[3] Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristics, ed. Robertson (London, 1900), II, 55, 56. The definitive discussion of this history is Jerome Stolnitz, "On the Origins of 'Aesthetic Disinterestedness'," The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, XX, 2 (Winter 1961), 131-143. The history of the idea of disinterestedness continues to be debated. See my Art and Engagement, Ch. 1, esp. n. 3, pp. 215-216.

TAGS

18th centuryaesthetic disinterestednessaesthetic experienceaesthetics • Anthony Ashley-Cooper • appreciative experience • Archibald Alison • Arnold Berleantart for arts sakebeauty • British school • cognitive experience • critique of human actions • Dabney Townsend • David Hume • disinterested love • disinterested satisfaction • disinterestedness • dissatisfaction • experience of beauty • fine arts • Francis Hutcheson • George Dickie • god • human creations • Immanuel Kant • intrinsic normative experience • intrinsic value • Jerome Stolnitz • John Locke • Joseph Addison • judgement • moral experience • Paul Oskar Kristeller • practical experience • religious experience • Remy Saisselin • Ronald Hepburn • taste • usefulness • Western aesthetics

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 JULY 2013

Art Review: international contemporary art magazine

"ArtReview is one of the world's leading international contemporary art magazines. Founded in 1949, it is dedicated to expanding contemporary art's audience and reach. We believe that art plays a vital role in inspiring a richer, more profound understanding of human experience, culture and society today. Aimed at both a specialist and a general audience, the magazine features a mixture of criticism, reviews, reportage and specially commissioned artworks, and offers the most established, in–depth and intimate portrait of international contemporary art in all its shapes and forms."

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TAGS

1949 • art reviews • ArtReview • audience and reach • commissioned artworks • contemporary art • contemporary art magazines • culture and societyfine art • fine art publications • fine artist • fine artshuman experienceinternational • international contemporary art • magazineart criticism • publicationreportagereviewsshapes and formsvisual art • visual art publications • visual arts exhibitions

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 SEPTEMBER 2012

Cultural Olympiad UK East Midlands: World Event Young Artists

"World Event Young Artists (WEYA) is the first of its kind and will take place in the cultural city of Nottingham, England in September 2012.

This global event will showcase a selection of the best international creative talent, across a spectrum of artforms, in one city, providing an opportunity for 1000 artists from 100 nations to join together and share their creativity on an international platform.

The World Event will be a chance for international exchange on a global scale, bringing the city to life; it is as much about intercultural dialogue across political borders as it is about the practice of young artists.

This unique combination of factors will ensure an unforgettable experience for all who take part and its audiences. Its public programme and web resources will offer space for collaborative development, workshops, debates and symposiums across a mixture of structured and informal settings. Artists will take part in workshops and interactive engaging sessions which will be delivered by an exciting range of creative individuals and artform specialists, exclusively tailored for young artists of the 21st century.

This once in a lifetime event will thrive on discussion and collaboration with like minded artistic talents from across the globe and aims to encourage future partnerships.

World Event Young Artists 2012 is hosted by UK Young Artists and supported by Arts Council England, Cultural Olympiad East Midlands, Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham City Council."

(World Event Young Artists 2012, UK)

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TAGS

2012artartform • artform specialists • artforms • artistic practiceartistic talentartistsArts Council Englandarts festivalarts practitioner • Ayanna Witter-Johnson • collaborative development • contemporary artcontemporary art symposiacreative individuals • creative partnerships • creative talent • creative workshops • creativity • Cultural Olympiad • debatesfine arts • intercultural dialogue • international creative talent • international exchange • international platform • NottinghamNottingham City CouncilNottingham Trent UniversitysymposiumUK • UK Young Artists • visual arts • WEYA • workshops • World Event Young Artists • young artists

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 MARCH 2012

Peter Bannan: director + photographer

"After gaining a degree in Fine Arts at Canterbury University in the mid seventies, majoring in European Film, Peter went on to make his name as a fashion photographer, shooting fashion for designers, catalogues and magazines both in New Zealand and off shore.

Ten years ago he co–founded his Auckland based film company Bannan Films and now after relocating to Singapore in 2008 is primarily directing commercials as a freelancer.

His fashion background gives his commercials a beautiful, visually unique style, while his cinema interests bring subtle, often quirky humour with strong characters and captivating storytelling. Peter has a relaxed, calm demeanor, which allows him to work well with babies & children, this also obviously comes from the experience he has had with his own three children."

(Peter Bannan)

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TAGS

advertisingAotearoa New Zealand • Bannan Films • commercialsdesigndesign formalism • fashion catalogue • fashion magazinefashion photographerfashion photography • film directing • fine artsfreelancerPeter BannanphotographerphotographyshowreelSingaporeTVC • tvc showreel • University of Canterburyvisual communicationvisual drama • visually unique

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 MAY 2011

Communication Design: a 20th century sub-discipline of design

"communication design – a sub–discipline of design that has emerged from the fine arts and crafts tradition in the 20th century. In the past several decades, communication design has transformed its disciplinary identity to a broad expertise associated with the planning and design of communication, as well as the development of services."

(Doctoral Education in Design Conference 2011)

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TAGS

201120th centurycommunication design • conference conversation • crafts traditiondesign education • design services • design sub-discipline • disciplinary identity • doctoral education • doctoral education in design • fine artsHong KongHong Kong Polytechnic Universitynew thinkingSwinburne University of Technology

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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