Normative Aspects of Aesthetic Appreciation

The standard view of the aesthetic judgment –whose main features are already present in Hume and Kant’s views on the judgment of taste- acknowledges its normative character while underlying its sentimental ground.

Questions concerning the correctness of the aesthetic judgments, the canonical base for issuing and aesthetic judgment, the possibility of genuine disagreement in aesthetics, or the existence of reasons for aesthetic judgments have attracted much of the attention of contemporary aesthetics. However, an implicit understanding of the aesthetic judgment that assimilates it to perceptual judgments has dominated the way in which these questions have been addressed. Thus, the correction of aesthetic judgments has been often conceived as an epistemic issue –one concerning the conditions under which we can guarantee that the aesthetic judgment correctly represents the aesthetic properties of the object aesthetically appreciated.

In the last decades, together with these interests in the conditions governing the correction of aesthetic judgments and the possibility of reasons for aesthetic judgments, certain phenomena related to the normative character of the aesthetic judgment have also attracted much attention. Among others: the possibility of aesthetic testimony, the value of coherence in personal taste, or the disvalue of aesthetic snobbism and aesthetic alienation.

Moreover, the specific normative structure governing aesthetics –conceived as a kind of normativity that does not require rule-application- has also received some attention providing a new focus on the nature of the aesthetic judgment. Thus, Ginsborg (2015) and Appelqvist (2017) have defended the idea that the exercise of the capacity to judge exemplified in the practice of aesthetic judgment provides us with a better understanding of certain problems related to the emergence of normative practices.

This project aims at engaging with this turn towards a less epistemic view of the aesthetic judgment and at articulating an alternative, richer, view of the aesthetic judgment that emphasizes its agential character. Thus, we aim at showing that a purely epistemic approach to the aesthetic judgment cannot fully solve certain problems currently discussed in aesthetics or accommodate certain phenomena related to the exercise of aesthetic appreciation. Secondly, we expect to articulate alternative views of aesthetic experience and judgment that pay due attention to the active character of aesthetic experience and to the agential dimension of aesthetic judgment. We also think these views will be more successful in accommodating the phenomena that the standard view seems unable to explain satisfactorily. Finally, we will point to those aspects of aesthetic understanding and art criticism that make especially salient the features constituting this richer view of aesthetic experience and judgment.