18 October 2009

oh, clive bell, you're such a pretentious and confusing individual.

Clive Bell extremely confuses me! Although most Philosophy seems to confuse me a bit since it's beyond the scope of common thought, I've had a handle on what we were discussing until Bell. Nevertheless, the most intriguing part of Bell that I will try to discuss is Aesthetic Emotion.

Clive Bell describes aesthetic emotion as a peculiar emotion that is different from the observer’s usual range of emotions. This peculiar emotion is so rare, so mysterious, that it cannot be identified.

For example, viewing pictures from 9/11 may trigger feelings of patriotism or maybe bring back feelings of grief, but those emotions are able to be pinpointed in our mind, and therefore not considered aesthetic emotions. Michelle mentioned that this type of aesthetic emotion can only best be described as the “ecstasy felt in religious contemplation,” which makes it even more unexplainable to me.

After reading Tasha's blog about how there are not a common set of emotions that every experiences, I agree, and I then came to think that even Clive Bell had no idea what he was saying. How can you call something an "aesthetic emotion" when it is so mysterious it cannot be pinpointed?

Professor Johnson even said that some think that Clive Bell was trying to develop theory that would help him defend the new cubism art that his friends were creating and calling 'art'. Although I believe cubism is art, it could have been considered art even if Clive Bell only went along with the intentionality thesis and didn't insist on creating a confusing new set of unidentifiable emotions.
So, this leads me to my questions:

1) Do aesthetic emotions even exist due to their inability to be described by Bell?

2) If they do exist, and since we can’t describe aesthetic emotion, is it possible to know when we are experiencing an aesthetic emotion?

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