Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Question of Aesthetics

He said that such a statement as "That bass moves too much" is not a statement about human beings at all, but is more like a piece of Mathematics; and that, if I say of a face which I draw "It smiles too much," this says that it could be brought closer to some "ideal," not that it is not yet agreeable enough, and that to bring it closer to the "ideal" in question would be more like "solving a mathematical problem." Similarly, he said, when a painter tries to improve his picture, he is not making a psychological experiment on himself, and that to say of a door "It is top-heavy" is to say what is wrong with it, not what impression it gives you. The question of Aesthetics, he said, was not "Do you like this?" but "Why do you like it?"

What Aesthetics tries to do, he said, is to give reasons, e.g., for having this word rather than that in a particular place in a poem, or for having this musical phrase rather than that in a particular place in a piece of music.

G. E. Moore, "Wittgenstein's Lectures in 1930-1933," in Classics of Analytic Philosophy, Ammerman, ed., Hackett (Indianapolis: 1990) p. 278.

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