UCSB Philosophy Blog

Members of the UCSB Department of Philosophy and anyone else are welcome to talk philosophy with us. Bring your own brain.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

GRS + reading group + more aesthetics = kung fu sex

Hello party people. I just got back from another episode of the Guerrilla Radio Show, and it was pretty good. It's a good thing we're spending 2 weeks on puzzles and paradoxes, because we only just started to get rolling with it tonight. Next week we'll have some guest input (I hope), which is always a thrill. And by "thrill" I mean "relief". Tomorrow night meets the Wittgenstein reading group, and we'll be working on the first half or so of part 4 of the Tractatus. Some weird stuff happens therein: some of the clearest continuities between Wittgenstein's early and late thought, and some of the clearest differences. 'S'fun!
I'm working on updating the notes I have on my online version of the Tractatus, as we go through it, and I've found a few more basic points worth noting even in what I had covered already. I don't know if anyone is interested to read what I have to say about it, but I put it up more for the purpose of giving very minimal guidance through a difficult work, rather than trying to impose interpretations. So most of what I do there is point out connections between propositions and issues in various places in the book, to help myself and others get a more cohesive picture of what's going on in it. I welcome the comments of anyone who gives a damn about my notes or even on any typos you might find in that copy of the Tractatus text (I've been told, non-specifically, that there are some).
Some more photos were posted on the department site, some of which were long overdue to be put up. Check out our December party and Philosophy of Language Conference. Between those two sets, that's well over 100 photos of members of our department, friends and visitors. Before long (I mean it this time) we'll have another set up with pictures from the recent Philosophy/Statistics bowling "tournament". We're probably the most photographed philosophy department I know (well, the one with the most photos online, anyway). Is that weird? Does anybody else do this? Not that there's anything wrong with it.

On another note, after I posted that bit last time about aesthetics, I had a few long discussions with some of my fellow philgrads (including the Josh-meister) about the issue, so this thing ain't dead yet. Here's one issue of interest: It seems like some arguments for the subjectivity of aesthetic value rely on views about what is and isn't appropriate to tell someone about art. For example, some people have the intuition that it's inappropriate (in a sense to be specified) to tell someone that they shouldn't like X. However, I think we can separate views about the propriety of communicating our aesthetic evaluations in certain ways (e.g., trying to convince someone else of them) from the question of whether that evaluation is irremediably subjective. For example, although I would feel wrong telling someone that their taste in music is bad, i.e., that they shouldn't be into what they are into, I have no problem telling someone that they should like something that they don't already like (as long as I can give some reasons for this that have any hope of bringing about the change in taste). So the issue of whether it's appropriate (warranted, or felicitous, perhaps?) to tell someone that their aesthetic evaluation of something is wrong is perhaps separable from whether people can be wrong about these things, or can convince others of their views, or whatever other kind of subjective/objective issues are keeping you up at night. What do you think?


  • At 7:29 PM, Blogger Josh said…

    Hey, Luke. A quick note on this:

    I think Ian has expressed the same view that you have about criticizing peoples' tastes. His way to make sense of it all seems to be that pretty much anything that one can have an aesthetic attitude towards is aesthetically good. Thus, one can find oneself unable to criticize the tastes of others while finding oneself quite able to tell someone that they ought to like something aesthetically. On this view it seems that aesthetics is mostly a matter of having some sort of appreciation for something. That is, the threshold for aesthetic goodness is set low. For something to be aesthetically good it must merely be able to be appreciated in some broadly aesthetic way.

    I don't know if you like this idea, but I thought it might fit your views. I'm curious as to whether you agree.

    I too think that there is something wrong with criticizing peoples' tastes in art. But I, on the other hand, don't share the feeling that it is right to tell someone that they ought to appreciate something (aesthetically). I think that I, for example, can think that something is aesthetically good and have reasons for it, yet think it reasonable that someone else not like it. I also find myself understanding why some people like something (aesthetically), yet still not like it myself.


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