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					Diploma and BA Philosophy



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                            Aesthetics
                            Examiner’s report
                            General comments
                              Before you begin writing any examination essay, you should read the question
                              carefully, decide on an answer, and prepare an outline. In reading the question, make
                              sure that you understand what is being asked, and that you answer precisely that
                              question. Think about the sort of answer called for: is it a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, or one
                              that requires a different kind of response? Are you expected to explain and evaluate a
                              particular author’s view, or does the question require canvassing various positions? Do
                              you need to narrow down the topic further to make it manageable? The next step is to
                              decide on your answer to the question. Never attempt a question for which you do not
                              have a clear answer. A ‘clear answer’ need not be an unequivocal ‘yes’ or ‘no’: your
                              view might be ‘partly yes, partly no’ or some other moderate position. Whatever your
                              answer, you should state it explicitly, preferably at the beginning. The answer you give
                              should be the one you can best defend in a brief essay, given what you know about the
                              topic and the literature. Once you know your answer to the question, write an outline
                              of how the essay will proceed. Given time constraints, it is tempting to begin writing
                              immediately; but it is always a good idea to think through the organisation of your
                              essay before writing, and this usually saves time in the end. In the essay, develop each
                              point in some detail to give as much evidence for your answer as possible.
                            Question 1
                              The answer to this question should focus on Republic Book 10, though some
                              discussion of Plato on mimesis from Books 2 and 3 might be relevant. It is in Book
                              10 that Plato compares mimesis in painting and poetry. A good answer to this
                              question would therefore consider in what ways mimesis—a term requiring
                              explanation—in painting and in poetry are similar according to Plato, and in what
                              ways they might be different. It should also say something about this issue: if both
                              painting and poetry are mimetic, why does Plato banish only the poets and not the
                              painters?
                            Question 2
                              This is a question about the special effect of tragedy according to Aristotle. Although
                              the term does not appear in the question, the answer should be focused on the nature
                              of catharsis, since it is catharsis that has traditionally been said to be therapeutic. The
                              best approach is first to consider some competing interpretations of catharsis, for
                              example that it is a kind of ‘purging’ or a kind of ‘clarification’, and then to assess
                              them. Is the best interpretation one according to which catharsis is some kind of
                              therapy, or is a different interpretation better? In answering this question be sure to
                              explain how you will understand ‘therapy’.
                            Question 3
                              Hume is clear that if there is to be a Standard of Taste, there must be significant
                              similarities across different people; otherwise there would be too much disagreement
                              for a standard. Moreover, the true judges must agree if there is to be a standard. But
                              Hume then goes on to claim that there are ‘sources of variation’ between people that
                              can never be overcome. The quotation suggests that Hume is contradicting himself in
                              making these claims, so the question is whether there is a way of interpreting Hume



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   that makes him consistent. A good answer would first explain the tension and then
   consider one or two ways to resolve it, defending either your own or someone else’s
   interpretation.
Question 4a
  Answering this question requires an understanding of Kant’s argument in the
  ‘Analytic of the Beautiful’, and particularly the fourth moment. Kant’s purpose in the
  Analytic is to show why pure judgments of taste, though grounded on a subjective
  feeling, nonetheless demand universal agreement. He invokes the notion of a common
  sense, a sensibility common to human beings, to explain how this can be. A good
  answer would start with an overview of the argument in the Analytic, and then focus
  in more detail on Kant’s discussion of the common sense. If you have time, you might
  consider whether or not Kant’s invocation of the common sense is successful.
Question 4b
  Kant claims that aesthetic ideas are such that no concept can be adequate to them in
  §49 of the Critique of the Power of Judgement. To answer this question requires an
  understanding of Kant’s psychology, and in particular the role of concepts in the
  understanding and ideas as the products of reason. A good answer would explain in
  some detail what Kant means by ‘aesthetic ideas’; explaining this will make it clear
  why the concepts of the understanding cannot adequately represent these ideas.
Question 5
  Although this question can be interpreted as a general one about whether or not
  beauty is intrinsically valuable, it is best understood as related to Schopenhauer. A
  good answer to this question would explain why, according to Schopenhauer, beauty
  is not merely instrumentally valuable—that is, why valuing aesthetic experience for
  some purpose or other undermines the appreciation of beauty—and would go on to
  assess Schopenhauer’s reasoning. Is he right to think that beauty should be valued for
  its own sake, or are there good reasons to think that beauty is instead instrumentally
  valuable?
Question 6
  The quotation should bring to mind Schiller’s view that art is an expression of human
  freedom, which occurs in his discussion in Letters on the Aesthetic Education of
  Mankind. So a good answer would address these questions: Why does Schiller think
  that art sets humans apart from other creatures? What is it about art, as opposed to
  other human activities, that makes human beings free? Is Schiller right? The answer
  to this question would discuss Schiller’s account of various human ‘drives’, and in
  particular the aesthetic ‘play drive’ and its special role in human life.
Question 7
  This question is about Hegel’s ‘end of art’ thesis. Answering it requires first
  explaining Hegel’s argument for this thesis, and then evaluating this argument; it
  would be a good idea to say at the start whether or not you think he is right. For the
  first part, a good answer will explain what the claim means: what is ‘our supreme
  need’, how did art fulfil this need in the past and what has changed in the modern
  world? Addressing these questions is likely to require discussing a few different
  interpretations of Hegel’s ‘end of art’ thesis, since its meaning is debated in the
  literature. How you determine whether or not Hegel is right—the second part of the
  question—will depend on which interpretation of Hegel you prefer.
Question 8
  The quotation from Nietzsche illustrates his view of the value of tragedy. It is
  Schopenhauer who argues that tragedy has the kind of moral effect described in the
  quotation; to the contrary, says Nietzsche, we respond to the vision of Macbeth in an
  entirely different way. A good answer to the question would explain how Nietzsche


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                               criticises Schopenhauer, as well as his own account of the effect and value of
                               tragedies like Macbeth. It would also consider whether or not Nietzsche is correct in
                               his criticism of Schopenhauer’s claim.
                            Question 9
                              This question asks for an assessment of the role of resemblance in determining what a
                              picture represents/depicts. According to various resemblance theories of depiction, for
                              a picture to represent a flower, either some part of the picture must resemble a flower,
                              or else our experience of the picture must resemble our experience of a flower. There
                              are a number of criticisms of resemblance theories in the literature on depiction,
                              perhaps most famously by Goodman and Wollheim. A good answer to this question
                              would explain why we might think that resemblance plays a role in determining
                              pictorial content, describe some of the criticisms of this approach and defend a ‘yes’
                              or ‘no’ answer.
                            Question 10a
                              The claim that anything can be viewed aesthetically is specifically associated with
                              Paul Ziff, but the question raises the broader issue of what counts as an aesthetic
                              experience. According to some accounts, viewing something aesthetically means
                              taking a certain kind of attitude towards it; so the question is whether or not this
                              attitude can be taken to anything. According to other accounts, there is no such
                              special attitude; rather, aesthetic experience is the experience of certain kinds of
                              objects, for instance artworks, in which case not everything can be viewed
                              aesthetically. Answering the question well, therefore, requires explaining the opposed
                              positions on aesthetic experience and defending one or the other.
                            Question 10b
                              This is a question about competing definitions of art, and is prompted by such cases
                              as Duchamp’s Fountain and other conceptual art. According to traditional theories of
                              art, an object or event must have certain qualities for it to be considered art—for
                              instance, it must provoke aesthetic experiences—so that even an established artist
                              such as Duchamp could not make a urinal into art. On other theories, most obviously
                              Dickie’s institutional theory of art, an established artist could arguably make anything
                              into an artwork. A good answer to the question would explain one or more theories
                              and consider criticisms of those theories, defending either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
                            Question 11a
                              Whether or not a work of art could be authentic without being original will turn on
                              what one means by originality as well as by artistic authenticity: to use Dutton’s
                              analysis, either ‘nominal authenticity’ (e.g. whether or not the work is really by who it
                              is claimed to be by) or ‘expressive authenticity’ (e.g. whether or not the work is true
                              to the feelings of the artist). A good answer to the question will be clear about which
                              sort of authenticity is at issue. For the first, you might consider whether a work that is
                              neither a forgery nor a fake must therefore be original. For the second, you might
                              consider whether or not an artist could authentically convey his/her thoughts and
                              feelings without doing so in an original way.
                            Question 11b
                              This question is about a ‘perfect forgery’, which usually means a misattributed copy
                              of an original work that is indiscernible from the original. Although it is widely
                              agreed that there are various differences between originals and even the most perfect
                              forgery—one is likely to be worth a great deal more money, one is held in higher
                              esteem, etc.—the question is whether any of these differences reflects an aesthetic
                              difference. So the question is ultimately about the nature of the aesthetic. A good
                              answer would explain the two competing approaches to this issue: one according to



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   which an aesthetic difference must be a perceptible difference, and the other
   according to which it could be a contextual difference. It would then go on to offer
   considerations in favour of one or the other approach.
Question 12
  There are two issues that arise in connection with emotional responses to fiction: are
  these genuine or full-fledged emotions—that is, is fear of the movie murderer the
  same kind of emotion as fear of a real murderer—and are they rational. This question
  is about the latter issue. A good answer to this question would begin by discussing
  Colin Radford’s argument that our emotional responses to fiction must be irrational
  because they are paradoxical. It would then go on to consider a few of the responses
  to Radford and his ‘paradox of fiction’ that aim to show that these responses are in
  fact rational, and would either defend one of these responses or show why they do not
  satisfactorily address Radford’s puzzle.
Question 13
  According to some theories of the relationship between aesthetic and ethical value,
  ethical merits are always aesthetic merits. This is most notably the position of Gaut’s
  ethicism (and arguably of Carroll’s moderate moralism). Opposed to this position are
  two other views: that the aesthetic and ethical are completely independent so that
  ethical merits are never aesthetic merits (autonomism); and that ethical merits might
  sometimes be aesthetic merits, but might sometimes be aesthetic demerits
  (immoralism). A good answer to this question would explain these competing
  positions and would offer reasons for or against the central claim of ethicism.
Question 14
  The possible answers to this question range from ‘to no extent whatsoever’ (artistic
  intention is never relevant to interpretation) to ‘to the greatest extent possible’ (it
  completely determines the correct interpretation). In answering this question you must
  first decide whether you agree with one of these extremes; if so, you will want to
  marshal reasons in favour of it, drawing upon the literature on the subject. If not, you
  must decide in precisely which respects you think artistic intention is relevant to
  interpretation. There are a variety of options available for such a middle position,
  including ‘moderate actual intentionalism’ and ‘hypothetical intentionalism’, and a
  wide variety of authors to draw upon. Your aim will be to defend a particular account
  of the role of artistic intentions in interpretation.
Question 15
  The quoted claim is most associated with James Young’s argument that conceptual art
  conveys only trivial knowledge because it requires linguistic support, by contrast with
  other kinds of art which convey knowledge through illustration. So a good way to
  answer this question is to consider Young’s argument and to give reasons for or
  against it. Another way one might answer this question is by considering the more
  general thesis that art (whether conceptual or not) conveys only trivial knowledge, a
  thesis associated with Jerome Stolnitz. If this is true then the quoted claim is true. If it
  is false, then the reasons it is false might or might not apply to conceptual art. Either
  way, to answer the question well requires some knowledge of conceptual art.
Question 16
  The quoted claim suggests that it is a necessary condition on a musical work’s
  expressing some emotion that the work cause the audience to experience that
  emotion. The claim is associated with the ‘arousal theory’ of artistic expression,
  which has been subject to many criticisms over the years. Alternative accounts of
  expression do not appeal to arousal, but instead to the composer’s emotions or to
  features of the work itself. A good answer to this question would explain the
  motivations behind the arousal theory and would consider criticism of this approach,
  ultimately defending it against these criticisms or explaining why you think the
  criticisms successfully undermine the theory.
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