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Aesthetics

This work, Worship as Experience, explores and critiques aesthetic experiences in the local church and the church's aesthetic relationship to the community by using John Dewey's commonsensical observations about the nature of and enemies to aesthetic experience. Moreover, it shows you how you might have more aesthetic experiences in your daily activities as you face the grind, monotony, and difficulties experienced in everyday living. Therefore, its applicability is wide-ranging in ordinary living. 

 Now if a man believes in the existence of beautiful things, but not of Beauty itself, and cannot follow a guide who would lead him to a knowledge of it, is he not living in a dream?"  Plato's Republic, 476c.

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that focuses on the nature of beauty, the value of art, and the human responses to those topics. 

 "Man does not like to remain alone; and as he loves, he must look elsewhere for an object for his love.  He can find it only in beauty.  Since, however, he is himself the most beautiful creature that God has created, he must find within himself a model for the beauty he seeks beyond himself."  Blaise Pascal, Discours sur les passions d'armour, Oeuvres completes (ed. de la Pleiade, 1954, 539-40).

"Art is a mode of prediction not found in charts and statistics, and it insinuates possibilities of human relations not to be found in rule and precept, admonition and administration."
John Dewey, Art as Experience, 363.

"What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? What should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?" ~ Michel Foucault. "On The Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress" in The Foucault Reader, 350.

“Art cannot be excused from following God’s law, and art disgraces itself by seeking that freedom. Anything that cannot be put into an image or onto a canvas without demanding the sacrifice of modesty or injuring shame must simply be eschewed. Art is not autonomous. Art is one of the more refined human life expressions, and all these life expressions are organically related and stand continuously under God’s ordinance.” Abraham Kuyper, Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art

 In his Gifford Lecture series, William Temple makes an interesting statement:

"It takes a considerable time for a secure aesthetic judgment to be formed, and with regard to contemporary art there is much debate. But when a common judgment is reached after long periods of discussion, it is secure as scientific theories never are. Many may be uncertain in this second quarter of the twentieth century about the aesthetic rank of Epstein as a sculptor or T.S. Eliot as a poet. But there is no serious dispute about Pheidias or Aeschylus, about Giotto, or Piero, or Botticelli, about Velasquez or Rembrandt, about Dante or Shakespeare. No doubt I 'date' myself by the precise list which I select; Beethoven to Bach; but every name thus mentioned is securely established in the list of Masters; and the actual works of the earliest touch us now they touched the hearts of those who knew them first.... It takes longer for the aesthetic judgment to become stable than for the scientific, but when it reaches stability it also achieves finality as the other does not." ~ Nature, Man, and God (Macmillan, 1956), 158-9.
"Art is power; it can weaken or destroy a civilization that created it. It can enlarge or trivialize the imagination." ~ Jacques Barzun

"...philosophy of art and beauty is as old as philosophy and as new as the present.... reflects the temper of an age and provides leading ideas for artists, critics, and the society that nurtures art." ~ Albert Hofstadter & Richard Kuhns

"Art is a mode of prediction not found in charts and statistics, and it insinuates possibilities of human relations not to be found in rule and precept, admonition and administration." ~ John Dewey, Art as Experience, 363.

"Through art we can know another's view of the universe." ~ Marcel Proust

"Art tries, literally, to picture the things which philosophy tries to put into carefully thought-out words." ~ Hans Rookmaaker

Art is "the nearest thing to a sacramental activity acknowledged by our secular society." ~ Susan Sontag

"Art and science... becomes rivals about who owns the truth." ~ Jacques Barzun

"Let me write the songs of a nation-I don't care who writes its laws." ~ Andrew Fletcher

"... the concept of truth is intimately linked to the biases of forms of expression. Truth does not, and never has, come unadorned. It must appear in its proper clothing or it is not acknowledged, which is a way of saying that the 'truth' is a kind of cultural prejudice. Each culture conceives of it as being most authentically expressed in certain symbolic forms that another culture may regard as trivial or irrelevant." ~ Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Business (New York: Penguin Books, 1985, 2005), 22-23. 

"Industry has been mechanized and an artist cannot work mechanically for mass production.... Artists find it incumbent... to betake themselves to their work as an isolated means of 'self expression.' In order not to car to the tend of economic forces, they often feel obliged to exaggerate their separateness to the point of eccentricity." ~ John Dewey, Art as Experience (cited from Cynthia Freeland, But is it art? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 6.

"The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products. Images of movie stars and famous athletes, of serene lakes and macho fishing trips, of elegant dinners and romantic interludes, of happy families packing their station wagons for a picnic in the country-these tell nothing about the products being sold. But they tell everything about the fears, fancies, and dreams of those who might buy them.  What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer. And so, the balance of business expenditures shifts from product research to market research. The television commercial has oriented business away from making products of value and toward making consumers feel valuable, which means that the business of business has now become pseudo-therapy. The consumer is a patient assured by psycho-dramas." ~ Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Business (New York: Penguin Books, 1985, 2005), 128.






Lecture 3: Plato's Metaphysics
 Extended treatment of Plato's Theory of Forms. 
Lecture 12d Philosophy of Religion & Aesthetics: Can Beauty Point us to God?
 Lectures 1-12d and required readings per syllabus will be on first exam (Fall 2011). 
Lecture 13: Kant's Metaphysics
 Lecture 13 and so forth will be new material for second exam (Fall 2011).
Lecture 17: Introduction to Aesthetic Experience
No lecture material will be uploaded. Simply refer to class notes. 
Supplement # 4: Theanthropic Nature of Jesus Christ in Renaissance Art
 This is a paper I gave in the area of theological aesthetics regarding theanthropic nature of Jesus Christ in Renaissance Art. 


Supplement # 5: Confessions of an Anemic Worshipper: Aesthetics & the Local Church
 This paper was given at an art and theology conference at Union University (2011). 
Supplement # 7: Amusing Ourselves to Death
 This is a summary of some of the key ideas in Neil Postman's work, Amusing Ourselves to Death. It is in PDF.
Supplement # 8: Meditation in a Toolshed by C.S. Lewis
"Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences." ~ C.S. Lewis
What Do the Arts Have to Do with Theology? Aesthetic Experience, The Arts, and the Local Church
This is my 2011 presentation at ETS in San Francisco, CA. It is in PDF.
Lecture 27: Aesthetic Universals by Denis Dutton
Please read this article and offer a response to it by answering whether you find his argument to be convincing. Be sure to defend your position. It is due this coming Monday at beginning in class.


Lecture 28: Influence of Media
 Lecture material.
Mid-Term Review Guide:
 Here is a review to help prepare you for mid-term exam. It is in PDF. Be sure to bring number 2 pencill and 882 E Scantron. Best regards, Doc Shock
Review Sheet and Guide for Final Exam
 Here is a review sheet to help you with final exam. Be sure to bring Scantron 882 E and # 2 pencil.
Additional Review Sheet for Final Exam from Understanding Movies
 I've re-uploaded exam in an older version of MS Word so you can download and type in answers. Know these terms for final exam. 

The Aesthetic Value of Nature in Everyday Living
 This article considers the relationship between theological aesthetics and physical nature. It is in MS Word.
A Taxonomy of Aesthetic Experiences

This handout is in view of a presentation I gave in Santa Fe (2018) dealing with the using the arts to help advance personal and social change given social ills communities are experiencing. It in PDF. 

Worldview Analysis of the Arts

This chart is helpful in analyzing art-forms (e.g., art; films).

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