By José Luis Bermúdez, Sebastian Gardner

Paintings and Morality is a set of groundbreaking new papers at the subject of aesthetics and ethics, and the hyperlink among the 2 matters. a gaggle of world-class individuals take on the $64000 query that come up while one thinks concerning the ethical dimensions of artwork and the cultured size of ethical lifestyles.

The quantity is an important contribution to the philosophical literature, starting up unexplored questions and laying off new mild on extra conventional debates in aesthetics. the subjects explored comprise the relation of aesthetic to moral judgment; the relation of inventive event to ethical recognition; the ethical prestige of fiction; the options of sentimentality and decadence; the ethical size of serious perform, pictorial artwork and song; the ethical importance of tragedy; and the connections among creative and ethical matters elaborated within the writings of valuable figures in sleek philosophy comparable to Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.

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And yet, after all, it would be difficult to demand of a man a higher proof of the sincerity of his emotions than that which he furnishes by killing himself because of them. Only suicides of talent write letters that are artistically “sincere”. ’13 Our inclination in these cases is to say that such people (though I disagree with Huxley that suicide is proof of sincerity) have feelings that they cannot find adequate expression for – that their non-verbal behaviour shows that they feel deeply, or at least intensely, but that they can’t put their feelings into words and find someone else’s, a bad poet’s, say, adequate.

Most of us remain morally fairly heteronomous, listlessly acknowledging the need to obey rules which we would break if we could with impunity. On the whole we tend to acknowledge quite genuinely the need for a moral law, as we do for the laws of the state (they overlap to a considerable degree, of course), while continuing to resent the restraint imposed on us by many particular moral laws, and acting in accordance with them, if we can’t get away with their violation, only because we don’t want to be disapproved of or ostracised.

But I think that the theorists in question have a strong tendency to exaggerate the morally beneficial effects of art. For example, Noël Carroll, discussing Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, says that the play can clarify for us the nature of the virtue of prudence, for ‘we are offered a striking contrast between worldly prudence and imprudence in the persons of Lopukhin and Madame Ranevskaya – a contrast staged over the cherry orchard whose loss, due to Madame Ranevskaya’s obliviousness to real life, deals a shattering blow 2 Martha Nussbaum, Love’s Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) and Poetic Justice (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996).

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