Frank Sibley, “Aesthetic concepts”

On Thursday, November 21st, we’ll discuss:

  1. Frank Sibley, “Aesthetic concepts” and
  2. Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) and 5 Pointz

N.B. ALL students must post comments on the Sibley piece; you can reply to this post for that purpose.

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16 Responses to Frank Sibley, “Aesthetic concepts”

  1. levirybalov says:

    In this piece, Sibley describes to his readers the foundations of “taste.” He asserts that aesthetic concepts (such as elegant and graceful) do not logically depend on non-aesthetic concepts (such as color and shape). This means that although recognizing non-aesthetic concepts is an integral part of making aesthetic judgments, there is another factor (“taste,” or “aesthetic sensitivity”) that is requisite for making intelligent aesthetic judgments.

    He claims that it is impossible to define absolute criteria for aesthetic concepts because there are far too many conditions and negative conditions in existence. For example, an artwork has enough attributes to qualify it as being “beautiful.” There can, however, be negative, non-aesthetic conditions that negate the ability of that artwork to qualify as “beautiful.” In fact, “[Sibley’s] claim about taste concepts is stronger; that they are not, except negatively, governed by conditions at all. We could not conclude even in certain circumstances, e.g. if we were told of the absence of all “voiding” or uncharacteristic features (no angularities and the like), that an object must certainly be graceful, however fully it was described to us as possessing features characteristic of gracefulness.” Since there is a myriad of aesthetic and non-aesthetic conditions, any attempt to create a set of rules that can properly aesthetically define a piece is futile.

    Without “taste” or “aesthetic sensitivity,” according to Sibley, one “who fail[s] to realize the nature of aesthetic concepts, or who, knowing he lack[s] sensitivity in aesthetic matters, [does] not want to reveal this lack [and so] by assiduous application and shrewd observation provide[s] himself with some rules and generalizations; and by inductive procedures and intelligent guessing, he… frequently says the right things.” He says that eventually, however, this method will fail to produce correct assessments because he does not understand the essence of aestheticism: “In ‘appraising’ pictures, statuettes, poems, he would be doing something quite different from what other people do when they exercise taste.”

    He uses this example to reinforce his claim that “Examples undoubtedly play a crucial role in giving us a grasp of these [aesthetic] concepts; but we do not and cannot derive from these examples conditions and principles, however complex, which will enable us, if we are consistent, to apply the terms even to some new cases.”

    Thus, when “applying words like ‘lazy or intelligent’ to new and unique instances we say that we are required to exercise judgment.” There is linear logic employed in making such judgments. “Nothing like this is possible with aesthetic terms.” When applying aesthetic terms, we exercise taste. It is with this and other examples, some summarized above, that Sibley tries to define taste, and also show the difference between “taste,” and other judgments “which demand ‘spontaneity’ and ‘individual judgment’ and are not ‘mechanical.’”

    This raises the question: if there are no concrete criteria for calling something beautiful, is there any objectivity to a statement asserting the aforementioned? This question was mentioned in the introduction to the essay, but not (at least obviously) answered. If Sibley addresses this question, I think that he does it in the second part. (If he answers it at all, and even if he does, I’m not sure whether I’ve understood it correctly,) He says that our perception of aesthetic concepts is taught to us by those who surround us in our childhood, and then is cultivated later on by critics (he expounds upon the way that this is done). So aesthetic concepts (like other words, it would seem) are an amalgamation of connotative definitions with consideration given to historical applications (and must be felt, as Sibley did point out), and this is how aesthetic taste can, if at all, be objective.

  2. danitsa andaluz says:

    In “Aesthetic Concepts,” Frank Sibley discusses aesthetic terms and non-aethetic terms. Aesthetic terms (such as balanced) are not often applied by the layman as he/she may not have “taste” or “sensitivity.” He defines “taste” as “an ability to notice or see or tell that things have certain qualities….” This concept of taste is rarer than other human abilities but can be exercised by everyone to a certain degree. Essentially, aesthetic terms are dependent upon non-aesthetic terms (it is balanced because the entire painting is illuminated equally). Due to this dependency aesthetic terms do no have specific formulas and cannot be easily defined. Sibley says that unlike, say a square which is defined as a four-sided polygon with four right angles, words such as delicate or powerful cannot be defined this way. From this arises the various arguments and debates as to how these words can be defined and applied. Sibley also makes the distinction between taste and judgement, judgement often requires weighing the negatives and the positives unlike taste. A person incapable of taste could through some fabricated formula decide what may be described using an aesthetic term such as beautiful but it would be rather easy to convince him otherwise simply by changing what goes into the formula for beautiful. However, the critic is not insecure in this way about his/her analysis. He supports his claim and manages to convince us that his view is the correct one. The same way a critic develops his sense of taste it is possible for any person to develop their sense of taste. Basically, although most people do not have taste, we all have the potential to acquire it.

  3. apalathingal says:

    Frank Sibley begins “Aesthetic Concepts” by establishing the line between non-aesthetic concepts and aesthetic concepts. In his definition, non-aesthetic concepts are merely physically descriptions or traits such as color, shape, or structure. According to Sibley, experiencing something “aesthetically” is much more important in understanding and living than non-aesthetic concepts. Sibley acknowledges that aesthetic terms are in wide abundance, giving the examples “lifeless, serene, sombre etc.” He believes aesthetic concepts and non-aesthetic concepts are often used together and that people often cannot distinguish between the two types. One of Sibley’s main components of aesthetics is “taste”. He states, “we say a poem is tightly knit or deeply moving; that a picture lacks balance, or has a certain serenity and repose, or that the grouping of the figure sets up an exciting tension; that the characters in a novel never really come to life, or that a certain episode strikes a false note.” His whole description of aesthetics revolves around taste. He also admits providing a set definition for aesthetic concepts is not possible. Sibley says, “we employ terms the use of which requires an exercise of taste not only when discussing the arts but quite liberally throughout discourse in everyday life.” He claims that taste is incorporated into our everyday lives and that we cannot avoid it. To Sibley, taste seems to be an integral part of life and judgement. Sibley believes that “taste or sensitivity is somewhat more rare than certain other human capacities.” Although taste is important in Sibley’s terms, he believes not everyone always uses it. To Sibley, simple observations do not constitute for taste of aesthetic concepts. Ultimately Sibley seems to be trying to portray “taste” as something rare. Ironically, at times he seemed to contradict himself by associating taste with everyday life. Aesthetic concepts, according to Sibley, are within us since young age but are developed by external influences like family and friends. Frank Sibley views aesthetic concepts as ideas commonly used with non-aesthetic concepts. He believes all humans are capable of using taste but often do not.

  4. Mena McCarthy says:

    Frank Sibley’s article “Aesthetic Concepts” first discusses the aspect of having “taste” when observing works of art, and that “it includes terms used used by both layman and critic alike, as well as some which are mainly the property of professional critics and specialists.” He states that these words can be metaphorical and have their primary roots in being aesthetic terms, or that they have “shifted” into becoming metaphorical terms.

    Sibley further explains that aesthetic terms can both have and not have conditions that they need to abide by. He says that ” no description in non-aesthetic terms permits us to claim that these or any other aesthetic terms must undeniably apply to it,” and explains how the comparison between radically different aesthetic terms, such as “graceful” and “violent,” and how these comparisons may actually change the viewpoint in which an art piece is viewed.

    The next point that Sibley gets into is that of “taste concepts,” saying that there are no conditions that overrule the aspect of “taste” (except negative connotations). In order to achieve a mastery over taste concepts, one needs to be unique in the way they describe a piece of art, that each piece should be described in its own way and in its own right.

    An interesting point that Sibley makes is the vagueness of language in describing a piece of art, but the detail that takes place when critiquing a piece of art. When one looks at a piece of art, there simply aren’t the right words to describe it, and the words that one attempts to describe the piece of art are simply not complex enough to capture the essence of what the piece of art is conveying to them. But in complete contrast, when one observes art, they study the fine details and the smallest aspects that make up the piece instead of the entire thing overall. “Nothing is to be achieved by trying to single out or separate features and generalizing about them.”

    Sibley then continues on for the remainder of the article to explain the differences between aesthetic concepts and taste, and saying (over and over again) that there are both conditions and no conditions that concern making these aesthetic viewpoints. The main message that he is getting at is that we all have these “aesthetic concepts” from an early age, but need to develop our abilities to use them in the right contexts. From doing so, we develop the sense of “taste” in viewing artwork, which helps to understand it from your own point of view, that of which has been influenced by previous aesthetic experiences.

    • Ruby Cabuya says:

      Isn’t it funny how repeating the explanation of differences between aesthetic concepts and taste is somewhat of a parallel to the limits of language used to describe aesthetic objects? Sibley is concerned with describing works of art by using a certain vocabulary that can only be applicable to the art in its context. Using general words such as “pretty”, “lovely”, or “beautiful” don’t exactly do a piece of art justice in describing the breadth of aesthetic thought behind it. There has to be a certain dialect spoken about the art, using words that don’t just characterize the observations of the piece of art. Sibley speaks of the “necessary-and-sufficient conditions”, in that some phrases are “necessary” in describing art, whereas as others are “sufficient.” What does this mean? There are decisions to be made when picking features to describe. It may be more “necessary” to speak of, let’s say, a Cubist painting’s playfulness in shape and attention to certain angles, rather than for it to be “sufficient” to describe its overall rigidity. (It’s not a perfect example, since Cubist paintings have many different characteristics, but it could be another parallel to the kinds of language used to describe works of art, even whole genres of art. Listing techniques of a certain genre of painting may add to its “necessary” description, as another example.) Understanding aesthetic concepts comes from the sensitivity of the observer; however, explaining a work of art in layman’s terms will not fully agree with one’s detailed, “professional” explanation. Does this mean that their experience differs, because they have different tastes? Yes.

      • lilokuo says:

        I would not think that individual’s experiences of art differs as a result of having different taste; Sibley’s entire piece was to make clear that our perception of what we ought to see is completely influenced by the aesthetic concept of others and the language they utilize to exemplify their own experience. I do not believe that “taste” is such an entity of its own, just as our taste buds can adjust and learn to acquire certain tastes as a result of exposure, I believe our visual taste can also be manipulated. However, I would not go so far as to argue that taste can be culturally relative, one man can easily find art of his own culture repulsive and unattractive as he can find art of others to be more attractive.

  5. Evgenia Gorovaya says:

    Aesthetic Concepts-Frank Sibley

    In Frank Sibley’s “Aesthetic Concepts,” he discusses that which we need to understand aesthetic terms, what defines these terms, and how to argue about whether or not art contains certain aesthetic characteristics.
    He starts off by defining an aesthetic term or expression as “a word or expression such that taste or perceptiveness is required in order to apply it.” He relates aesthetic terms to metaphors in which we take every-day terms that can be applied outside of the arts and make them mean something in relation to whatever art is being discussed. He also points out that the taste and perceptiveness needed to apply aesthetic terms is more rare than other human capacities, and when found, it can often be less developed than other human capacities as well. Although, however rare or limited taste may be, we are all capable of exercising at least some degree of taste.
    Sibley points out that aesthetic qualities depend on the non-aesthetic features that make up the work of art, such as the colors, the lines, or the tempo of a piece. However, there are no “necessary-and-sufficient” features that can define that which a specific aesthetic quality pertains to. For example, one cannot qualify an aesthetic term to only apply when certain conditions are present in an artwork. Likewise, one cannot provide a set of standards that can write an artwork off as having a certain aesthetic quality so long as the standards are met. Like Sibley said before, taste is required to discern and apply aesthetic terms.
    Sibley compares aesthetic concepts to “defeasible” concepts. These concepts also do not have a set metric to determine if they are true. However, he is careful to mention that though there are similarities, they are in essence different. A defeasible concept is one that could have a set blueprint had there not been endless “voiding features.” An aesthetic concept, however, will never have a set blueprint because it will not only always have voiding features, but it will also have too many attributes that cannot be blanketed over by a set term.
    He goes on to underscore why taste is required to utilize aesthetic terms. Those without taste simply won’t understand why something is graceful, for example. He could learn the general rules by which art is characterized, but he can never be certain that he is correct in his judgements of a work, for what if his lack of taste made him miss a nuance crucial to understanding the entire artwork?

    In Part II, Sibley relates the exercise of taste to our five senses, as one cannot really describe what makes a brown book look brown, it simply is brown. He then goes into discussing the role of a critic and how he relays his taste along to the people. He states that the critic is simply getting someone to see that which the critic sees. He proves to us that this is natural, as it is reminiscent of the way we were taught to see basic aesthetic qualities in music or art as children. We train other children as well to see rudimentary aesthetic qualities as critics teach us to see those which are more complex. Therefore, however rare or limited one’s sense of taste or sensitivity to aesthetic concepts is, it can always be built upon or improved.

  6. Ahmed Ashraf says:

    In “Aesthetic Concepts,” Frank Sibley discusses two of the different kinds of reactions to arts, and the way one expresses those reaction. One is the physical observation of the art and one expresses this by describing certain parts of the piece of art. The second one with which Sibley most deals is the emotional response and aesthetic judgement of the art. Sibley recognizes that this response “requires the exercise of taste, perceptiveness, or sensitivity, of aesthetic discrimination or appreciation,” and is expressed through aesthetic terms like unified, balanced, integrated, lifeless, serene, somber, dynamic, powerful, vivid, delicate, moving, trite, sentimental, tragic, “telling contrast,” “sets up a tension,” etc. Some of these terms have metaphorical reference while the most used ones do not have any metaphorical reference. Either aesthetic description (describing the reaction) is their primary use or have no “non-aesthetic” purpose.
    Author also states that a level of sensitivity is is required to apply these terms. This sensitivity or taste is “somewhat more rare than certain other human capacities.” Many times people with regular senses and intelligence are not able to apply these terms because of the lack of that sensitivity, though everybody has “taste to some degree.” Because of this, there are different opinions on the “application of aesthetic terms” which remains largely unresolved.
    Sometimes, different aesthetic features that do not require taste, are used to justify the application of another aesthetic term. Author mentions the use of “pastel shades and curving lines” to justify the application of “delicate” as an example, but understands that it is quite hard to know “what non-aesthetic features makes something delicate (But a good critic will point out something that most of us think is the right explanation).” Though establishing that no non-aesthetic feature can be considered “sufficient conditions for applying aesthetic terms,” author concludes that aesthetic qualities and use of aesthetic terms ultimately depend upon non-aesthetic features which share various relationships with the qualities.
    Sometimes a group of supporting features combined can be considered “sufficient” to apply a aesthetic term. Aesthetic concepts, on the other hand, are not as condition-governed and there is no set of feature would “beyond question logically justify” the application of an aesthetic term. Taste concepts are not as condition governed as “defeasible concepts” (no sufficient condition can be stated). “Defeasible concepts” are still condition-governed. Taste concepts are not condition-governed in any way. Applying terms like “intelligent” requires “exercising Judgement” which one have to decide upon positives and negatives. This is not possible with practicing “taste.”
    Thus, someone who knows that he doesn’t have aesthetic taste or sensitivity might still be able to, through guessing and understanding of rules, say the right things, but without certainty. A critic, on the other hand, will use reference to aesthetic and non-aesthetic features, metaphors and terms to get the audience to feel how he/she feels. One will eventually be able to recognize and respond to aesthetic qualities by experience and education.

  7. Janna Wu says:

    Frank Sibley’s intention for his piece “Aesthetic Concepts” is to point out the difference between using non-aesthetic features and aesthetic features to describe an artwork. He points out that when people remark on works of art, we employ myriads of terms belonging to either of two groups: aesthetics and non-aesthetics. He illustrates this with examples: in the non-aesthetic sense, a book contains a certain number of characters, is set in a particular type of setting or that a painting utilizes pale colors as its predominant features. In the aesthetic sense however, the description of these works goes into great depth, appealing to the senses and tastes. A poem is “tightly-knit or deeply moving” or a picture “lacks balance”. The use of the aesthetics critiquing requires taste, perceptiveness, and sensitivity while the use of non-aesthetic description is characterized by a more physical, concrete style. Sibley makes a point that no non-aesthetic features, under any circumstances, can be logically related and applied onto aesthetic terms. He also makes repeated mentions with illustrations of examples that aesthetic concepts are not in any way condition or rule-governed. Sibley then notes on the impossibility of supplying conditions or applying aesthetic terms, implying that language is in part a reason to this impossibility since the lack of precision in the language fails to describe these conditions.

    In the second section of his paper, Sibley attempts to answer the question that since aesthetic concepts are not restricted by rules and concepts, how would people know when they could apply these terms. He notes that to have the ability to discern aesthetic features, one must have good eyesight, hearing, and so on. This does not apply to all since people who do have the senses and understanding still fail to discern the aesthetic features, yet they nevertheless observe and notice of them though in a general and unconscious fashion. There is also the human nature to defend and support our judgments and convince others of what we have observed. Sibley explains that the whole point of our applying aesthetic terms and supporting them with our judgments is simply that we could help others see what we see in an artwork. When puzzlement and questions arise in regards to the verisimilitude and the bias of critics making such judgments, Sibley lay out in details the 7 steps that critics undertake when aiding the audience to see the features they see in a piece of work.

    Sibley lastly mentions that even from a young age, we have already (and unconsciously) began noticing the aesthetics qualities of and having aesthetic appreciation for our surroundings. Our varied reactions affirm these notions and it is from these responses that we respond to the critic’s discourse.

  8. Destiny Berisha says:

    Frank Sibley defines taste as: “a characteristic and essential feature of judgments which employ an aesthetic term that they cannot be made by appealing, in the sense explained, to non-aesthetic conditions” p. 322. It is comforting to know that “…everybody is able to exercise taste to some degree” (p. 313). This is possible because we are reared from young age to utilize aesthetic terms to describe things around us, giving rise to a universal sense of taste, because we use the “…exercise of taste not only when discussing the arts but quite liberally throughout the discourse in everyday life” p. 313. The “…notable difference between the exercise of taste and the use of the five senses lies in the way we support those judgments in which aesthetic concepts are employed” (p. 325), in other words, there is a difference between stating facts and observations and reflecting and inferring what is sensed by the five senses. Sensitivity, on the other hand, is rare—found only in the minority of a people. Making these judgments is a complex process that involves several components; one of them includes this rare characteristic of sensitivity (or perceptiveness). This inferring and reflecting is done through the use of language—of simple, common terms that everyone uses. Sibley writes: “Aesthetic concepts, all of them, carry with them attachments and in one way or another are tethered to or parasitic upon non-aesthetic features. The fact that many aesthetic terms are metaphorical or quasi-metaphorical in no way means that common language is an ill-adapted tool with which we have to struggle” p. 326 (this is also somewhat comforting isn’t it? The idea that anyone can understand the terms used by critics to describe art, that is). And it is precisely language that serves as the medium of helping other people see in a piece of art what one sees in it: “Although we use these concepts without rules or conditions, we do defend or support our judgments, and convince others of their rightness, by talking…” p. 325.
    This leads Sibley to discussion on the role of the critic: “’The greatest service of the critic’ is to point out, isolate, and place in a frame of attention the ‘particular features of the particular object which make it ugly or beautiful’; for it is ‘difficult to see and hear all that there is to see and hear’” p. 326. In summary, the critic accomplishes a common understanding and way of seeing between him/her and another by the use of several tools such as: repetition, reiteration, inquiry, body language, similies, metaphors, contrasts, comparisons, reminisces, and much more. The critic points out non-aesthetic features and the qualities they want people to see.

  9. shimon herzog says:

    Frank Sibley’s “Aesthetic Concepts
    Frank Sibley’s “Aesthetic Concepts” tries to delineate the difference between aesthetic qualities and non-aesthetic qualities. One of Sibley’s central points is that aesthetic terms can only be understood using language and terms that are aesthetic. There is no real way to grasp an aesthetic concept using non-aesthetic terms. This has to do with the fundamental difference between aesthetic and non-aesthetic concepts and the type of knowledge and language required to describe an aesthetic concept.
    An aesthetic quality, like the feel of an object, is vastly different from a non-aesthetic quality, such as intelligence. Sibley describes how each of these concepts requires a different type of thought process. Aesthetic and non-aesthetic qualities use different explanations, and come to conclusions about the concepts using different methods.
    In order to come to an aesthetic conclusion, one might need to place importance on very miniscule details that can allow different aesthetic terms to be applied. For example, even a small drop of red used in a very dark or pale painting can make a huge difference in the feeling of the painting and the aesthetic description. With a non-aesthetic concept, such as intelligence, other qualities such as how well the person scores on exams, how well they play chess, and their memory can create a checklist of qualities that describe intelligence. To explain this point further, Sibley poses a situation of a person who is intelligent, but lacks aesthetic talent, and describes how that person will have a difficult time bluffing the aesthetic qualities that are being portrayed in the art.

  10. Michael Marfil says:

    In “Aesthetic Concepts,” Sibley points out that aesthetic qualities are defined as certain characteristics of a work of art that require the use of “taste” and “perceptiveness.” According to Sibley, aesthetic language should be free of objectivity, that an aesthete cannot make conditional statements when describing a work of art. For example, one cannot say that if a work of art has soft tones, then it is delicate. Although one may say that the soft tones do make it delicate, one can also say that soft tones, together with other characteristics, make an art piece brooding. As Sibley points out, this is also why one should avoid precedents when describing the aesthetic qualities of an art piece. This, I take it, transcends all historical categories a work of art fits into.

    However, I wonder if Sibley wants us to completely throw away the context that an art piece was made for. Can we come to an understanding of an artwork merely on the basis of aesthetics? Can we apply these aesthetic concepts to all works of art? Take The Nose, for example. What sort of aesthetic qualities does it have?

  11. Daniel Vargas says:

    Frank Sibley is distinguishing between aesthetic and non-aesthetic judgments. Non-aesthetic judgments are made from precise description of the art – colors, characters, themes, etc. – while aesthetic judgments are made from taste, perceptiveness, sensitivity, and appreciation or the art.

    There are some aesthetic descripting words that have a double duty in everyday intercourse – graceful, delicate, handsome, etc. – and others that are not used as aesthetically anymore – red, intelligent, curved. However, the most common aesthetic words are made through metaphors – but not all as seen by the double duty words.

    More often than not, we support our use of aesthetic words in description by referring to other aesthetic words – graceful because of flow as one example – but sometimes we use non-aesthetic words to back ourselves up – delicate because of the curved lines. When we cannot find any non-aesthetic words to support our aesthetic word choices, we pick the most satisfactory answer. What Sibley is arguing is that there are no non-aesthetic features that are logically sufficient to apply any aesthetic term.

    When there is a definition of a word we can find the objects that fit in to the definition using the physical characteristics – we know a square is a square because of its sides and angles. But aesthetic terms apply to a variable range of objects so these terms are radically different from these concepts.

    Some argue that the terms can be defined through relevant features and that when enough relevant features are accumulated then we are able to give it a direction – playing chess increases your chances of being seen as intelligent but a chess player cannot be unintelligent. However aesthetic concepts do not work like this, no amount of non-aesthetic words can warrant the use of aesthetic qualities. There is no doubt that the features can count against an aesthetic concept – pale coloring cannot be fiery or flamboyant – but no amount of features can amount to a description in aesthetic terms.

    To drive the point home there are there are aesthetic terms which can share non-aesthetic features – a poem with regular meter and rhyme can be found to be powerful and strong while another with similar meter and rhyme can be monotonous.
    Sibley argues that non-aesthetic features can only negatively govern the aesthetic word choice; no amount of features can logically ensure aesthetic concepts.

  12. Gurprit Kaur says:

    In the article “Aesthetic Concepts” by Frank Sibley from The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern, we learn primarily learn about the aesthetic term and concepts as well as taste concepts. Examples of aesthetic terms include unified, balanced, integrated, lifeless, serene, dynamic, etc. Now these terms are used by both layman and critics, however, judgements such as these require the exercise of taste, perceptiveness, or sensitivity, of aesthetic discrimination or appreciation, as Sibley points out. People who exhibit a sensitivity for specific and broad pieces are rare. But almost everybody is able to exercise taste. Sibley points out that taste isn’t a matter of personal preference or liking, rather an ability to notice or see or tell that things have certain qualities that I’m concerned. To describe aesthetic terms, features come into play, taking note that when aesthetic terms are applied, featured are used to explain the aesthetic terms but they don’t depend on the exercise of taste to do so. In short, aesthetic terms always ultimately apply because of, and aesthetic qualities always ultimately depend upon, the presence of features without any exercise of taste or sensibility. Sibley points out that there are no non-aesthetic features which serve in any circumstances as logically sufficient conditions for applying aesthetic terms. Lastly, Sibley ends her article with by saying that “it should not strike us as puzzling that the critic supports his judgement and brings us to see aesthetic qualities by pointing out key features and talking about them in the way he does. It is by the very same methods that people help us develop our aesthetic sense and master its vocabulary from the beginning.”

  13. sanam Bhandari says:

    In “Aesthetic concepts” Frank Sibley discusses the types of judgements made on art works; one is just pointing out the features of the artwork and the other is applying aesthetic terms, such as delicate,graceful etc, to describe the artwork. According to Sibley, the ability to use aesthetic term to describe artwork requires exercise of taste, perceptiveness and sensitivity for aesthetic appreciation and discrimination of artwork. He also mentions that the use of non-aesthic terms such as “square, bright, round” is not sufficient fully to describe an artwork and to fully describe works of art we must exercise our taste and perceptiveness by looking at previous examples. He then mentions that aesthetic concepts are not condition-governed, which means that the use of aesthetic terms may vary while describing an artwork even though the non aesthetic terms remains the same. For example an art work which is described in terms of qualities characteristics of a delicacy may not be delicate but insipid or anemic. A person first needs to be able to identify the non aesthetic terms of an object to be able to describe it using aesthetic terms. An intelligent person can describe an artwork using aesthetic terms and may be right but if he/she does not have aesthetic taste and perceptiveness he/she will not be able to correctly make aesthetic judgements all the time. He then explains that in order to use aesthetic concepts we learn by looking at examples and apply them new and unique instances. Sibley also mentions that everyone has these “aesthetic” concepts from an early age, and we develop our capability to apply them to describe artworks by exercising our taste, perceptiveness and sensitivity.

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