Principles of Evalution
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What, then, is the experience of beauty in music? The first principle as a basis for evaluating the relative aesthetic significance of the various attitudes outlined above is borrowed here from William James. "It is a good rule in physiology," says James, "when we are studying the meaning of an organ, to ask after its most peculiar and characteristic sort of performance, and to seek its office in that one of its functions which no other organ can possibly exert. Surely the same maxim holds good in our present quest. The essence of religious experiences, the thing by which we finally must judge them, must be that element or quality in them which we can meet nowhere else, and such a quality will be of course most prominent and easy to notice in those religious experiences which are most one-sided, exaggerated and intense."
In its bearing upon the present problem this principle suggests that the essence of the aesthetic experience in music, or for that matter, the aesthetic experience derived from any source whatever, must possess a quality of a unique nature, a quality that marks off this experience from other types of experiences such as the good, or true, or useful. The experience of beauty is good, true, and useful, but the quality that stamps it as "beauty" is not its goodness, truth, or utility, since an experience may have all of these, and yet not be beautiful.
Second, every experience derived from music can not, by virtue of that fact alone, be an experience of beauty, for, if it were, then beauty would be anything and everything, and therefore nothing. When one exclaims, "This is beautiful," he must have experienced a quality which led him to designate the object as beautiful instead of designating it by some other quality. Likewise, if several persons label an object as being beautiful they must have experienced a common quality, which led them to a common response.
Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Third, in a discussion of the nature of beauty the issue involved is not that concerning the validity of the different kinds of experiences that may be derived from a work of art, but of the relative significance of the experiences as experiences of beauty. Therefore, while all reactions to a work of art are equally valid, as experiences, for the person experiencing them, they are not of equal value as beauty simply because their stimulus is an art object. While it is true, then, that of tastes there is no disputing, it is also true that of tastes there is evaluating, the basis for the evaluation being the essential nature of the experience under discussion, this essential nature lying in that unique quality which distinguishes that experience from other experiences.

Art and Beauty
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