Dubious pleasures

British Journal of Aesthetics 63 (2):217-234 (2023)
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My aim is to discuss the impact of higher-order evidence on aesthetic appreciation. I suggest that this impact is different with respect to aesthetic beliefs and to aesthetic affective attitudes (such as enjoyment). More specifically, I defend the view that higher-order evidence questioning the reliability of one’s aesthetic beliefs can make it reasonable for one to revise those beliefs. Conversely, in line with a plausible account of emotions, aesthetic affective attitudes are not directly sensitive to this type of higher-order evidence; they are sensitive only to those features of objects that make such attitudes (un)fitting. Thus, I argue, there are cases of non-defective recalcitrant aesthetic attitudes where the subject has both a non-defective, fitting aesthetic affective attitude and a reasonable belief questioning the fittingness of this attitude. I further discuss whether, in this type of case, the subject has decisive reasons to try to change her recalcitrant attitudes—say by trying to modify her aesthetic affective dispositions. My answer is negative. Even granting that subjects always have aesthetic reasons to try to avoid aesthetically unfitting attitudes, these can be outweighed by further reasons not to do so—perhaps including aesthetic reasons related to the construction of valuable aesthetic identities or to the value of aesthetic engagement.

Author's Profile

Javier González De Prado Salas
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia


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