Total Posts:12|Showing Posts:1-12
Jump to topic:

Art as a Response to the Failure of Ethics

Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/16/2012 3:22:26 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
This is only a very tentative wording of my thesis, so I request some forgiveness for any discrepancies.

So, without engaging in a really long diatribe, my central thesis concerns the place of art in culture (hence why this post is in the art forum, rather than in the philosophy forum). I've noted elsewhere that I have a strong distaste for the appropriation of art (among other parts of civil society) by the state. In general, I argue for the preservation of art's value as A) a countercultural force which always seeks to challenge or change current thought, and B) a source of subjective enjoyment oriented toward a post-nihilistic world (i.e., a world in which a lot of the old cultural apparatuses and traditions have been deactivated or emptied of significance).

A lot of people ask me what nihilism is supposed to achieve, or what you're "supposed to do" once you accept nihilism. Typically, people construe nihilism as a dead end past which no substantive activity can take place. To this conception, I oppose my own redemptive nihilism whose function is to bring human activity back into the realm of serviceability to human happiness (the content of which is, perhaps, beyond our ability to deconstruct and analyze with language). In response to the deactivation of normative ethics--the history of which I understand as a series of attempts to impose, on an "insufficient" world, a vision of how things "ought" to be--I posit art, rather than normativity, as the driver of cultural change. Whereas the discourses characterizing claims to ethical objectivity tend to center around a top-down mission of converting the world with respect to a particular vision, the artistic quest begins from the bottom, and consists in two parts (to which I gestured above):

1. Appreciation of the world-as-such: Rather than attempting to guide the development of culture according to some particular doctrine or sense of "progress", the artistic mission employs nihilism to empty out notions of propreity or destiny, realizing in the final instance that there is only the naked world, stripped of the fictions which had attended it, left to appreciate. Existentially, this is a realm characterized solely by a potentiality and open-endedness which cannot be exhausted by any particular subjective experience, and which is therefore infinitely appreciable.

2. Challenging prevailing discourses and forms of existence--human experience presents itself as a blank slate upon which anything may be written or erased (or which may, naturally, be left blank from the beginning); hence, rather than defining experience through hierarchical claims to progress (according to which humanity should seek to move up toward some utopic vision), I suggest instead that creative experience manifests as a constant challenge to dominant modes of thought through its constant presentation of the potential (which, as such, may be actualized or not).

Hence, nihilism is not itself responsible for cultural change, but is a mechanism which opens the possibility for appropriation of potentiality as the cornerstone of a joyful human experience. The particular force of change, opposing the normative models deactivated during the tenure of nihilism, is instead an artistic or creative experience not limited merely to producing works for the consumption of gallery-goers or art critics, but oriented, contrastingly, toward the appreciation of the world as it is (i.e, naked, without obfuscation), and as a positive expression of what the world could be.

Roughly, the oppositions I have in mind can be summarized with reference to the following chart, with the second category separated from the first by a barrier (|) representing passage through a phase of nihilistic redemption.

Normative Ethics | Art
Should -----------| Can
Top-down -------| Bottom-up
Actualization ----| Potentiality
Ends -------------| Means
Essence ---------| Existence
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/16/2012 3:31:41 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I wish I had something witty and deriding to say right now, but I don't. Something will occur to me in a few hours.
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
FREEDO
Posts: 21,057
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/16/2012 3:47:13 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Life is infinitely more beautiful without a grand objective or standard to coerce your mental directive.

But you mention that art would become corrupted when run by the state. Would that not be to also say that it would purify the state? Perhaps a government of art isn't a government at all.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/16/2012 7:32:35 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 10/16/2012 3:47:13 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Life is infinitely more beautiful without a grand objective or standard to coerce your mental directive.

Well, I don't even go that far--my primary contention is that creative experience opens the space in which "authentic" appreciation of the world (as such) becomes possible. The quotes are needed here because the crux of my thesis is a rejection of normative notions of authencity (i.e., the notion that the pursuit of a life of joy can be exhausted by a particular "authentic" human experience, e.g., Aristotle's conception of a particular kind of life proper to human beings). Hence, while I think a more honest kind of appreciation becomes possible, I don't make the mistake of assigning objective beauty to the world--rather, I argue that appreciation of beauty (a purely subjective phenomenon) is only possible through an artistic experience which is itself made possible by nihilism.

But you mention that art would become corrupted when run by the state. Would that not be to also say that it would purify the state? Perhaps a government of art isn't a government at all.

Yes and no. The task toward which my thesis orients itself is one of complete opposition to the state as en entity; hence, things like the Free State Project, which attempt to reappropriate political power for libertarian goals, are, on my view, doomed from the very beginning. Alternatively, the form of opposition I advocate is not some direct confrontation with the state (as in the case of violent revolution), but, rather, a kind of withdrawal from (and deactivation of) the kinds of thinking that permit the state to exist and persist (e.g., normative ethics, almost always employed by politics to spin a narrative that justifies the existence of the state, and which permits fundamental friend/enemy distinctions (cf. Carl Schmitt) which pave the road for indefinite quantities of violence). Without these kinds of narrative devices, I suggest that it becomes incredibly difficult for states to tie itself to its subjects through different kinds of identity claims (e.g., "American", which has all kinds of normative connotations).

Consequently, I think that art has a very important role to play against the state, but it's not one of purification--that just permits the state to reappropriate for some political goal the thing which was supposed to represent an antithesis to normative existence under government. In fact, I think that nihilism--which opens up the kind of artistic experience I posit--prohibits, in principle, the reappropriation of creativity by the state.
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/16/2012 9:16:33 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 10/16/2012 7:32:35 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 10/16/2012 3:47:13 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Life is infinitely more beautiful without a grand objective or standard to coerce your mental directive.

Well, I don't even go that far--my primary contention is that creative experience opens the space in which "authentic" appreciation of the world (as such) becomes possible. The quotes are needed here because the crux of my thesis is a rejection of normative notions of authencity (i.e., the notion that the pursuit of a life of joy can be exhausted by a particular "authentic" human experience, e.g., Aristotle's conception of a particular kind of life proper to human beings). Hence, while I think a more honest kind of appreciation becomes possible, I don't make the mistake of assigning objective beauty to the world--rather, I argue that appreciation of beauty (a purely subjective phenomenon) is only possible through an artistic experience which is itself made possible by nihilism.

But you mention that art would become corrupted when run by the state. Would that not be to also say that it would purify the state? Perhaps a government of art isn't a government at all.

Yes and no. The task toward which my thesis orients itself is one of complete opposition to the state as en entity; hence, things like the Free State Project, which attempt to reappropriate political power for libertarian goals, are, on my view, doomed from the very beginning. Alternatively, the form of opposition I advocate is not some direct confrontation with the state (as in the case of violent revolution), but, rather, a kind of withdrawal from (and deactivation of) the kinds of thinking that permit the state to exist and persist (e.g., normative ethics, almost always employed by politics to spin a narrative that justifies the existence of the state, and which permits fundamental friend/enemy distinctions (cf. Carl Schmitt) which pave the road for indefinite quantities of violence). Without these kinds of narrative devices, I suggest that it becomes incredibly difficult for states to tie itself to its subjects through different kinds of identity claims (e.g., "American", which has all kinds of normative connotations).

Consequently, I think that art has a very important role to play against the state, but it's not one of purification--that just permits the state to reappropriate for some political goal the thing which was supposed to represent an antithesis to normative existence under government. In fact, I think that nihilism--which opens up the kind of artistic experience I posit--prohibits, in principle, the reappropriation of creativity by the state.

What do you mean by "subjective," precisely?
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
tvellalott
Posts: 10,864
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/18/2012 6:10:24 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 10/18/2012 3:24:03 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I am surprised that this has not gotten a tougher response.

It's because you posted it in the art section.

I'm not as intelligent as I'd like and I often have only half an idea what you're talking about with your long-arsed posts until I read and reread (and occasionally look up words in the dictionary) and this post is no exception.

Perhaps you should add a TL;DR version? Something like "Art is awesome, nihilism is misunderstood and the state sucks."
"Caitlyn Jenner is an incredibly brave and stunningly beautiful woman."

Muh threads
Using mafia tactics in real-life: http://www.debate.org...
6 years of DDO: http://www.debate.org...
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/18/2012 9:26:28 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 10/17/2012 2:06:23 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 10/16/2012 9:16:33 PM, MouthWash wrote:

What do you mean by "subjective," precisely?

What anyone anywhere means by it?

No, I mean philosophically. You can't say that something has "subjective value" and is distinct from something with objective value because both require an objective foundation. If it doesn't have objective value, it doesn't have value at all.
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/18/2012 11:43:05 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
All right, I'll bite.

To this conception, I oppose my own redemptive nihilism whose function is to bring human activity back into the realm of serviceability to human happiness (the content of which is, perhaps, beyond our ability to deconstruct and analyze with language).

I feel like this is you imposing your own values onto a value-less world, and that's fine, by why should anybody else be bound to what you're saying? It's not like you're latching onto something that's there.

realizing in the final instance that there is only the naked world, stripped of the fictions which had attended it, left to appreciate.

Would nihilistic art be minimalistic?

Existentially, this is a realm characterized solely by a potentiality and open-endedness which cannot be exhausted by any particular subjective experience, and which is therefore infinitely appreciable.

In your interpretation, to others it can justify murder or worse. "Potential" or "open endedness" in itself is not good. I wouldn't embrace that.

human experience presents itself as a blank slate upon which anything may be written or erased

I think in a sense this is true given the framework, but I do seriously object to the idea that the mind is a "blank slate" just waiting for society to mold it into whatever. I can see what you mean here though, I'm just going to reiterate that what may seem freeing to you can appear downright scary to others - myself included.
Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/19/2012 3:09:50 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
With note to "A) a countercultural force which always seeks to challenge or change current thought" , I do see this being potentially true, although often art develops based on things that are happening in the world - it happens both ways. For instance, the art of the Romantics might be taken as a reaction (rather than an initial movement, although it was somewhat 'countercultural' ) to the realists, among other things.

I would also note that near the end of your post you mention "...the appreciation of the world as it is (i.e, naked, without obfuscation) ..." , which I feel is in itself presupposing a desirable form of art - realism. Whereas I may prefer some of the artworks of the Romantics for their sheer, if perhaps at times imagined beauty.

As to the appropriation of art, I have mixed feelings about that. I have the utmost respect for the power of deceptions and the like, and hence recognise how the use of 'art' can be used 'wrongfully' , yet I am also a person who likes a degree of honour, chivalry, and other things that state appropriation of art can be fairly effective at.

I think that's all I have to say. I just hope I understood the thesis correctly!
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it