A Unifying Model of Arts

A Unifying Model of Arts

Key Terms

  • Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni
  • Poetics of Aristotle
  • Narrative Arts
  • Narrative Psychology
  • Drama Therapy
  • Social Simulation
  • Learning and Reflection
  • Normative Choices
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Mirrors
  • Psychological Mirrors
  • Self as Other
  • Other as Self
  • Coordination Arts
  • Competition Vs Cooperation
  • Networks and Hierarchy
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Drama/Films/Theater
  • Visual Arts
  • Diegesis
  • Haple diegesis
  • Diegesis dia mimeseos
  • Diegesis di’ amphoteron
  • Mimesis

Source: A Unifying Model of the Arts: The Narration/ Coordination Model

The Narration/Coordination model is presented as a unifying model of the arts with regard to psychological processing and social functions. The model proposes a classification of the arts into the two broad categories of the narrative arts and the coordinative arts. The narrative arts function to tell stories, often to promote social learning through the modeling of prosocial behaviors. The coordinative arts function to stimulate group participation through synchronized action, thereby serving as a reinforcer of group affiliation and a promoter of social cooperation. These two categories vary with regard to a number of psychological and social features related to personal engagement, role playing, cognitive structure, and performance. The arts are evolutionarily adaptive because they promote social cooperation through two distinct routes: the simulation of prosocial behaviors via the narrative arts, and the stimulation of group synchronization and cohesion via the coordinative arts.

Narrative and Coordinative Arts

Source: A UNIFYING MODEL OF THE ARTS: THE NARRATION/ COORDINATION MODEL

Narration/Coordination Model of the Arts

Source: A UNIFYING MODEL OF THE ARTS: THE NARRATION/ COORDINATION MODEL

Features of Narrative and Coordinative Arts

Source: A UNIFYING MODEL OF THE ARTS: THE NARRATION/ COORDINATION MODEL

Classification of Arts

Source: TOWARD A UNIFICATION OF THE ARTS

Interaction among the Arts

Source: TOWARD A UNIFICATION OF THE ARTS

Modular Aspects of Performance Arts

Source: TOWARD A UNIFICATION OF THE ARTS

Connections Between the arts: an Indian Perspective

Source: ART AND COSMOLOGY IN INDIA

The view that the arts belong to the domain of the sacred and that there is a connection between them is given most clearly in a famous passage in the Vishnudharmottara Purana in which the sage Markandeya instructs the king Vajra in the art of sculpture, teaching that to learn it one must first learn painting, dance, and music:

Vajra: How should I make the forms of gods so that the image may always manifest the deity?

Markandeya: He who does not know the canon of painting (citrasutram) can never know the canon of image-making (pratima lakshanam).

Vajra: Explain to me the canon of painting as one who knows the canon of painting knows the canon of image-making.

Markandeya: It is very difficult to know the canon of painting without the canon of dance (nritta shastra), for in both the world is to be represented.

Vajra: Explain to me the canon of dance and then you will speak about the canon of painting, for one who knows the practice of the canon of dance knows painting.

Markandeya: Dance is difficult to understand by one who is not acquainted with instrumental music (atodya).

Vajra: Speak about instrumental music and then you will speak about the canon of dance, because when the instrumental music is properly understood, one understands dance.

Markandeya: Without vocal music (gita) it is not possible to know instrumental music.

Vajra: Explain to me the canon of vocal music, because he, who knows the canon of vocal music, is the best of men who knows everything.

Markandeya: Vocal music is to be understood as subject to recitation that may be done in two ways, prose (gadya) and verse (padya). Verse is in many meters.

My Related Posts:

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Aesthetics and Ethics

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

Understanding Rasa: Yoga of Nine Emotions

Rituals | Recursion | Mantras | Meaning : Language and Recursion

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Luminosity and Chromaticity: On Light and Color

Geometry of Consciousness

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Key Sources of Research:

Toward a Unification of the Arts

Steven Brown*

Front. Psychol. 9:1938. 2018

doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01938

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6207603/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01938/full

Psychology of Narrative Art

Keith Oatley and Maja Djikic

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317424139_Psychology_of_Narrative_Art

A Unifying Model of the Arts: The Narration/ Coordination Model

Steven Brown

Empirical Studies of the Arts 2019, Vol. 37(2) 172–196

Click to access NarrCoord.pdf

Interaction, narrative, and drama: Creating an adaptive interactive narrative using performance arts theories

Magy Seif El-Nasr

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233651644_Interaction_narrative_and_drama_Creating_an_adaptive_interactive_narrative_using_performance_arts_theories

Art, dance, and music therapy

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15458755/

Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of Experience (Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology)1st Edition

Cheryl Mattingly

A hypothesis on the biological origins and social evolution of music and dance

Tianyan Wang

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4332322/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25741232/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2015.00030/full

Narrative, Emotion, and Insight

Edited by Noël Carroll, and John Gibson

https://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-04857-4.html

The narrative arc: Revealing core narrative structures through text analysis

  • Ryan L. Boyd1,*
  • Kate G. Blackburn2 and 
  • James W. Pennebaker2

 Science Advances   07 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 32, eaba2196
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba2196

Historical Narratives and the Philosophy of Art

Noël Carroll

The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 

Vol. 51, No. 3, Philosophy and the Histories of the Arts (Summer, 1993),

pp. 313-326 (14 pages) Published By: Wiley 

https://doi.org/10.2307/431506

Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories

Gregory Currie

The Poetics, Aesthetics, and Philosophy of Narrative

Noël Carroll

Wiley-Blackwell (2009)

https://philpapers.org/rec/CARTPA-11

The Psychology of Narrative Thought: How the Stories We Tell Ourselves Shape our lives

By Lee Roy Beach

Narrative: State of the Art

Click to access Bamberg,%20%20%20%20%20%20Narrative-State%20of%20the%20Art,%20%20%20%20%20%20Georgakopoulou%20Thinking%20Big%20with%20small%20stories%20in%20narrative%20and%20%20%20%20%20%20identity%20analysis.pdf

Narrative Psychology, Trauma and the Study of Self/Identity

Michele L. Crossley

Theory and Psychology Vol 10, Issue 4, 2000

First Published August 1, 2000 

https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354300104005

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0959354300104005

The “Who” System of the Human Brain: A System for Social Cognition About the Self and Others

Steven Brown*

  • Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 19 June 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2020.00224

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2020.00224/full

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-“Who”-System-of-the-Human-Brain%3A-A-System-for-Brown/ba6117482c0a649736251ef80ab12f6cf9cb7032

The Synthesis of the Arts: From Ceremonial Ritual to “Total Work of Art”

Steven Brown1* and Ellen Dissanayake2

  • 1Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
  • 2School of Music, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States

Front. Sociol., 15 May 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2018.00009

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2018.00009/full

Storytelling Is Intrinsically Mentalistic: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Narrative Production across Modalities

Ye Yuan, Judy Major-Girardin, and Steven Brown

https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/jocn_a_01294

The neural basis of audiomotor entrainment: an ALE meta-analysis

Léa A. S. ChauvignéKevin M. Gitau and Steven Brown*

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 30 September 2014 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00776

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00776/full

The Evolution and Ontogeny of Ritual

Part VI. Culture and Coordination

Cristine H. LegareRachel E. Watson‐Jones


The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

First published: 18 November 2015 https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119125563.evpsych234

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781119125563.evpsych234

On the distinction of empathic and vicarious emotions

Frieder M. Paulus1,2*, Laura Müller-Pinzler1Stefan Westermann1 and Sören Krach1*

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 15 May 2013 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00196

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00196/full

The Narrative Construction of Reality

Jerome Bruner

https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/448619

Click to access bruner1991narrative.pdf

Cooperation and the evolution of hunter-gatherer storytelling

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02036-8

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS | 8: 1853

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02036-8.pdf?origin=ppub

Ancient or Modern? Alexander G. Baumgarten and the Coming of Age of Aesthetics

Alessandro Nannini

Click to access 0353-57381503629N.pdf

EVOLUTION, AESTHETICS, AND ART: AN OVERVIEW

Stephen Davies, Philosophy, University of Auckland

https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/43360/Davies2018RoutHbookEvolutionandPhilosophy.pdf?sequence=2

Diegesis – Mimesis

Stephen Halliwell
Created: 17. October 2012 Revised: 12. September 2013

Published on the living handbook of narratology (http://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de)

https://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/printpdf/article/diegesis-–-mimesis

Art and Cosmology in India

Subhash Kak 2006

Luminosity and Chromaticity: On Light and Color

Luminosity and Chromaticity: On Light and Color

Key Terms and Ideas

  • Luminosity and Chromaticity
  • Light and Color
  • Diwali (Festival of Light) and Holi (Festival of Colors)
  • Rama and Krishna
  • Non Dual Vedanta and Trika Philosophy
  • 1 and 3
  • Verticalism and Horizontalism
  • Vedic and Tantric
  • Flute of Krishna and Shiva Jyotir Linga
  • Bow and Arrow of Ram
  • Ram Parivar and Shiv Parivar
  • Shiv Ratri
  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Sun, Moon, Earth and Mars
  • Rods and Cones in Retina
  • Color Temperature
  • Lok and Kosh
  • Seven Chakra
  • Trishool
  • Ram, Lakshman, Sita, Hanuman
  • Achromatic and Chromatic
  • Grey scale and Color Primaries
  • Mind and Moon
  • Moon and Emotions
  • Tone Circle
  • Color Circle
  • Pythagoras
  • 3 and 7
  • 137
  • 007
  • Prism
  • Seven Colors
  • 4 + 3 = 7
  • 4 x 3 = 12
  • Pentatonic
  • Heptatonic
  • Diatonic Scale
  • Chromatic Scale

Newton’s Color Circle

Source: http://winlab.rutgers.edu/~trappe/Courses/ImageVideoS06/MollonColorScience.pdf

Color Circle in Opticks of I.Newton

Source: Reprint of Opticks by Project Gutenberg

Color Sensation

Source: Understanding color & the in-camera image processing pipeline for computer vision

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Source: Notes for the course of Color Digital Image Processing

Color Temperature

Source: Understanding color & the in-camera image processing pipeline for computer vision

Color Temperatures of the Stars

Luminosity Function

Source: Understanding color & the in-camera image processing pipeline for computer vision

CIE 1931 XYZ

Source: Understanding color & the in-camera image processing pipeline for computer vision

Luminance

Source: Human Vision and Color

Brightness, Lightness,Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity

Source: The Brightness of Colour

Brightness has been defined as the perceived intensity of a visual stimulus, irrespective of its source. Lightness, on the other hand, is defined as the apparent brightness of an object relative to the object’s reflectance. Thus increasing the intensity of light falling on an object will increase its apparent brightness but not necessarily its apparent lightness, other things being equal [1]. Saturation is a measure of the spectral ‘‘purity’’ of a colour, and thus how different it is from a neutral, achromatic stimulus. Hue is the perception of how similar a stimulus is to red, green, blue etc. Luminous efficiency, or luminosity, measures the effect that light of different wavelengths has on the human visual system. It is a function of wavelength, usually written as V(l) [2], and is typically measured by rapidly alternating a pair of stimuli falling on the same area of the retina; the subject alters the physical radiance of one stimulus until the apparent flickering is minimised. Thus luminance is a measure of the intensity of a stimulus given the sensitivity of the human visual system, and so is integrated over wavelength [3]. Luminance is thought to be used by the brain to process motion, form and texture [4].

Clearly, brightness is monotonically related to luminance in the simplest case: the more luminant the stimulus is, the brighter it appears to be. However, the Helmholtz-Kohlrausch (HK) effect shows that the brightness of a stimulus is not a simple representation of luminance, since the brightness of equally luminant stimuli changes with their relative saturation (i.e. strongly coloured stimuli appear brighter than grey stimuli), and with shifts in the spectral distribution of the stimulus (e.g. ‘blues’ and ‘reds’ appear brighter than ‘greens’ and ‘yellows’ at equiluminance) [1; 5–6].

The HK effect has been measured in a variety of psychophysical studies [7–8] and is often expressed in terms of the (variable) ratio between brightness and luminance. 

Chromaticity

Source: Human Vision and Color

Human Eye

Source: Human Vision and Color

Human Retina

Source: Human Vision and Color

Rods and Cones Photoreceptors

Source: Human Vision and Color

Color Receptors

Source: Human Vision and Color

Tristimulus Color

Source: Color/CMU

Visual Sensitivity

Source: Human Vision https://people.cs.umass.edu/~elm/Teaching/ppt/691a/CV%20UNIT%20Light/691A_UNIT_Light_1.ppt.pdf

Light and Color (Photometry and Colorimetry) I

Source: Interactive Computer Graphics/UOMichigan

Light and Color (Photometry and Colorimetry) II

Source: Interactive Computer Graphics/UOMichigan

Two Types of Light Sensitive Cells

Source: Interactive Computer Graphics/UOMichigan

Cones and Rod Sensitivity

Source: Interactive Computer Graphics/UOMichigan

Distribution of Cones in Retina

Source: DIVERSE CELL TYPES, CIRCUITS, AND MECHANISMS FOR COLOR VISION IN THE VERTEBRATE RETINA

Types of Color Stimuli

Source: Perceiving Color. https://www.ics.uci.edu/~majumder/vispercep/chap5notes.pdf

Color Perception

Source: Perceiving Color. https://www.ics.uci.edu/~majumder/vispercep/chap5notes.pdf

CIE XYZ Model

Source: Human Vision and Color

Luminance and Chromaticity Space

Source: Understanding color & the in-camera image processing pipeline for computer vision

1931 CIE Chromaticity Chart

CIE 1931 Chromaticity Diagram

Source: Human Vision and Color

Source: Notes for the course of Color Digital Image Processing

Additive Colors

Source: Human Vision and Color

Subtractive Colors

Source: Human Vision and Color

Color Mixing

Source: Human Vision and Color

Color Appearance Models
  • RGB
  • CMY
  • CIE XYZ
  • CIE xyY
  • CIE LAB
  • Hunter LAB
  • CIE LUV
  • CIE LCH
  • HSB
  • HSV
  • HSL
  • HSI
  • YIQ for NTSC TVs in USA
  • YUV for PAL TVs in EU
  • YCbCr for digital TVs
  • Munsell Color System

Color Models are device independent. For discussion of device dependent color spaces, please see my post Digital Color and Imaging.

LMS, RGB, and CIE XYZ Color Spaces

Source: Color/CMU

HSV Color Space

My Related Posts

Reflective Display Technology: Using Pigments and Structural Colors

Color Science and Technology in LCD and LED Displays

Color Science of Gem Stones

Nature’s Fantastical Palette: Color From Structure

Optics of Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Color Change: In Biology and Smart Pigments Technology

Color and Imaging in Digital Video and Cinema

Digital Color and Imaging

On Luminescence: Fluorescence, Phosphorescence, and Bioluminescence

On Light, Vision, Appearance, Color and Imaging

Understanding Rasa: Yoga of Nine Emotions

Shapes and Patterns in Nature

Key Sources of Research

What Are The Characteristics Of Color?

https://www.pantone.com/articles/color-fundamentals/what-are-the-characteristics-of-color

Birren Color Theory

by ADMIN on MARCH 11, 2012

http://www.wonderfulcolors.org/blog/birren-color-theory/

Light, Color, Perception, and Color Space Theory

Professor Brian A. Barsky

barsky@cs.berkeley.edu

Computer Science Division
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences University of California, Berkeley

Understanding Color Spaces and Color Space Conversion

https://www.mathworks.com/help/images/understanding-color-spaces-and-color-space-conversion.html

The Human Visual System and Color Models

Click to access Carmody_Visual&ColorModels.pdf

Defining and Communicating Color: The CIELAB System

Color Vision and Arts

http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/index.html

PRECISE COLOR COMMUNICATION: COLOR CONTROL FROM PERCEPTION TO INSTRUMENTATION

KonicaMinolta

A short history of color theory

https://programmingdesignsystems.com/color/a-short-history-of-color-theory/index.html

Let’s Colormath

Understanding the formulas of color conversion

https://donatbalipapp.medium.com/colours-maths-90346fb5abda

A History of Human Color Vision—from Newton to Maxwell

Barry R. Masters

Optics and Photonics January 2011

https://www.osa-opn.org/home/articles/volume_22/issue_1/features/a_history_of_human_color_vision—from_newton_to_max/

The Difference Between Chroma and Saturation

Munsell Color

Charles S. Peirce’s Phenomenology: Analysis and Consciousness

By Richard Kenneth Atkins

The Evolution of Human Color Vision/ Jeremy Nathans

Jeremy Nathans Lecture on Color Vision

JEREMY NATHANS LECTURE ON COLOR VISION

JEREMY NATHANS LECTURE ON COLOR VISION

JEREMY NATHANS LECTURE ON COLOR VISION

The Genes for Color Vision

Jeremy Nathans

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FEBRUARY 1989

A Short History of Color Photography

Photography  |  Angie Kordic

https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/color-photography

Blue: The History of a Color (2001)

followed by Black: The History of a Color (2009) and then Green: The History of a Color (2014), all produced by the same publisher. A fifth, devoted to yellow, should come next. 

Historic Look on Color Theory 

Steele R. Stokley

The evolution of colour in design from the 1950s to today

Francesca Valan

Journal of the International Colour Association (2012): 8, 55-60

Greek Color Theory and the Four Elements

J.L. Benson

University of Massachusetts Amherst

A SHORT HISTORY OF COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHY

https://blog.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/a-short-history-of-colour-photography/

History of Color System

The Origins of Modern Color Science

J D Mollon

Click to access MollonColorScience.pdf

The History of Colors

Tobias Kiefer

Click to access Assignment_History_of_Colors.PDF

Notes for the course of Color Digital Image Processing

Edoardo Provenzi

Understanding color & the in-camera image processing pipeline for computer vision

Dr. Michael S. Brown

Canada Research Chair Professor York University – Toronto

ICCV 2019 Tutorial – Seoul, Korea

Chapter 2
Basic Color Theory

Click to access t3.pdf

Color Science

CS 4620 Lecture 26

Click to access 26color.pdf

Color Image Perception, Representation and Contrast Enhancement

Yao Wang
Tandon School of Engineering, New York University

A GUIDE TO LIGHT AND COLOUR DEMONSTRATIONS

Arne Valberg, Bjørg Helene Andorsen, Kine Angelo, Barbara Szybinska Matusiak and Claudia Moscoso

Norwegian University of Science and Technology Trondheim, Norway

https://www.ntnu.edu/documents/1272527942/1272817015/2015-09-08+DEMO+web.pdf/f1695ca5-b834-4d05-a011-a185f6562e32

A Primer to Colors in Digital Design

Archit Jha

Jul 16, 2017

https://uxdesign.cc/a-primer-to-colors-in-digital-design-7d16bb33399e

Chapter 7 ADDITIVE COLOR MIXING

Click to access 07_additive-color.pdf

Computergrafik

Matthias Zwicker Universität Bern Herbst 2016

Color

Click to access ColorPerception.pdf

Introduction to Computer Vision

The Perception of Color

In: Webvision: The Organization of the Retina and Visual System [Internet]. Salt Lake City (UT): University of Utah Health Sciences Center; 1995–.2005 May 1 [updated 2007 Jul 9]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21413396/

Visual Pigment Gene Structure and Expression in Human Retinae 

Tomohiko Yamaguchi,  Arno G. Motulsky,  Samir S. Deeb

Human Molecular Genetics, Volume 6, Issue 7, July 1997, Pages 981–990, https://doi.org/10.1093/hmg/6.7.981

https://academic.oup.com/hmg/article/6/7/981/572151

The Difference Between Chroma and Saturation

LUMINANCE AND CHROMATICITY

https://colorusage.arc.nasa.gov/lum_and_chrom.php

Number by Colors

A Guide to Using Color to Understand Technical Data
  • Brand Fortner
  • Theodore E. Meyer

Chapter 5 Perceiving Color

The Practical Guide To Color Theory For Photographers

History of the Bauhaus

https://bauhaus.netlify.app/form_color/color/

The Digital Artist’s Complete Guide To Mastering Color Theory

byLeigh G

BASIC COLOR THEORY

Anthony Holdsworth

Molecular Genetics of Color Vision and Color Vision Defects

Maureen Neitz, PhDJay Neitz, PhD

Arch Ophthalmol. 2000;118(5):691-700. doi:10.1001/archopht.118.5.691

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/413200

Color Theory: Introduction to Color Theory and the Color Wheel

https://blog.thepapermillstore.com/color-theory-introduction-color-wheel/

Color Spaces and Color Temperature

https://tigoe.github.io/LightProjects/color-spaces-color-temp.html

The Brightness of Colour

David Corney1, John-Dylan Haynes2, Geraint Rees3,4, R. Beau Lotto1*

EECS 487: Interactive Computer Graphics

Colorimetry

KonicaMinolta

Basics of Color Theory

THE BASICS OF COLOR PERCEPTION AND MEASUREMENT

Hunterlab

https://www.hunterlab.com/color-measurement-learning/glossary/

Color Matching and Color Discrimination

The Science of Color

2003

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.457.9467&rep=rep1&type=pdf

1.3 Color Temperature

https://www.mat.univie.ac.at/~kriegl/Skripten/CG/CG.html

https://www.mat.univie.ac.at/~kriegl/Skripten/CG/node10.html

Color Spaces and Color Temperature

https://tigoe.github.io/LightProjects/color-spaces-color-temp.html

Digital Camera Sensor Colorimetry

Douglas A. Kerr

Click to access Sensor_Colorimetry.pdf

Chromatic luminance, colorimetric purity, and optimal aperture‐color stimuli

DOI: 10.1002/col.20356

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230164581_Chromatic_luminance_colorimetric_purity_and_optimal_aperture-color_stimuli

Title: A Review of RGB Color Spaces …from xyY to R’G’B’

The CIE XYZ and xyY Color Spaces

Douglas A. Kerr

Click to access CIE_XYZ.pdf

DIVERSE CELL TYPES, CIRCUITS, AND MECHANISMS FOR COLOR VISION IN THE VERTEBRATE RETINA

Wallace B. Thoreson and Dennis M. Dacey

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Truhlsen Eye Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska; and Department of Biological Structure, Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Physiol Rev 99: 1527–1573, 2019 Published May 29, 2019; doi:10.1152/physrev.00027.2018

https://journals.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/physrev.00027.2018

Human Vision

Introduction to color theory

https://graphics.stanford.edu/courses/cs178-10/applets/locus.html

COLOR WHEELS

https://www2.bellevuecollege.edu/artshum/materials/art/tanzi/Winter04/111/111CLRWHLSW04.htm

Human Vision and Color

UT

Click to access 121.pdf

COLOR VISION MECHANISMS

Andrew Stockman

Department of Visual Neuroscience UCL Institute of Opthalmology London, United KIngdom

David H. Brainard

Department of Psychology University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Color

CMU

Click to access lecture15.pdf

What Are The Characteristics Of Color?

Pantone

https://www.pantone.com/articles/color-fundamentals/what-are-the-characteristics-of-color

A Guide to Color


Guide C-316
Revised by Jennah McKinley

https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_c/C316/welcome.html

A History of Color

The Evolution of Theories of Lights and Color
  • Robert A. Crone

https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-94-007-0870-9

The Brilliant History of Color in Art

Victoria Finlay

A History of Light and Colour Measurement
Science in the Shadows

Sean F Johnston

University of Glasgow, Crichton Campus, UK

Color codes: modern theories of color in philosophy, painting and architecture, literature, music and psychology

Charles Riley

Chapter 6 Colour

History of Color Systems

Color Science of Gem Stones

Color Science of Gem Stones

Key Terms

  • Iridescence Orient
  • Play-of-color Labradorescence
  • Chatoyancy (“cat’s-eye”) Asterism
  • Adularescence
  • Aventurescence
  • Change-of- color (“Alexandrite effect”)
  • Pearlescence
  • Opalescence

Causes of Color in Gemstones

Sourcez: AN UPDATE ON COLOR IN GEMS. PART 1: INTRODUCTION AND COLORS CAUSED BY DISPERSED METAL IONS

Three most common causes of color in gem materials:

  • Dispersed metal ions
  • Charge transfers and other processes that involve multiple ions, and colorcenters.
  • Coloration that are less often seen in gems, such as those that result from physical phenomena (asin opal) or from semiconductor-like properties (as in natural blue diamond).

Source: http://www.scifun.org/chemweek/ColorOfGemstones2017.pdf

THE COLORS OF GEMSTONES

The most common cause of color in gemstones is the presence of a small amount of a transition metal ion. These transition metal ions have an incomplete set of 3electrons. Changes in the energy of these electrons correspond to the energy of visible light. When white light passes through a colored gemstone or is reflected by it, some of the energy of the visible light is absorbed, causing 3electrons in the transition metal ion to undergo an energy change. The light that is transmitted or reflected appears colored, because those colors corresponding to 3d– electron energy transitions have been absorbed. The table lists several common gemstones, their chemical compositions, colors, and the origins of these colors.

A ruby is a crystal of alumina, aluminum oxide, containing a trace of chromium(III) ions replacing some of the aluminum ions. In ruby, each Al3+ ion and Cr3+ ion is surrounded by six oxide ions in an octahedral arrangement.

GemFormulaColorOrigin of color
RubyAl2O3RedCr3+ replacing Al3+ in octahedral sites
EmeraldBe3Al2(SiO3)6page1image48667408 page1image48670688Greenpage1image48674080Cr3+ replacing Al3+ in octahedral site
AlexandriteAl2BeO4page1image48684352 page1image48679952Red/Greenpage1image46942720Cr3+ replacing Al3+ in octahedral site
GarnetMg3Al2(SiO4)3page1image46978464 page1image46979040Redpage1image46980384Fe2+ replacing Mg2+ in 8- coordinate site
page1image47140576 page1image47141088PeridotMg2SiO4Yellow-greenFe2+ replacing Mg2+ in 6- coordinate site
page1image47154784 page1image47155296T ourmalinepage1image47156576 page1image47157088Na3Li3Al6(BO3)3(SiO3)6F4PinkMn2+ replacing Li+ and Al3+ in octahedral site
TurquoiseAl6(PO4)4(OH)84H2OBlue-greenCu2+ coordinated to 4 OH and 2 H2O
Sapphirepage1image88097760 page1image88100240Al2O3BlueIntervalence transition between Fe2+ and Ti4+ replacing Al3+ in adjacent octahedral sites

This arrangement splits the five 3orbitals of Cr3+ into two sets, the dxy, dxz, dyz orbitals and the dx2-y2 and dz2 orbitals. These two sets have different energies. The energy difference between these sets corresponds to the energy of visible light. When white light strikes a ruby, the gem absorbs the light of energy corresponding to the transition of an electron from the lower-energy set of 3orbitals to the higher-energy set. The ruby reflects or transmits the remainder of the light. Because this light is deficient in some energies (those that were absorbed), the light appears colored.

The origin of the color of emeralds is similar to that of the color of rubies. However, the bulk of an emerald crystal is composed of beryl, beryllium aluminum silicate, instead of the alumina which forms rubies. The color is produced by chromium(III) ions, which replace some of the aluminum ions in the crystal. In emeralds, the Cr3+ is surrounded by six silicate ions, rather than the six oxide ions in ruby. These silicate ions also split the 3orbitals of Cr3+ into two sets. However, the magnitude of the energy difference between the sets is different from that produced by the oxide ions in ruby. Therefore, the color of emeralds is different from that of ruby.

Chromium(III) also produces color in alexandrite. The color of this gem is very unusual, because in bright sunlight it appears green, but in incandescent light it appears red. This unusual behavior is a result of the way human vision works. Our eyes are most sensitive to green light. Alexandrite reflects both green and red light. In bright sunlight, the proportion of green light is greater than it is in the light from an incandescent lamp. The light reflected by alexandrite in bright sunlight is rich in green light, to which our eyes are most sensitive, and we perceive the gem as green. The light reflected by alexandrite in incandescent light is much richer in red, and we see the stone as red under these conditions.

Energy transition of the 3orbitals of other transition metal ions are responsible for the colors of other gemstones. Iron(II) produces the red of garnets and the yellow-green of peridots. Manganese(II) is responsible for the pink coloration of tourmaline, and copper(II) colors turquoise.

In some gemstones, the color is caused not by energy changes in a single transition metal ion, but by the exchange of electrons between two adjacent transition metal ions of differing oxidation states. The energy needed to transfer an electron from one ion to another corresponds to the energy of visible light. An example is sapphire. The bulk of sapphire is alumina, as in rubies, but some adjacent pairs of Al3+ ions are replaced by an Fe2+ ion and a Ti4+. When light of the appropriate energy strikes the crystal, energy is absorbed, and an electron moves from the Fe2+ to the Ti4+. Such a movement is called an intervalence transition. An intervalence transition is also responsible for the blue color of aquamarine. In aquamarine, adjacent Al3+ ions in beryl are replaced by an Fe2+ ion and an Fe3+ ion.

Not all gem colors are produced by transition metal ions. In some gemstones, the colors are produced by the presence of foreign atoms with a different number of valence electrons than the ones they replace. These foreign atoms are called color centers. Because the replacement atoms have the wrong number of valence electrons, they can supply or receive an electron from another atom by an intervalence transition. These color centers are often produced by nuclear transformation. An example of such a transformation is the change of a radioactive carbon- 14 atom in diamond into a nitrogen atom through beta particle emission. This leaves an atom of nitrogen in place of the original carbon atom. The nitrogen atom has one more valence electron than the carbon atom. These nitrogen atoms are the cause of the coloration of blue and yellow diamonds. Color centers can be caused artificially as well, by irradiating the gem in a nuclear reactor. Many bright blue and bright yellow diamonds are produced artificially in this manner.

REFERENCES

Chemistry in Britain, 1983, page 1004.
Gems and Gemology, Volume 17, 1981, page 37. Scientific American, October 1980, page 124.

Precious Stones

  • The Diamond
  • The Pearl
  • The Ruby
  • The Sapphire
  • The Emerald
  • The Oriental Cateye
  • The Alexandrite

RGB Colors of Gemstones

Blue Sapphire

Emerald

Ruby

Pearl

Tahitian Cultured Pearls

Diamond

Chrysoberyl (Oriental Cat’s Eye)

Alexandrite

Change in Color due to change in Illuminant

Semi Precious stones

  • The Amethyst
  • The Topaz
  • The Tourmaline
  • The Aquamarine
  • The Chrysoprase
  • The Peridot
  • The Opal
  • The Zircon
  • The Jade
  • The Garnet
  • The Lapis lazuli
  • The Moonstone
  • The Spinel
  • The Turquoise
  • The Agate
  • The Coral
  • The Citrine
  • The Onyx
  • The Chrysolite
  • The Amber
  • The Chrysoberyl
  • The Chalcedony
  • The Morganite
  • The Quartz
  • The Tanzanite

Amethyst

Topaz

London Blue Topaz

Blue Topaz

Tourmaline

The Aquamarine

Chrysoprase

The Peridot

The Opal

The Zircon

The Jade

Garnet

Lapis lazuli

The MoonStone

White Moonstone

Grey Moonstone

The Spinel

Turquoise

Agate

Red Agate

Citrine

Onyx Black

 Chalcedony

Rose Quartz

Color Chemistry of Gemstones

Healing Power of Gemstones and Crystals

Precious Stones and Semi Precious Stones arranged by Color

Precious and Semi Precious Stones and their characteristics

Birthstones by Month

Source: AN UPDATE ON COLOR IN GEMS. PART 3: COLORS CAUSED BY BAND GAPS AND PHYSICAL PHENOMENA

My Related Posts

Nature’s Fantastical Palette: Color From Structure

Optics of Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Color Change: In Biology and Smart Pigments Technology

Color and Imaging in Digital Video and Cinema

Digital Color and Imaging

On Luminescence: Fluorescence, Phosphorescence, and Bioluminescence

On Light, Vision, Appearance, Color and Imaging

Key Sources of Research

COLOR IN GEMS: THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES

By George R. Rossman

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Color-in-Gems%3A-The-New-Technologies-Rossman/6202b8b7c6bf5db326a4f173813f0e7bd4943c69

A Primer of Gemstones

Nova

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/gemstone-primer/

THE COLORS OF GEMSTONES

Click to access ColorOfGemstones2017.pdf

An UPDATE ON COLOR IN GEMS. PART 1: INTRODUCTION AND COLORS CAUSED BY DISPERSED METAL IONS

By Emmanuel Fritsch and George R. Rossman

AN UPDATE ON COLOR IN GEMS. PART 2: COLORS INVOLVING MULTIPLE
ATOMS AND COLOR CENTERS

By Emmunuel Fritsch and George R. Rossinun

AN UPDATE ON COLOR IN GEMS. PART 3: COLORS CAUSED BY BAND GAPS AND
PHYSICAL PHENOMENA

By Emmanuel Fritsch and George R. Rossman

What Causes the Colour of Gemstones?

What Causes the Colour of Gemstones?

Concerning Precious Stones and Jewels

Issued by Theodore A. Kohn & Son
Jewellers, New York

Palagems

http://www.palagems.com/concerning-precious-stones

7 Gemstone Legends That Will Blow Your Mind

Angara

GEOSC 110H: The Science of Gemstones

Penn State

Gemstones

LEE ANDREW GROAT

https://www.americanscientist.org/article/gemstones

Source of many Images

https://www.leibish.com/rings-jewelry/mozambique-no-heat-pigeon-blood-ruby-three-stone-ring-28510

The origins of color in minerals

KURT NASSAU

Bell Laboratories

Murray Hill, New Jersey 07974

American Mineralogist

Volume 63, pages 219-229, 1978

http://www.minsocam.org/MSA/collectors_corner/arc/color.htm

THE EARLY HISTORY OF GEMSTONE TREATMENTS

By Kurt Nassau

A QUICK GUIDE TO PEARL COLORS

DNA Fingerprinting of Pearls to Determine Their Origins

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075606

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257840043_DNA_Fingerprinting_of_Pearls_to_Determine_Their_Origins

New developments in cultured pearl production: use of organic and baroque shell nuclei


January 2013
Authors: Laurent E Cartier University of Lausanne
Michael S. Krzemnicki at University of Basel

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276269725_New_developments_in_cultured_pearl_production_use_of_organic_and_baroque_shell_nuclei

Blue Nile

https://www.bluenile.com/

Alexandrite Effect: Gemstones That Change Color in Different Light

http://www.geologyin.com/2017/03/alexandrite-effect-not-all-white-light.html

What is Chrysoprase?

http://geologylearn.blogspot.com/2016/12/chrysoprase-gemstone.html

10 World Famous Gemstones

PUBLISHED FRI, JUL 11 200810:07 AM EDTUPDATED WED, JAN 29 20143:11 PM EST

Jessica Mark

https://www.cnbc.com/2008/07/11/10-World-Famous-Gemstones.html

The Causes of Color

Kurt Nassau

Gem Diamonds: Causes of Colors

Hiroshi Kitawaki

Gemmological Association of All Japan, Ueno 5-25-11, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0005, Japan (Received 9 May 2007; accepted 1 August 2007)

New Diamond and Frontier Carbon Technology

Vol. 17, No. 3 2007 MYU Tokyo

NDFCT536_full.pdf

Causes of Color in Minerals and Gemstones 

Paul F. Hlava, Sandia National Laboratories pfhlava@sandia.gov


Color Change: In Biology and Smart Pigments Technology

  • Color change due to Pigment
  • Color change due to Structure

This post is on color change due to pigments.

In a future post, I will research structural colors.

Key Words

  • Color Change in Biology
  • Color Change using Technology
  • Smart Pigments
  • Thermochromic property
  • Photochromic property
  • Piezochromic property
  • Solvatochromic property
  • Chimiochromic property
  • Electrochromism
  • Smart Textiles
  • Smart Plastics
  • Smart Paper
  • Smart Inks
  • Smart Food Packaging
  • Color Science
  • Material Science
  • Color Fading
  • Color Fastness
  • Color Metamerism
  • Chromatophores
  • Iridophores
  • Leucophores
  • Chlorophyll
  • Anthrocyanins
  • Flavonols
  • Flavonoids

Color Change and Technology

Chromic phenomena in dyes and pigments

Some of the major companies are

  • LCR Hallcrest LLC
  • Hali Pigment Co. Ltd
  • Chromatic Technologies Inc.
  • QCR Solutions Corp.
  • OliKrom
  • SFXC
  • MICI
  • RPM International Inc.
  • Good Life Innovations Ltd
  • FX Pigments Pvt. Ltd
  • Smarol Industry Co. Ltd
  • Kolortek Co. Ltd
  • Kolorjet Chemicals Pvt. Ltd
  • Colourchange

Source: OliKrom

Smart Hybrid Pigments

The solutions developed by OliKrom involve a new generation of hybrid pigments that combines the proven strength of the metal ions and the flexibility of the molecular material. The change in the structure allow to control the color change as a function of :

  • Temperature (thermochromic property),
  • Light (photochromic property),
  • Pressure (piezochromic property),
  • A solvent (solvatochromic property),
  • A gas (chimiochromic property),

The expertise of OliKrom allows for each of these properties:

  • To adjust the request colors,
  • To obtain reversible and/or irreversible color-shifting,
  • To modulate the speed of the color change,
  • To control the issues of fatigability.
  • To insert these adaptive pigments in a formulation (paint, ink, masterbatch, …) without altering the properties!
  • To produce on an industrial scale paintings, inks, master batches, …

Applications

SAFETY
  • Threshold temperature indicators / industrial pipes, thermal mapping.
  • Display: visual aid in the detection of ice.
  • Indicator of “health matter”, gauge effort, shock detection (Aeronautic & Navy).
  • Control: Temperature Indicator for monitoring sensitive products: cold chain, transport & medical vaccines or blood products.
  • Sterilization indicator: labels or inks.
  • Adhesives: indicator of adhesion, optimum drying.
  • Food Packaging: temperature indicator for the consumption of a product: beer, wine, vodka, champagne, cans and bottles, hot and cold drinks, baby food.
TRACEABILITY / INFRINGEMENT
  • Irreversible overheat indicator of industrial processes.
  • Security inks: offset ink for ticketing, games, secure access badges.
  • Infringement Indicator: branded article, banknote.
DECORATION / MARKETING / ADVERTISING
  • Plastic toys: decor with changing color, labels, packaging, paper / plastic promotional, “dynamic” advertising inserts.
  • Cosmetics: Bottles & Jars of cosmetic or perfume.
  • Smart Textiles: comfort indicator, clarification of the textile with temperature.

Fluorescent Pigments and Phosphorescent Pigments

Source: PHOTOLUMINESCENTS: FLUORESCENT AND PHOSPHORESCENT INKS AND PAINTS / OliKrom

Photochromic Pigments

Piezochromic Pigments

Thermochromic

Type

  • Reversible Thermochromic Material
  • Irreversible Thermochromic Material

Material

  • Liquid Crystal
  • Leuco Dyes
  • Pigment
  • Other Materials

Application

  • Roof Coatings
  • Printing
  • Food Packaging
  • Cosmetics
  • Other Applications

Solvachromes and Chemochromes

Color Change in Biology

Animals
  • Chameleon
  • Golden Tortoise Beetle
  • Mimic Octopus
  • Pacific Tree Frog
  • Sea Horses
  • Flounders
  • Cuttlefish
  • Crab Spiders
  • Squid
  • Cyanea Octopus

Mechanisms for Color Change

  • Chromatophores
  • Leucophores
  • Iridophores

Source: Adaptive camouflage helps blend into the environment 

Cephalopods such as cuttlefish often use use adaptive camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. They are able to match colors and surface textures of their surrounding environments by adjusting the pigment and iridescence of their skin.

On the skin surface, chromatophores (tiny sacs filled with red, yellow, or brown pigment) ab­sorb light of various wavelengths. Once vis­ual input is processed, the cephalopod sends a signal to a nerve fiber, which is connected to a muscle. That muscle relaxes and contracts to change the size and shape of the chromato­phore. Each color chromatophore is controlled by a different nerve, and when the attached muscle contracts, it flattens and stretches the pigment sack outward, expanding the color on the skin. When that muscle relaxes, the chro­matophore closes back up, and the color dis­appears. As many as two hundred of these may fill a patch of skin the size of a pencil eraser, like a shimmering pixel display.

The innermost layer of skin, composed of leuc­ophores, reflects ambient light. These broadband light reflectors give the cephalopods a ‘base coat’ that helps them match their surroundings.

Between the colorful chromatophores and the light-scattering leucophores is a reflective lay­er of skin made up of iridophores. These reflect light to create pink, yellow, green, blue, or silver coloration, while the reflector cells (found only in octopuses) reflect blue or green.

Source: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/10-animals-that-can-change-colors.html

10 Animals That Can Change Colors

The mimic octopus changes their skin tone and body shape to copy other sea creatures.
The mimic octopus changes their skin tone and body shape to copy other sea creatures. 

There are a few animals that have the unique ability to change colors. The ability to change colors can help animals protect themselves against their predators because it allows them to blend into their natural environment. Here is a list of 10 color changing animals.

10. Chameleon

A chameleon is a unique species of lizard famous for changing its skin color. It does so to camouflage with its surrounding. Sometimes chameleons change their color when they are angry or fearful. To change its color, the chameleon adjusts a layer of specialized cells underlying its skin. Others change color in response to humidity, light, and temperature. Chameleons never stop growing. They keep shedding their skin from time to time. Furthermore, chameleons have excellent eyesight characterized by a 360-degree arc vision. Although chameleons do not hear, their bodies detect sound within the surrounding.

9. Golden Tortoise Beetle

The golden tortoise beetle is an insect that can change its color. The species with this ability include Charidotella sexpunctata and Charidotella egregia. The tortoise beetles change color due to particular events that occur in their environment. Such events include meeting a willing mate and being touched by a curious human being. Hence, when they are mating or agitated, the tortoise beetles change their color from gold to a bright red color. The change of color occurs due to a process referred to as optical illusion.

8. Mimic Octopus

Mimic octopus, scientifically known as Thaumoctopus mimicus, change their color and they can also mimic other sea creatures such as a lionfish, jellyfish, stingrays, and sea snakes. The mimic octopus can pick the color of the sea creature that they intend to mimic. The mimic octopuses change their body shape to avoid potential predators. The change of skin color helps them to adapt to their surrounding. Mimic octopuses can change color and mimic shapes due to their skin which is very responsive to the environment.

7. Pacific Tree Frog

The Pacific Tree Frog inhabits North America. One of its common features is the sticky toe pads. The sticky toe pads enable them to climb trees and plants. The Pacific Tree Frog changes its color to blend in with its surroundings. The change of color is a defense mechanism against predators such as raccoons, bullfrogs, snakes, heron, and many others. Pacific Tree Frogs also change their color based on the seasons and temperature. When the temperatures are high, they turn into a shade of yellow. An example of Pacific Tree Frog species that changes color is Hyla regilla. The process of color change in Pacific Tree Frogs takes 1-2 minutes.

6. Seahorses

Seahorses, such as the thorny seahorse, are among the marine animals that have mastered changing their color. The purpose of changing their skin color is to camouflage, frighten predators, communicate their emotions, and for courtship. Complex interactions between the brain, nervous system, hormones, and organelles make it possible for the seahorses to change their color. The organelles responsible for these color changes are known as chromatophores. Regarding the speed at which the skin color changes, this depends on the stimulus. For instance, in a life or death situation such as involving a predator, the color changes quickly. But whenever the seahorse is courting a mate, the change takes place slowly.

5. Flounders

Flounders are naturally brown. However, they can change color to suit their surroundings. A flounder uses its vision and specialized cells inside the skin to change color. The cells, in turn, have color pigments and are linked to the eyes of the flounders. When a flounder moves to a new environment, the retina in the eyes captures the new color. Consequently, the color seen by the eyes are transmitted to the cells. The cells adjust the pigmentation to match the surface color. Scientists have discovered that flounders depend entirely on their vision to change color. When their eyes are damaged, then they have difficulties in camouflaging to their surrounding. An example of flounder species that changes color is the peacock flounder.

4. Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish are cephalopods that change color to feed on prey and avoid predators craftily. They have three mechanisms by which they can change color. Firstly, the cuttlefish skin contains papillae that alter the tone of the fish. The papillae cause the skin to become smooth or rough depending on the environment. Secondly, camouflaging is possible because of the chromatophores in their skin. The chromatophores are sacs of color pigments. To change color, these sacs receive color-changing instructions from the brain and act accordingly. Lastly, cuttlefish have reflecting plates called leucophores and iridophores. The plates enable the fish to change its color.

3. Crab Spiders

Spiders called flower spiders (or crab spiders) change their color. They usually change color to hide from their prey. Consequently, the spiders change color to resemble the flower surface on which they sit through the reflection of light. Some spiders release a yellow pigment that enhances their color changing process. An example of a species of spider with such color changing features is Misumenoides formosipes and Misumena vatia. The color change from white to yellow takes 10-25 days. Hence, the flower spiders patiently wait for the completion of the process before they can attack their prey.

2. Squid

Squids are marine cephalopods. They possess two long tentacles and eight arms. An interesting fact about the squids is that their blood is blue. Furthermore, they have three hearts instead of one like other fish. The squids are uniquely beautiful and able to change color. They change color using chromatophores engraved in their skin. The purpose of changing color is to match the surface they are on so that they can avoid predators. The camouflage also acts as a hunting tactic since it enables them to hide away from their prey.

1. Cyanea Octopus

Known as the big blue octopus or the day octopus, octopus cyabea is found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific. It is known as the day octopus as it is most active during the daytime in contrast to most other octopus species. The cyanea octopus is especially adept at camouflage, able to not only frequently change the color of their skin, but also recreate patterns and textures. On the hunt for crabs, molluscs, shrimp, and fish, the cyanea octopus is able to quickly adapt its appearance to its surroundings, even mimicking moving shadows such as overhead clouds.

Color Change in Plants And Flowers

Color change in Leaves and Flowers

  • Chlorophyll – Green
  • Cartenoids – Xanthophylls – Yellow as in Corn
  • Cartenoids – Carotenes – Orange as in Carrots
  • Anthrocyanins – Blueberries and Cherries – Blue, purple, red, pink
  • Flavonols – Pale yellows and whites

Plants change colors

  • Change in Heat
  • Change in pH
  • During the Fall
  • During the day

Color Fading and Color Metamerism are also important problems but are not discussed in this post.

Source: The science behind why leaves change color in autumn

A rainbow of autumn colors

The green color of chlorophyll is so strong that it masks any other pigment. The absence of green in the fall lets the other colors come through. Leaves also contain the pigments called carotenoids; xanthophylls are yellow (such as in corn) and carotenes are orange (like in carrots). Anthocyanins (also found in blueberries, cherries) are pigments that are only produced in the fall when it is bright and cold. Because the trees cut off most contact with their leaves at this point, the trapped sugar in the leaves’ veins promotes the formation of anthocyanins, which are used for plant defense and create reddish colors.

However, trees in the fall aren’t just yellow and red: they are brown, golden bronze, golden yellow, purple-red, light tan, crimson, and orange-red. Different trees have different proportions of these pigments; the amount of chlorophyll left and the proportions of other pigments determine a leaf’s color. A combination of anthocyanin and chlorophyll makes a brown color, while anthocyanins plus carotenoids create orange leaves.

Source: The science behind why leaves change color in autumn

Source:https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/hibiscus/hibiscus-turning-different-color.htm

Can Hibiscus Change Color: Reasons For Hibiscus Turning A Different Color

07/20/20

Can hibiscus change color? The Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) is famous for its dramatic color changes, with flowers that can go from white to pink to deep red within one day. But almost all hibiscus varieties produce flowers that can change colors under certain circumstances. Read on to learn more.

Reasons for Color Changing in Hibiscus

If you’ve ever noticed the flowers on your hibiscus turning a different color, you’ve probably wondered what was behind the change. To understand why this happens, we need to look at what creates flower colors in the first place.

Three groups of pigments create the vibrant color displays of hibiscus flowers. Anthocyanins produce blue, purple, red, and pink colors, depending on the individual pigment molecule and the pH it is exposed to. Flavonols are responsible for pale yellow or white colors. Carotenoids create colors on the “warm” side of the spectrum – yellows, oranges, and reds.

Each hibiscus variety has its own genetics that determine what pigments, and what range of colors it can produce. However, within that range, temperature, sunlight, pH, and nutrition can all affect the levels of different pigments in a flower and what color they appear.

The blue- and red-colored anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments carried in plant sap. Meanwhile, the red, orange and yellow carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments created and stored in the plastids (compartments in plant cells similar to the chloroplasts that carry out photosynthesis). Therefore, anthocyanins are less protected and more sensitive to environmental changes, while carotenoids are more stable. This difference helps explain the color changes in hibiscus.

Anthocyanins exposed to hot conditions will often break down, causing flower colors to fade, while carotenoid-based colors hold up well in the heat. High temperatures and bright sunlight also enhance carotenoid production, leading to bright reds and oranges.

On the other hand, plants produce more anthocyanins in cold weather, and the anthocyanins they produce tend to be more red- and pink-colored as opposed to blue or purple. For this reason, some anthocyanin dependent hibiscus flowers will produce brilliant color displays during cool weather or in partial shade, but will fade in bright, hot sunlight.

Similarly, flavonols exposed to high temperatures will fade from yellow to white, while cold weather will cause an increase in production and a deepening of yellow flower colors.

Other Factors in Hibiscus Color Change

Some anthocyanin pigments will change color depending on the pH they’re exposed to within the flower. The pH doesn’t usually change over time within a hibiscus flower because it is determined genetically, but patches of different pH levels can lead to multiple colors occurring within one flower.

Nutrition is also a factor in color changes. Adequate sugar and protein in the sap are required for anthocyanin production. Making sure your plant has enough fertility and nutrients is important for vibrant colors in anthocyanin dependent flowers.

So, depending on its variety, your hibiscus changed color because of some combination of temperature, sunlight, nutrition, or pH has taken place. Can gardeners control this hibiscus color change? Yes, indirectly – by controlling the plant’s environment: shade or sun, good fertility, and protection from hot or cold weather.

Source: https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/botany/item/what-causes-flowers-to-have-different-colors/

What causes flowers to have different colors?

Answer

Anthocyanins and carotenoids… plus some other things.

Flowers come in all shapes and sizes, but what makes them truly stand apart from each other is their vibrant colors.  These colors are made up of pigments and, generally speaking, the fewer the pigments, the lighter the color.  The most common pigments in flowers come in the form of anthocyanins.  These pigments range in color from white to red to blue to yellow to purple and even black and brown.  A different kind of pigment class is made up of the carotenoids.  Carotenoids are responsible for some yellows, oranges, and reds.  (These little guys are what cause the brilliant colors of autumn leaves!)  While many flowers get their colors from either anthocyanins or carotenoids, there are some that can get their colors from a combination of both.

Anthocyanins and carotenoids are the main sources of flower coloration, but there are other factors that can affect how colors present themselves.  The amount of light flowers receive while they grow, the temperature of the environment around them, even the pH level of the soil in which they grow can affect their coloration.  Another factor is stress from the environment.  This stress can include a drought or a flood or even a lack of nutrition in the soil, all of which can dampen the coloration of flowers.  And then, of course, there is the visual that the eye and brain form together: humans can, for the most part, view all colors in the visible spectrum, BUT every human perceives color differently, so a red rose may appear more vibrant to one person while it appears more muted to another.  Beauty (and color!) is in the eye of the beholder.

My Related Posts

Digital Color and Imaging

Color and Imaging in Digital Video and Cinema

On Light, Vision, Appearance, Color and Imaging

On Luminescence: Fluorescence, Phosphorescence, and Bioluminescence

Key Sources of ResearCH

Photochromic and Thermochromic Colorants in Textile Applications

M. A. Chowdhury, M. Joshi and B. S. Butola

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/155892501400900113

THE CHEMISTRY & PHYSICS OF
SPECIAL EFFECT PIGMENTS & COLORANTS

A. NURHAN BECIDYAN

President
UNITED MINERAL & CHEMICAL CORPORATION

PHOTOLUMINESCENTS: FLUORESCENT AND PHOSPHORESCENT INKS AND PAINTS

Structural colour and iridescence in plants: the poorly studied relations of pigment colour

Beverley J. Glover1,* and  Heather M. Whitney2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850791/

Analysing photonic structures in plants 

Silvia Vignolini1,2, Edwige Moyroud3, Beverley J. Glover3 and Ullrich Steiner1

1Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK 2Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK 3Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EA, UK

The Mechanism of Color Change in the Neon Tetra Fish: a Light‐Induced Tunable Photonic Crystal Array

Dvir Gur 1 , Benjamin A Palmer 1 , Ben Leshem 2 , Dan Oron 2 , Peter Fratzl 3 , Steve Weiner 1 , Lia Addadi 4

First published: 27 April 2015

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25914222/

10 Animals that can Change Colors

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/10-animals-that-can-change-colors.html

How Octopuses and Squids Change Color

https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/invertebrates/how-octopuses-and-squids-change-color

Why color-changing animals alter their appearance

By Zach Fitzner

Earth.com staff writer

Iridophores and their interactions with other chromatophores are required for stripe formation in zebrafish

Hans Georg Frohnhöfer, Jana Krauss, Hans-Martin Maischein, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

Development  2013  140: 2997-3007;  doi: 10.1242/dev.096719

https://dev.biologists.org/content/140/14/2997.article-info

Magic Traits in Magic Fish: Understanding Color Pattern Evolution Using Reef Fish

Author links open overlay panelPaulineSalis1ThibaultLorin2VincentLaudet1BrunoFrédérich3

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168952519300162

Developmental and comparative transcriptomic identification of iridophore contribution to white barring in clownfish. 

https://www.x-mol.com/paper/959131

Rapid integumental color changes due to novel iridophores in the chameleon sand tilefish Hoplolatilus chlupatyi

Makoto Goda

First published: 13 February 2017 https://doi.org/10.1111/pcmr.12581

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/pcmr.12581

Flashing Tilefish’s Color Changing Skin is Unique in the Animal World

Top 10 Colour Changing Animals Around the World

Chameleon-Inspired Variable Coloration Enabled by a Highly Flexible Photonic Cellulose Film

  • Ze-Lian Zhang, 
  • Xiu Dong, 
  • Yi-Ning Fan, 
  • Lu-Ming Yang, 
  • Lu He, 
  • Fei Song*
  • Xiu-Li Wang, and 
  • Yu-Zhong Wang*

Cite this: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 41, 46710–46718Publication Date:September 23, 2020

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsami.0c13551

The secret to chameleon color change: Tiny crystals

By Robert F. ServiceMar. 10, 2015 

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/03/secret-chameleon-color-change-tiny-crystals

Amazing Octopus Color Transformation | National Geographic

How do Octopuses Change Color?

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about chromatophores.

Study demonstrates that octopus’s skin possesses same cellular mechanism for detecting light as its eyes do

by  University of California – Santa Barbara

https://phys.org/news/2015-05-octopus-skin-cellular-mechanism-eyes.html

Progress and Opportunities in Soft Photonics and Biologically Inspired Optics

Mathias KolleSeungwoo Lee

First published: 23 October 2017

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adma.201702669

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29057519/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/am-pdf/10.1002/adma.201702669

Bioinspired living structural color hydrogels

Fanfan Fu, Luoran Shang, Zhuoyue Chen, Yunru Yu, Yuanjin Zhao

Smart pigments with reactive nanocolors printed on paper and flexibles

2009 International Conference on Nanotechnology for the Forest Products Industry

Click to access 09nan23.pdf

Thermochromic Material

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/thermochromic-material

Color Changing Plastics for Food Packaging

By

Lizanel Feliciano
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Smart dyes for medical and other textiles

  • February 2007

DOI: 10.1533/9781845692933.1.123

Tatjana Rijavec, Sabina Bračko

University of Ljubljana

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288402591_Smart_dyes_for_medical_and_other_textiles

Thermochromic colors in textiles

S. Periyasamy, Gaurav Khanna

https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/3059/thermochromic-colors-in-textiles

“Smart” fluorescent dyes change color in different solid states

Aug 21st, 2018

https://www.laserfocusworld.com/lasers-sources/article/16571232/smart-fluorescent-dyes-change-color-in-different-solid-states

Materials that Change Color

Smart Materials, Intelligent Design
  • Marinella Ferrara
  • Murat Bengisu

https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-319-00290-3#about

Switching Colors with Electricity

BY  ROGER J. MORTIMER

American Scientist

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2013

VOLUME 101, NUMBER 1

https://www.americanscientist.org/article/switching-colors-with-electricity

Smart textiles change colour on demand


Friday, 13 May 2016

https://portal.engineersaustralia.org.au/news/smart-textiles-change-colour-demand

Design Concepts for a Temperature-sensitive Environment Using Thermochromic Colour Change

Robert M Christie, Sara Robertson and Sarah Taylor

Colour: Design & Creativity (2007) 1 (1): 5, 1–11

Smart responsive phosphorescent materials for data recording and security protection

Huibin Sun1,2,􏰀, Shujuan Liu1,􏰀, Wenpeng Lin1, Kenneth Yin Zhang1, Wen Lv1, Xiao Huang2, Fengwei Huo2, Huiran Yang1, Gareth Jenkins1,2, Qiang Zhao1 & Wei Huang1,2

Received 21 Oct 2013 | Accepted 10 Mar 2014 | Published 7 April 2014

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 

https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms4601.pdf?origin=ppub

Anthocyanin food colorant and its application in pH-responsive color change indicator films

Swarup Roy & Jong-Whan Rhim (2020)

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition,

DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1776211

Smart monitoring of gas/temperature changes within food packaging based on natural colorants

COMPREHENSIVE REVIEWS IN FOOD SCIENCE AND FOOD SAFETY

2020;19:2885–2931.

DOI: 10.1111/1541-4337.12635

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/1541-4337.12635

Smart textiles: an overview of recent progress on chromic textiles

Heloisa Ramlow Karina Luzia Andrade  & Ana Paula Serafini Immich 

Pages 152-171 | Received 20 Feb 2019, Accepted 24 Oct 2019, Published online: 29 Jun 2020

The Journal of The Textile Institute Volume 112, 2021 – Issue 1

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00405000.2020.1785071

Anthocyanin – A Natural Dye for Smart Food Packaging Systems

Suman Singh1, Kirtiraj K. Gaikwad2, and Youn Suk Lee3*

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Anthocyanin-–-A-Natural-Dye-for-Smart-Food-Systems-Singh-Forestry/4f41ec48d77d61bc05decd7738a672f414f9b2db?p2df

Critical Review on Smart Chromic Clothing

Esraa El-Khodary1, Bahira Gebaly2, Eman Rafaat2, Ahmed AlSalmawy2

Colorimetric properties of reversible thermochromic printing inks

Rahela Kulcar a, Mojca Friskovec b, Nina Hauptman c, Alenka Vesel d, Marta Klanjsek Gunde

Dyes and Pigments 86 (2010) 271e277

Designing Smart Textiles Prints with Interactive Capability

Prof. Hoda Abdel Rahman Mohamed El-Hadi 1 ,Prof. Sherif Hassan Abdel Salam 2 Eng. Kholoud Hassan Mohamed Mahmoud

Smart Chromic Colorants Draw Wide Attention for the Growth of Future Intelligent Textile Materials

Amit Sengupta#& Jagadananda Behera

Wool Research Association, Thane, India

LEUCO DYE-BASED THERMOCHROMIC INKS: RECIPES AS A GUIDE FOR DESIGNING TEXTILE SURFACES

MARJAN KOOROSHNIA Swedish School of Textiles

Relation between colour- and phase changes of a leuco dye-based thermochromic composite

Scientific Reports volume 8, Article number: 5511 (2018)

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23789-2

The Chemistry and Physics of Special-Effect Pigments and Colorants for Inks and Coatings

Paints and Coatings

2003

https://www.pcimag.com/articles/85016-the-chemistry-and-physics-of-special-effect-pigments-and-colorants-for-inks-and-coatings

THERMOCHROMIC MATERIAL MARKET

https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/thermochromic-material-market

QCR Solutions Corp

OliKrom

The Effective Use of Interference and Polychromatic Colorants

https://www.pcimag.com/articles/102445-the-effective-use-of-interference-and-polychromatic-colorants

White reflection from cuttlefish skin leucophores

Cephalopod Camouflage: Cells and Organs of the Skin

https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/cephalopod-camouflage-cells-and-organs-of-the-144048968/

Chromatophore Organs, Reflector Cells, Iridocytes and Leucophores in Cephalopods

RICHARD A. CLONEY AND STEVEN L. BROCCO

Mechanisms and behavioural functions of structural coloration in cephalopods

Lydia M. Ma ̈thger1,2,3,*,†, Eric J. Denton3,‡, N. Justin Marshall2 and Roger T. Hanlon1

J. R. Soc. Interface (2009) 6, S149–S163

Cephalopod Camouflage: Cells and Organs of the Skin

https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/cephalopod-camouflage-cells-and-organs-of-the-144048968/

Chromatophore

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatophore

Leucophores are similar to xanthophores in their specification and differentiation processes in medaka

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262111984_Leucophores_are_similar_to_xanthophores_in_their_specification_and_differentiation_processes_in_medaka

Identification and Characterization of Highly Fluorescent Pigment Cells in Embryos of the Arabian Killifish (Aphanius Dispar)

On leucophores and the chromatic unit of Octopus vulgaris

D. Froesch1J. B. Messenger2

https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1978.tb03363.x

Adaptive camouflage helps blend into the environment 

Cuttlefish

https://asknature.org/strategy/adaptive-camouflage-helps-blend-into-the-environment/

Identification of kit-ligand a as the Gene Responsible for the Medaka Pigment Cell Mutant few melanophore

THE SECRET OF A SQUID’S ABILITY TO CHANGE COLORS MAY LIE IN AN UNEXPECTED SPARKLE ON ITS SKIN

INVISIBILITY IS (ALMOST) POSSIBLE WHEN HUMAN CELLS ARE MERGED WITH SQUID GENES

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/human-cells-merged-with-squid-invisibility-trait

How Cephalopods Change Color

By Dr. James Wood and Kelsie Jackson

ELECTRONIC PAPER DISPLAYS: Kindles and cuttlefish: Biomimetics informs e-paper displays

https://www.laserfocusworld.com/detectors-imaging/article/16549524/electronic-paper-displays-kindles-and-cuttlefish-biomimetics-informs-epaper-displays

Skin paterning in Octopus vulgaris and its importance for camouflage

Iridophores and Not Carotenoids Account for Chromatic Variation of Carotenoid-Based Coloration in Common Lizards ( Lacerta vivipara ).

Biological vs. Electronic Adaptive Coloration: How Can One Inform the Other?

Eric Kreit1, Lydia M. Mäthger2, Roger T. Hanlon2, Patrick B. Dennis3, Rajesh R. Naik3, Eric Forsythe4 and Jason Heikenfeld1*

The Chemistry of Biological Camouflage

https://www.chemistryislife.com/the-chemistry-of-biological-camouflage

Mechanisms and behavioural functions of structural coloration in cephalopods

https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:170626

Sepiida algorithm for solving optimal reactive power problem

Are You Ready for Plants That Change Color?

Why Leaves Change Color

https://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/leaves/leaves.htm

Can Hibiscus Change Color: Reasons For Hibiscus Turning A Different Color

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/hibiscus/hibiscus-turning-different-color.htm

What causes flowers to have different colors?

https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/botany/item/what-causes-flowers-to-have-different-colors/

The science behind why leaves change color in autumn

Why has my plant’s flower changed colour?

Why Does Cannabis Change Colors?

https://cannabis.net/blog/strains/why-does-cannabis-change-colors

A cyborg plant with color-changing leaves? Scientists just rose to the challenge.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/11/23/a-cyborg-plant-with-color-changing-leaves-scientists-just-rose-to-the-occasion/

Color-changing plants detect pollutants and explosives

https://newatlas.com/color-changing-plants-detect-pollutants-and-explosives/17915/

The Color Genes of Speciation in Plants

Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos1

Genetics. 2013 May; 194(1): 39–42.
doi: 10.1534/genetics.113.150466

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632479/

Guide to Fall Colors in Upstate New York

Donald J. Leopold
Chair, Department of Environmental and Forest Biology and Distinguished Teaching Professor
SUNY-ESF, Syracuse

The plants that change colour through the seasons

https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/home-property/nz-gardener/76979012/the-plants-that-change-colour-through-the-seasons

Colours of plants and animals

https://www.itp.uni-hannover.de/fileadmin/arbeitsgruppen/zawischa/static_html/botzooE.html

Color and Imaging in Digital Video and Cinema

Color reproduction and management is a key task in digital video and cinema production. Choices of hardware, software, and handoffs and handshakes in production process require control over color of an image or a video. This is a very complex task due to several reasons.

  • Complexity of Color and its measurement
  • Changing color and light conditions during shoot indoors and outdoors
  • Hardware and software encoded color standards are inconsistent. Cameras, displays and projectors all have different color specifications.
  • After shoot, the data recorded is processed using different softwares for editing, grading, compositing, CG rendering, animations, and special effects. These softwares require different data formats (Log vs Linear).
  • After processing video data is required to meet different deliverables in multiple formats for displays and projectors.
  • Archiving and storage of data requires specific color formats.
  • There are also subjective and artistic requirements to meet look and feel of the data.

My post is to bring these issues to light and to educate. I hope after reading this post you know little more about color and its management during digital video and cinema production.

Key Terms

  • ACES
  • LUT
  • REC709
  • REC2020
  • Color Gamut
  • CIE Chromaticies
  • CIE XYZ
  • ACES 1.1
  • ACES 1.2
  • Color Workflow
  • Premier Pro
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Davinci Resolve
  • Avid Media Composer
  • IDT
  • ODT
  • RRT
  • Maya
  • Nuke
  • After Effects
  • ITU
  • SMPTE
  • AECS
  • ACES AP0
  • ACES AP1
  • BT 709
  • BT 2020
  • BT 2100 in 2016 to include HDR
  • HDR High Dymanic Range
  • HDR 10
  • SLog3
  • Fusion
  • Resolve
  • After Effects
  • OCIO
  • IDT
  • ODT
  • RRT
  • Red
  • Arri
  • Sony
  • Canon
  • Octane
  • CG
  • Linear representation of light
  • Gamma Curve
  • Log Gamma Curve
  • Log Profiles
  • Dynamic Range
  • Linearize work flow
  • Wide Gamut color space
  • Rendering engines
  • VRay
  • Arnold
  • Redshift
  • Octane
  • Cinema 4d
  • Blender
  • EXR linearize
  • Reference Rendering Transform
  • Color Manager OCIO
  • SLog
  • ACES CC
  • ACES CCT
  • Wave Form
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • After Effects
  • FS7
  • Rushes
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • American Society of Cinematographers ASC
  • Digital Cinema Initiatives DCI
  • Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers SMPTE
  • OpenColor IO
  • 32 bit per channel
  • 8 Bit
  • ACES CG Input
  • REC 709 Output

Human Vision

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

Color Models of Human Vision

Please see my two previous posts.

On Light, Vision, Appearance, Color and Imaging

Digital Color and Imaging

Digital Color

Source: What is 4K, UHD, SLog3, Rec 2020

The process of capturing and reproducing images requires a collaboration of camera sensors, file formats, rendering technologies, and display or printer technologies. All of these have different ways and different capabilities of representing color and intensity. In addition, they are all different from how our eyes work which further complicates things. As a result, over the years, several standards and processes have been implemented to accomplish this. They all involve some aspects of how to capture and store colors, what range of colors can be dealt with and how to adjust intensity to best reproduce the real world. To understand the new 4k technologies, including SLOG3, HDR, Rec 2020 etc, an understanding of the following is needed.

  • Gamut
  • Bit Depth
  • Gamma
  • Gamma Correction
  • Color spaces

Color Gamut

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

Color Capture in Digital Video and Cinema

Source: HOW DOES A DIGITAL CAMERA SENSOR WORK?

A modern digital camera’s sensor comes in one of two varieties generally. It will either be a Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS), or a Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) sensor. The CCD type is mainly used in older models, but is still used on some modern cameras. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, but that is a topic for another article.

The most basic way you can understand how a sensor works is when the shutter opens, the sensor captures the photons that hit it and that is converted to an electrical signal that the processor in the camera reads and interprets as colors. This information is then stitched together to form an image. That is insanely over-simplified though.

The more complex answer is that a sensor is made up of millions of cavities called “photosites,” and these photosites open when the shutter opens and close when the exposure is finished (the number of photosites is the same number of pixels your camera has). The photons that hit each photosite are interpreted as an electrical signal that varies in strength based on how many photons were actually captured in the cavity. How precise this process is depends on your camera’s bit depth.

If we looked at a picture that was taken with just that electrical data mentioned earlier from the sensor, then the images would actually be in gray-scale. How we get colored images is by what’s known as a “Bayer filter array.” A Bayer filter is a colored filter placed over-top of each photosite and is used to determine the color of an image based on how the electrical signals from neighboring photosites measure. The colors of the filters are the standard red, green and blue, with a ratio of one red, one blue and two green in every section of four photosites.

Image for post
A graphic of light entering photosites with Bayer filters layered on. (graphic/Cambridge in Colour)

The red filter allows red light to be captured, the blue allows blue light in and the green allows green light in. The light that doesn’t match that photosites filter is reflected. This means that we are losing two-thirds of the light that can be captured and it is only of one color for each photosite. This forces the camera to guess what the amount of the other two colors is in each given pixel.

The data that is interpreted by the sensor with the Bayer filter array is what a RAW image file is.

The camera then goes through a process to estimate how much of each color of light there was for each photosite and colors the image based on that guessing.

Single Sensor Vs Multiple Sensors in Cameras

  • Sensor Type
    • CCD
    • CMOS
  • Sensor Size
    • Full Frame
    • APS-C
  • Sensor Numbers
    • Single – 1 CMOS or 1CCD
    • Multiple – 2CCD, 3CCD, 3CMOS
  • Sensor Pixels
    • 24 MP
    • 48 MP
  • Sensor Dynamic Range
    • Range of brightness sensor captures
    • 14 Stops
    • 20 Stops

A camera sensor can only capture a limited range of light. When a scene extends beyond that range of light, techniques such as filters, flash, and editing techniques can still create a dramatic, well-detailed image.

Comparison of different sensor sizes

Image Source: Camera Sensor Sizes Explained: What You Need to Know

Source: Camera Sensor Sizes Explained: What You Need to Know

Cameras with Single Image Sensor

With CFA Color Filter Array

  • Bayer CFA

Bayer CFA

Source:

Conversion of RAW files

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

Cameras with multiple Image Sensors

Cameras with multiple sensors do not require Bayer CFA.

  • 3 CCD – Single color info per sensor
  • 3 CMOS – Single color info per sensor
  • 4 CCD – Single color info per sensor plus Near Infra Red (NIR) info

Color Spaces in the Digital Video and Cinema

Image Source: Common Color Spaces

Gamut of Color Spaces

Color Space is characterized based on how much of its gamut covers the CIE Chromaticity Diagram.

Image Source: Why Every Editor, Colorist, and VFX Artist Needs to Understand ACES

Source: The Pointer’s Gamut
The coverage of real surface colors by RGB color spaces and wide gamut displays

Source: The Pointer’s Gamut
The coverage of real surface colors by RGB color spaces and wide gamut displays

Device Dependent Color Spaces

Capture Devices

Professional Cameras for Cinematography and Videography from

  • Sony
  • Canon
  • Arri
  • Red

Camera Sensor Dynamic Range

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Conversion of RAW to Video Formats

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Sony SLog Transfer Function

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Sony Transfer Functions

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Other Transfer Functions

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Sony Color Spaces

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Slog, Gamma, and Gamut

Source: Are S-Log and Color Space separate things?

S-log is a specific gamma, color space is a general term referring to gamuts. A very crude way of thinking is gamma refers to brightness and gamut refers to color.

It’s important to know which gamma and gamut you are recording in as this helps to ensure there is correct gamma and gamut mapping from capture to exhibition.

What is Gamma?

Gamma is also called Tone Mapping.

Source: What is 4K, UHD, SLog3, Rec 2020

Each pixel has a brightness level, which is the average of {red, green, blue} values, and this is called its luminance. In order to reproduce an image from capture to display, the luminance needs to be accurately reproduced. Since sensors and displays can have different luminance characteristics, there needs to be a mapping or relationship between a pixel’s numerical values and the actual luminance…this relationship is called the Gamma.

Linear Space is counter to Gamma Space or Log Space.

Log Space or Gamma Space

Log Curve simulates a non-linear curve. Log Color Profiles can be created for a camera.

  • Arri LogC
  • Cineon Dpx
  • RedLogFilm
  • Canon-Log

Source: LOG COLOR IN-DEPTH

Every professional camera manufacturer and almost every VFX and grading package has a Log workflow. Camera companies such as Arri, Sony, Canon, Red and many others implement their own flavors of Log color space. With the Log workflow it is possible to fit more dynamic range into an image and simulate nonlinear film response to light. The term Log is derived from the word logarithm, which is a fancy name for a function which outputs exponents for the given number.

Log Spaces of Different Brands

Source: LOG COLOR IN-DEPTH

Gamma Curve = Tone Curve = Log Curve

Log footage is an important part of the post-production workflow. Here’s what you need to know.

Source: UNDERSTANDING LOG AND COLOR SPACE IN COMPOSITING

As digital filmmaking becomes more and more affordable, technologies become increasingly available to colorists or post-production professionals. In this case, Log footage. The Log (logarithmic) color space has been around for quite a while. Initially high-end post houses used it with scanned film negatives in a color space called Cineon Log. Now, pretty much all camera manufacturers offer their own Log curve (or multiple). There is S-Log 2&3 (Sony), LogC (Arri), Canon LogV-Log (panasonic), Red LogfilmBlackmagic Log, etc. Each of them are different, usually tailored for the color science of the particular manufacturer’s products.

The biggest reason to use the Log color curve is how it retains the most dynamic range of information from the camera sensor (or film negative). It encodes what the camera sees logarithmically, meaning that the correlation between the exposure of the image (measured in stops) and the recorded image  is completely constant over a wider range. It utilizes more of the sensor’s information than a standard video curve because it’s saving as much data as possible rather than capturing specifically for the human eye or a video screen. This gives you much more color data to work with in post-production.

Linear Space

Source: Color Management/Blender

For correct results, different Color Spaces are needed for rendering, display and storage of images. Rendering and compositing is best done in scene linear color space, which corresponds more closely to nature, and makes computations more physically accurate.

Log Space to Linear Space Conversion

Source: LOG COLOR IN-DEPTH

In conclusion, to bring an image into the log color space all we need to do is to apply a logarithmic function which transforms values of pixels based on the log curves above. To linearize a log picture, we use an exponent function. Since the log color space is a mathematical transformation of values of pixels, it can be used with any types of file format, bit depth and channel. 

White Point

Is the color temperature of light. Outdoors, Indoor, Sunny, Cloudy conditions affect White Point. In Cameras white point can be adjusted depending on light conditions. D65 simulates daylight.

  • D50 – 5000 K
  • D60 – 6000 K
  • D65 – 6500 K

sRGB uses D65 vs ACES uses D60.

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

So do you understand these now?

  • LUT (Look Up Tables)
  • EOTF (Electro-Optical Transfer Function) – Linear to Non Linear or Log Conversion
  • OETF (Optio-Electro Transfer Function) – Log to Linear Conversion
  • Gamma Curve – Popular Name for EOTF
  • Gamma Correction
  • Log Curve (Non Linear Data)
  • Linear Curve (Linear Data)
  • High Dynamic Range HDR
  • Standard Dynamic Range SDR
  • White Point
  • IDT – Input Data Transform
  • ODT – Output Data Transform
  • Log LUT
  • f-Stops

A pair of Gamma and Gamut data is requied for encoding to display colors.

A device dependent RGB color space has standard primaries, gamma, and a whitepoint such as D50 or D65.

  • Primaries (R G B) for Color
  • Gamma for Luminance, and
  • White Point

Source: The Essential Guide to Color Spaces

Now that we’ve discussed these three parameters, here are some practical examples:

An Arri Alexa records media in Arri Wide Color Gamut, with an Arri Log C tone mapping curve, and a white point ranging from 2,000K to 11,000K.

A RED Dragon captures media in RedWideGamutRGB gamut, with a Log3G10 tone mapping curve, and a white point ranging from 1,700K to 10,000K (other gamut and gamma choices are available).

A cinema projector has a DCI-P3 gamut, a Gamma 2.6 tone mapping curve, and a standard illuminant D63 white point.

An SDR TV has a Rec 709 gamut, a Gamma 2.4 tone mapping curve, and a standard illuminant D65 white point.

Display Devices

  • Display Projectors
  • Television
  • Computer Monitors

Three advantages in newer display devices

  • Color
    • Color Space
    • Bit Depth
    • Gamma
    • Gamma Correction
  • Resolution
    • 4K vs 8K
  • Luminance
    • Nits

Image Source: What is 4K, UHD, SLog3, Rec 2020

Color Spaces used in Display Devices

Image Source: What is 4K, UHD, SLog3, Rec 2020

Display Resolution

Image Source: WHAT IS 4K, UHD, SLOG3, REC 2020

Bit Depth

Image Source: WHAT IS 4K, UHD, SLOG3, REC 2020

Color Specification using Color Management option in displays

Color Management in Digital Video and Cinema Production

In production of

  • Feature Film
  • Television
  • OTT
  • Live Production

SDR with REC 709 Color Space

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

SDR with S-Gamut3 and REC 2020

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Process Flow

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Live Production

Image Source: Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Image Source: WHAT IS 4K, UHD, SLOG3, REC 2020

Operations during Production Process
  • Shoot
  • Convert
  • Edit/Grading
  • Conforming
  • Compositing/Rendering/VFX/CG
  • Convert
  • Deliverables
Color Space Hierarchy in Process Flows

  • Scene Referred – Input data has higher priority
  • Display Referred – Output data has higher priority

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

Source:

Process Flows in ACES

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

Working with ACES

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

CG and VFX Process Flows

Source: https://z-fx.nl/ColorspACES.pdf

The ‘Parts’ Of ACES

Source: Why Every Editor, Colorist, and VFX Artist Needs to Understand ACES

Even though ACES and its various transforms are quite mathematically complex, you can understand ACES better by understanding what each part or transform in the pipeline does.

Here’s the terminology for each of these transforms:

ACES Input Transform (aka: IDT or Input Device Transform)

The Input Transform takes the capture-referred data of a camera and transforms it into scene linear, ACES color space. Camera manufacturers are responsible for developing IDTs for their cameras but the Academy tests and verifies the IDTs. In future versions of ACES, the Academy may take on more control in the development of IDTs. IDTs, like all ACES transforms, are written using the CTL (Color Transform Language) programming language. It’s also possible to utilize different IDTs to compensate for different camera settings that might have been used.

ACES Look Transform (aka: LMT or Look Modification Transform)

The first part of what’s known as the ACES Viewing Transform (the Viewing Transform is a combination of LMT, RRT, & ODT transforms). LMTs provide a way to apply a look in a similar way to a Look Up Table (LUT). It’s important to note that the LMT happens after color grading of ACES data. Also, not every tool supports the use of LMTs.

RRT (Reference Rendering Transform)

Think of the RRT as the render engine component of ACES. The RRT converts scene referred linear data to an ultrawide display-referred data set. The RRT works in combo with the ODT to create viewable data for displays and projectors. While the Academy publishes the standard RRT, some applications have the ability to use customized RRTs (written with CTL). But many color correction systems do not provide direct access to the RRT.

ACES Output Transform (also known as the ODT or Output Device Transform)

The final step in the ACES processing pipeline is the ODT. This takes the high dynamic range data from the RRT and transforms it for different devices and color spaces. Like P3 or Rec 709, 2020, etc. Like IDTs and RRTs, ODTs are written with CTL.

Derivative Standards

Source: Why Every Editor, Colorist, and VFX Artist Needs to Understand ACES

There are also three main subsets of ACES used for finishing workflows called ACEScc, ACEScct and ACEScg:

  • ACEScc uses logarithmic color encoding and has the advantage of making color grading tools feel much more like they do when working in a log space that many colorists prefer.
  • ACEScct is just like ACEScc, but adds a ‘toe’ to the encoding. This means that lift operations respond similarly to traditional log film scans. This quasi-logarithmic behavior is described as being more milky, or foggier. ACEScct was added with the ACES 1.03 specification. It’s meant as an alternative to ACEScc based on the feedback of many colorists.
  • ACEScg utilizes linear color encoding and is designed for VFX/CGI artists so their tools behave more traditionally.

The ACES Pipeline

Source: Why Every Editor, Colorist, and VFX Artist Needs to Understand ACES

Now that we’ve defined the transforms used for ACES, understanding how the various transforms combine to form an ACES processing pipeline is pretty straightforward:

Camera Data -> Input Transform -> Color Grading -> Look Transform (optional) -> Reference Rendering Transform -> Output Transform

As mentioned, ACES is a hybrid color management system of scene referred/scene linear and display referred data.

Source: Why Every Editor, Colorist, and VFX Artist Needs to Understand ACES

Source: COLOUR MANAGEMENT BASICS

Source: COLOUR MANAGEMENT BASICS

Source: COLOUR MANAGEMENT BASICS

Source: COLOUR MANAGEMENT BASICS/Autodesk

Color Throttle

Because of bottlenecks in hardware and software, the color captured during the image/video capture process does not flow in its entirty to the displays of the users. Use of hardware and color spaces used during production process determines the output displayed. Color is thus throttled.

Color Throttle when using REC 709 Color Space

Image Source: BT.2020: How the Newest Color Range Standard Maximizes 4K Video Quality

Color Throttle when using REC 2020 Color Space

Image Source: BT.2020: How the Newest Color Range Standard Maximizes 4K Video Quality

Human Visual Dynamic Range Vs REC 2020 Range

Source: BT.2020: How the Newest Color Range Standard Maximizes 4K Video Quality

Source:

Softwares used in Post Production in Digital Video and Cinema

Source: digitalfilmpro.com

Video Editing Software and Hardware
  • Non Linear Editor
    • Avid Media Composer
    • Adobe Premiere Pro
    • Final Cut Pro
    • DaVinci Resolve – color correction plus NLE
    • Vegas Pro
  • Digital Audio Workstation
    • Avid Pro Tools
    • Apple Logic Pro X
    • Ableton Live 9
    • Cakewalk Sonar
    • Adobe Audition
  • Close-Captioning and Subtitling
    • Aegisub
    • NLEs
  • Edit Workstation
    • Edit Computer
    • Audio Equipment
    • File Sharing
      • KVM Extender
    • Editing Keyboard
    • Desk Chair
  • Digital Audio Transcipts

Creative Apps
  • RV
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • SideFX Houdini
  • Unreal Engine
  • Unity
  • Perforce Helix Core
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Autodesk 3DS Max
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Autodesk RV
  • Cinesync
  • Connect
  • Deadline
  • Foundry Hiero
  • Foundry Hiero Player
  • Foundry Nuke
  • Foundry Nuke Studio
  • Maxon Cinema 4D

Free Video Editing Tools
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Lightworks
  • HitFilm Express
  • Avid Media Composer First
  • iMovie

Free Video Production Software Tools
  • Audacity – multitrack audio recorder
  • Ardour – DAW
  • GIMP- image editing
  • Blender – 3D Creation
  • Nuke Studio – Compositor – Node Based visual FX (VFX), editing, and finishing Studio
  • Blackmagic Fusion – Full feaured Compositor – Motion Graphics

3D Rendering Softwares
  • Unity
  • 3Ds Max Design
  • Maya
  • Cinema 4D
  • Blender
  • Keyshot
  • V-Ray
  • Lumion
  • SOLIDWORKS Visualize
  • Direct 3D
  • RenderMan
  • Redshift
  • Octane Render
  • Arnold
  • Maxwell
Color Management in Applications

Source: DISPLAY CALIBRATION & COLOR MANAGEMENT

Cameras for Video

Budget Cinema Cameras
  • Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera
  • Black Magic Pocket Camera 4K
  • Z Cam E2C 4K Cine Camera MFT
  • Panasonic GH5

Best Cameras for Videographers

Source: Best cameras for videographers/DPREVIEW.COM

Published Nov 24, 2020

  • Panasonic Lumix DC – S1H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5
  • Canon EOS R6
  • Fujifilm X-T4
  • Nikon Z6
  • Nikon Z6 II
  • Panasonic Lumix Dc-GH5S
  • Sigma fp
  • Sony a7S III

Best 4K and 6K Cameras for Film making

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0muduTpveM&t=244s

  • Sony Alpha a7 III
  • Panasonic Lumix GH5S
  • Sony PXW FSM2
  • Panasonic Lumix S1H
  • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K
  • Canon EOS C300 Mark II
  • Panasonic AU-EVA1
  • Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro G2
  • Sony PXW FS9
  • Canon C500 Mark II

Best Camcorders for Videographers

Source: Youtube

  • Panasonic HC-X2000
  • Sony PXW-Z280
  • Canon XA55
  • Panasonic AG-CX10
  • JVC GY-HC500U
  • Sony PXW-Z90
  • Panasonic HC-X1
  • Canon XF 705
  • JVC GY-HM250
  • Sony FDR -AX700

My Related Posts

Digital Color and Imaging

On Light, Vision, Appearance, Color and Imaging

Key Sources of Research

Why Every Editor, Colorist, and VFX Artist Needs to Understand ACES

Working with ACES in DaVinci Resolve

Oliver Peters

https://digitalfilms.wordpress.com/2020/10/02/working-with-aces-in-davinci-resolve/

Color Management and ACES Workflow

CG Cinematography

The Pointer’s Gamut
The coverage of real surface colors by RGB color spaces and wide gamut displays

Kid Jansen, Updated 19 February 2014

https://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/pointers_gamut.htm

ACES: Where Are We Now?

by Geoff Smith on August 14, 2020

https://www.abelcine.com/articles/blog-and-knowledge/tutorials-and-guides/aces-where-are-we-now

What is 4K, UHD, SLog3, Rec 2020

And other really boring things.

Compiled By Peter Morrone

BT.2020: How the Newest Color Range Standard Maximizes 4K Video Quality

BenQ

2020/05/29

https://www.benq.com/en-us/knowledge-center/knowledge/bt2020.html

Color Spaces in Visual Effects

Color Spaces

February 15, 2019

https://ciechanow.ski/color-spaces/

Chapter 1 Color Management

Color Spaces / MAYA/Autodesk

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2020/ENU/Maya-Rendering/files/GUID-4410C27C-BB49-491B-AD13-14F48A8CCAAE-htm.html

Elle Stone’s Well-Behaved ICC Profiles and Code

https://ninedegreesbelow.com/photography/lcms-make-icc-profiles.html

ACES Workflow

Common Color Spaces

Color for Motion Pictures and Games

From Design to Display
  • Haarm-Pieter Duiker
  • Alex Forsythe
  • Stefan Luka
  • Thomas Mansencal
  • Jeremy Selan
  • Kevin Shaw
  • Nick Shaw

A VES Technology Committee White Paper
2019

https://nick-shaw.github.io/cinematiccolor/common-rgb-color-spaces.html

Cinematic Color From Your Monitor to the Big Screen

A VES Technology Committee White Paper Oct 17, 2012

Color Enhancement and Rendering in Film and Game Production: Color Management

Joseph Goldstone Lilliputian Pictures LLC

COLOR CORRECTION HANDBOOK:
Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema

Second Edition 

Alexis Van Hurkman

Peachpit Press http://www.peachpit.com

Colour Appearance Issues in Digital Video, HD/UHD, and D‐cinema

Charles Poynton

Understanding Color Management,

Second Edition

First published:18 July 2018

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9781119223702

COLOR MANAGEMENT WITH CINEMA

Red

https://www.red.com/red-101/cinema-color-management

Digital Color Management

Encoding Solutions

Giorgianni, Edward J / Madden, Thomas E

The Basics of High Dynamic Range Media Explained [u]

Posted on July 27, 2019 by Larry

Understanding 4K, Ultra HD and HDR

Sony

COLOUR REPRODUCTION IN ELECTRONIC IMAGING SYSTEMS

PHOTOGRAPHY, TELEVISION, CINEMATOGRAPHY

Michael S Tooms

Digital Camera Reviews and Sensor Performance Summary

by Roger N. Clark

https://clarkvision.com/imagedetail/digital.sensor.performance.summary/

How to Use Dynamic Range for Stunning Photos in Bright Light

2 CCD , 3 CCD cameras, 4 CCD and 3 CMOS Cameras

http://www.adept.net.au/cameras/2CCD_3CCD_Cameras.shtml

CCD Sensors, Albert Einstein, and the Photoelectric Effect

https://www.radiantvisionsystems.com/blog/ccd-sensors-albert-einstein-and-photoelectric-effect

Color Management for Photographers – A Simplified Guide

Camera Sensor Sizes Explained: What You Need to Know

https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/camera-sensor-size/

Reading 15: Color

http://web.mit.edu/6.813/www/sp18/classes/15-color/

The Fundamentals of Camera and Image Sensor Technology

Jon Chouinard

Understanding color & the in-camera image processing pipeline for computer vision

Dr. Michael S. Brown

Digital Image Sensors

https://www.sensorland.com/HowPage090.html

Color Spaces, Log and Gamma

3.4 Color Spaces, Log and Gamma

LOG COLOR IN-DEPTH

Renderstory

Exploring the Basic Concepts of HDR: Dynamic Range, Gamma Curves, and Wide Color Gamut

Abhay Sharma

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/msid.1060

Understanding RGB Color Spaces for Monitors, Projectors, and Televisions

Abhay Sharma

First published: 26 March 2019

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/msid.1020

UHDTV – HDR and WCG

Understanding UHDTV Displays with PQ/HLG HDR, and WCG

https://www.lightspace.lightillusion.com/uhdtv.html

Color Management

https://docs.blender.org/manual/en/latest/render/color_management.html

Color Space Management: sRGB, Linear and Log

https://tiberius-viris.artstation.com/blog/3ZBO/color-space-management-srgb-linear-and-log

GAMMA AND LINEAR SPACE – WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW THEY DIFFER

https://www.kinematicsoup.com/news/2016/6/15/gamma-and-linear-space-what-they-are-how-they-differ

Are S-Log and Color Space separate things?

Understanding Log and Color Space In Compositing

RENDER COLOR SPACES

23 JUNE 2016

Anders Langlands

https://www.colour-science.org/anders-langlands/

Understanding High Dynamic Range (HDR) Imaging by Curtis Clark, ASC 

A Cinematographer Perspective

https://cms-assets.theasc.com/curtis-clark-asc-understanding-high-dynamic-range.pdf?mtime=20180502122857

Color Science Fundamentals in Motion Imaging

March 14, 2019 01:00 PM

https://www.smpte.org/events/color-science-fundamentals-in-motion-imaging

What is RAW Development?

Colour Management Basics

Autodesk Feb 2020

The Best Rendering Software for CG Lighting for Animation

by Tina Lee | Feb 14, 2019

C. A. Bouman: Digital Image Processing

January 7, 2020

The Essential Guide to Color Spaces

Cullen Kelly

Dell Color Management Software

User Manual

Adjusting for the Scene Adopted White

White Point Conversion

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Maya/files/GUID-2C925F6A-5A9C-4B2B-B732-90F4C3D2EB49-htm.html

A Complex Color Management Example

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Maya/files/GUID-7D579180-1E60-43DD-BB9C-0C00D1968F53-htm.html

Common Color Management Scenarios

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Maya/files/GUID-B2CD60E0-C100-45A4-9595-84D2DF98B268-htm.html

A Conversation about White Point and Digital Displays [Interview]

https://www.nanolumens.com/blog/an-imaginary-conversation-about-white-point-and-digital-displays/

Gamma and White Point Explained: How to Calibrate Your Monitor

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/how-to-calibrate-your-monitor/

Why is the media white point of a display profile always D50?

http://www.color.org/whyd50.xalter

Colour Management for Video Editors

Display Calibration & Color Management

https://www.mysterybox.us/blog/2017/9/7/display-calibration-color-management

Color Communication

How does a digital camera sensor work?

Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics

  • Aesthetics and Ethics are interdependent on each other
  • Steps to an Ecology of mind

Why do good? Why be moral?

  • Do good because its a good value for a virtuous person
  • Do good out of compassion and love for others
  • Do good because it is good for one’s self
  • Do good because world outside is none other than yourself. (Vedantic Perspective)

Aesthetics

  • of Design
  • of Arts
  • of Performance Arts
  • of Rituals
  • of Traditions
  • of Narrative Arts
  • of Culture
  • of Architecture
  • of Actions
  • of Thoughts
  • of Senses
  • of Emotions
  • of Values
  • of Experience

Key Terms

  • Virtues
  • Values
  • Aesthetics
  • Arts
  • Morals
  • Ethics
  • Good ness
  • Art and Morals
  • Aesthetics and Ethics
  • Beauty and Goodness
  • Ist person and 2nd Person
  • Integral Theory
  • Ken Wilber
  • Self, Culture, Nature
  • I, We, It/Its
  • Immanual Kant
  • Wittgenstein
  • Sameness and Otherness
  • Difference
  • Boundaries and Networks
  • Hierarchy and Networks
  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Action Learning
  • Reflexive Action
  • Social Ethics
  • Communities of Goodness
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Inter-objectivity
  • Inter-subjectivity
  • Subject and Object
  • Phenomenology and Hermenutics
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Development and Relations
  • Internal vs External
  • Individual vs Collective
  • Culture, Society, and Ethics
  • Narrative Arts
  • Intentions and Actions
  • Sewa and Service
  • Altruism
  • Philosophy of Arts
  • Aesthetics of living culture
  • Traditions, Rituals, and Culture
  • Classical Education
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Dance, Music and Performance Arts
  • Universals
  • Transcendentals
  • Ethnomethodology
  • Nondual Vedanta (Advait Vedanta)
  • Steps to an Ecology of Mind
  • Value Theory
  • Virtue Theory
  • Art Criticism
  • Taste, Style, Manners
  • Relational
  • Aesthetics and Relatedness
  • Consciousness
  • Nondual Awareness
  • Interconnectedness

Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’S Critique of Moralization of Ethics

This study found a new idea of ethics to bridge the gap between morality and aesthetics. This new idea is called aesthetics morality. This study concluded as follows: 1) ethics as morality is in the form of teleology, deontology and virtue ethics; 2) ethics is a synthesis of aesthetics and morality; and 3) ethics is aesthetics in the form of care of the self. 

Ethics as Style:
Wittgenstein’s Aesthetic Ethics and Ethical Aesthetics

An inquiry into Wittgenstein’s ethics and aesthetics has to start with the following questions: Can an aesthetics and/or ethics be extracted from his philosophical texts at all? If yes, what kind of aesthetics and/or ethics does Wittgenstein offer beyond his well-known aphoristic comments on the subject? Finally, how can we understand the meaning of his claim that ‘‘ethics and aesthetics are one’’? This article responds to the above questions by presenting an account of Wittgenstein’s ethical aesthetics and aesthetic ethics, elucidating both through the prism of his notion of style as ‘‘general necessity seen sub specie eterni.’’ It explains how logical necessity implodes within the limits of propositional language to open onto the realm of style, within which ethical necessity is to be understood in terms of aesthetic life-form and aesthetic expression is to be understood in terms of ethical enactment.

Es ist klar, daß sich die Ethik nicht aussprechen läßt. Die Ethik ist transzendental.
(Ethik und Ästhetik sind Eins.)

[It is clear that ethics cannot be expressed. Ethics is transcendental.
(Ethics and aesthetics are one.)]
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection

This book brings together a number of new essays in an area of growing concern, namely the intersection or overlap of aesthetics and ethics. Recent developments aside, for the past thirty years or so in Anglo-American philosophy, aesthetics and ethics have been pursued in relative isolation, with aesthetics being generally regarded as the poorer, if flashier, cousin. The attention aestheticians have recently given to moral aspects of art and art criticism, and that ethicists have recently paid to aesthetic aspects of moral life and moral evaluation, give hope of ending this rather artificial isolation, though without necessarily forcing us to accede in Wittgenstein’s gnomic dictum that “ethics and aesthetics are one.”

The intersection of aesthetics and ethics can be understood to comprise three spheres of inquiry. The first is that of problems or presuppositions common to aesthetics and ethics, the two traditional branches of value theory. The second is that of ethical issues in aesthetics, or in the practice of art. And the third sphere is that of aesthetic issues in ethics, theoretical and applied.

As it turns out, the concerns of the present collection do not span the full intersection of aesthetics and ethics as just explained. For reasons of both unity and manageability, the decision was made to foreground aesthetics in the present venture. The result is that the essays fall under the first and second, but not the third ways of understanding the intersection of the two fields.

2 – Three versions of objectivity: aesthetic, moral, and scientific

How does the objective validity of aesthetic judgments compare with the objective validity of moral judgments and scientific beliefs? There are two traditional answers. According to one, aesthetic and moral appraisals both utterly lack the cognitive authority of scientific inquiry, since neither kind of appraiser has access to a fact independent of her own judgments and neither is in a position to claim that all who are adequately qualified would share her judgment. For example, emotivists deprive both aesthetic and moral judgments of both kinds of objectivity. According to the other tradition, well-formed aesthetic and moral judgments have the same cognitive authority as wellformed scientific beliefs, because in all three realms the judgment maker is often in a position to assert a truth independent of her judgments, in a claim to which all adequately qualified inquirers would assent. For example, Kant puts the three realms on a par in both ways.

Each of these traditions has distinctive liabilities, which jointly suggest the need to explore a third alternative. The debunking tradition, depriving both aesthetic and moral judgments of all the authority of science, is hard to reconcile with the pervasive aspirations to truth and interests in impersonal argument of apparently rational people engaged in moral and aesthetic judgment. On the other hand, the claims to universality in the elevating tradition often seem wishful thinking.

Elsewhere, I have defended a view of morality and science that rejects the association in both traditions of rational access to appraiser-independent truth with epistemic universality.

5 – Art, narrative, and moral understanding

With much art, we are naturally inclined to speak of it in moral terms. Especially when considering things like novels, short stories, epic poems, plays, and movies, we seem to fall effortlessly into talking about them in terms of ethical significance – in terms of whether or which characters are virtuous or vicious, and about whether the work itself is moral or immoral, and perhaps whether it is sexist or racist. Undoubtedly, poststructuralists will choke on my use of the phrase “naturally inclined,” just because they do not believe that humans are naturally inclined toward anything. But that general premise is as needlessly strong a presupposition as it is patently false. And, furthermore, I hope to show that my talk of natural inclinations is hardly misplaced here, for we are prone to respond to the types of works in question in the language of moral assessment exactly because of the kinds of things they are.

Moreover, we do not merely make moral assessments of artworks as a whole and characters in particular; it is also the case that these moral assessments are variable. That is, we find some artworks to be morally good, while some others are not; some are exemplary, while some others are vicious and perhaps even pernicious; and finally other works may not appear to call for either moral approbation or opprobrium. So, though we very frequently do advance moral assessments of artworks, it is important to stress that we have a gamut of possible evaluative judgments at our disposal: from the morally good to the bad to the ugly, to the morally indifferent and the irrelvant.

Problems at the Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

The Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

Ever since the publication of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, the concept of taste has been severed from its moral sense and reduced to a merely aesthetic one.1 Since then two trends have predominated in moral philosophy. The first is a rationalist view of ethics, which proposes the need to subsume particular actions under universal laws. Deontological and utilitarian theories both have this paradigm in common. The second is the refraction of this position, which marginalizes any discussion of moral feeling as a psychological question of emotivism or subjectivism.2 This trend of positivism dismisses feelings as mere emotive states, questions of psychology, subjective, and therefore not binding.

In order to recapture the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience, one needs a view of aesthetics that is not limited to reflections on the beautiful and sublime in nature or art and that is not reducible to an allegiance to taste and manners; and one needs a continuity principle that enables reflection on morality to be true to experience. Two process philosophers, Alfred North Whitehead and John Dewey, present a metaphysics of experience which enriches ethics by illustrating the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience. Where the traditions outlined above view reason as the pivotal faculty in navigating the moral landscape, process philosophy emphasizes the aesthetic categories of feeling and imagination as operative in moral experience.

Those skeptical of “aestheticizing morality” often invoke the show-stopping reference to the Nazi Regime, one which consciously and politically recruited aesthetic ideals toward the crystallization of immorality.3 This is the Reductio ad Hitlerum to which the title refers. Fascism and Nazism in particular habituated a marriage between politics and aesthetics, and took up the goal of making politics a triumphant and beautiful spectacle.4 Art, music, and aesthetic symbols were recruited as instruments toward fulfilling this goal.5 Nazi Germany held “countless historical pageants, Volk festivals, military parades, propaganda films, art exhibitions and [erected] grandiose buildings”6 in order to exemplify “the fascist desire to invent mythic imperial pasts and futures,”7 while stirring the passions of the people for its war efforts. The Nazis denounced any allegiance to liberal political texts such as the Versailles Treaty “in favor of decisive political action based on fatal aesthetic criteria — beautiful vs. ugly, healthy vs. degenerate, German vs. Jew.”8 It is warranted to invoke this as the problem for those who “aestheticize” morality. The Nazi problematic, illustrated by an analysis of two films surrounding the immorality of the Nazi Regime, James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day (1993) and István Szabó’s Taking Sides (2001) illuminates the limitations and failures of the tendency to “aestheticize” morality. These films help show the nuances that reside at this tense intersection between aesthetics and ethics. However, tension between aesthetics and ethics, as depicted by the two films, dissolves once one’s understanding of aesthetics ceases to be reductive and narrow.

The aesthetic dimensions of moral experience in the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and John Dewey provide a basis for defining the continuity between ethics and aesthetics. For Whitehead, an aesthetic vision which builds on insights of his descriptive metaphysics enables us to see moral experience as aesthetic. For Dewey, the imagination works on the possibilities at hand in order to resolve morally problematic situations, and the grist for the imagination’s mill is experiential, perceptual, and aesthetic, not merely rational or conceptual. Thus, the broad use of aesthetics advocated herein enables us to draw moral distinctions in the face of Nazi atrocities instead of blindly serving the ideal of artistic creation. Nor does it reduce aesthetics to a fetish for manners. Rather, as including imagination, perception, taste, and emotion, an aesthetic orientation to ethics can encompass the limits posed by these films, and it can morally condemn the Nazi Regime and avoid the Hitler-reductio.

A.N. Whitehead at the Intersection

A sketch of Whitehead’s metaphysics is necessary in order to show how the foundations for moral action may be subsumed under the category of aesthetic experience. According to Whitehead’s systematic metaphysics, the world is a process of becoming. It is ultimately composed of self-creating “actual occasions.”9 The act of self-creation is the “concrescence” of an actual entity, “the final real things of which the world is made up.”10 Thus an “entity” describes an occasion or event in the mode of concrescense, the act of an occasion having prehended its environment. Events create themselves by virtue of their interdependence. The mode of relation each entity has toward others and toward its possibilities in general is “feeling.” “Prehensions” are the feelings which each entity has of its environment, which includes the entire universe, as each entity pulsates and vibrates throughout the cosmos in its process of self-creation.11 Since Whitehead holds that relations are more fundamental than substance, these prehensions constitute the actual entity. Where in traditional metaphysics, substance is primary and the relations among substances are described as secondary attributes, in Whitehead’s description entities are internally related, constituted by their relations. In this process metaphysics, relations are not secondary but primary in that they constitute the entities. When an actual entity prehends its environment, the entity constitutes itself and makes itself what it is.12Each entity serves as the subject of its own becoming and the “superject” of others, imparting itself to other entities in their becoming.13 Actual entities, in process metaphysics, are events, occasions in time, and always situated in a complex, interdependent environment of other entities. Thus, Whitehead’s speculative metaphysics is relational, not atomistic.

This speculative picture of reality lends itself to reflections on moral experience, including an account of Whitehead’s theory of value. In Process and Reality, Whitehead’s theory of value uses strong aesthetic language. He describes intensity of experience as “strength of beauty”: the degree of feeling in an occasion’s prehension of its environment. 14 Further, as John Cobb notes, “The chief ingredients [to beautiful experience] are emotional.”15 The actual entity prehends its environment, feeling its aesthetic surrounding in a chiefly emotional comportment. Because the locus of value is the intensity and harmony of an experience and the emotional sphere contributes chiefly to beautiful experience, emotion need not be corralled by reason, but channeled toward the achievement of beauty. Further, Whitehead shows that philosophers who treat feelings as merely private are mistakenly taking a phase of concrescence to be the whole of experience. For Whitehead, “there is no element in the universe capable of pure privacy.”16 The impossibility of pure privacy undermines the conceptual option of positivists and others who atomize and privatize feeling in order to dismiss its role in moral experiences as subjectivism or emotivism, both of which result in relativism.

Moral experience and aesthetic experience work dialectically: “The function of morality is to promote beauty in experience,”17 but emotions inform morality by adding to the value of experience. Sensation and emotion are not passively received, private reifications; instead, they seamlessly compose the environment we inhabit. Cobb contends that “the purely aesthetic impulse and the moral one exist in a tension” and that “the good aimed at for others is an aesthetic good — the strength of beauty of their experience.”18

Whitehead writes:

In our own relatively high grade human existence, this doctrine of feelings and their subject is best illustrated by our notion of moral responsibility. The subject is responsible for being what it is in virtue of its feelings. It is also derivatively responsible for the consequences of its existence because they flow from its feelings.19

That our existence flows from our feelings reveals the foundation of moral action on aesthetic, αἰσθηματικός, “sensuous” experience. When Whitehead contends that our moral actions flow from our feelings, he places a primacy upon our emotional comportment. The main contribution we make to others is our spirit or attitude.20This spirit is a comportment and temperament, an angle of vision. If our vision is broad and seeks to contribute to the strength of beauty of others’ experience, it is continuous with moral experience. Moral vision is attitudinal and acting according to calculation, deliberation, and reason, while poor in spirit, is not moral action. Whitehead posits a theory of value where our goal is to realize a strength of beauty in our immediate occasions of action. Taking a calculating attitude towards future consequences endangers this goal.21 It is misleading to think that one can calculate rationally toward that best action.22 Rather, such moral rationalism can justify activity that we feel is inhumane, evil, ugly, unjust, and wrong. It can sever means from ends and justify that which our sentiments would impeach.

Whitehead’s speculative metaphysics, by using humanistic and aesthetic language, includes a description of moral experience. Occasions of activity become harmonious with their environment by acting in the service of beauty. Actions emanate from feelings, and right action is not the function of rational deliberation, but of whole-part relations, of fitting the variety of detail and contrast under the unity of an aesthetic concrescence. Whitehead’s is a seductive account of reality, but nowhere in it do we find something like evil. Those skeptical of such an aesthetic description of moral experience may ask, “Where is the Holocaust in this picture?” Thus, below a recourse to two films about Nazism, aesthetics, and morality enables the skeptic to reexamine the continuity between ethics and aesthetics and consider a broader, less reductive, understanding of aesthetics itself. Before addressing this question, another account of how process philosophy maintains continuity between ethics and aesthetics is in order.

John Dewey at the Intersection

In order to outline Dewey’s description of the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience, a cursory illustration of the continuity at work in his metaphysics of experience and theory of inquiry is in order. Dewey described the generic traits of human experience as both precarious and stable.23 Indeterminate situations produce the conditions of instability.24 Subjecting a precarious situation to inquiry constitutes it as problematic, enabling an agent to identify possible means of resolving the situations within the constituent features of the uniquely given situation. Our employment of imaginative intelligence directs our activity in an effort to resolve the situation by rearranging the conditions of indeterminacy toward settlement and unification.25

In a manner similar to Whitehead, Dewey refers to the creative integration of the entire complex situation with the term “value.”26 One constituent in the activity of unifying the problematic situation is the end-in-view, which functions as a specific action coordinating all other factors involved in the institution and resolution of the problem. The value is the integration and unification of the situation. When the end-in-view functions successfully toward the integration of the situation, the resultant unification is a “consummatory phase of experience.”27 Dewey wrote, “Values are naturalistically interpreted as intrinsic qualities of events in their consummatory reference.”28 Their naturalistic interpretation renders the experience of value and the process of valuation continuous with other natural processes. That is, the ends-in-view, whether or not these are moral ideals, do not exist antecedent to inquiry into the complex, historical, and uniquely given situation, as the rationalists would have it. The general traits of moral experience are found within aesthetic experience — dispelling the need dichotomize experience into the cognitive and the emotional — because values are qualities of events.

The ability to examine the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience depends on the way Dewey defines an aesthetically unified and integrated experience as consummatory. The consummation refers to the experience of the unification of meaning of all of the phases of a complex experience.29 Thus, the aesthetic experience gives a holistic meaning to the precariousness of its parts. The value of an experience, including moral value, refers, as in Whitehead’s description, to whole-part relations and the unification of various elements therein.

Art is the skill of giving each phase its meaning in light of the whole. Art unifies each function of the experience, giving reflection, action, desire, and imagination an integrated relation both to each other and to the possibility of meaningful resolution.30 Thus, Dewey refuses to parcel out a separate faculty at work in isolation in any meaningful experience, whether that is reason in cognition or emotion in sympathetic attention to a friend. The consummatory experience is one in which we employ imaginative intelligence in appropriating aesthetic, felt elements of experience above and beyond their immediacy and one in which the instability of their immediacy is seen imaginatively as a possibility toward its meaningful integration.31

Thus, artful conduct includes moral conduct, but in a way that both avoids the need to import ideals transcendent to our experience and gives moral ideals their reality in the meaning that ensues in the consequences of their enactment. The features of artful conduct inherent in moral behavior concern the ability to see possibilities in the elements of precariousness, “to see the actual in light of the possible.”32 Where the rationalist searches for a universal concept to justify a given, isolated action whose justification could be known but not felt, the moral imagination enables the agent to envision in her environment the constituent possibilities in order to reconstruct the situation.

Both Whitehead and Dewey treat moral experience as continuous with the aesthetic experience of intensity, meaning, unification, and harmony found in the consummatory phase of experience, or in Whitehead’s terms, in concrescence. Both treat vision and imagination, not calculative rationality, as operative in navigating morally problematic situations. The general trend running through these process philosophies that maintains continuity between ethics and aesthetics concerns whole-part relations. The individual in morally charged situations must harmonize her particular conduct to the whole of her environment broadly construed. She must imaginatively find the proper fit of her conduct with her greater cultural context. If she succeeds, she harmonizes her experience and the part coheres with the whole. Value, harmony, and stability ensue. Whitehead and Dewey describe our moral experience at a sufficient level of abstraction, one which could include the hosting of a dinner party or the conducting of an orchestra. Each part must cohere with the whole — harmony is the motivating ideal.

Much like Whitehead, Dewey gives us a processive account of reality which seems to cohere with personal experience; however, Dewey’s description of the pattern of inquiry has been accused of being so broad and vague that the Nazi resolution of the Jewish problem could be described according to it..33 The Germans under Hitler constituted their situation during the Great Depression as problematic. Their economy was in shambles, and their national pride was wounded. They found within their situation the constitutive elements, marginally-German, supposed conspirators and enemies of all sorts, to employ in resolving their situation. They achieved a sort of integration of their experience and a distorted sort of harmony in armament and invasion to reincorporate native Germans outside of their truncated borders. They consciously recruited aesthetic ideals and played on the national emotions of soil and blood. Thus, according to the Hitler-reductio, to condemn morally their actions with the language of Dewey or Whitehead is no easy task. The reductio causes moral philosophers to long for universality in any of its rationalist iterations.

The British Problem at the Intersection: The Remains of the Day

The philosophical depiction of aesthetic experience, of which moral dimensions compose a part, is problematic if individuals acting under aesthetic norms, guided by manners and in service of harmonizing part-whole relations, engage in outright immorality or shy away from moral duty in the face of evil. This is the “British” problem because to highlight it, we must attend to the British characters in The Remains of the Day. While much has been written on the film (and the Ishiguro novel upon which it is based), about the role of class and the symbolic nature of British imperial politics, the film also serves as an excellent test case for the continuity between aesthetics and ethics.34 The setting of The Remains of the Day, the aristocratic estate of Darlington Hall in rural England, announces an aesthetic emphasis on beauty and order which persists throughout the film. Most of the action in the film occurs in the pre-war 1930s, but the film flashes forward to the post-war 1950s to show “present” character interactions. The central characters are an emotionally-repressed butler, Mr. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins), his superior and owner of the estate in the 1930s, Lord Darlington (James Fox), and his fellow caretaker of the estate, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). The problematic relationship between aesthetic orientation and morality comes into view by focusing on Lord Darlington’s demeanor throughout the events of the 1930s, and Mr. Stevens’s comportment to the politically and morally problematic events that unfold at Darlington Hall.

Lord Darlington had a friend in Germany against whom he fought in the First World War, with whom he intended to sit down and have a drink after the war. But this never happened, as the German friend, ruined by the inflation that ensued in the post-Versailles Weimar Republic, took his own life. Lord Darlington exclaims to Mr. Stevens, “The Versailles Treaty made a liar out of me.” Darlington laments that the conditions of the treaty, (debt reparations, guilt clause) were too harsh: “Not how you treat a defeated foe,” as Darlington puts it. With this as his proximate motivation, Lord Darlington uses his influence to broker the policy of appeasementtoward Nazi Germany. It appears that Lord Darlington puts manners before moral duty. He hosts the delegates from Germany, France, and the United States at his home, and they dine dressed in black tie, served by the army of under-butlers commanded by Mr. Stevens.

One is tempted to view Lord Darlington’s behavior as kind, if not for other telling incidents. He temporarily agrees to employ two Jewish refugees at his estate, and it is made clear to the viewer that he understands the dangers they faced in Germany and that his home is serving as a sanctuary. However, after reading the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Lord Darlington orders that two German, Jewish maids should be discharged, as he considers their employment inappropriate for his German guests. Mr. Stevens carries out the order without reflection, while Miss Kenton threatens to resign in protest, but fails to follow through out of self-admitted weakness.35 Thus, Darlington knew of the Nazi policies in Germany, understood the potential plight of the maids, but fired them anyway in service of behavior “appropriate” for his German guests.

Darlington’s elevation of manners above duty reappears as he cannot even tell his godson (Hugh Grant), whose father has died and who is soon to be married, about the birds and the bees. He asks Mr. Stevens, his butler, to do it for him. Darlington seems unwilling to confront the issue of sexuality as it offends his Victorian manners and sensibilities. Thus, manners, while they can be seen as the outward display of inner character, here get in the way of the more difficult, unmannerly, and inappropriate conduct commanded in the face of negotiation with the Germans, the employment of the Jewish maids, and the acceptance of surrogate fatherly duties.

Mr. Stevens’s motivations are more opaque to the audience. He is so univocally driven to serve and fulfill his duty to Lord Darlington, that he almost fails to portray any moral subjectivity.36 But as the head butler, his service is also for the aesthetic ideals of orderliness and cleanliness. The prospect of a dustpan being left on the landing frightens him, such that he rushes to retrieve it before his employer notices his shortcoming. Mr. Stevens’s single-minded focus is best displayed when his own father, also an employee, is dying. Stevens attends to the dinner of the foreign delegates without pain or pause, while his own father lies on his death bed. His relationship with Miss Kenton, central to the development of his character, reveals his coldness, emotional repression, and narrowly driven service toward aesthetic ends. Miss Kenton first extends kindness to Mr. Stevens by putting flowers in his office, but he asks that they be removed so as not to distract him. She falls in love with Mr. Stevens and ends up in tears when she tries to break through his emotional wall and communicate her love to him. But he ignores her and asks to be excused to attend to his duties. Before her eventual departure and engagement to another man, she insults Stevens out of manifest distress that he has never expressed any emotional interest in her, but he still remains unmoved. After his reunion with her in the 1950s, Stevens departs for Darlington Hall in a deluge of rain. Kenton cries, but Stevens, still fails to demonstrate any feeling and only raises his hat out of politeness. While Stevens’s class-based subordination could explain his failure to fulfill his duty to his father, his coldness to Miss Kenton illustrates that he was a cold rationalist in service of aesthetics — thinly defined aesthetics.

Reflecting on Mr. Stevens’s relationship to Miss Kenton reveals two sides of the problem at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics. First, because he serves only the aesthetic ideals of order, beauty, and cleanliness, he does a disservice to the human and intersubjective dimensions of moral experience. He is polite but inattentive and stoic in the face of obvious human suffering, from the firing of the Jewish maids, to the death of his father, to the jilted and regretful Miss Kenton. Does this pose a problem for the continuity between aesthetics and ethics? Stevens serves beauty at the cost of moral duty but also interpersonal sympathy. Since an emotional angle of vision is the necessary condition for attending to moral circumstances, his aesthetic orientation is too narrow. While he has an aesthetic ideal as his motive, he has a rational methodology to achieve it. He acts in each situation as if subsuming his particular action under the universal conceptual criteria of serving beauty and order. He does not allow his actions to flow from his feelings as Whitehead would prescribe. His contribution to others is his spirit, but this is a cold, deliberate, and rational spirit. Thus, with Mr. Stevens as a test case, a conception of aesthetic experience needs to be broad enough to include emotional comportment. Failing to do so through operating in service of a narrow ideal of beauty reveals an impoverished sense of aesthetics which results in immorality.

American Congressman, Mr. Lewis (Christopher Reeve) of The Remains of the Dayserves as a pivot to the American problem at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics discussed at length below. Laughed at as nouveau riche by the British delegates, Lewis attends the conference with the intent of resisting the policy of appeasement. Because he fails to recruit the French delegate, Dupont d’Ivry (Michael Lonsdale), to his side (D’Ivry is busy attending to his sore feet), Mr. Lewis resorts to making an impolite toast at the black tie dinner. He argues in favor of the Realpolitik of professionals, rather than that of “honorable amateurs,” which is his epithet for the noblemen in his company and the Lord who is his host. In his toast “to the professionals” he embodies the moral high ground against the Nazis and the unmannerly and barefooted behavior of a stereotypical American on aristocratic soil; thus he hammers in the wedge that separates manners from morals. Apparently, Americans stand up for right against wrong even at the expense of politeness and pretty conduct. Lewis is a representative character for those skeptical of continuity between aesthetics and ethics. He knows that aesthetic ideals, when reducible to the appreciation of good taste and mannerly behavior, can dull moral distinctions. Yet he fails to unify the precariousness of his situation in a manner which Whitehead or Dewey describe.

The American Problem at the Intersection: Taking Sides

Taking Sides tells the story of Dr. Wilhelm Furtwängler, (Stellan Skarsgård), one of the most respected German conductors of the 20th century, who chose to remain in Germany during the Nazi regime. After Germany’s defeat, he fell victim to a ruthless investigation by the Allies. The major in charge of the investigation is a stereotypically uncultured American, Major Steven Arnold (Harvey Keitel), who works in the insurance business. Arnold tries to uncover how complicit Furtwängler was. Furtwängler was appointed to the Privy Council, he was Hitler’s favorite conductor, and Goebbels and Goering honored him. However, he never joined the Nazi party, he helped numerous Jews escape, and several witnesses testify that he tried to protect Jewish musicians under his direction.

The audience is left to judge Furtwängler morally. On the one hand, Arnold has the moral high ground. The Nazis perpetrated the Holocaust, and the Allied victory ended it. Justice awaits the guilty. But Major Arnold is no Congressman Lewis, who has the outward appearance of a British Peer but falls short of their mannerly conduct only by degree. Arnold is a bullying interrogator, somewhere between the caricature of an ugly American and a down-to-earth pragmatist who thinks musical genius is no excuse for collusion with Nazism, and he is willing to employ an overbearing rudeness to expose this. For Arnold, the question is all about strength of will, and he deems Furtwängler weak. However, Arnold seems to misunderstand most of Furtwängler’s replies to his questions, and at times, his interrogation seems like self-righteous taunting and badgering. The viewer is left wondering whether the distressed conductor or the clinched-fist interrogator is acting more like a Nazi.

In one telling exchange, Furtwängler claims that art has mystical powers, which nurture man’s spiritual needs. He confesses to being extremely naïve. While having maintained the absolute separation of art and politics, he devoted his life to music because he thought through music he could do something practical: to maintain liberty, humanity, and justice. Arnold replies with sarcastic disdain, “Gee, that’s a thing of beauty. […] But you used the word “naïve.” Are you saying you were wrong in maintaining the separation of art and politics?”37 Furtwängler replies that he believed art and politics should be separated, but that they were not kept separate by the Nazis, and he learned this at his own cost. Furtwängler is in an obvious bind here. He cannot hold the following propositions together without internal contradiction: (1) Art has mystical power which nurture’s man’s spiritual needs; (2) Art and politics should be kept separate; (3) Art can maintain liberty, justice and humanity; (4) Art was not kept separate from politics during Nazi rule in Germany, and this was a bad thing. If art nurtures man’s spiritual needs, but art must be kept separate from politics, are man’s spiritual needs distinct from questions of community and well-functioning societies? Put otherwise, can music perform its practical function of maintaining justice, while being separate from politics? It would not seem so.

In what follows this interrogation, Arnold accuses Furtwängler of weakness, of selling out to the Nazis for ordinary petty reasons of fear, jealousy of other conductors, and selfishness. Arnold’s two subordinates are offended by his demeanor and his denigration of a national artistic genius and hero. His assistant eventually refuses to participate. She claims that Arnold is embodying the demeanor of the S.S., which she witnessed firsthand. But Arnold shows her a film of corpses being bulldozed into mass graves, and he tells her that Furtwängler’s friends did this, and by virtue of the fact that Furtwängler actually helped some Jews escape, he knew what they were doing.

The moment of supposed revelation for the viewers of the film comes by way of archival footage, in which Furtwängler is shown shaking hands with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels after a concert. Furtwängler’s face reveals the complexity of emotions at work — placidness, fear, and contempt. Furtwängler wipes his hand on his leg, revealing his disdain for his patron, but remains reserved and inoffensive. At once the viewer feels he is redeemed, because his true feelings for Goebbels and the Nazi project are revealed, but Furtwängler’s weakness is evident, as Arnold would have pointed out. Ultimately Furtwängler served the harmonious sensibility of artistic creation. Indeed, throughout the film the German admiration of him is severe, especially when contrasted to Arnold’s unimpressed frankness with him. The German temperament and faithfulness to aesthetic appreciation is manifest in a scene where the German audience stands in the rain, listening to Furtwängler conduct a symphony. To leave would offend, and service to the aesthetic ideals cannot give way to pragmatic considerations — how “American” that would be! One imagines Arnold thinking “what insensible dolt stands in the rain to listen to music?” Perhaps Congressman Lewis’s willingness to offend at the black tie dinner can be seen as a middle ground between Arnold’s bullying and Furtwängler’s and Darlington’s inverted values. However, this might only translate conduct into class, hiding the one true moral question beneath another layer of social convention. Arnold would insist that knowing where your salad fork belongs may not prevent you from colluding with murderers.

The Continuity between Ethics and Aesthetics

For both Whitehead and Dewey there are no universal moral situations. Our occasions of experience are always contextual and specific, never occurring in vacuous actuality. But this calls for a more general approach to descriptive ethics, not a more particularized prescription of universal moral laws. Both philosophers begin with a description of the general traits of experience and each uses highly aesthetic language. Each treats imagination and vision, not rationality, as operative in navigating morally problematic situations. Whitehead, by making feeling a metaphysical category, gives emotion a primary role; Dewey, in collapsing the gap between scientific, practical, and moral inquiries, gives imaginative intelligence primacy.

Neither of our two films presents the ideal character, with an emotional comportment and an intensity of experience able to serve as the causally efficacious and morally demanding superject in its environment. Nor do they offer a character of superior imaginative intelligence who finds and applies the elements of her problematic situation as means toward the valuable integration of meaning. This is not a surprise. England appeased the Nazis; the Holocaust occurred and so did the very limited prosecution of the guilty by the Allies afterwards. Furthermore, ugly, but welcomed, Americans plodded onto European soil either on the model of Major Arnold, at worst, or on that of Congressman Lewis at best. (He eventually buys Darlington Hall and retains Mr. Stevens as his butler, but he installs a ping-pong table there, of all aesthetic affronts). Does the “American” problem recur in summer retreats to European museums and cafes? Americans plod, loud and entitled, over the artistic feats of the Continent, and their European hosts translate aesthetic missteps into moral offense.

Where did each character fall short, and what did their shortcomings reveal about the intersection of aesthetics and ethics? Lord Darlington employed his servants to erect a mannerly and orderly veneer between him and that which is ugly. However, he can be viewed as a tragic figure because his mild manners and sensitivity to common cultural (and aesthetic in the narrow sense) values with the Germans were used against him. He ended in disgrace as the news of his involvement in the appeasement was publicized by the press. But his heightened sense of manners disabled him from confronting the soil of moral problems as he did not want to get dirty — (that’s what the servants are for). The head butler, Stevens, was not the emotionally comported or spontaneously active character tacitly advocated for by Whiteheadian ethics, but the coldly rational and deliberative agent serving a narrow aesthetic end. Miss Kenton and Furtwängler demonstrated a weakness of will in the face of wrong-doing, and for that they are condemned, not by an aesthetic measure, but by a pragmatic one. Their beliefs were their propensities to act, and their inability to act revealed a weak belief in their moral ideals.38 But the American characters are not morally pure. As the victors, the

tools they had at their disposal to resolve their situations were ready at hand, and they too were constituted by their prehensions of their environment. Denigrating an artistic genius does not show the service of a moral ideal, but only the privileged position of Major Arnold of judging Furtwängler’s weakness from outside his context.

These films do illustrate the tension at work at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics. While both films depict the limitations and failures of the tendency to “aestheticize” morality, they do not prove the need to import a falsely universal moral ideal antecedent to the experience of a particular problematic situation in order to judge right from wrong. Insofar as the tools needed to make these judgments are had in experience, they have been, accurately described by figures like Whitehead and Dewey, in aesthetic language. The Reductio ad Hitlerum only succeeds if the meaning of aesthetics is deflated and reduced to something much narrower than either Whitehead or Dewey intended, such as reflection on artistic creation. The broad use of aesthetics advocated here does not fail to draw moral distinctions in the face of Nazi atrocities while blindly serving the ideal of artistic beauty or mere manners. Rather, as including imagination and emotion, an aesthetic orientation to ethics encompasses the problems posed by the characters’ shortcomings, even if their moral shortcomings run parallel to their heightened aesthetic and misguided sensibilities.


  1. Hans Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, (London: Continuum, 2006), 31. Nöel Carroll makes the further claim that because of Kant’s aesthetic theory and its interpretation, twentieth century philosophers have neglected the ethical criticism of art. (Noël Carroll, “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research,” Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp 350). ↩︎
  2. Thomas Alexander, “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination: Beyond Putnam and Rorty toward a Postmodern Ethics,” Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society, Vol. XXIX, No. 3, (Summer 1993), 373. ↩︎
  3. For a complex examination of this problematic, see George Kateb, “Aestheticism and Morality: Their Cooperation and Hostility,” Political Theory, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 5-37. ↩︎
  4. See Noël Carroll, “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research,” Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp. 350-387. Carroll highlights the problematic relationship between ethics and art criticism by examining the immorality and aesthetic value of The Triumph of the Will, among other artifacts. ↩︎
  5. Boaz Neumann, “The National Socialist Politics of Life,” New German Critique, No. 85, Special Issue on Intellectuals (Winter, 2002), p 120. ↩︎
  6. Paul Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), 546. ↩︎
  7. Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism,” 547. ↩︎
  8. Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism,” 547. ↩︎
  9. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, (London: The Free Press, 1978), 18. ↩︎
  10. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 18, 22. ↩︎
  11. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 19. ↩︎
  12. Harold B. Dunkel, “Creativity and Education,” Educational Theory, Volume XI, Number 4, (1961), 209. ↩︎
  13. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 29. ↩︎
  14. John B. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value,” religion-online.org Accessed 2/27/2015. ↩︎
  15. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  16. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 212. ↩︎
  17. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  18. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  19. Process and Reality, 222. ↩︎
  20. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  21. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  22. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  23. Dewey, Later Works Vol. 1, Ed. Boydston, (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990) 42-45. ↩︎
  24. Dewey, Logic The Theory of InquiryLW 12: 110. ↩︎
  25. Dewey, LW 12: 121. ↩︎
  26. James Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, (New York: Humanities Press, 1972), 132. ↩︎
  27. Dewey, LW 10: 143. ↩︎
  28. Dewey, LW 1: 9. ↩︎
  29. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 150. ↩︎
  30. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 151. ↩︎
  31. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 152. ↩︎
  32. Alexander, “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination,” 384. ↩︎
  33. Richard Posner*, Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy*, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), p. 45. Posner claims that pragmatism, via Darwinism, has nurtured philosophies including Nazism. ↩︎
  34. See, for example, Meera Tamaya, “Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day: The Empire Strikes Back,” Modern Language Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2 (spring, 1992), pp. 45-56. Tanaya focuses on the relationship between Darlington and Stevens as one of colonizer and colonized, subject and object. ↩︎
  35. See Geoffrey G. Field, Evangelist of Race: The Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981). ↩︎
  36. See McCombe, “The End of (Anthony) Eden: Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day” and Midcentury Anglo-American Tensions,” 78. ↩︎
  37. See Page R. Laws, “Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood; India Ink by Tom Stoppard,” (review), Theatre Journal, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 107-108. Laws makes note of the fact that the Nazis used art in the service of politics. ↩︎
  38. Charles Sanders Peirce, Collected Papers (1958-1966), Vol. 5, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, eds., (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), 400. ↩︎

References: 

Alexander, Thomas. “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination: Beyond Putnam and Rorty toward a Postmodern Ethics.” Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society. Vol. XXIX. No. 3. (Summer 1993).

Betts, Paul. “The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism.” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 37. No. 4. (Oct., 2002).

Carroll, Noël. “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research.” Ethics. Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp. 350-387.

Cobb, John B. Jr. “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” www.religion-online.org.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 1, Ed. Boydston, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 10. Ed. Boydston, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 12. Ed. Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dunkel, Harold B. “Creativity and Education,” Educational Theory. Vol. XI. No. 4. (1961).

Field, Geoffrey G. Evangelist of Race: The Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Gadamer, Hans Georg. Truth and Method. London: Continuum, 2006.

Gouinlock, James. John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value. New York: Humanities Press, 1972.

Ivory, James. The Remains of the Day. Merchant Ivory Film, 1993.

Kateb, George. “Aestheticism and Morality: Their Cooperation and Hostility.” Political Theory. Vol. 28. No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 5-37.

Neumann, Boaz. “The National Socialist Politics of Life.” New German Critique. No. 85. Special Issue on Intellectuals (Winter, 2002), pp. 107-130.

Peirce, Charles Sanders, (1958-1966) Collected papers. Vols. 1- 6, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, eds., (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).

Posner, Richard. Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Szabó, István. Taking Sides. Paladin Production S.A., 2001.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality. London: The Free Press, 1978.About the Author: 

Seth Vannatta earned his PhD in philosophy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Morgan State University, where he won the university award for research and scholarship in 2012. He studies the history of philosophy and American philosophy and is interested in philosophy’s relationship to other dimensions of culture including law, politics, education, and sport. He is the author of Conservationsim and Pragmatism in Law, Politics, and Ethics(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and editor and contributor to Chuck Klosterman and Philosophy: The Real and the Cereal (Open Court, 2012). He has published articles in The Pluralist, Contemporary Pragmatism, The European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, Education and Culture, and others.

Notes on Ecological Aesthetics and Ethics

By David George Haskell

A sense of beauty is a rigorous, perhaps even objective, foundation for environmental ethics. Our human aesthetic judgment integrates many strands of experience: intellect, emotion, bodily senses, and all we know from our interactions with others, both human and non-human others. From this integration, we understand the good.

Of course, an aesthetic sense is subject to the whims of desire, passing fads, and superficial impressions. So a well-grounded ethic depends for its rigor on a mature sense of aesthetics. By “mature,” I mean a sense of aesthetics that emerges from many years of lived relationship with a place and its community of life, both human and non-human. Such experience allows us to “unself” our judgment into the wider experience of the community. Our aesthetic and then our ethic will thus emerge not just from the limited confines of our own self, but from the knowledge that lives within the networks from which communities are made.

Once we—collectively—have an integrated sense of aesthetics, we can begin to discern what is beautiful and what is broken about a place, and, from there, I believe we can begin to form an objective—or near-objective—foundation for ethical discernment. Answers emerge from the community of life itself, filtered through human experience and consciousness.

What do I mean by that? Years of experience in a particular place will open us to the lives of other people and other species in that place, so our sense of aesthetics will incorporate their realities. Once we have that, we have a ground for moving forward and making ethical decisions that are actually deeply rooted in the physical, biological realities of a place, rather than coming only from abstractions of a seminar room or dogmas in a philosophy born in another ecosystem.

Aesthetics is often presented as something that’s very subjective, divorced from the reality of the world. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. A sense of ecologic aesthetics comes from a very gritty, sensually rich experience that has its tendrils in the realities of a place.

None of this can answer the ethical nihilist who poses the question, “So, what? Ethics are vaporous illusions carved into the human nervous system by evolution.” But if some ground for ethics does exist in this universe, then a sense of aesthetics can, I think, help us find this ground by a process that fully acknowledges and embraces our existence as evolved members of ecological communities. This is a fully biological foundation for ethics.

On a practical level, if we try to answer questions about how to live in particular places without first listening to the realities and particularities of the place itself, our answers are going to be unmoored and will have terrible consequences. Understanding how to live ethically in a place is an extraordinarily complicated, important, and difficult challenge. Moving forward with answers that are not based on deep engagement with a place and its inhabitants is a recipe for disaster. So action in the world demands, first, a practice of listening.

Religious and philosophical traditions have known this for many millennia: contemplation and action go together, just as the inhale and the exhale go together. Monastic communities are deeply contemplative, but also have engaged in action in the world—whether that action is caring for other people in hospitals, or agricultural action, or caring for the sick. This history evinces the truth that we need open, contemplative spaces within our lives, especially lives of action. I think there’s a hunger for that kind of open space. Without it, we feel a desperation and a feeling that we’re up against the wall without a good way forward. Contemplative practices create spaces for new ideas, new connections to emerge. That sounds like a rather goal-oriented way of putting it, but I do think that one of the fruits of contemplation is an increased ability to come up with new ideas or to see old ideas in a new light.

In the environmental community, there are some instances of people making decisions about the fate of ecosystems when the decision-makers have never experienced the ecosystem at stake. When NGOs, governments, or businesses have decision-making structures that are divorced from the lived experience of a place, then the outcomes will most likely not be good for that place or the people in them. We need to bring lived experience of ecosystems back into the decision-making process.

Call: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age – British Society of Aesthetics Conference

Published: AUGUST 20, 2020

Call for Abstracts

British Society of Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age
27th and 28th May 2021
Cambridge, UK
https://fass.open.ac.uk/research/conferences/AEDA

Submission deadline: 31st December 2020

Submissions are invited for the upcoming conference British Society of Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age. The conference will take place on 27th and 28th May 2021 in Cambridge, UK.

The aim of this conference is to explore some developments in recent practice that raise new and interesting questions for the philosophy of art. Artists, working independently in different parts of the world, are creating new forms of technological interfaces and experimenting with the biological, the nano and the digital. At the heart of all their works is a deep ethos of balancing the aesthetic and the ethical in how we relate with others and our environment, whether in the same physical space or as distributed bodies. The spheres of the arts, sciences, and (in particular) technology overlap both to explore and to attempt to change the way in which we live in the world. These artistic practices raise questions about the interaction between aesthetics and ethics that go beyond those familiar to us in discussions over the past decade or so.

Abstracts of up to 1000 words should be submitted as an email attachment to Satinder Gill (spg12@cam.ac.uk) and Derek Matravers (derek.matravers@open.ac.uk). Please include the talk title, author’s name, affiliation and contact details in the body of email; and please write “BSA Conference Submission” in the subject line.  Abstracts should outline a talk lasting 25 minutes, on a topic related to the topic of the conference. The deadline for submissions is the end of 31st December 2020.

There will be no registration fee for the conference. UK-based contributing speakers will be encouraged to apply for the BSA Travel Stipend to cover travel and accommodation costs. The conference will adhere to BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme.

The conference website is https://fass.open.ac.uk/research/conferences/AEDA. For more information, please email Satinder Gill or Derek Matravers (emails above).

This conference is generously supported by the British Society of Aesthetics.

https://materialworldblog.com/2015/03/aesthetics-and-ethics-an-enquiry-into-their-relationship/

The relationship between aesthetics and ethics has long been the topic of scholarly debates, from Kant’s (1928[1790]) insistence that the experience of beauty involved disinterested contemplation and, subsequently, the separation of aesthetics from ethics, or Wittgenstein’s (1961[1889]) enigmatic proposition that ‘ethics and aesthetics are one’, to the numerous enquiries into the ethical aspects of art and art criticism or the aesthetic aspects of moral life and moral evaluation (e.g. Bourdieu 1984, Foucault 1985, 1986, Eco 1986, Eagleton 1990, Guattari 1995, Korsmeyer 1998, Levinson 2001, Rancière 2006, Osborne and Tanner 2007).
How has anthropology related to these debates? Thompson (2006[1973)], Bateson (2006[1973)], or Boone (1986), for example, in the tradition of a holistic anthropology, have analysed local concepts of beauty and illustrated the ways in which these concepts articulated with religious and moral values. Gell (1998), to give another example, through his notion of the artwork as an index, which enables the observer to make causal inferences about the artist’s intentions, has theoretically paved the way for inquiries into the morality of intentions. Furthermore, how can anthropology contribute to these debates, especially in light of its increasing interest in ethics (e.g. Lambek 2010, Faubion 2011, Robbins 2013, Keane 2013, 1014, Fassin and Lézé 2014, Laidlaw 2014)?

Participants have been invited to address the relationship between aesthetics and ethics in anthropology and to consider the following questions:
i) do the definitions of aesthetics and ethics currently in use in anthropology help or hinder us in our reflections on their relationship?
ii) when are the questions of aesthetics and ethics similar?
iii) what kind of theoretical framework is appropriate for reflecting on this relationship? (e.g. value theory; then the questions might be: how does aesthetic value relate to the notion of value generally? how does ethical value relate to the notion of value generally? are these types of value incompatible?)
iv) what kind of ethnographic topic is appropriate for reflecting on this relationship? (only those where there is an explicit expectation that aesthetic principles are guided by ethical considerations, such as Qur’anic art and Islamic fashion?)
v) should a third term, that is, politics, be also taken into consideration in order to better understand the relationship between aesthetics and ethics?

https://philpapers.org/browse/aesthetics-and-ethics

About this topic 

SummaryBroadly construed, Aesthetics and Ethics concerns the relationship between art and morality. Here we ask: Can artworks provide moral knowledge? Can artworks corrupt and instruct morally?  More narrowly construed, the category concerns the relationship between aesthetic and moral value. The chief question is this: Do moral flaws with works of art constitute aesthetics flaws? In addition, we can ask if aesthetic value is morally significant. This last issue has important implications for environmental ethics.
Key worksThe most important collection on the topic is Levinson 1998. The majority of the work on the topic is in essay form, but there are a few influential books. Gaut 2007 is an important, recent monograph. 
IntroductionsAlthough a bit out of date, Carroll 2000 provides an excellent overview of the area.  Gaut 2001 is also an excellent introduction.

References

Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research.

Noël Carroll – 2000 – Ethics 110 (2):350-387.

Art and Ethics.

Berys Gaut – 2001 – In Berys Nigel Gaut & Dominic Lopes (eds.), 

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. Routledge. pp. 341–352.

Art, Emotion and Ethics.

Berys Gaut – 2007 – Oxford University Press.

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection.

Jerrold Levinson (ed.) – 1998 – Cambridge University Press.

AESTHETICS & ETHICS: OTHERNESS AND MORAL IMAGINATION FROM ARISTOTLE TO LEVINAS AND FROM UNCLE TOM’S CABIN TO HOUSE MADE OF DAWN

In recent years, American Studies have taken a turn toward the political. However, although poststructuralism and deconstruction have undermined numerous of the moral-philosophical dogmas of the Western metaphysical tradition, many of the political claims that the revisionist turn in American Studies has voiced still rest, if tacitly, on these moral and ethical assumptions. As the latter often collide with the theoretical axioms that inform these revisionist works, some resort to what one could call the “pathos of marginality” and rather vague concepts of “otherness.” Moreover, these political-ideological readings often completely blot out aesthetic aspects, as these are suspected to be carriers of implicit and hegemonic strategies of representation.

In the first part, this study analyzes what role “otherness” plays in the most influential moral-philosophical approaches to date – from Aristotle and the Neo-Aristotelians (Alasdair MacIntyre, Martha Nussbaum) via Kantianism and its deconstructors (Jean-François Lyotard, J. Hillis Miller) to the works of Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas – and sheds light on its highly problematic status in Western notions of justice. Moreover, on the background of these analyses it examines the role that aesthetics plays not only for, but within these approaches, with a special focus on what task literature is accorded to dramatize the clash of sameness and otherness.

Starting from a revised notion of the sublime, the second part “applies” the different approaches to four American novels: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor, Richard Wright’s Native Son, and N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, and examines how far the moral-philosophical systems carry to elucidate these texts. What becomes clear is that none of these works can be captured in their complexity by either one moral philosophy or one political agenda, in that every literary “exemplification” of such theory inevitably falls prey to the treacherous dynamics of the example – a dynamics that inhabits literature and haunts ethics, and that defies literature’s instrumentalization by either ethics or ideologies.

Keywords: American Studies, Aesthetics, Ethics, the Sublime, the Other, Otherness, Immanuel Kant, Jean-François Lyotard, J. Hillis Miller, Martha Nussbaum, Alasdair MacIntyre, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Herman Melville, Billd Budd, Richard Wright, Native Son, N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn, Ecology.

Contents

List of Abbreviations for Reference Works

Introduction

American Studies Today

Enter (And Leave): The Aesthetic

Difficult Neighbors: Ethics and Aesthetics

The Novels

I. The Kantian Legacy of Deconstruction

1. Kant – for Example

2. The Ethics of Reading and the End of History

2.1. Ce dangereux exemple…

2.2. De Man’s Demands

2.3. …close the gap!

2.4. Giving the Li(f)e to Miller’s Lie

3. Toward a Politics of the Sublime: Jean-François Lyotard

3.1. The Idea of the “Idea”

3.2. Lyotard Just Gaming?

3.3. The Sacrificial Sublime

II. The Return of Aristotle: Alasdair MacIntyre and Martha Nussbaum

4. Going Back Home: MacIntyre and the Greek Polis

4.1. The Price of Historicization

4.2. The Polis Rebuilt

4.3. Virtual Ethics and Virtuous Reading

4.4. Ethics, Practice, and the Narrative Unity of a Human Life

5. A Mind too Refined to be Touched by an Idea: Martha Nussbaum’s Aristotelian Liberalism

5.1. Aristotle and the Virtues

5.2. The Tragic Muse as Éducation Sentimentale

5.3. The End of Tragedy and The Limits of Identification

III. Approaching the Other: Emmanuel Levinas and Paul Ricoeur

6. Oneself for the Other: Emmanuel Levinas

6.1. Facing The Other

6.2. Ethics, Politics, and Literature

6.3. The Other Sublime

7. Oneself as Another: Paul Ricoeur

7.1. Toward a Narrative Ethics

7.2. Narration and Alterity

7.3. A Tragic Encounter – Narrating the Other

IV. Toward an Ethics of Literature

8. Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

8.1. How to Turn a Thing Into a Man, or: Categorical Imperative vs. Golden Rule

8.2. Sentimentalism as Aesthetic and Ethical Strategy

8.3. The Economy of Religion and Politics

8.4. Face/Off

9. Herman Melville: Billy Budd, Sailor

9.1. Phronimos Goes To War

9.2. Literature, Responsibility, and Political Philosophy: Hannah Arendt and Paul Ricoeur

9.3. (Ef-)facing the Other – Melville’s Silences, Ethics, and War

9.4. Singular Madnesses, Maddening Singularities: Vere, Billy, and the “Hebrew Prophets”

10. Richard Wright: Native Son

10.1. Polis into Metropolis, or: How to Identify with a Rat

10.2. Whose Narrative Is It, Anyway?

10.3. The Racial Sublime

10.4.  Re(w)ri(gh)ting Native Son, Or: Who’s Afraid of Bigger Thomas?

11. N. Scott Momaday: House Made Of Dawn

11.1.  Polis into Pueblo, or: How to Identify with a Bear

11.2. “Evil Was”: Balance, Control, and the Ethics of Myth

11.3. To Kill or Not to Kill

11.4.  Excursus: Is there an other Other? Toward an Environmental Ethics

Conclusion

References

Index of Names

My Related Posts

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

On Aesthetics

On Beauty

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

On Classical Virtues

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Human Rights and Human Development

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Key Sources of Reserach

AESTHETICS AND ETHICS: THE STATE OF THE ART

Jeffory Dean

https://aesthetics-online.org/page/DeanState

Aesthetics and ethics

Tanner, Michael

https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/aesthetics-and-ethics/v-1

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/aesthetics-and-ethics/44B8E5696692AEEEF09A034CFDE57B8C

Problems at the Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

Seth Vannatta (Morgan State University)

https://responsejournal.net/issue/2016-08/article/problems-intersection-aesthetics-and-ethics

‘ETHICS AND AESTHETICS ARE ONE’

Diané Collinson

The British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 25, Issue 3, SUMMER 1985, Pages 266–272, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjaesthetics/25.3.266Published: 01 March 1985

Aesthetics and Ethics in Gadamer, Levinas, and Romanticism: Problems of Phronesis and Techne

David P. Haney

PMLA Vol. 114, No. 1, Special Topic: Ethics and Literary Study (Jan., 1999), pp. 32-45 (14 pages) Published By: Modern Language Association 

The Marriage of Aesthetics and Ethics

Series: Critical Studies in German Idealism, Volume: 15

Editor: Stéphane Symons

https://brill.com/view/title/31979

Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’S Critique of Moralization of Ethics

October 2019

Project: Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’s Critique of Moralization of Ethics

Erwin Arellano Mallo

University of Southern Mindanao

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336242982_Ethics_as_Aesthetics_Foucault%27S_Critique_of_Moralization_of_Ethics

“One and the Same? Ethics, Aesthetics, and Truth.” 

Eaglestone, Robert.

Poetics Today 25, no. 4 (2004): 595-608. muse.jhu.edu/article/177238.

Notes on Ecological Aesthetics and Ethics

By David George Haskell

Aesthetics & Ethics: Otherness and Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn

Thomas Claviez

Aesthetics & Ethics: Otherness and Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn

(Heidelberg: Winter, 2008) 

http://www.claviez.de/?page_id=41

Wittgenstein’s Aesthetics

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein-aesthetics/

Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics  

Richard Eldridge

The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

Edited by Jerrold Levinson

The Ethics of Aesthetics

Don Ritter Berlin, Germany

“Ethics and Aesthetics are One”: The Case of Zen Aesthetics

Bai, H. (1997).

Canadian Review of Art Education, 24(2), 37-52.

Ethics as Style:
Wittgenstein’s Aesthetic Ethics and Ethical Aesthetics

Kathrin Stengel

Independent Scholar, New York

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

“Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it”

Key Terms

  • Drama
  • Arts
  • Narrative Arts
  • Mirroring
  • Reflection
  • Reflexivity
  • Emma Goldman
  • Drama Theory
  • Social Mirrors
  • Reflex
  • Social Environment
  • Social Landscape
  • Social Ecosystem
  • Social Action
  • Social Justice
  • Human Rights
  • Human Development
  • Coherence
  • Problem Structuring
  • Crystallization
  • Cybernetic Loop
  • Reflexive – Active Systems
  • System Sciences and Cybernetics

In 1914, Emma Goldman wrote the forward to her book shared below.

There is certain timelessness to her words.  As pertinent today as they were more than a hundred years ago.

Click to access 0f485a3c9a2770d368acc6429ad9898700b4.pdf

Emma Goldman, The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

(Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1914; The Gorham Press, Boston, U.S.A.)

FOREWORD

IN order to understand the social and dynamic significance of modern dramatic art it is necessary, I believe, to ascertain the difference between the functions of art for art’s sake and art as the mirror of life.

Art for art’s sake presupposes an attitude of aloofness on the part of the artist toward the complex struggle of life: he must rise above the ebb and tide of life. He is to be merely an artistic conjurer of beautiful forms, a creator of pure fancy.

That is not the attitude of modern art, which is preeminently the reflex, the mirror of life. The artist being a part of life cannot detach himself from the events and occurrences that pass panorama-like before his eyes, impressing themselves upon his emotional and intellectual vision.

The modern artist is, in the words of August Strindberg, “a lay preacher popularizing the pressing questions of his time.” Not necessarily because his aim is to proselyte, but because he can best express himself by being true to life.

Millet, Meunier, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Emerson, Walt Whitman, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Strindberg, Hauptmann and a host of others mirror in their work as much of the spiritual and social revolt as is expressed by the most fiery speech of the propagandist. And more important still, they compel far greater attention. Their creative genius, imbued with the spirit of sincerity and truth, strikes root where the ordinary word often falls on barren soil.

The reason that many radicals as well as conservatives fail to grasp the powerful message of art is perhaps not far to seek. The average radical is as hidebound by mere terms as the man devoid of all ideas. “Bloated plutocrats,” “economic determinism,” “class consciousness,” and similar expressions sum up for him the symbols of revolt. But since art speaks a language of its own, a language embracing the entire gamut of human emotions, it often sounds meaningless to those whose hearing has been dulled by the din of stereotyped phrases.

On the other hand, the conservative sees danger only in the advocacy of the Red Flag. He has too long been fed on the historic legend that it is only the “rabble” which makes revolutions, and not those who wield the brush or pen. It is therefore legitimate to applaud the artist and hound the rabble. Both radical and conservative have to learn that any mode of creative work, which with true perception portrays social wrongs earnestly and boldly, may be a greater menace to our social fabric and a more powerful inspiration than the wildest harangue of the soapbox orator.

Unfortunately, we in America have so far looked upon the theater as a place of amusement only, exclusive of ideas and inspiration. Because the modern drama of Europe has till recently been inaccessible in printed form to the average theater-goer in this country, he had to content himself with the interpretation, or rather misinterpretation, of our dramatic critics. As a result the social significance of the Modern Drama has well nigh been lost to the general public.

As to the native drama, America has so far produced very little worthy to be considered in a social light. Lacking the cultural and evolutionary tradition of the Old World, America has necessarily first to prepare the soil out of which sprouts creative genius.

The hundred and one springs of local and sectional life must have time to furrow their common channel into the seething sea of life at large, and social questions and problems make themselves felt, if not crystallized, before the throbbing pulse of the big national heart can find its reflex in a great literature– and specifically in the drama–of a social character. This evolution has been going on in this country for a considerable time, shaping the wide-spread unrest that is now beginning to assume more or less definite social form and expression.

Therefore, America could not so far produce its own social drama. But in proportion as the crystallization progresses, and sectional and national questions become clarified as fundamentally social problems, the drama develops. Indeed, very commendable beginnings in this direction have been made within recent years, among them “The Easiest Way,” by Eugene Walter, “Keeping Up Appearances,” and other plays by Butler Davenport, “Nowadays” and two other volumes of one-act plays, by George Middleton– attempts that hold out an encouraging promise for the future.

The Modern Drama, as all modern literature, mirrors the complex struggle of life–the struggle which, whatever its individual or topical expression, ever has its roots in the depth of human nature and social environment, and hence is, to that extent, universal. Such literature, such drama, is at once the reflex and the inspiration of mankind in its eternal seeking for things higher and better. Perhaps those who learn the great truths of the social travail in the school of life, do not need the message of the drama. But there is another class whose number is legion, for whom that message is indispensable. In countries where political oppression affects all classes, the best intellectual elements have made common cause with the people, have become their teachers, comrades, and spokesmen. But in America political pressure has so far affected only the “common” people. It is they who are thrown into prison; they who are persecuted and mobbed, tarred and deported. Therefore another medium is needed to arouse the intellectuals of this country, to make them realize their relation to the people, to the social unrest permeating the atmosphere.

The medium which has the power to do that is the Modern Drama, because it mirrors every phase of life and embraces every strata of society–the Modern Drama, showing each and all caught in the throes of the tremendous changes going on, and forced either to become part of the process or be left behind.

Ibsen, Strindberg, Hauptmann, Tolstoy, Shaw, Galsworthy and the other dramatists contained in this volume represent the social iconoclasts of our time. They know that society has gone beyond the stage of patching up, and that man must throw off the dead weight of the past, with all its ghosts and spooks, if he is to go foot free to meet the future.

This is the social significance which differentiates modern dramatic art from art for art’s sake. It is the dynamite which undermines superstition, shakes the social pillars, and prepares men and women for the reconstruction.

Please see my related posts

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Human Rights and Human Development

Key Sources of Research:

The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

Emma Goldman

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/emma-goldman-the-social-significance-of-the-modern-drama

Click to access emma-goldman-the-social-significance-of-the-modern-drama.pdf

Click to access 0f485a3c9a2770d368acc6429ad9898700b4.pdf

The drama of resilience: learning, doing, and sharing for sustainability

Katrina Brown 1, Natalia Eernstman 2, Alexander R. Huke 3 and Nick Reding 4

https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol22/iss2/art8/

DRAMA THERAPY AS A FORM OF MODERN SHAMANISM

Susana Pendzik

Click to access trps-20-88-01-081.pdf

From Mirroring to World-Making: Research as Future Forming

Kenneth J. Gergen

https://works.swarthmore.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1796&context=fac-psychology

America’s Cracked Mirror: The Theatre In Our Society

Raymond Pentzell

Hillsdale College

America’s Cracked Mirror: The Theatre In Our Society

Stanford Repertory Theater and Planet Earth Arts tackle environmental and social justice issues

Stanford Repertory Theater and Planet Earth Arts tackle environmental and social justice issues

Social Mirrors and Shared Experiential Worlds

Charles Whitehead

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Arts and Moral Philosophy

This post is an extension of my last post on Aesthetics and Ethics.  How narrative arts such as Literature, Novels, Poetry, Films and Dramas interact with moral ethical concerns and emotions of human beings.

Key People/Terms

  • Martha Nussbaum – Aristotle
  • Iris Murdoch – Plato
  • Noel Carroll
  • Hall of Mirrors
  • Hall of Reflection
  • Literature
  • Novels
  • Films and Dramas
  • Narrative Arts
  • Aesthetics
  • Ethics
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Ethical Criticism of Arts
  • Virtue Ethics

Martha Nussbaum on Emotions, Ethics, and Literature

Martha Nussbaum on Emotions, Ethics, and Literature

Martha Nussbaum has been recently described as a “philosopher of feelings” and indeed, throughout her career, she has written on disgust, shame, desire, sex, patriotism, love, empathy, and most recently, anger. According to Nussbaum, there is ethical value in emotions, and we are wrong to ostracize them outside the sphere of philosophical relevance. Understanding our emotions helps us build a morally just society and relate to one another in a way that is deeply respectful and moral. It helps us extend our humanity toward people we have previously rejected as “the other,” and is a crucial part of building a healthy democracy.

Emotions are extremely significant to our efforts of living a good life. In Love’s Knowledge (1990), Nussbaum maintains that feelings have unrightfully been banished from philosophy under two equally false pretexts. Critics have either portrayed them as these blind, irrational impulses that have nothing to do with cognition and have to be strictly controlled by the reins of rationality, or maintained that if they do have any cognitive value and can indeed tell us something about the world, what they tell us is simply false. The first objection equates an emotion with an instinctual appetite, an animal need, a mere bodily function. Yet, Nussbaum argues, we can agree that grief, for instance, is very much different from hunger, and in fact due to developments in anthropology, cognitive science, and psychology, this view has become antiquated. Besides, we don’t need scientific evidence to acknowledge that grief cannot be compared to hunger, as grief is sustained by a variety of assumptions with epistemic value. Which leads us to the second set of objections.

Emotions do have cognitive value, so it should only follow logically that they must have some ethical value as well. To continue with the example of grief, the experience of the feeling presupposes the belief that someone has been lost, that the loss is irrevocable, that the person lost had tremendous and irreplaceable value, etc. To give another example, Nussbaum’s account of anger unfolds the various assumptions that underlie this emotion, amongst which the idea that there is some kind of cosmic balance that has been upset when a person has been wronged, and that directing his or her fury at the wrongdoer will somehow restore that balance.

Some emotions encompass beliefs about the world that upon scrutiny do indeed turn out to be wrong, but this is precisely why we need to take them seriously and subject them to careful investigation. It can be expected that upon discovering that certain emotions are unwarranted or unfounded, we will discard them, just as we do with beliefs when we discover they are false. Some emotions are indeed irrational, but so are a vast number of beliefs, yet it has never occurred to philosophers to banish beliefs from philosophy altogether. Furthermore, it is inconsistent, Nussbaum argues, to discredit emotions as insignificant and untrustworthy, while simultaneously recognizing that a change in one’s feelings also brings with it a change in one’s beliefs (see, for instance, the role emotions play in advertising or politics). We are wary of a political discourse suffused with emotions, as it can be much more effective than one that fully ignores our feelings. The Sophists, masters of rhetoric that they were, knew and fully embraced this, but Nussbaum points out that they weren’t the only ones. Pre-Socratic philosophers and poets were much more supportive of an entanglement between art, emotions, and philosophy, before Socrates/Plato came along and drew a dichotomy between them (pp. 14–15).

“Belief,” Nussbaum writes, “is sufficient for emotion, and emotion necessary for full belief” (p. 41). If a person believes that X was the most important person in her life, and X died, then that person will be affected by grief. If she doesn’tbelieve in the significance of X, she will not experience grief. Conversely, if a person maintains that she is a feminist, for instance, and witnesses an act of abuse against women and yet has no reaction (i.e., outrage), this would make us question the sincerity of that person’s convictions. We should admit, along with Aristotle—a philosopher Nussbaum reveres and draws significantly from—that emotions are “discriminating responses closely connected with beliefs about how things are and what is important” (ibid.). Sometimes, they might be even more reliable as our moral compasses than detached intellectual judgements, since they embody our most deeply rooted views about the world.

If emotions indeed have cognitive value, why do we still reject them? Nussbaum suggests that the main objection brought to emotions is that “they involve value judgements that attach great worth to uncontrolled things outside the agent; they are … acknowledgements of the finite and imperfectly controlled character of human life” (p. 42). To counter this vulnerability, Western philosophy has aspired to a kind of self-sufficiency, a belief that nothing bad will ever happen to those who do everything right.

In the uncertain world of ancient Greece, being human was seen as both supremely beautiful and fatally doomed. In a world governed by capricious gods, man felt subjected to tuche (fate or luck, or as Nussbaum explains it, that which just happens to a person as opposed to that which is her own doing). Many thus aspired to regain some form of control, some way to escape being at the mercy of tuche. This control came in the form of Platonic, rational self-sufficiency. Use your reason and you will be in touch with the divine forms. Nothing bad can happen to a good person. This rational self-sufficiency aspires to make “the goodness of a good human life safe from luck through the controlling power of reason” ([1986] 2001, p. 3). At its roots lies Socrates’s claim that a good person cannot be harmed, as expressed by Plato in the Apology (41c-d).

Nussbaum urges us to recognize, along with the Greek tragic poets, that mankind is fragile.  In The Fragility of Goodness (id., p. 5), she writes that her position acknowledges

That I am an agent, but also a plant; that much that I did not make goes towards making me whatever I shall be praised or blamed for being; that I must constantly choose among competing and apparently incommensurable goods and that circumstances may force me to a position in which I cannot help being false to something or doing some wrong; that an event that simply happens to me may, without my consent, alter my life; that it is equally problematic to entrust one’s good to friends, lovers, or country and to try to have a good life without them—all these I take to be not just the material of tragedy, but everyday facts of lived practical reason.

These “everyday facts of lived practical reason” may be central to morality, but unfortunately, our lives are limited. Building on Aristotle’s views in his Rhetoric and Poetics, Nussbaum reminds us that “we have never lived enough” and that our experience is “too confined and too parochial” (1990, p. 47). Fortunately, however, there is something that can compensate for the inevitable shortness of our lifespan and the limited breadth of human experience: literature.

Literature extends our life and our experience, “making us reflect and feel about what might otherwise be too distant for feeling” (ibid.) One of the main points of literary art is to present us with moments where “habit is cut through by the unexpected” (p. 43), testing our aspirations to live a good life through events outside of our control. This way of reading becomes a way of moral learning, a way of training ourselves to recognize the important features in a moral situation. No prefabricated principle can help us here, but we can only learn experientially, step by step, guided by the novel.

Nussbaum describes moralities that are exclusively based on general and universal principles as “ethically crude” (p. 37) and instead proposes the view influenced by Aristotle, which focuses on practical wisdom. General principles can only help us so much, and, following Aristotle’s analogy between ethical judgement and the arts of a navigator, there will always be the “unexpected” to face, our version of the Greek tuche, and inevitably, principles will prove insufficient. Here is where perception will prove more useful, defined as the ethical ability to discern the important features of one’s particular situation. Perceptions, in combination with a healthy dose of moral responsibility, are the ethical antidote to principles. We should bear in mind that “perception without responsibility is dangerously free-floating, even as duty without perception is blunt and blind” (p. 155).

Literature widens our experience and expands our moral imagination. It gives us the opportunity to vicariously explore seemingly infinite instances of lived practical reason. In her essay “Finely Aware and Richly Responsible,” Nussbaum makes the case for the novel as a “paradigm of moral activity” (p. 148). It gives us the uniquely privileged position from which we can explore situations deeply, but from afar. It allows us to be emotionally involved while also maintaining neutrality. In this sense, we inhabit a place that is “both like and unlike the position we occupy in life” (p. 48), perfect for awakening ourselves to moral perceptions. Much like a rehearsal before the live show, novels give their readers the opportunity to explore ethically demanding situations from a place of safety.

James’s novel The Golden Bowl serves as an example of a literary piece that provides the reader with moral perceptions, those nuanced insights into some of the infinitely varied instances of human existence. Because of the privileged position that the literary form of the novel offers, “Most of us can read James better than we can read ourselves’’ (p. 162). It is only once we’re aware of these fine complexities and reach a state of “perceptive equilibrium” that we can hope to act morally. To ignore the particularities, the contingencies and the “context-embeddedness” (1990, p. 38) of human experience is to be morally blind. “By themselves, trusted for and in themselves, the standing terms are a recipe for obtuseness” (p. 156). Instead, to respond with the right emotions “at the right times, with reference to the right objects, toward the right people, with the right aim, and in the right way, is what is appropriate and best, and this is characteristic of excellence” (Aristotle EN 1106b21-23, quoted in Nussbaum, 1990, 156). Analyzing The Golden Bowl, Nussbaum puts forth the two main characters of the novel as two moral agents, two people who managed to act altruistically toward each other without relying on rules and concepts of duty, but instead “improvised” with the particulars given to them. Perceptions assume priority over rules, and the particulars of a situation over general principles.

Artistic narratives are sometimes the only possible way of rendering life in an accurate fashion:

Certain truths about human life can only be fittingly and accurately stated in the language and forms characteristic of the narrative artist. With respect to certain elements of human life, the terms of the novelist’s art are alert winged creatures, perceiving where the blunt terms of ordinary speech, or of abstract theoretical discourse are blind, acute where they are obtuse, winged where they are dull and heavy. (1990, p. 5)

Nussbaum invites us to suppose, along with Proust, that ‘The most important truths about human psychology cannot be communicated or grasped by intellectual activity alone: powerful emotions have an irreducibly important cognitive role to play” (p. 7). If we combine this with the assumption that there is an organic connection between form and content, then novels emerge as a unique medium for truth-telling. Style is not incidental to the content it aims to convey, Nussbaum suggests, but rather the adequate fit between form and content is almost absolute, in the sense that once something is appropriately conveyed in a rich artistic form, it cannot be expressed equally well in, for instance, rigid academic terms. Paraphrasing in a completely different style will fail.

If we accept all of the above, is there anything left for the philosopher to do? Should Nussbaum herself not have written the 400-page Love’s Knowledge because the novels she writes about speak for themselves?

Firstly, it was necessary to explain—philosophically—why not taking novels seriously would be a great loss to philosophy. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, once again inspired by Aristotle, Nussbaum does advocate a philosophical style that, while different from the expressiveness typical of literary texts, can also be “their natural ally” (p. 18). While the critical skills proper to philosophy can be substantially helpful, it is imperative that philosophy assumes a much more modest role.

Philosophical commentary should only gesture toward concrete particulars, nudging us toward responsible perceptions, providing a mere “sketch” or “outline” of the “salient features of our moral life” (p. 161). The awareness that such an outline does not contain life itself, but can only “quote life” as it were from the literary text, places philosophical commentary in a “posture of sufficient humility” (ibid.).

It will be interesting to see if more philosophers embrace this newly defined role. Given the reaffirmed importance of emotions in our ethical lives, and the significance of artistic narratives, the philosophical style, as reimagined by Nussbaum, is presented with new requirements. It must clarify in a way that is enriching, explain without being oppressive, and illuminate the fineness of human experience while still protecting its fascinating multiplicity. The readers of Love’s Knowledge will hopefully agree that in terms of style and philosophical commentary, Nussbaum herself has managed to live up to the standard that she so graciously elevated.

Ana Sandoiu is a writer, researcher & philosophy lover living in Brighton, UK. She also writes on her personal blog, On a Saturday Morning.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/martha-nussbaums-moral-philosophies?verso=true

The Philosopher of Feelings

Martha Nussbaum’s far-reaching ideas illuminate the often ignored elements of human life—aging, inequality, and emotion.

What I am calling for Nussbaum writes is a society of citizens who admit that they are needy and vulnerable.
“What I am calling for,” Nussbaum writes, is “a society of citizens who admit that they are needy and vulnerable.”Photograph by Jeff Brown for The New Yorker

Martha Nussbaum was preparing to give a lecture at Trinity College, Dublin, in April, 1992, when she learned that her mother was dying in a hospital in Philadelphia. She couldn’t get a flight until the next day. That evening, Nussbaum, one of the foremost philosophers in America, gave her scheduled lecture, on the nature of emotions. “I thought, It’s inhuman—I shouldn’t be able to do this,” she said later. Then she thought, Well, of course I should do this. I mean, here I am. Why should I not do it? The audience is there, and they want to have the lecture.

When she returned to her room, she opened her laptop and began writing her next lecture, which she would deliver in two weeks, at the law school of the University of Chicago. On the plane the next morning, her hands trembling, she continued to type. She wondered if there was something cruel about her capacity to be so productive. The lecture was about the nature of mercy. As she often does, she argued that certain moral truths are best expressed in the form of a story. We become merciful, she wrote, when we behave as the “concerned reader of a novel,” understanding each person’s life as a “complex narrative of human effort in a world full of obstacles.”

In the lecture, she described how the Roman philosopher Seneca, at the end of each day, reflected on his misdeeds before saying to himself, “This time I pardon you.” The sentence brought Nussbaum to tears. She worried that her ability to work was an act of subconscious aggression, a sign that she didn’t love her mother enough. I shouldn’t be away lecturing, she thought. I shouldn’t have been a philosopher. Nussbaum sensed that her mother saw her work as cold and detached, a posture of invulnerability. “We aren’t very loving creatures, apparently, when we philosophize,” Nussbaum has written.

When her plane landed in Philadelphia, Nussbaum learned that her mother had just died. Her younger sister, Gail Craven Busch, a choir director at a church, had told their mother that Nussbaum was on the way. “She just couldn’t hold on any longer,” Busch said. When Nussbaum arrived at the hospital, she found her mother still in the bed, wearing lipstick. A breathing tube, now detached from an oxygen machine, was laced through her nostrils. The nurses brought Nussbaum cups of water as she wept. Then she gathered her mother’s belongings, including a book called “A Glass of Blessings,” which Nussbaum couldn’t help noticing looked too precious, the kind of thing that she would never want to read. She left the hospital, went to the track at the University of Pennsylvania, and ran four miles.

She admired the Stoic philosophers, who believed that ungoverned emotions destroyed one’s moral character, and she felt that, in the face of a loved one’s death, their instruction would be “Everyone is mortal, and you will get over this pretty soon.” But she disagreed with the way they trained themselves not to depend on anything beyond their control. For the next several days, she felt as if nails were being pounded into her stomach and her limbs were being torn off. “Do we imagine the thought causing a fluttering in my hands, or a trembling in my stomach?” she wrote, in “Upheavals of Thought,” a book on the structure of emotions. “And if we do, do we really want to say that this fluttering or trembling is my grief about my mother’s death?”

Nussbaum gave her lecture on mercy shortly after her mother’s funeral. She felt that her mother would have preferred that she forgo work for a few weeks, but when Nussbaum isn’t working she feels guilty and lazy, so she revised the lecture until she thought that it was one of the best she had ever written. She imagined her talk as a kind of reparation: the lecture was about the need to recognize how hard it is, even with the best intentions, to live a virtuous life. Like much of her work, the lecture represented what she calls a therapeutic philosophy, a “science of life,” which addresses persistent human needs. She told me, “I like the idea that the very thing that my mother found cold and unloving could actually be a form of love. It’s a form of human love to accept our complicated, messy humanity and not run away from it.”

A few years later, Nussbaum returned to her relationship with her mother in a dramatic dialogue that she wrote for Oxford University’s Philosophical Dialogues Competition, which she won. In the dialogue, a mother accuses her daughter, a renowned moral philosopher, of being ruthless. “You just don’t know what emotions are,” the mother says. Her father tells her, “Aren’t you a philosopher because you want, really, to live inside your own mind most of all? And not to need, not to love, anyone?” Her mother asks, “Isn’t it just because you don’t want to admit that thinking doesn’t control everything?”

The philosopher begs for forgiveness. “Why do you hate my thinking so much, Mommy?” she asks. “What can I say or write that will make you stop looking at me that way?”

Nussbaum is drawn to the idea that creative urgency—and the commitment to be good—derives from the awareness that we harbor aggression toward the people we love. A sixty-nine-year-old professor of law and philosophy at the University of Chicago (with appointments in classics, political science, Southern Asian studies, and the divinity school), Nussbaum has published twenty-four books and five hundred and nine papers and received fifty-seven honorary degrees. In 2014, she became the second woman to give the John Locke Lectures, at Oxford, the most eminent lecture series in philosophy. Last year, she received the Inamori Ethics Prize, an award for ethical leaders who improve the condition of mankind. A few weeks ago, she won five hundred thousand dollars as the recipient of the Kyoto Prize, the most prestigious award offered in fields not eligible for a Nobel, joining a small group of philosophers that includes Karl Popper and Jürgen Habermas. Honors and prizes remind her of potato chips; she enjoys them but is wary of becoming sated, like one of Aristotle’s “dumb grazing animals.” Her conception of a good life requires striving for a difficult goal, and, if she notices herself feeling too satisfied, she begins to feel discontent.

Nussbaum is monumentally confident, intellectually and physically. She is beautiful, in a taut, flinty way, and carries herself like a queen. Her voice is high-pitched and dramatic, and she often seems delighted by the performance of being herself. Her work, which draws on her training in classics but also on anthropology, psychoanalysis, sociology, and a number of other fields, searches for the conditions for eudaimonia, a Greek word that describes a complete and flourishing life. At a time of insecurity for the humanities, Nussbaum’s work champions—and embodies—the reach of the humanistic endeavor. Nancy Sherman, a moral philosopher at Georgetown, told me, “Martha changed the face of philosophy by using literary skills to describe the very minutiae of a lived experience.”

Of course you still make me laugh just not out loud.
“Of course you still make me laugh, just not out loud.”

Unlike many philosophers, Nussbaum is an elegant and lyrical writer, and she movingly describes the pain of recognizing one’s vulnerability, a precondition, she believes, for an ethical life. “To be a good human being,” she has said, “is to have a kind of openness to the world, the ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control that can lead you to be shattered.” She searches for a “non-denying style of writing,” a way to describe emotional experiences without wringing the feeling from them. She disapproves of the conventional style of philosophical prose, which she describes as “scientific, abstract, hygienically pallid,” and disengaged with the problems of its time. Like Narcissus, she says, philosophy falls in love with its own image and drowns.

In several books and papers, Nussbaum quotes a sentence by the sociologist Erving Goffman, who wrote, “In an important sense there is only one complete unblushing male in America: a young, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual, Protestant father of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight, and height, and a recent record in sports.” This sentence more or less characterizes Nussbaum’s father, whom she describes as an inspiration and a role model, and also as a racist. He was prejudiced in a “very gut-level way,” Nussbaum told me. “It was about shrinking and disgust.”

For the past thirty years, Nussbaum has been drawn to those who blush, writing about the kinds of populations that her father might have deemed subhuman. She argues that unblushing males, or “normals,” repudiate their own animal nature by projecting their disgust onto vulnerable groups and creating a “buffer zone.” Nussbaum thinks that disgust is an unreasonable emotion, which should be distrusted as a basis for law; it is at the root, she argues, of opposition to gay and transgender rights. Her work includes lovely descriptions of the physical realities of being a person, of having a body “soft and porous, receptive of fluid and sticky, womanlike in its oozy sliminess.” She believes that dread of these phenomena creates a threat to civic life. “What I am calling for,” she writes, is “a society of citizens who admit that they are needy and vulnerable.”

Nussbaum once wrote, citing Nietzsche, that “when a philosopher harps very insistently on a theme, that shows us that there is a danger that something else is about to ‘play the master’ ”: something personal is driving the preoccupation. In Nussbaum’s case, I wondered if she approaches her theme of vulnerability with such success because she peers at it from afar, as if it were unfamiliar and exotic. She celebrates the ability to be fragile and exposed, but in her own life she seems to control every interaction. She divides her day into a series of productive, life-affirming activities, beginning with a ninety-minute run or workout, during which, for years, she “played” operas in her head, usually works by Mozart. She memorized the operas and ran to each one for three to four months, shifting the tempo to match her speed and her mood. For two decades, she has kept a chart that documents her daily exercises. After her workout, she stands beside her piano and sings for an hour; she told me that her voice has never been better. (When a conductor recently invited her to join a repertory group for older singers, she told him that the concept was “stigmatizing.”) Her self-discipline inspired a story called “My Ex, the Moral Philosopher,” by the late Richard Stern, a professor at the University of Chicago. The story describes the contradiction of the philosopher’s “paean to spontaneity and her own nature, the least spontaneous, most doggedly, nervously, even fanatically unspontaneous I know.”

Nussbaum is currently writing a book on aging, and when I first proposed the idea of a Profile I told her that I’d like to make her book the center of the piece. She responded skeptically, writing in an e-mail that she’d had a long, varied career, adding, “I’d really like to feel that you had considered various aspects of it and that we had a plan that had a focus.” She typically responded within an hour of my sending an e-mail. “Do you feel that you have such a plan?” she asked me. “I’d like to hear the pros and cons in your view of different emphases.” She wasn’t sure how I could encompass her œuvre, since it covered so many subjects: animal rights, emotions in criminal law, Indian politics, disability, religious intolerance, political liberalism, the role of humanities in the academy, sexual harassment, transnational transfers of wealth. “The challenge for you would be to give readers a road map through the work that would be illuminating rather than confusing,” she wrote, adding, “It will all fall to bits without a plan.” She described three interviews that she’d done, and the ways in which they were flawed. Among other things, they hadn’t captured her devotion to teaching and to her students. One of the interviews, she said, had made her “look like a person who has contempt for the contributions of others, which is one of the biggest insults that one could direct my way.”

For our first meeting, she suggested that I watch her sing: “It’s the actual singing that would give you insight into my personality and my emotional life, though of course I am very imperfect in my ability to express what I want to express.” She wrote that music allowed her to access a part of her personality that is “less defended, more receptive.” Last summer, we drove to the house of her singing teacher, Tambra Black, who lives in a gentrifying neighborhood with a view of the churches of the University of Chicago. It was ninety degrees and sunny, and although we were ten minutes early, Nussbaum pounded on the door until Black, her hair wet from the shower, let us inside.

Nussbaum wore nylon athletic shorts and a T-shirt, and carried her sheet music in a hippie-style embroidered sack. Her fingernails and toenails were polished turquoise, and her legs and arms were exquisitely toned and tan. She stood beside Black’s piano with her feet in a ski-plow pose and did scales by letting her mouth go completely loose and blowing through closed lips.

The first aria she practiced was “Or sai chi l’onore,” from “Don Giovanni,” one of the few Mozart operas that she has never run to, because she finds the rape scene reprehensible. As she ascended in pitch, she tilted her chin upward, until Black told her to stop. She excelled at clarion high notes, but Black thought that a passage about the murder of the heroine’s father should be more tender. “Can you make it a little more pleasant?” Black asked.

The next aria was from the final act of Verdi’s “Don Carlos,” which Nussbaum found more challenging. She had to embody the hopelessness of a woman who, knowing that she can never be with the man she loves, yearns for death.

“Put a little longing and sadness in there,” Black said. “Don’t give too much too early.”

Nussbaum softened her tone for a few passages, but her voice quickly gathered force.

“You have too much power,” Black told her. “Save a little for the end.”

“I’ll have to work on that,” Nussbaum said, her eyes fixed on the sheet music in front of her. “It’s difficult to get all the emotions in there.”

Hours later, as we drove home from a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Nussbaum said that she was struggling to capture the resignation required for the Verdi piece. She couldn’t identify with the role. “I feel that this character is basically saying, ‘Life is treating me badly, so I’m going to give up,’ ” she told me. “And I find that totally unintelligible.”

 The Walking Dead American Horror Story Bates Motel or the Convention
“ ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘Bates Motel,’ or the Convention?”

When Nussbaum was three or four years old, she told her mother, “Well, I think I know just about everything.” Her mother, Betty Craven, whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, responded sternly, “No, Martha. You are just one person among many.” Nussbaum was so frustrated by this response that she banged her head on the floor.

Her father, George Craven, a successful tax lawyer who worked all the time, applauded her youthful arrogance. He thought that it was excellent to be superior to others. He liked to joke that he had been wrong only once in his life and that was the time that he thought he was wrong. The Craven family lived in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in an atmosphere that Nussbaum describes as “chilly clear opulence.” Betty was bored and unfulfilled, and she began drinking for much of the day, hiding bourbon in the kitchen. Nussbaum’s younger sister, Gail, said that once, after her mother passed out on the floor, she called an ambulance, but her father sent it away. Nussbaum’s half-brother, Robert (the child of George Craven’s first marriage), said that their father didn’t understand when people weren’t rational. “It was an emotionally barren environment,” he told me. “You were supposed to just soldier on.”

Nussbaum spent her free time alone in the attic, reading books, including many by Dickens. Through literature, she said, she found an “escape from an amoral life into a universe where morality matters.” At night, she went to her father’s study in her long bathrobe, and they read together. Her father loved the poem “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley, and he often recited it to her: “I have not winced nor cried aloud. / Under the bludgeonings of chance / My head is bloody, but unbowed. . . . I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul.”

Her father’s ethos may have fostered Nussbaum’s interest in Stoicism. Her relationship with him was so captivating that it felt romantic. “He really set me on a path of being happy and delighted with life,” she said. “He symbolized beauty and wonder.” Gail Busch found her father’s temperament less congenial. “I believe he was probably a sociopath,” she told me. “He was certainly very narcissistic. He was extremely domineering and very controlling. Our mother was petrified for most of their marriage.” Busch said that when she was a young child her father insisted that she be in bed before he got home from work.

Nussbaum once wrote of Iris Murdoch that she “won the Oedipal struggle too easily.” The same could be said of Nussbaum herself. Busch told me, “There were very few people that my father touched that he didn’t hurt. But one of them was Martha, because they were just two peas in a pod. I know that he saw her as a reflection of him, and that was probably just perfect for him.”

Nussbaum excelled at her private girls’ school, while Busch floundered and became rebellious. In an interview with a Dutch television station, Nussbaum said that she worked so hard because she thought, This is what Daddy’s doing—we take charge of our lives. Of her mother and sister, she said, “I just was furious at them, because I thought that they could take charge of their lives by will, and they weren’t doing it.”

Nussbaum attended Wellesley College, but she dropped out in her sophomore year, because she wanted to be an actress. Playing other people gave her access to emotions that she hadn’t been able to express on her own, but, after half a year with a repertory company that performed Greek tragedies, she left that, too. “I hadn’t lived enough,” she said. She began studying classics at New York University, still focussing on Greek tragedies. She came to believe that reading about suffering functions as a kind of “transitional object,” the term used by the English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, one of her favorite thinkers, to describe toys that allow infants to move away from their mothers and to explore the world on their own. “When we have emotions of fear and pity toward the hero of a tragedy,” she has written, “we explore aspects of our own vulnerability in a safe and pleasing setting.”

Nussbaum felt increasingly uncomfortable with what she called the “smug bastion of hypocrisy and unearned privilege” in which she’d been raised. She had spent her childhood “coasting along with assured invulnerability,” she said. In a class on Greek composition, she fell in love with Alan Nussbaum, another N.Y.U. student, who was Jewish, a religion she was attracted to for the same reason that she was drawn to theatre: “more emotional expressiveness,” she said. She associated the religion with the social consciousness of I. F. Stone and The Nation. Her father, who thought that Jews were vulgar, disapproved of the marriage and refused to attend their wedding party. Robert Craven told me, “Martha was the apple of our father’s eye, until she embraced Judaism and fell from grace.”

Four years into the marriage, Nussbaum read “The Golden Bowl,” by Henry James. She kept thinking about Maggie Verver’s “wish to remain, intensely, the same passionate little daughter she had always been.” She was so captivated by the novel that she later wrote three essays about the ways in which James articulates a kind of moral philosophy, revealing the childishness of aspiring to moral perfection, a life of “never doing a wrong, never breaking a rule, never hurting.” Nussbaum told me, “What drew me to Maggie is the sense that she is a peculiarly American kind of person who really, really wants to be good. And of course that’s impossible. She has a particularly demanding father, and, in order to be fully herself with her husband, she has to leave her father and hurt him, and she just had no way to deal with that. She was not prepared.”

Nussbaum entered the graduate program in classics at Harvard, in 1969, and realized that for years she had been smiling all the time, for no particular reason. When her thesis adviser, G. E. L. Owen, invited her to his office, served sherry, spoke about life’s sadness, recited Auden, and reached over to touch her breasts, she says, she gently pushed him away, careful not to embarrass him. “Just as I never accused my mother of being drunk, even though she was always drunk,” she wrote, “so I managed to keep my control with Owen, and I never said a hostile word.” She didn’t experience the imbalance of power that makes sexual harassment so destructive, she said, because she felt “much healthier and more powerful than he was.”

She soon drifted toward ancient philosophy, where she could follow Aristotle, who asked the basic question “How should a human live?” She realized that philosophy attracted a “logic-chopping type of person,” nearly always male. She came to believe that she understood Nietzsche’s thinking when he wrote that no great philosopher had ever been married. “I think what he was saying is that most philosophers have been in flight from human existence,” she said. “They just haven’t wanted to be entangled.” She rejected the idea, dominant in contemporary philosophy, that emotions were “unthinking energies that simply push the person around.” Instead, she resurrected a version of the Stoic theory that makes no division between thought and feeling. She gave emotions a central role in moral philosophy, arguing that they are cognitive in nature: they embody judgments about the world.

Ugh stop it Dadeveryone knows youre not making that happen
“Ugh, stop it, Dad—everyone knows you’re not making that happen!”

One of her mentors was John Rawls, the most influential political philosopher of the last century. He stuttered and was extremely shy. She said that one day, when they were eating hamburgers for lunch (this was before she stopped eating meat), he instructed her that if she had the capacity to be a public intellectual then it was her duty to become one.

Utilitarian and Kantian theories were dominant at the time, and Nussbaum felt that the field had become too insular and professionalized. She was frustrated that her colleagues were more interested in conceptual analyses than in attending to the details of people’s lives. While writing an austere dissertation on a neglected treatise by Aristotle, she began a second book, about the urge to deny one’s human needs. In “The Fragility of Goodness,” one of the best-selling contemporary philosophy books, she rejected Plato’s argument that a good life is one of total self-sufficiency. She argued that tragedy occurs because people are living well: they have formed passionate commitments that leave them exposed. She began the book by acknowledging:

I must constantly choose among competing and apparently incommensurable goods and that circumstances may force me to a position in which I cannot help being false to something or doing something wrong; that an event that simply happens to me may, without my consent, alter my life; that it is equally problematic to entrust one’s good to friends, lovers, or country and to try to have a good life without them—all these I take to be not just the material of tragedy, but everyday facts of practical wisdom.

Nussbaum describes motherhood as her first profound experience of moral conflict. Her pregnancy, in 1972, was a mistake; her I.U.D. fell out. She had just become the first woman elected to Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and she imagined that the other scholars must be thinking, We let in a woman, and what does she do? She goes off and has a baby. Nussbaum carried on for nine months as if she weren’t pregnant. She ran several miles a day; she remained so thin that her adviser told her she must be carrying a “wind egg”; she had such a rapid delivery—with no anesthesia—that doctors interviewed her about how she had prepared for birth. She told them that “Lamaze was for wimps and running was the key.” She brought Aristotle’s Politics to the hospital. Her husband took a picture of her reading. She was at a Society of Fellows dinner the next week. “I wanted everyone to understand that I was still working,” she said.

Alan Nussbaum taught linguistics at Yale, and during the week Martha took care of their daughter, Rachel, alone. “Among the good and decent men, some are unprepared for the surprises of life, and their good intentions run aground when confronted with issues like child care,” she later wrote. They divorced when Rachel was a teen-ager. When Nussbaum joined a society for female philosophers, she proposed that women had a unique contribution to make, because “we had an experience of moral conflicts—we are torn between children on the one hand, and work on the other—that the male philosophers didn’t have, or wouldn’t face up to.” She rejected the idea, suggested by Kant, that people who are morally good are immune to the kind of bad luck that would force them into ethically compromised positions. She told me, “A lot of the great philosophers have said there are no real moral dilemmas. Well, we were saying, ‘No woman would make that stupid mistake!’ ”

Nussbaum left Harvard in 1983, after she was denied tenure, a decision she attributes, in part, to a “venomous dislike of me as a very outspoken woman” and the machinations of a colleague who could “show a good actor how the role of Iago ought to be played.” Glen Bowersock, who was the head of the classics department when Nussbaum was a student, said, “I think she scared people. They couldn’t wrap their minds around this formidably good, extraordinarily articulate woman who was very tall and attractive, openly feminine and stylish, and walked very erect and wore miniskirts—all in one package. They were just frightened.”

This was the only time that Nussbaum had anything resembling a crisis in her career. I was eager to hear about her moment of doubt, since she always seemed so steely. Projecting a little, I asked if she ever felt guilty when she was successful, as if she didn’t deserve it. “No—none of that,” she said briskly. “I think women and philosophers are under-rewarded for what they do.” After she was denied tenure, she thought about going to law school. “The doubt was very brief,” she added. “I thought about law school for about a day, or something like that.”

Instead, she began considering a more public role for philosophy. One of her mentors, the English philosopher Bernard Williams, accused moral philosophers of “refusing to write about anything of importance.” Nussbaum began examining quality of life in the developing world. She was steered toward the issue by Amartya Sen, the Indian economist, who later won the Nobel Prize. In 1986, they became romantically involved and worked together at the World Institute of Development Economics Research, in Helsinki. At the institute, she told me, she came to the realization that “I knew nothing about the rest of the world.” She taught herself about Indian politics and developed her own version of Sen’s capabilities approach, a theoretical framework for measuring and comparing the well-being of nations. Her earlier work had celebrated vulnerability, but now she identified the sorts of vulnerabilities (poverty, hunger, sexual violence) that no human should have to endure. In an Aristotelian spirit, Nussbaum devised a list of ten essential capabilities that all societies should nourish, including the freedom to play, to engage in critical reflection, and to love. The capabilities theory is now a staple of human-rights advocacy, and Sen told me that Nussbaum has become more of a “purist” than he is. When it comes to judging the quality of human life, he said, “I am often defeated by that in a way that Martha is not.”

Nussbaum went on to extend the work of John Rawls, who developed the most influential contemporary version of the social-contract theory: the idea that rational citizens agree to govern themselves, because they recognize that everyone’s needs are met more effectively through coöperation. Nussbaum argued that Rawls gave an unsatisfactory account of justice for people dependent on others—the disabled, the elderly, and women subservient in their homes. For a society to remain stable and committed to democratic principles, she argued, it needs more than detached moral principles: it has to cultivate certain emotions and teach people to enter empathetically into others’ lives. She believes that the humanities are not just important to a healthy democratic society but decisive, shaping its fate. She proposed an enhanced version of John Stuart Mill’s “aesthetic education”—emotional refinement for all citizens through poetry and music and art. “Respect on its own is cold and inert, insufficient to overcome the bad tendencies that lead human beings to tyrannize over one another,” she wrote. “Public culture cannot be tepid and passionless.”

By the late nineties, India had become so integral to Nussbaum’s thinking that she later warned a reporter from The Chronicle of Higher Education that her work there was at the “core of my heart and my sense of the meaning of life, so if you downplay that, you don’t get me.” She travelled to developing countries during school vacations—she never misses a class—and met with impoverished women. She said she felt as if she were “a lawyer who has been retained by poor people in developing nations.”

In the sixties, Nussbaum had been too busy for feminist consciousness-raising—she said that she cultivated an image of “Doris Day respectability”—and she was suspicious of left-wing groupthink. Once she began studying the lives of women in non-Western countries, she identified as a feminist but of the unfashionable kind: a traditional liberal who believed in the power of reason at a time when postmodern scholars viewed it as an instrument or a disguise for oppression. She argued that the well-being of women around the world could be improved through universal norms—an international system of distributive justice. She was impatient with feminist theory that was so relativistic that it assumed that, in the name of respecting other cultures, women should stand by while other women were beaten or genitally mutilated. In “Sex and Social Justice,” published in 1999, she wrote that the approach resembles the “sort of moral collapse depicted by Dante, when he describes the crowd of souls who mill around in the vestibule of hell, dragging their banner now one way now another, never willing to set it down and take a definite stand on any moral or political question. Such people, he implies, are the most despicable of all. They can’t even get into hell because they have not been willing to stand for anything in life.”

In 1999, in a now canonical essay for The New Republic, she wrote that academic feminism spoke only to the élite. It had become untethered from the practical struggle to achieve equality for women. She scolded Judith Butler and postmodern feminists for “turning away from the material side of life, towards a type of verbal and symbolic politics that makes only the flimsiest connections with the real situations of real women.” These radical thinkers, she felt, were focussing more on problems of representation than on the immediate needs of women in other classes and cultures. The stance, she wrote, “looks very much like quietism,” a word she often uses when she disapproves of projects and ideas.

In letters responding to the essay, the feminist critic Gayatri Spivak denounced Nussbaum’s “civilizing mission.” Joan Scott, a historian of gender, wrote that Nussbaum had “constructed a self-serving morality tale.”

When Nussbaum is at her computer writing, she feels as if she had entered a “holding environment”—the phrase used by Donald Winnicott to describe conditions that allow a baby to feel secure and loved. Like the baby, she is “playing with an object,” she said. “It’s my manuscript, but I feel that something of both of my parents is with me. The sense of concern and being held is what I associate with my mother, and the sense of surging and delight is what I associate with my father.”

She said that she looks to replicate the experience of “surging” in romantic partners as well. She has always been drawn to intellectually distinguished men. “I suppose it’s because of the imprint of my father,” she told me one afternoon, while eating a small bowl of yogurt, blueberries, raisins, and pine nuts, a variation on the lunch she has most days. Her spacious tenth-floor apartment, which has twelve windows overlooking Lake Michigan and an elevator that delivers visitors directly into her foyer, is decorated with dozens of porcelain, metal, and glass elephants—her favorite animal, because of its emotional intelligence. “I used to observe that my close female friends would choose—very reasonably—men whose aspirations were rather modest,” she told me. “That works out nicely, because these men are really supportive of them. I’ve thought, Wouldn’t it be nice to have romantic and sexual tastes like that? But I certainly don’t.”

After moving to the University of Chicago, in 1995 (following seven years at Brown), Nussbaum was in a long relationship with Cass Sunstein, the former administrator for President Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and one of the few scholars as prolific as she is. Nussbaum said that she discovered her paradigm for romance as an adolescent, when she read about the relationship between two men in Plato’s Phaedrus and the way in which they combined “intense mutual erotic passion with a shared pursuit of truth and justice.” She and Sunstein (who is now married to Samantha Power, the Ambassador to the United Nations) lived in separate apartments, and each one’s work informed the other’s. In an influential essay, titled “Objectification,” Nussbaum builds on a passage written by Sunstein, in which he suggests that some forms of sexual objectification can be both ineradicable and wonderful. Straying from the standard line of feminist thought, Nussbaum defends Sunstein’s idea, arguing that there are circumstances in which being treated as a sex object, a “mysterious thinglike presence,” can be humanizing, rather than morally harmful. It allows us to achieve a state that her writing often elevates: the “abnegation of self-containment and self-sufficiency.”

Nussbaum is preoccupied by the ways that philosophical thinking can seem at odds with passion and love. She recognizes that writing can be “a way of distancing oneself from human life and maybe even a way of controlling human life,” she said. In a semi-autobiographical essay in her book “Love’s Knowledge,” from 1990, she offers a portrait of a female philosopher who approaches her own heartbreak with a notepad and a pen; she sorts and classifies the experience, listing the properties of an ideal lover and comparing it to the men she has loved. “You now begin to see how this lady is,” she wrote. “She goes on thinking at all times. She won’t simply cry, she will ask what crying consists in. One tear, one argument.”

Nussbaum isn’t sure if her capacity for rational detachment is innate or learned. On three occasions, she alluded to a childhood experience in which she’d been so overwhelmed by anger at her mother, for drinking in the afternoon, that she slapped her. Betty warned her, “If you turn against me, I won’t have any reason to live.” Nussbaum prayed to be relieved of her anger, fearing that its potential was infinite. “I thought it would kill somebody,” she said.

Anger is an emotion that she now rarely experiences. She invariably remains friends with former lovers, a fact that Sunstein, Sen, and Alan Nussbaum wholeheartedly affirmed. In her new book, “Anger and Forgiveness,” which was published last month, Nussbaum argues against the idea, dear to therapists and some feminists, that “people (and women especially) owe it to their self-respect to own, nourish, and publicly proclaim their anger.” It is a “magical fantasy,” a bit of “metaphysical nonsense,” she writes, to assume that anger will restore what was damaged. She believes that embedded in the emotion is the irrational wish that “things will be made right if I inflict suffering.” She writes that even leaders of movements for revolutionary justice should avoid the emotion and move on to “saner thoughts of personal and social welfare.” (She acknowledges, “It might be objected that my proposal sounds all too much like that of the upper-middle-class (ex)-Wasp academic that I certainly am. I simply deny the charge.”)

Martha Nussbaums Moral Philosophies

For a long time, Nussbaum had seemed to be working on getting in touch with anger. In the nineties, when she composed the list of ten capabilities to which all humans should be entitled—a list that she’s revised in the course of many papers—she and the feminist legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon debated whether “justified anger” should make the list. Nussbaum was wary of the violence that accompanies anger’s expression, but MacKinnon said she convinced Nussbaum that anger can be a “sign that self-respect has not been crushed, that humanity burns even where it is supposed to have been extinguished.” Nussbaum decided to view anger in a more positive light. “I thought, I’m just getting duped by my own history,” she said. In an interview a few years later, she said that being able to express anger to a friend, after years of training herself to suppress it, was “the most tremendous pleasure in life.” In a 2003 essay, she describes herself as “angry more or less all the time.”

When I asked her about the different self-conceptions, she wrote me three e-mails from a plane to Mexico (she was on her way to give lectures in Puebla) to explain that she had articulated these views before she had studied the emotion in depth. It was not full-fledged anger that she was experiencing but “transitional anger,” an emotional state that embodies the thought: Something should be done about this, in response to social injustice. In another e-mail from the air, she clarified: “My experience of political anger has always been more King-like: protest, not acquiescence, but no desire for payback.”

Last year, Nussbaum had a colonoscopy. She didn’t want to miss a workday, so she refused sedation. She was thrilled by the sight of her appendix, so pink and tiny. “It’s such a big part of you and you don’t get to meet these parts,” she told me. “I love that kind of familiarization: it’s like coming to terms with yourself.”

Her friends were repulsed when she told them that she had been awake the entire time. “They thought it was disgusting to go through the procedure without their consciousness obliterated,” she said. She wasn’t surprised that men wanted to be sedated, but she couldn’t understand why women her age would avoid the sight of their organs. “Here are the same women who were inspired by ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves,’ ” she told me. “We said, ‘Oh, let’s not shrink from looking at our vaginas. Let’s not think, Our periods are disgusting, but let’s celebrate it as part of who we are!’ Now we get to our sixties, and we are disgusted by our bodies again, and we want to be knocked out.”

Nussbaum believes that disgust “draws sharp edges around the self” and betrays a shame toward what is human. When she goes shopping with younger colleagues—among her favorite designers are Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, and Seth Aaron Henderson, whom she befriended after he won “Project Runway”—she often emerges from the changing room in her underwear. Bodily functions do not embarrass her, either. When she goes on long runs, she has no problem urinating behind bushes. Once, when she was in Paris with her daughter, Rachel, who is now an animal-rights lawyer in Denver, she peed in the garden of the Tuileries Palace at night. (Rachel was curt when we met; Nussbaum told me that Rachel, who has co-written papers with her mother on the legal status of whales, was wary of being portrayed “as adjunct to me.”)

Nussbaum acknowledges that, as she ages, it becomes harder to rejoice in all bodily developments. Recently, she was dismayed when she looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize her nose. Sinking cartilage had created a new bump. She asked the doctor who gives her Botox in her forehead what to do. “He is a minimalist,” she told me. “He’s very artistic.” He fixed the problem by putting filler above the tip of her nose. It wasn’t that she was disgusted. “But I do feel conscious that at my age I have to be very careful of how I present myself, at risk of not being thought attractive,” she told me. “There are women like Germaine Greer who say that it’s a big relief to not worry about men and to forget how they look. I don’t feel that way! I care how men look at me. I like men.”

In a new book, tentatively titled “Aging Wisely,” which will be published next year, Nussbaum and Saul Levmore, a colleague at the law school, investigate the moral, legal, and economic dilemmas of old age—“an unknown country,” which they say has been ignored by philosophy. The book is structured as a dialogue between two aging scholars, analyzing the way that old age affects love, friendship, inequality, and the ability to cede control. They both reject the idea that getting old is a form of renunciation. Nussbaum critiques the tendency in literature to “assign a ‘comeuppance’ ” to aging women who fail to display proper levels of resignation and shame. She calls for an “informal social movement akin to the feminist Our Bodies movement: a movement against self-disgust” for the aging. She promotes Walt Whitman’s “anti-disgust” world view, his celebration of the “lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean. . . . The thin red jellies within you or within me. . . . O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul.”

At a faculty workshop last summer, professors at the law school gathered to critique drafts of two chapters from the book. Nussbaum wore a fitted purple dress and high-heeled sandals, and her blond hair looked as if it had recently been permed. She appeared to be dressed for a different event from the one that the other professors were attending. As she often does, she looked delighted but not necessarily happy.

In one of the chapters, Levmore argued that it should be legal for employers to require that employees retire at an agreed-upon age, and Nussbaum wrote a rebuttal, called “No End in Sight.” She said that it was painful to see colleagues in other countries forced to retire when philosophers such as Kant, Cato, and Gorgias didn’t produce their best work until old age.

The libertarian scholar Richard Epstein raised his hand and said that, rather than having a national policy regarding retirement, each institution should make its own decision. “So Martha, full of vim and vigor, can get offers from four other places and go on and continue to work,” he said.

“Sure, I could go and move someplace else,” she said, interrupting him. “But I don’t want to.” If she were forced to retire, she said, “that would really affect me psychologically in a very deep way. And I have no idea what I’d do. I might go off and do some interesting thing like be a cantor. Or I might just get depressed.”

“Martha, it’s too autobiographical,” Epstein said. His concern was not that “Martha stays on. It’s that a bunch of dead wood stays on, as well, and it’s a cost to the institution.”

When another colleague suggested that no one knew the precise moment when aging scholars had peaked, Nussbaum cited Cato, who wrote that the process of aging could be resisted through vigorous physical and mental activity. Her celebration of this final, vulnerable stage of life was undercut by her confidence that she needn’t be so vulnerable. She said that her grandmother lived until she was a hundred and four years old. “Why do I have my outlook?” she said. “It’s a matter of the habits you form when you are very young—the habits of exercise, of being active. All of that stuff builds to the sense of a life that can go on.”

I would share but Im not there developmentally.
“I would share, but I’m not there developmentally.”

Not long ago, Nussbaum bought a Dolce & Gabbana skirt dotted with crystal stars and daisies. “It had a happy look,” she told me, holding the hanger to her chin. She planned to wear it to the college graduation of Nathaniel Levmore, whom she describes as her “quasi-child.” Nathaniel, the son of Saul Levmore, has always been shy. Saul told me, “Of my two children, this is the one that’s the underdog, and of course Martha loves him, and they talk for hours and hours. Martha has this total belief in the underdog. The more underdog, the more charming she finds them.”

Nussbaum has taken Nathaniel on trips to Botswana and India, and, when she hosts dinner parties, he often serves the wine. When I joined them last summer for an outdoor screening of “Star Trek,” they spent much of the hour-long drive debating whether it was anti-Semitic for Nathaniel’s college to begin its semester on Rosh Hashanah. Their persistence was both touching and annoying. Just when I thought the conversation would die, the matter settled, Nathaniel would raise a new point, and Nussbaum would argue from a new angle that the scheduling was anti-Semitic.

Recently, when I had dinner at Nussbaum’s apartment, she said she was sorry that Nathaniel wasn’t there to enjoy it. We sat at her kitchen island, facing a Chicago White Sox poster, eating what remained of an elaborate and extraordinary Indian meal that she had cooked two days before, for the dean of the law school and eight students. She served me heaping portions of every dish and herself a modest plate of yogurt, rice, and spinach.

I mentioned that Saul Levmore had said she is so devoted to the underdog that she even has sympathy for a former student who had been stalking her; the student appeared to have had a psychotic break and bombarded her with threatening e-mails. “I feel great sympathy for any weak person or creature,” she told me. She mentioned that a few days before she had been watching a Webcam of a nest of newborn bald eagles and had become distraught when she saw that the parent eagle was giving all the food to only one of her two babies. “The other one kept trying to eat something, and didn’t get it!” she said. “I thought it was possible that one of the eagles was getting weaker and weaker, and I asked my bird-watcher friend, and he said that kind of sibling rivalry is actually pretty common in those species and the one may die. I was really upset by this.”

“Isn’t that the sort of dynamic you had with your sister?” I asked.

“Yeah, it probably is,” Nussbaum said, running her finger along the rim of her plate. “It is, I guess.” She said that her sister seemed to have become happier as she aged; her musical career at the church was blossoming. “Well, this is what we’ll have to talk about in class tomorrow,” she said. “Can guilt ever be creative?” She licked the sauce on her finger. “ ‘Guilt’ might not even be quite the right word. It’s a kind of sorrow that one had profited at the expense of someone else.”

We began talking about a chapter that she intended to write for her book on aging, on the idea of looking back at one’s life and turning it into a narrative. “Did you stand for something, or didn’t you?” she said. She said that she had always admired the final words of John Stuart Mill, who reportedly said, “I have done my work.” She has quoted these words in a number of interviews and papers, offering them as the mark of a life well lived. The image of Mill on his deathbed is not dissimilar to one she has of her father, who died as he was putting papers into his briefcase. Nussbaum often describes this as a good death—he was doing his work until the end—while Nussbaum’s brother and sister see it as a sign of his isolation.

She said, “If I found that I was going to die in the next hour, I would not say that I had done my work. If you have a good life, you typically always feel that there’s something that you want to do next.” She wondered if Mill had surrendered too soon because he was prone to depression.

“It does sound a little bit final,” she went on, “and one rarely dies when one is out of useful ideas—unless maybe you were really ill for a long time.” She said that she had been in a hospital only twice, once to give birth and once when she had an operation to staple the top of her left ear to the back of her head, when she was eleven. It poked out, and her father worried that boys wouldn’t be attracted to her. “I just enjoyed having this big bandage around my head,” she said. “I was acting the part of Marley’s ghost in ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and it made quite an effect.”

She stood up to clear our plates. “You’re making me feel I chose the wrong last words,” she called out from the sink. She returned with two large cakes. “I think last words are silly,” she said, cutting herself a sliver. “Probably the best thing to do with your last words is to say goodbye to the people you love and not to talk about yourself.”

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CARLO LEGET

Click to access 64.3.5.pdf

The Ethhical Criticism of Art

B Gaut

Click to access Gaut_Ethical_Criticism_of_Art.pdf

The Wheel of Virtue: Art, Literature, and Moral Knowledge

Noël Carroll
The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism
Vol. 60, No. 1, 60th Anniversary Issue (Winter, 2002), pp. 3-26

At the Crossroads of Ethics and Aesthetics

Noël Carroll

Philosophy and Literature

Johns Hopkins University Press

Volume 34, Number 1, April 2010

pp. 248-259

Ethics and Aesthetics: Replies to Dickie, Stecker, and Livingston

The British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 46, Issue 1,
January 2006, Pages 82–95,
Published:
01 January 2006

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection

edited by Jerrold Levinson

The Ethical Criticism of Art: A New Mapping of the Territory

Alessandro Giovannelli

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature

edited by Noël Carroll, John Gibson

Art and Ethical Criticism

Elizabeth Burns Coleman
Pages 375-376 | Published online: 21 May 2010

Narrative and the Ethical Life

On Beauty

On Beauty

Perspectives on Beauty.

 

Classical conception of beauty is mathematical.  It is based on:
  • Proportions
  • Symmetry
  • Harmony
  • Golden Ratio

 

in Architecture, Sculpture, Music. and Literature.

In the West, classical conception of Beauty is dominant.

 

 

Plotinus was critical of Plato’s view on Beauty,

Read Idealist conception of beauty to get views of Plotinus.

From Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy

Beauty
First published Tue Sep 4, 2012; substantive revision Wed Oct 5, 2016

 

The nature of beauty is one of the most enduring and controversial themes in Western philosophy, and is—with the nature of art—one of the two fundamental issues in philosophical aesthetics. Beauty has traditionally been counted among the ultimate values, with goodness, truth, and justice. It is a primary theme among ancient Greek, Hellenistic, and medieval philosophers, and was central to eighteenth and nineteenth-century thought, as represented in treatments by such thinkers as Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Burke, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Hanslick, and Santayana. By the beginning of the twentieth century, beauty was in decline as a subject of philosophical inquiry, and also as a primary goal of the arts. However, there were signs of revived interest by the early 2000s.

This article will begin with a sketch of the debate over whether beauty is objective or subjective, which is perhaps the single most-prosecuted disagreement in the literature. It will proceed to set out some of the major approaches to or theories of beauty developed within Western philosophical and artistic traditions.

 

1. Objectivity and Subjectivity

Perhaps the most familiar basic issue in the theory of beauty is whether beauty is subjective—located ‘in the eye of the beholder’—or whether it is an objective feature of beautiful things. A pure version of either of these positions seems implausible, for reasons we will examine, and many attempts have been made to split the difference or incorporate insights of both subjectivist and objectivist accounts. Ancient and medieval accounts for the most part located beauty outside of anyone’s particular experiences. Nevertheless, that beauty is subjective was also a commonplace from the time of the sophists. By the eighteenth century, Hume could write as follows, expressing one ‘species of philosophy’:

Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may even perceive deformity, where another is sensible of beauty; and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others. (Hume 1757, 136)

And Kant launches his discussion of the matter in The Critique of Judgment(the Third Critique) at least as emphatically:

The judgment of taste is therefore not a judgment of cognition, and is consequently not logical but aesthetical, by which we understand that whose determining ground can be no other than subjective. Every reference of representations, even that of sensations, may be objective (and then it signifies the real [element] of an empirical representation), save only the reference to the feeling of pleasure and pain, by which nothing in the object is signified, but through which there is a feeling in the subject as it is affected by the representation. (Kant 1790, section 1)

However, if beauty is entirely subjective—that is, if anything that anyone holds to be or experiences as beautiful is beautiful (as James Kirwan, for example, asserts)—then it seems that the word has no meaning, or that we are not communicating anything when we call something beautiful except perhaps an approving personal attitude. In addition, though different persons can of course differ in particular judgments, it is also obvious that our judgments coincide to a remarkable extent: it would be odd or perverse for any person to deny that a perfect rose or a dramatic sunset was beautiful. And it is possible actually to disagree and argue about whether something is beautiful, or to try to show someone that something is beautiful, or learn from someone else why it is.

On the other hand, it seems senseless to say that beauty has no connection to subjective response or that it is entirely objective. That would seem to entail, for example, that a world with no perceivers could be beautiful or ugly, or perhaps that beauty could be detected by scientific instruments. Even if it could be, beauty would seem to be connected to subjective response, and though we may argue about whether something is beautiful, the idea that one’s experiences of beauty might be disqualified as simply inaccurate or false might arouse puzzlement as well as hostility. We often regard other people’s taste, even when it differs from our own, as provisionally entitled to some respect, as we may not, for example, in cases of moral, political, or factual opinions. All plausible accounts of beauty connect it to a pleasurable or profound or loving response, even if they do not locate beauty purely in the eye of the beholder.

Until the eighteenth century, most philosophical accounts of beauty treated it as an objective quality: they located it in the beautiful object itself or in the qualities of that object. In De Veritate Religione, Augustine asks explicitly whether things are beautiful because they give delight, or whether they give delight because they are beautiful; he emphatically opts for the second (Augustine, 247). Plato’s account in the Symposium and Plotinus’s in theEnneads connect beauty to a response of love and desire, but locate beauty itself in the realm of the Forms, and the beauty of particular objects in their participation in the Form. Indeed, Plotinus’s account in one of its moments makes beauty a matter of what we might term ‘formedness’: having the definite shape characteristic of the kind of thing the object is.

We hold that all the loveliness of this world comes by communion in Ideal-Form. All shapelessness whose kind admits of pattern and form, as long as it remains outside of Reason and Idea, is ugly from that very isolation from the Divine-Thought. And this is the Absolute Ugly: an ugly thing is something that has not been entirely mastered by pattern, that is by Reason, the Matter not yielding at all points and in all respects to Ideal-Form. But where the Ideal-Form has entered, it has grouped and coordinated what from a diversity of parts was to become a unity: it has rallied confusion into co-operation: it has made the sum one harmonious coherence: for the Idea is a unity and what it moulds must come into unity as far as multiplicity may. (Plotinus, 22 [Ennead I, 6])

In this account, beauty is at least as objective as any other concept, or indeed takes on a certain ontological priority as more real than particular Forms: it is a sort of Form of Forms.

Though Plato and Aristotle disagree on what beauty is, they both regard it as objective in the sense that it is not localized in the response of the beholder. The classical conception (see below) treats beauty as a matter of instantiating definite proportions or relations among parts, sometimes expressed in mathematical ratios, for example the ‘golden section.’ The sculpture known as ‘The Canon,’ by Polykleitos (fifth/fourth century BCE), was held up as a model of harmonious proportion to be emulated by students and masters alike: beauty could be reliably achieved by reproducing its objective proportions. Nevertheless, it is conventional in ancient treatments of the topic also to pay tribute to the pleasures of beauty, often described in quite ecstatic terms, as in Plotinus: “This is the spirit that Beauty must ever induce: wonderment and a delicious trouble, longing and love and a trembling that is all delight” (Plotinus 23, [Ennead 1, 3]).

At latest by the eighteenth century, however, and particularly in the British Isles, beauty was associated with pleasure in a somewhat different way: pleasure was held to be not the effect but the origin of beauty. This was influenced, for example, by Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities. Locke and the other empiricists treated color (which is certainly one source or locus of beauty), for example, as a ‘phantasm’ of the mind, as a set of qualities dependent on subjective response, located in the perceiving mind rather than of the world outside the mind. Without perceivers of a certain sort, there would be no colors. One argument for this was the variation in color experiences between people. For example, some people are color-blind, and to a person with jaundice much of the world takes on a yellow cast. In addition, the same object is perceived as having different colors by the same the person under different conditions: at noon and midnight, for example. Such variations are conspicuous in experiences of beauty as well.

Nevertheless, eighteenth-century philosophers such as Hume and Kant perceived that something important was lost when beauty was treated merely as a subjective state. They saw, for example, that controversies often arise about the beauty of particular things, such as works of art and literature, and that in such controversies, reasons can sometimes be given and will sometimes be found convincing. They saw, as well, that if beauty is completely relative to individual experiencers, it ceases to be a paramount value, or even recognizable as a value at all across persons or societies.

Hume’s “Of the Standard of Taste” and Kant’s Critique Of Judgment attempt to find ways through what has been termed ‘the antinomy of taste.’ Taste is proverbially subjective: de gustibus non est disputandum (about taste there is no disputing). On the other hand, we do frequently dispute about matters of taste, and some persons are held up as exemplars of good taste or of tastelessness. Some people’s tastes appear vulgar or ostentatious, for example. Some people’s taste is too exquisitely refined, while that of others is crude, naive, or non-existent. Taste, that is, appears to be both subjective and objective: that is the antinomy.

Both Hume and Kant, as we have seen, begin by acknowledging that taste or the ability to detect or experience beauty is fundamentally subjective, that there is no standard of taste in the sense that the Canon was held to be, that if people did not experience certain kinds of pleasure, there would be no beauty. Both acknowledge that reasons can count, however, and that some tastes are better than others. In different ways, they both treat judgments of beauty neither precisely as purely subjective nor precisely as objective but, as we might put it, as inter-subjective or as having a social and cultural aspect, or as conceptually entailing an inter-subjective claim to validity.

Hume’s account focuses on the history and condition of the observer as he or she makes the judgment of taste. Our practices with regard to assessing people’s taste entail that judgments of taste that reflect idiosyncratic bias, ignorance, or superficiality are not as good as judgments that reflect wide-ranging acquaintance with various objects of judgment and are unaffected by arbitrary prejudices. “Strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice, can alone entitle critics to this valuable character; and the joint verdict of such, wherever they are to found, is the true standard of taste and beauty” (“Of the Standard of Taste” 1757, 144).

Hume argues further that the verdicts of critics who possess those qualities tend to coincide, and approach unanimity in the long run, which accounts, for example, for the enduring veneration of the works of Homer or Milton. So the test of time, as assessed by the verdicts of the best critics, functions as something analogous to an objective standard. Though judgments of taste remain fundamentally subjective, and though certain contemporary works or objects may appear irremediably controversial, the long-run consensus of people who are in a good position to judge functions analogously to an objective standard and renders such standards unnecessary even if they could be identified. Though we cannot directly find a standard of beauty that sets out the qualities that a thing must possess in order to be beautiful, we can describe the qualities of a good critic or a tasteful person. Then the long-run consensus of such persons is the practical standard of taste and the means of justifying judgments about beauty.

Kant similarly concedes that taste is fundamentally subjective, that every judgment of beauty is based on a personal experience, and that such judgments vary from person to person.

By a principle of taste I mean a principle under the condition of which we could subsume the concept of the object, and thus infer, by means of a syllogism, that the object is beautiful. But that is absolutely impossible. For I must immediately feel the pleasure in the representation of the object, and of that I can be persuaded by no grounds of proof whatever. Although, as Hume says, all critics can reason more plausibly than cooks, yet the same fate awaits them. They cannot expect the determining ground of their judgment [to be derived] from the force of the proofs, but only from the reflection of the subject upon its own proper state of pleasure or pain. (Kant 1790, section 34)

But the claim that something is beautiful has more content merely than that it gives me pleasure. Something might please me for reasons entirely eccentric to myself: I might enjoy a bittersweet experience before a portrait of my grandmother, for example, or the architecture of a house might remind me of where I grew up. “No one cares about that,” says Kant (1790, section 7): no one begrudges me such experiences, but they make no claim to guide or correspond to the experiences of others.

By contrast, the judgment that something is beautiful, Kant argues, is a disinterested judgment. It does not respond to my idiosyncrasies, or at any rate if I am aware that it does, I will no longer take myself to be experiencing the beauty per se of the thing in question. Somewhat as in Hume—whose treatment Kant evidently had in mind—one must be unprejudiced to come to a genuine judgment of taste, and Kant gives that idea a very elaborate interpretation: the judgment must be made independently of the normal range of human desires—economic and sexual desires, for instance, which are examples of our ‘interests’ in this sense. If one is walking through a museum and admiring the paintings because they would be extremely expensive were they to come up for auction, for example, or wondering whether one could steal and fence them, one is not having an experience of the beauty of the paintings at all. One must focus on the form of the mental representation of the object for its own sake, as it is in itself. Kant summarizes this as the thought that insofar as one is having an experience of the beauty of something, one is indifferent to its existence. One takes pleasure, rather, in its sheer representation in one’s experience:

Now, when the question is whether something is beautiful, we do not want to know whether anything depends or can depend on the existence of the thing, either for myself or anyone else, but how we judge it by mere observation (intuition or reflection). … We easily see that, in saying it is beautiful, and in showing that I have taste, I am concerned, not with that in which I depend on the existence of the object, but with that which I make out of this representation in myself. Everyone must admit that a judgement about beauty, in which the least interest mingles, is very partial and is not a pure judgement of taste. (Kant 1790, section 2)

One important source of the concept of aesthetic disinterestedness is the Third Earl of Shaftesbury’s dialogue The Moralists, where the argument is framed in terms of a natural landscape: if you are looking at a beautiful valley primarily as a valuable real estate opportunity, you are not seeing it for its own sake, and cannot fully experience its beauty. If you are looking at a lovely woman and considering her as a possible sexual conquest, you are not able to experience her beauty in the fullest or purest sense; you are distracted from the form as represented in your experience. And Shaftesbury, too, localizes beauty to the representational capacity of the mind. (Shaftesbury 1738, 222)

For Kant, some beauties are dependent—relative to the sort of thing the object is—and others are free or absolute. A beautiful ox would be an ugly horse, but abstract textile designs, for example, may be beautiful in themselves without a reference group or “concept,” and flowers please whether or not we connect them to their practical purposes or functions in plant reproduction (Kant 1790, section 16). The idea in particular that free beauty is completely separated from practical use and that the experiencer of it is not concerned with the actual existence of the object leads Kant to conclude that absolute or free beauty is found in the form or design of the object, or as Clive Bell put it, in the arrangement of lines and colors (in the case of painting) (Bell 1914). By the time Bell writes in the early twentieth century, however, beauty is out of fashion in the arts, and Bell frames his view not in terms of beauty but in terms of a general formalist conception of aesthetic value.

Since in reaching a genuine judgment of taste one is aware that one is not responding to anything idiosyncratic in oneself, Kant asserts (1790, section 8), one will reach the conclusion that anyone similarly situated should have the same experience: that is, one will presume that there ought to be nothing to distinguish one person’s judgment from another’s (though in fact there may be). Built conceptually into the judgment of taste is the assertion that anyone similarly situated ought to have the same experience and reach the same judgment. Thus, built into judgments of taste is a ‘universalization’ somewhat analogous to the universalization that Kant associates with ethical judgments. In ethical judgments, however, the universalization is objective: if the judgment is true, then it is objectively the case that everyone ought to act on the maxim according to which one acts. In the case of aesthetic judgments, however, the judgment remains subjective, but necessarily contains the ‘demand’ that everyone should reach the same judgment. The judgment conceptually entails a claim to inter-subjective validity. This accounts for the fact that we do very often argue about judgments of taste, and that we find tastes that are different than our own defective.

The influence of this series of thoughts on philosophical aesthetics has been immense. One might mention related approaches taken by such figures as Schopenhauer, Hanslick, Bullough, and Croce, for example. A somewhat similar though more adamantly subjectivist line is taken by Santayana, who defines beauty as ‘objectified pleasure.’ The judgment of something that it is beautiful responds to the fact that it induces a certain sort of pleasure; but this pleasure is attributed to the object, as though the object itself were having subjective states.

We have now reached our definition of beauty, which, in the terms of our successive analysis and narrowing of the conception, is value positive, intrinsic, and objectified. Or, in less technical language, Beauty is pleasure regarded as the quality of a thing. … Beauty is a value, that is, it is not a perception of a matter of fact or of a relation: it is an emotion, an affection of our volitional and appreciative nature. An object cannot be beautiful if it can give pleasure to nobody: a beauty to which all men were forever indifferent is a contradiction in terms. … Beauty is therefore a positive value that is intrinsic; it is a pleasure. (Santayana 1896, 50–51)

It is much as though one were attributing malice to a balky object or device. The object causes certain frustrations and is then ascribed an agency or a kind of subjective agenda that would account for its causing those effects. Now though Santayana thought the experience of beauty could be profound or could even be the meaning of life, this account appears to make beauty a sort of mistake: one attributes subjective states (indeed, one’s own) to a thing which in many instances is not capable of having subjective states.

It is worth saying that Santayana’s treatment of the topic in The Sense of Beauty (1896) was the last major account offered in English for some time, possibly because, once beauty has been admitted to be entirely subjective, much less when it is held to rest on a sort of mistake, there seems little more to be said. What stuck from Hume’s and Kant’s treatments was the subjectivity, not the heroic attempts to temper it. If beauty is a subjective pleasure, it would seem to have no higher status than anything that entertains, amuses, or distracts; it seems odd or ridiculous to regard it as being comparable in importance to truth or justice, for example. And the twentieth century also abandoned beauty as the dominant goal of the arts, again possibly in part because its trivialization in theory led artists to believe that they ought to pursue more real and more serious projects. This decline is explored eloquently in Arthur Danto’s book The Abuse of Beauty (2003).

However, there has been a revival of interest in beauty in both art and philosophy in recent years, and several theorists have made new attempts to address the antinomy of taste. To some extent, such approaches echo G.E. Moore’s: “To say that a thing is beautiful is to say, not indeed that it is itself good, but that it is a necessary element in something which is: to prove that a thing is truly beautiful is to prove that a whole, to which it bears a particular relation as a part, is truly good” (Moore 1903, 201). One interpretation of this would be that what is fundamentally valuable is the situation in which the object and the person experiencing are both embedded; the value of beauty might include both features of the beautiful object and the pleasures of the experiencer.

Similarly, Crispin Sartwell in his book Six Names of Beauty (2004), attributes beauty neither exclusively to the subject nor to the object, but to the relation between them, and even more widely also to the situation or environment in which they are both embedded. He points out that when we attribute beauty to the night sky, for instance, we do not take ourselves simply to be reporting a state of pleasure in ourselves; we are turned outward toward it; we are celebrating the real world. On the other hand, if there were no perceivers capable of experiencing such things, there would be no beauty. Beauty, rather, emerges in situations in which subject and object are juxtaposed and connected.

Alexander Nehamas, in Only a Promise of Happiness (2007), characterizes beauty as an invitation to further experiences, a way that things invite us in, while also possibly fending us off. The beautiful object invites us to explore and interpret, but it also requires us to explore and interpret: beauty is not to be regarded as an instantaneously apprehensible feature of surface. And Nehamas, like Hume and Kant, though in another register, considers beauty to have an irreducibly social dimension. Beauty is something we share, or something we want to share, and shared experiences of beauty are particularly intense forms of communication. Thus, the experience of beauty is not primarily within the skull of the experiencer, but connects observers and objects such as works of art and literature in communities of appreciation.

Aesthetic judgment, I believe, never commands universal agreement, and neither a beautiful object nor a work of art ever engages a catholic community. Beauty creates smaller societies, no less important or serious because they are partial, and, from the point of view of its members, each one is orthodox—orthodox, however, without thinking of all others as heresies. … What is involved is less a matter of understanding and more a matter of hope, of establishing a community that centers around it—a community, to be sure, whose boundaries are constantly shifting and whose edges are never stable. (Nehamas 2007, 80–81)

2. Philosophical Conceptions of Beauty

Each of the views sketched below has many expressions, some of which may be incompatible with one another. In many or perhaps most of the actual formulations, elements of more than one such account are present. For example, Kant’s treatment of beauty in terms of disinterested pleasure has obvious elements of hedonism, while the ecstatic neo-Platonism of Plotinus includes not only the unity of the object, but also the fact that beauty calls out love or adoration. However, it is also worth remarking how divergent or even incompatible with one another many of these views are: for example, some philosophers associate beauty exclusively with use, others precisely with uselessness.

2.1 The Classical Conception

The art historian Heinrich Wölfflin gives a fundamental description of the classical conception of beauty, as embodied in Italian Renaissance painting and architecture:

The central idea of the Italian Renaissance is that of perfect proportion. In the human figure as in the edifice, this epoch strove to achieve the image of perfection at rest within itself. Every form developed to self-existent being, the whole freely co-ordinated: nothing but independently living parts…. In the system of a classic composition, the single parts, however firmly they may be rooted in the whole, maintain a certain independence. It is not the anarchy of primitive art: the part is conditioned by the whole, and yet does not cease to have its own life. For the spectator, that presupposes an articulation, a progress from part to part, which is a very different operation from perception as a whole. (Wölfflin 1932, 9–10, 15)

The classical conception is that beauty consists of an arrangement of integral parts into a coherent whole, according to proportion, harmony, symmetry, and similar notions. This is a primordial Western conception of beauty, and is embodied in classical and neo-classical architecture, sculpture, literature, and music wherever they appear. Aristotle says in the Poetics that “to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must … present a certain order in its arrangement of parts” (Aristotle, volume 2, 2322 [1450b34]). And in the Metaphysics: “The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree” (Aristotle, volume 2 1705 [1078a36]). This view, as Aristotle implies, is sometimes boiled down to a mathematical formula, such as the golden section, but it need not be thought of in such strict terms. The conception is exemplified above all in such texts as Euclid’s Elements and such works of architecture as the Parthenon, and, again, by the Canon of the sculptor Polykleitos (late fifth/early fourth century BCE).

The Canon was not only a statue deigned to display perfect proportion, but a now-lost treatise on beauty. The physician Galen characterizes the text as specifying, for example, the proportions of “the finger to the finger, and of all the fingers to the metacarpus, and the wrist, and of all these to the forearm, and of the forearm to the arm, in fact of everything to everything…. For having taught us in that treatise all the symmetriae of the body, Polyclitus supported his treatise with a work, having made the statue of a man according to his treatise, and having called the statue itself, like the treatise, the Canon” (quoted in Pollitt 1974, 15). It is important to note that the concept of ‘symmetry’ in classical texts is distinct from and richer than its current use to indicate bilateral mirroring. It also refers precisely to the sorts of harmonious and measurable proportions among the parts characteristic of objects that are beautiful in the classical sense, which carried also a moral weight. For example, in the Sophist (228c-e), Plato describes virtuous souls as symmetrical.

The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius gives as good a characterization of the classical conception as any, both in its complexities and, appropriately enough, in its underlying unity:

Architecture consists of Order, which in Greek is called taxis, and arrangement, which the Greeks name diathesis, and of Proportion and Symmetry and Decor and Distribution which in the Greeks is called oeconomia.

Order is the balanced adjustment of the details of the work separately, and as to the whole, the arrangement of the proportion with a view to a symmetrical result.

Proportion implies a graceful semblance: the suitable display of details in their context. This is attained when the details of the work are of a height suitable to their breadth, of a breadth suitable to their length; in a word, when everything has a symmetrical correspondence.

Symmetry also is the appropriate harmony arising out of the details of the work itself: the correspondence of each given detail to the form of the design as a whole. As in the human body, from cubit, foot, palm, inch and other small parts come the symmetric quality of eurhythmy. (Vitruvius, 26–27)

Aquinas, in a typically Aristotelian pluralist formulation, says that “There are three requirements for beauty. Firstly, integrity or perfection—for if something is impaired it is ugly. Then there is due proportion or consonance. And also clarity: whence things that are brightly coloured are called beautiful” (Summa Theologica I, 39, 8).

Francis Hutcheson in the eighteenth century gives what may well be the clearest expression of the view: “What we call Beautiful in Objects, to speak in the Mathematical Style, seems to be in a compound Ratio of Uniformity and Variety; so that where the Uniformity of Bodys is equal, the Beauty is as the Variety; and where the Variety is equal, the Beauty is as the Uniformity” (Hutcheson 1725, 29). Indeed, proponents of the view often speak “in the Mathematical Style.” Hutcheson goes on to adduce mathematical formulae, and specifically the propositions of Euclid, as the most beautiful objects (in another echo of Aristotle), though he also rapturously praises nature, with its massive complexity underlain by universal physical laws as revealed, for example, by Newton. There is beauty, he says, “In the Knowledge of some great Principles, or universal Forces, from which innumerable Effects do flow. Such is Gravitation, in Sir Isaac Newton’s Scheme” (Hutcheson 1725, 38).

A very compelling series of refutations of and counter-examples to the idea that beauty can be a matter of any specific proportions between parts, and hence to the classical conception, is given by Edmund Burke in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Beautiful and the Sublime:

Turning our eyes to the vegetable kingdom, we find nothing there so beautiful as flowers; but flowers are of every sort of shape, and every sort of disposition; they are turned and fashioned into an infinite variety of forms. … The rose is a large flower, yet it grows upon a small shrub; the flower of the apple is very small, and it grows upon a large tree; yet the rose and the apple blossom are both beautiful. … The swan, confessedly a beautiful bird, has a neck longer than the rest of its body, and but a very short tail; is this a beautiful proportion? we must allow that it is. But what shall we say of the peacock, who has comparatively but a short neck, with a tail longer than the neck and the rest of the body taken together? … There are some parts of the human body, that are observed to hold certain proportions to each other; but before it can be proved, that the efficient cause of beauty lies in these, it must be shewn, that wherever these are found exact, the person to whom they belong is beautiful. … For my part, I have at several times very carefully examined many of these proportions, and found them to hold very nearly, or altogether alike in many subjects, which were not only very different from one another, but where one has been very beautiful, and the other very remote from beauty. … You may assign any proportions you please to every part of the of the human body; and I undertake, that a painter shall observe them all, and notwithstanding produce, if he pleases, a very ugly figure. (Burke 1757, 84–89)

2.2 The Idealist Conception

There are many ways to interpret Plato’s relation to classical aesthetics. The political system sketched in The Republic characterizes justice in terms of the relation of part and whole. But Plato was also no doubt a dissident in classical culture, and the account of beauty that is expressed specifically in The Symposium—perhaps the key Socratic text for neo-Platonism and for the idealist conception of beauty—expresses an aspiration toward beauty as perfect unity.

In the midst of a drinking party, Socrates recounts the teachings of his instructress, one Diotima, on matters of love. She connects the experience of beauty to the erotic or the desire to reproduce (Plato, 558–59 [Symposium 206c–207e]). But the desire to reproduce is associated in turn with a desire for the immortal or eternal: ‘And why all this longing for propagation? Because this is the one deathless and eternal element in our mortality. And since we have agreed that the lover longs for the good to be his own forever, it follows that we are bound to long for immortality as well as for the good—which is to say that Love is a longing for immortality” (Plato, 559, [Symposium 206e–207a]). What follows is, if not classical, at any rate classic:

The candidate for this initiation cannot, if his efforts are to be rewarded, begin too early to devote himself to the beauties of the body. First of all, if his preceptor instructs him as he should, he will fall in love with the beauty of one individual body, so that his passion may give life to noble discourse. Next he must consider how nearly related the beauty of any one body is to the beauty of any other, and he will see that if he is to devote himself to loveliness of form it will be absurd to deny that the beauty of each and every body is the same. Having reached this point, he must set himself to be the lover of every lovely body, and bring his passion for the one into due proportion by deeming it of little or no importance.

Next he must grasp that the beauties of the body are as nothing to the beauties of the soul, so that wherever he meets with spiritual loveliness, even in the husk of an unlovely body, he will find it beautiful enough to fall in love with and cherish—and beautiful enough to quicken in his heart a longing for such discourse as tends toward the building of a noble nature. And from this he will be led to contemplate the beauty of laws and institutions. And when he discovers how every kind of beauty is akin to every other he will conclude that the beauty of the body is not, after all, of so great moment. …

And so, when his prescribed devotion to boyish beauties has carried our candidate so far that the universal beauty dawns upon his inward sight, he is almost within reach of the final revelation. … Starting from individual beauties, the quest for universal beauty must find him mounting the heavenly ladder, stepping from rung to rung—that is, from one to two, and from two to every lovely body, and from bodily beauty to the beauty of institutions, from institutions to learning, and from learning in general to the special lore that pertains to nothing but the beautiful itself—until at last he comes to know what beauty is.

And if, my dear Socrates, Diotima went on, man’s life is ever worth living, it is when he has attained this vision of the very soul of beauty. (Plato, 561–63 [Symposium 210a–211d])

Beauty here is conceived—perhaps explicitly in contrast to the classical aesthetics of integral parts and coherent whole—as perfect unity, or indeed as the principle of unity itself.

Plotinus, as we have already seen, comes close to equating beauty with formedness per se: it is the source of unity among disparate things, and it is itself perfect unity. Plotinus specifically attacks what we have called the classical conception of beauty:

Almost everyone declares that the symmetry of parts towards each other and towards a whole, with, besides, a certain charm of colour, constitutes the beauty recognized by the eye, that in visible things, as indeed in all else, universally, the beautiful thing is essentially symmetrical, patterned.

But think what this means.

Only a compound can be beautiful, never anything devoid of parts; and only a whole; the several parts will have beauty, not in themselves, but only as working together to give a comely total. Yet beauty in an aggregate demands beauty in details; it cannot be constructed out of ugliness; its law must run throughout.

All the loveliness of colour and even the light of the sun, being devoid of parts and so not beautiful by symmetry, must be ruled out of the realm of beauty. And how comes gold to be a beautiful thing? And lightning by night, and the stars, why are these so fair?

In sounds also the simple must be proscribed, though often in a whole noble composition each several tone is delicious in itself. (Plotinus, 21 [Ennead 1.6])

And Plotinus declares that fire is the most beautiful physical thing, “making ever upwards, the subtlest and sprightliest of all bodies, as very near to the unembodied. … Hence the splendour of its light, the splendour that belongs to the Idea” (Plotinus, 22 [Ennead 1.3]). For Plotinus as for Plato, all multiplicity must be immolated finally into unity, and all roads of inquiry and experience lead toward the Good/Beautiful/True/Divine.

This gave rise to a basically mystical vision of the beauty of God that, as Umberto Eco has argued, persisted alongside an anti-aesthetic asceticism throughout the Middle Ages: a delight in profusion that finally merges into a single spiritual unity. In the sixth century, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite characterized the whole of creation as yearning toward God; the universe is called into being by love of God as beauty (Pseudo-Dionysius, 4.7; see Kirwan 1999, 29). Sensual/aesthetic pleasures could be considered the expressions of the immense, beautiful profusion of God and our ravishment thereby. Eco quotes Suger, Abbot of St Denis in the twelfth century, describing a richly-appointed church:

Thus, when—out of my delight in the beauty of the house of God—the loveliness of the many-colored gems has called me away from external cares, and worthy meditation has induced me to reflect, transferring that which is material to that which is immaterial, on the diversity of the sacred virtues: then it seems to me that I see myself dwelling, as it were, in some strange region of the universe which neither exists entirely in the slime of the earth nor entirely in the purity of Heaven; and that, by the grace of God, I can be transported from this inferior to that higher world in an anagogical manner. (Eco 1959, 14)

This conception has had many expressions in the modern era, including in such figures as Shaftesbury, Schiller, and Hegel, according to whom the aesthetic or the experience of art and beauty is a primary bridge (or to use the Platonic image, stairway or ladder) between the material and the spiritual. For Shaftesbury, there are three levels of beauty: what God makes (nature); what human beings make from nature or what is transformed by human intelligence (art, for example); and finally what makes even the maker of such things as us (that is, God). Shaftesbury’s character Theocles describes “the third order of beauty,”

which forms not only such as we call mere forms but even the forms which form. For we ourselves are notable architects in matter, and can show lifeless bodies brought into form, and fashioned by our own hands, but that which fashions even minds themselves, contains in itself all the beauties fashioned by those minds, and is consequently the principle, source, and fountain of all beauty. … Whatever appears in our second order of forms, or whatever is derived or produced from thence, all this is eminently, principally, and originally in this last order of supreme and sovereign beauty. … Thus architecture, music, and all which is of human invention, resolves itself into this last order. (Shaftesbury 1738, 228–29)

Schiller’s expression of a similar series of thoughts was fundamentally influential on the conceptions of beauty developed within German Idealism:

The pre-rational concept of Beauty, if such a thing be adduced, can be drawn from no actual case—rather does itself correct and guide our judgement concerning every actual case; it must therefore be sought along the path of abstraction, and it can be inferred simply from the possibility of a nature that is both sensuous and rational; in a word, Beauty must be exhibited as a necessary condition of humanity. Beauty … makes of man a whole, complete in himself. (1795, 59–60, 86)

For Schiller, beauty or play or art (he uses the words, rather cavalierly, almost interchangeably) performs the process of integrating or rendering compatible the natural and the spiritual, or the sensuous and the rational: only in such a state of integration are we—who exist simultaneously on both these levels—free. This is quite similar to Plato’s ‘ladder’: beauty as a way to ascend to the abstract or spiritual. But Schiller—though this is at times unclear—is more concerned with integrating the realms of nature and spirit than with transcending the level of physical reality entirely, a la Plato. It is beauty and art that performs this integration.

In this and in other ways—including the tripartite dialectical structure of the view—Schiller strikingly anticipates Hegel, who writes as follows.

The philosophical Concept of the beautiful, to indicate its true nature at least in a preliminary way, must contain, reconciled within itself, both the extremes which have been mentioned [the ideal and the empirical] because it unites metaphysical universality with real particularity. (Hegel 1835, 22)

Beauty, we might say, or artistic beauty at any rate, is a route from the sensuous and particular to the Absolute and to freedom, from finitude to the infinite, formulations that—while they are influenced by Schiller—strikingly recall Shaftesbury, Plotinus, and Plato.

Both Hegel and Shaftesbury, who associate beauty and art with mind and spirit, hold that the beauty of art is higher than the beauty of nature, on the grounds that, as Hegel puts it, “the beauty of art is born of the spirit and born again” (Hegel 1835, 2). That is, the natural world is born of God, but the beauty of art transforms that material again by the spirit of the artist. This idea reaches is apogee in Benedetto Croce, who very nearly denies that nature can ever be beautiful, or at any rate asserts that the beauty of nature is a reflection of the beauty of art. “The real meaning of ‘natural beauty’ is that certain persons, things, places are, by the effect which they exert upon one, comparable with poetry, painting, sculpture, and the other arts” (Croce 1928, 230).

2.3 Love and Longing

Edmund Burke, expressing an ancient tradition, writes that, “by beauty I mean, that quality or those qualities in bodies, by which they cause love, or some passion similar to it” (Burke 1757, 83). As we have seen, in almost all treatments of beauty, even the most apparently object or objectively-oriented, there is a moment in which the subjective qualities of the experience of beauty are emphasized: rhapsodically, perhaps, or in terms of pleasure or ataraxia, as in Schopenhauer. For example, we have already seen Plotinus, for whom beauty is certainly not subjective, describe the experience of beauty ecstatically. In the idealist tradition, the human soul, as it were, recognizes in beauty its true origin and destiny. Among the Greeks, the connection of beauty with love is proverbial from early myth, and Aphrodite the goddess of love won the Judgment of Paris by promising Paris the most beautiful woman in the world.

There is an historical connection between idealist accounts of beauty and those that connect it to love and longing, though there would seem to be no entailment either way. We have Sappho’s famous fragment 16: “Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers, others call a fleet the most beautiful sights the dark world offers, but I say it’s whatever you love best” (Sappho, 16). (Indeed, at Phaedrus 236c, Socrates appears to defer to “the fair Sappho” as having had greater insight than himself on love [Plato, 483].)

Plato’s discussions of beauty in the Symposium and the Phaedrus occur in the context of the theme of erotic love. In the former, love is portrayed as the ‘child’ of poverty and plenty. “Nor is he delicate and lovely as most of us believe, but harsh and arid, barefoot and homeless” (Plato, 556 [Symposium 203b–d]). Love is portrayed as a lack or absence that seeks its own fulfillment in beauty: a picture of mortality as an infinite longing. Love is always in a state of lack and hence of desire: the desire to possess the beautiful. Then if this state of infinite longing could be trained on the truth, we would have a path to wisdom. The basic idea has been recovered many times, for example by the Romantics. It fueled the cult of idealized or courtly love through the Middle Ages, in which the beloved became a symbol of the infinite.

Recent work on the theory of beauty has revived this idea, and turning away from pleasure has turned toward love or longing (which are not necessarily entirely pleasurable experiences) as the experiential correlate of beauty. Both Sartwell and Nehamas use Sappho’s fragment 16 as an epigraph. Sartwell defines beauty as “the object of longing” and characterizes longing as intense and unfulfilled desire. He calls it a fundamental condition of a finite being in time, where we are always in the process of losing whatever we have, and are thus irremediably in a state of longing. And Nehamas writes

I think of beauty as the emblem of what we lack, the mark of an art that speaks to our desire. … Beautiful things don’t stand aloof, but direct our attention and our desire to everything else we must learn or acquire in order to understand and possess, and they quicken the sense of life, giving it new shape and direction. (Nehamas 2007, 77)

2.4 Hedonist Conceptions

Thinkers of the 18th century—many of them oriented toward empiricism—accounted for beauty in terms of pleasure. The Italian historian Ludovico Antonio Muratori, for example, in quite a typical formulation, says that “By beautiful we generally understand whatever, when seen, heard, or understood, delights, pleases, and ravishes us by causing within us agreeable sensations” (see Carritt 1931, 60). In Hutcheson it is not clear whether we ought to conceive beauty primarily in terms of classical formal elements or in terms of the viewer’s pleasurable response. He begins the Inquiry Into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue with a discussion of pleasure. And he appears to assert that objects which instantiate his “compound ratio of uniformity and variety’ are peculiarly or necessarily capable of producing pleasure:

The only Pleasure of sense, which our Philosophers seem to consider, is that which accompanys the simple Ideas of Sensation; But there are vastly greater Pleasures in those complex Ideas of objects, which obtain the Names of Beautiful, Regular, Harmonious. Thus every one acknowledges he is more delighted with a fine Face, a just Picture, than with the View of any one Colour, were it as strong and lively as possible; and more pleased with a Prospect of the Sun arising among settled Clouds, and colouring their Edges, with a starry Hemisphere, a fine Landskip, a regular Building, than with a clear blue Sky, a smooth Sea, or a large open Plain, not diversify’d by Woods, Hills, Waters, Buildings: And yet even these latter Appearances are not quite simple. So in Musick, the Pleasure of fine Composition is incomparably greater than that of any one Note, how sweet, full, or swelling soever. (Hutcheson 1725, 22)

When Hutcheson then goes on to describe ‘original or absolute beauty,’ he does it, as we have seen, in terms of the qualities of the beautiful thing, and yet throughout, he insists that beauty is centered in the human experience of pleasure. But of course the idea of pleasure could come apart from Hutcheson’s particular aesthetic preferences, which are poised precisely opposite Plotinus’s, for example. That we find pleasure in a symmetrical rather than an asymmetrical building (if we do) is contingent. But that beauty is connected to pleasure appears, according to Hutcheson, to be necessary, and the pleasure which is the locus of beauty itself has ideas rather than things as its object.

Hume writes in a similar vein in the Treatise of Human Nature:

Beauty is such an order and construction of parts as, either by the primary constitution of our nature, by custom, or by caprice, is fitted to give a pleasure and satisfaction to the soul. … Pleasure and pain, therefore, are not only necessary attendants of beauty and deformity, but constitute their very essence. (Hume 1740, 299)

Though this appears ambiguous as between locating the beauty in the pleasure or in the impression or idea that causes it, Hume is soon talking about the ‘sentiment of beauty,’ where sentiment is, roughly, a pleasurable or painful response to impressions or ideas, though beauty is a matter of cultivated or delicate pleasures. Indeed, by the time of Kant’s Third Critique and after that for perhaps two centuries, the direct connection of beauty to pleasure is taken as a commonplace, to the point where thinkers are frequently identifying beauty as a certain sort of pleasure. Santayana, for example, as we have seen, while still gesturing in the direction of the object or experience that causes pleasure, emphatically identifies beauty as a certain sort of pleasure.

One result of this approach to beauty—or perhaps an extreme expression of this orientation—is the assertion of the positivists that words such as ‘beauty’ are meaningless or without cognitive content, or are mere expressions of subjective approval. Hume and Kant were no sooner declaring beauty to be a matter of sentiment or pleasure and therefore to be subjective than they were trying to ameliorate the sting, largely by emphasizing critical consensus. But once this fundamental admission is made, any consensus is contingent. Another way to formulate this is that it appears to certain thinkers after Hume and Kant that there can be no reasons to prefer the consensus to a counter-consensus assessment. A.J. Ayer writes:

Such aesthetic words as ‘beautiful’ and ‘hideous’ are employed … not to make statements of fact, but simply to express certain feelings and evoke a certain response. It follows…that there is no sense attributing objective validity to aesthetic judgments, and no possibility of arguing about questions of value in aesthetics. (Ayer 1952, 113)

All meaningful claims either concern the meaning of terms or are empirical, in which case they are meaningful because observations could confirm or disconfirm them. ‘That song is beautiful’ has neither status, and hence has no empirical or conceptual content. It merely expresses a positive attitude of a particular viewer; it is an expression of pleasure, like a satisfied sigh. The question of beauty is not a genuine question, and we can safely leave it behind or alone. Most twentieth-century philosophers did just that.

2.5 Use and Uselessness

Philosophers in the Kantian tradition identify the experience of beauty with disinterested pleasure, psychical distance, and the like, and contrast the aesthetic with the practical. “Taste is the faculty of judging an object or mode of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The object of such satisfaction is called beautiful” (Kant 1790, 45). Edward Bullough distinguishes the beautiful from the merely agreeable on the grounds that the former requires a distance from practical concerns: “Distance is produced in the first instance by putting the phenomenon, so to speak, out of gear with our practical, actual self; by allowing it to stand outside the context of our personal needs and ends.“ (Bullough 1912, 244)

On the other hand, many philosophers have gone in the opposite direction and have identified beauty with suitedness to use. ‘Beauty’ is perhaps one of the few terms that could plausibly sustain such entirely opposed interpretations.

According to Diogenes Laertius, the ancient hedonist Aristippus of Cyrene took a rather direct approach.

Is not then, also, a beautiful woman useful in proportion as she is beautiful; and a boy and a youth useful in proportion to their beauty? Well then, a handsome boy and a handsome youth must be useful exactly in proportion as they are handsome. Now the use of beauty is, to be embraced. If then a man embraces a woman just as it is useful that he should, he does not do wrong; nor, again, will he be doing wrong in employing beauty for the purposes for which it is useful. (Diogenes Laertius, 94)

In some ways, Aristippus is portrayed parodically: as the very worst of the sophists, though supposedly a follower of Socrates. And yet the idea of beauty as suitedness to use finds expression in a number of thinkers. Xenophon’s Memorabilia puts the view in the mouth of Socrates, with Aristippus as interlocutor:

Socrates: In short everything which we use is considered both good and beautiful from the same point of view, namely its use.

Aristippus: Why then, is a dung-basket a beautiful thing?

Socrates: Of course it is, and a golden shield is ugly, if the one be beautifully fitted to its purpose and the other ill. (Xenophon, Book III, viii)

Berkeley expresses a similar view in his dialogue Alciphron, though he begins with the hedonist conception: “Every one knows that beauty is what pleases” (Berkeley 1732, 174, see Carritt 1931, 75). But it pleases for reasons of usefulness. Thus, as Xenophon suggests, on this view, things are beautiful only in relation to the uses for which they are intended or to which they are properly applied. The proper proportions of an object depend on what kind of object it is, and again a beautiful ox would make an ugly horse. “The parts, therefore, in true proportions, must be so related, and adjusted to one another, as they may best conspire to the use and operation of the whole” (Berkeley 1732, 174–75, see Carritt 1931, 76). One result of this is that, though beauty remains tied to pleasure, it is not an immediate sensible experience. It essentially requires intellection and practical activity: one has to know the use of a thing, and assess its suitedness to that use.

This treatment of beauty is often used, for example, to criticize the distinction between fine art and craft, and it avoids sheer philistinism by enriching the concept of ‘use,’ so that it might encompass not only performing a practical task, but performing it especially well or with an especial satisfaction. Ananda Coomaraswamy, the Ceylonese-British scholar of Indian and European medieval arts, adds that a beautiful work of art or craft expresses as well as serves its purpose.

A cathedral is not as such more beautiful than an airplane, … a hymn than a mathematical equation. … A well-made sword is not more beautiful than a well-made scalpel, though one is used to slay, the other to heal. Works of art are only good or bad, beautiful or ugly in themselves, to the extent that they are or are not well and truly made, that is, do or do not express, or do or do not serve their purpose. (Coomaraswamy 1977, 75)

Roger Scruton, in his book Beauty (2009) returns to a modified Kantianism with regard to both beauty and sublimity, enriched by many and varied examples. “We call something beautiful,” writes Scruton, “when we gain pleasure from contemplating it as an individual object, for its own sake, and in its presented form.” (Scruton 2009, 26)

Despite the Kantian framework, Scruton, like Sartwell and Nehamas, throws the subjective/objective distinction into question. He compares experiencing a beautiful thing to a kiss. To kiss someone that one loves is not merely to place one body part on another, “but to touch the other person in his very self. Hence the kiss is compromising – it is a move from one self toward another, and a summoning of the other into the surface of his being.” (Scruton 2009, 48)

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