PHIL 251: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY (DANIEL) PAST TEST QUESTIONS: AESTHETICS

Answers at end. True/False (True=A; False=B) 1. Because aesthetics literally refers to the study of what is sensed or felt, it addresses questions of art but not beauty. 2. Because aesthetics is limited to the study of the relationship of art and reality, it does not consider epistemological questions about how we know whether an object of art is beautiful. 3. Plato suggests that, insofar as art merely imitates what is real and draws our attention away from what is real, it fails to provide a means for knowing the truth. 4. Plato argues that, because art emphasizes the morally perfect acts of the gods, art is socially useful for inspiring human beings to imitate those acts. 5. Freud claims that irrational, antisocial drives (e.g., sexuality and aggression) can be sublimated in socially acceptable forms of creativity like science, art, religion, philosophy, or morality. 6. According to Freud, through art we attempt to create alternatives to reality in which we channel our irrational and anti-social drives (e.g., sexuality, aggression) in socially acceptable ways. 7. Because of its purgative or cathartic ability, art (for Aristotle) causes human beings to engage either in violent, antisocial behavior or neurotic attempts to deny reality. 8. According to Aristotle, art is an expression of universal ideals, not an imitation of particular things or events. 9. According to Aristotle, art has the effect of catharsis, the purging or cleansing us of erotic and aggressive passions.

10. Neo-Platonism, classicism, and Romanticism differ from the theory of "art for art's sake" by depicting beauty as that which is intrinsically valuable (i.e., able to make all people share the same feelings). 11. Marx argues that even though art, like religion, morality, and philosophy, ordinarily embodies the socio-economic values of the ruling class, great art has the ability to challenge and transcend a culture's ideology. 12. According to Marx, capitalism alienates artists from their work by treating artistic productions not as expressions of natural creativity but as things that can be bought and sold (i.e., commodities). 13. According to Marcuse, because classical art reminds us of the difference between the utopian world it expresses and our dreary, consumeristic world, art is revolutionary and subversive. 14. Marcuse describes surplus repression as repression in a society that is beyond what is needed to maintain order and that exists only to protect the power and privilege of the establishment (i.e., those in power). 15. For existentialists, art makes our lives meaningful by showing how the world is open to human creativity. 16. Existentialists point out that, because art objects are already completed products, those objects cannot make us recognize that we must decide for ourselves the meaning of existence. 17. For the existentialist, to say that the world is a work of art means that it is a work in progress that requires our continual reevaluation and creative reassessment to determine what it is and what it means. 18. In calling the world an art object, existentialists want to highlight the fact that the world in which we live is open to human (creative) definition and characterization. 19. According to the Wittgensteinian theory of art, something is a work of art if it is designated as such within the institutions or ways of thinking that characterize social existence. 20. Followers of Wittgenstein argue that in saying that "art" is an open concept, we mean that it is a commodity.

Multiple Choice 21. In saying that art is an imitation of that which is real, Plato attacks art on the basis of its failure to direct us to the truth. Art (he says) draws us away from truth insofar as its purpose is to entertain us by showing or telling us: (a) how the appeal to the emotions results in antisocial and personally destructive behavior. (b) what the realm of the Forms is really like, understood in primarily mathematical terms. (c) how the morally good life is based on correct ontological and epistemological principles. (d) deceptions, things that are simply fictions (even when they describe the sensible world). 22. Plato argues that art threatens both personal integrity and social stability by emphasizing: (a) the behavior of the gods rather than events in the lives of ordinary people. (b) the logos or meaning of artistic expressions (e.g., in poetry, drama, dance, or music) rather than the actual performance itself. (c) differences between socially beneficial emotions and socially destructive emotions. (d) emotional appeals rather than reason. 23. Plato thinks that art should be banned from a well-ordered republic because it undermines one's personal integrity and threatens the stability of society by: (a) focusing on what is not true, failing to explain reality, and appealing to our emotions rather than reason. (b) comparing ways of life and forms of government in terms of ideal Forms rather than through experience. (c) providing a rationale for the world that points beyond our experience to a realm of perfect emotions. (d) making art more important than reason, spirit, or passion, and by making artists more important than rulers, enforcers, or workers. 24. Both Plato and Freud think that art is not a rational response to the demands of reality. But they differ on how art is connected with violence. How? (a) For Plato, art appeals only to those who understand it (the rulers who control violence through the military-police class); for Freud, art expresses aggression, not violence. (b) Plato thinks that art enflames the passions (including tendencies toward

violence); Freud says that art channels potentially violent drives into socially acceptable behavior. (c) The irrationality of art (for Plato) has nothing to do with how it might influence violent behavior; but for Freud anything irrational like art is antisocial (a violent threat). (d) Plato's condemnation of art distinguishes between art that is violent and art that is sexual; Freud claims that all art expresses those two drives indiscriminately. 25. Both Plato and Freud characterize art in similar ways insofar as they agree that art: (a) is an acceptable expression of repressed instincts and drives. (b) prevents people from recognizing reality for what it is. (c) promotes violence and other anti-social forms of behavior. (d) dissolves the distinction between ontological, epistemological, and moral ways of thinking. 26. According to Freud, art is a means by which the irrational and anti-social drives of infantile sexuality and aggression are sublimated in socially acceptable forms of creativity. In this regard, art is: (a) a means by which one can distinguish between those who deny reality (neurotics) and those who try to replace reality with something else (psychotics, the insane). (b) the way in which unresolved and repressed drives displace the pleasure principle with the reality principle. (c) like other aspects of "higher culture" such as religion, philosophy, law, science, and morality. (d) simply a form of reasoning that attempts to destroy the emotions rather than to express them. 27. In contrast to Plato, Aristotle suggests that great art focuses our attention on universal truths and values, not on the individual events or objects that are the sensual or immediate art objects themselves. In this sense, Aristotle argues, art can have a socially desirable effect, insofar as: (a) art, like philosophy, liberates unconscious memories of past events or objects. (b) great art makes the viewer or listener feel the immediacy of sensuality, not ideal forms. (c) art appeals to the highest part of the soul in a way even better than does philosophy. (d) art indicates what human beings can aspire to and try to imitate.

28. Whereas Plato views art as imitating sensible objects²for example, in pictures of a particular woman²Aristotle says that art should depict: (a) The ways in which our disruptive passions must be unleashed to bring about social and political revolution. (b) The universal idealizations of things (e.g., a classic feminine shape, or the embodiment of nobility itself). (c) The imperfections of objects and the complexity of events in our ordinary, daily experiences. (d) How the structure of the human mind mirrors the arrangement of ideas in the realm of the Forms. 29. In response to Plato, Aristotle claims that art does not disrupt the harmony of the soul by letting the passions overrule reason. Rather, Aristotle argues, art functions in a socially beneficial way by: (a) Providing opportunities for a controlled release of erotic and aggressive passions. (b) Bringing people together through their shared feelings of unity as all children of God. (c) Dissolving all feelings and passions and replacing them with philosophic reasoning. (d) alienating human beings from their passions, and thus alienating human beings from one another. 30. To say that art has "intrinsic" value and gives meaning to nature and life means that art: (a) needs no other justification than itself, and that even nature and life depend on art. (b) is valuable insofar as it expresses the feelings of artists who describe nature and life. (c) is valuable insofar as it imitates or reproduces the way that nature, life, or the world is. (d) undermines the possibility that there is any ultimate meaning in nature and life. 31. According to Romanticism, art expresses the ultimate truth of reality in terms of imagination rather than reason, feeling and energy rather than order and proportion. Such expression permits the artist to point beyond the ordinary world to show the truth of existence, because: (a) the mundane, daily world is what is truly real, and the role of the artist is to "spruce it up." (b) the truth about existence is embodied in creativity, not in the repetition of the

ordinary. (c) truth in art is subjective: one person might equate art with feeling, another with reason. (d) the order of daily existence counteracts, balances, and harmonizes the irrationality of art. 32. According to Tolstoy, art cannot be great unless it evokes a sense of religious understanding and harmony. In other words, in order for a work of art to be great, it must inspire people to feel sincerely for the plight of one another and it must have appeal for and be intelligible to: (a) people with aesthetic sensibilities or training in the arts. (b) people who share the values of the artist. (c) people associated with organized religions. (d) people from all backgrounds and walks of life. 33. According to Marx, even though artistic expression and aesthetic enjoyment are essential human characteristics, the ways in which human beings express themselves artistically are always ideological. In regard to art this means that in a capitalistic economic system, creative or artistic productions of human labor are nothing more than commodities that express: (a) the worthlessness of private property. (b) the natural, human need to contribute to the good of one's economic community. (c) the alienation of the art work from the artist, since the capitalist owns the products of the artist's labor, not the artist. (d) the artist's inner nature, feelings, or emotions. 34. For Marx, even though art is a natural and creative human activity, it generally expresses: (a) the supernatural power of divine activity. (b) the anti-establishment values of a counter-culture. (c) the sublime, a reality deeper than the ordinary. (d) the values and ideology of a culture's ruling class. 35. According to Marx, the creative and artistic productions of human labor define human beings as what they are. In this way, artistic expression and aesthetic enjoyment are essential human characteristics. But (Marx argues) in capitalist societies, art is no longer considered as an inalienable expression of the artist's self, because in capitalist societies art is: (a) a subversive challenge to the socioeconomic values of the ruling class.

(b) merely a means for tricking the laboring masses into thinking that their repressed condition is itself a result of their sexual and aggressive drives. (c) the productive and creative result of the conflict between social classes. (d) alienated from the artist's labor and transformed into a commodity to be bought and sold. 36. In agreement with Freud, Marcuse recognizes that repression of certain drives is necessary for society. But (Marcuse adds) in capitalist societies this repression is not directed toward fulfilling only basic human needs; rather there is a "surplus repression" whose only purpose is to guarantee the privileged position of the elite classes. In capitalism, this surplus repression is directed toward: (a) persuading workers to become consumers of commodities they basically do not need. (b) the mass production of works of art that challenge the legitimacy of capitalism. (c) transforming the class structure unintentionally to produce the ultimate revolution. (d) extending the opportunity for artistic expression to all workers, regardless of talent. 37. Marcuse recognizes that repression of certain drives is necessary for society. But in capitalist societies this repression is not directed to fulfilling only basic human needs; rather there is a "surplus repression" whose only purpose is to guarantee the privileged position of the elite classes. The "negative power" of art lies in its ability to tap into this surplus repression by: (a) eliminating even the necessary repression required for social existence. (b) allowing us to imagine the fantastic, to be liberated from a capitalist or commodity mentality. (c) showing how the negation of the commodity world entails the rejection of classical art. (d) extending the opportunity for artistic expression to all workers, regardless of talent. 38. According to Marcuse, the capitalist attempt to undermine the possibility of revolutionary or counter-cultural artistic expression is frustrated by fantasy's negation of the commodity world. Through this "power of the negative," art escapes being co-opted in capitalism, because fantasy cannot be dominated by repression. In other words, for Marcuse, art: (a) undermines the legitimacy of the elite classes by portraying their existence as fantasy. (b) embodies the reality principle--thus generating surplus repression--rather than

the pleasure principle. (c) displays the values of the elite classes in ways that legitimate their superiority. (d) creates a fantasy world that serves as a critique of experienced reality. 39. Marcuse argues that art is revolutionary and subversive because it appeals to fantasy and employs "the power of the negative" to counteract social repression. It does this by highlighting differences between: (a) the dreary reality of a world of commodities and the possibilities opened up by utopian views. (b) what the general public thinks is art and what critics, artists, and others in the art community think is art. (c) the repressive character of what is called art and the freeing character of what is called beauty. (d) the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production) and the proletariat (the working class). 40. According to Marcuse, art allows the mind to be guided (through fantasy) by the pleasure principle and, as such, is revolutionary and subversive, capturing "the power of the negative." In other words, art: (a) combines the creative energies of necessary repression and surplus repression to generate a third form of anti-capitalist repression, namely, counter-cultural parodies of classical art. (b) contradicts or "negates" the need for creative expression and thus does away with the erotic and aggressive impulses that need to be channelled into socially acceptable forms of expression. (c) puts us in touch with higher truths about beauty and sensuality--truths that constitute a realm of super-knowledge of objects like Platonic Forms. (d) describes a liberating kind of existence in which we need not accept as inevitable lives of endless consumption and collection of dreary (mere) things. 41. Sartre claims that, as far as human beings alone are concerned, "existence precedes essence"; that is, what we are is a product of our own choices or decisions. In his view, a work of art is that which expresses or reveals the fundamental condition of human existence by highlighting how the world in which we live is: (a) a work in progress, a place whose meaning depends on our intentional, creative decisions. (b) a creation of God in which everything (including us) has a certain nature, place, or function. (c) something that art can copy or imitate but cannot ultimately change or affect.

(d) meaningful only in terms of that which transcends human existence (e.g., an afterlife). 42. Neither abstract art nor conceptual art imitate reality or express emotions; but they are different from one another to the extent that abstract art : (a) tries to abstract universal meanings from what it depicts, whereas conceptual art draws attention to the social and political concepts expressed in the art. (b) is intended to provoke certain feelings, whereas conceptual art is not intended to provoke any feelings or even thoughts (it just is). (c) draws attention to surfaces, sounds, colors, and angles themselves, but conceptual art raises questions about whether something is even art at all. (d) does not share any characteristics or have any "family resemblances" with other notions of art, but conceptual art does. 43. In characterizing the concept of art as an "open concept," Wittgensteinians claim that what makes something an object of art depends less on the thing itself than on how the thing functions in a "form of life." In other words, for Wittgensteinians art is defined as: (a) something that any individual acting on his or her own wants to call art. (b) a designation by a group of language users, not a discovery of some nature or essence. (c) a specific kind of thing having a particular "aesthetic" nature or essence. (d) a representation of the world or an expression of the artist's feelings. 44. Advocates of an institutional or consensus theory of art (e.g., George Dickie) use Wittgenstein's concept of a "form of life" to argue that something is considered a work of art if: (a) as the Romantics suggest, it puts us in touch with what is eternally real and creative. (b) the art community thinks it shares enough "family resemblances" with other works of art to be called art. (c) it captures the harmony between the structure of real things and the structure or activities of the mind. (d) it is valuable intrinsically as an expression of creative energy itself: art for art's sake. 45. Both existentialist and Wittgensteinian aesthetics assume that "art" is a concept that is open to expansion and creative application. But that does not mean that these two views agree that just any object should be considered art because, for the existentialist, art has at least one necessary function--namely:

(a) it produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people in society. (b) it prompts us to consider what makes events or things in our ordinary lives have meaning. (c) it puts individuals in touch with the transcendent, imaginative power inherent in life and nature. (d) it consolidates social values and encourages us to protect those traditional ("classical") values.
Answers:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

B B A B A A B A A

10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

B A A A A A B A A

19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

A B D D A B B C D

28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36.

B A A B D C D D A

37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45.

B D A D A C B B B

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