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Aesthetic Experience and Aesthetic Analysis

Fenner, David E. W.
The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Volume 37, Number 1, Spring 2003, pp. 40-53 (Article)
Published by University of Illinois Press DOI: 10.1353/jae.2003.0003

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Aesthetic Experience and Aesthetic Analysis


The raw data that aesthetics is meant to explain is the aesthetic experience. People have experiences that they class off from other experiences and label, as a class, the aesthetic ones. Aesthetic experience is basic, and all other things aesthetic aesthetic properties, aesthetic objects, aesthetic attitudes are secondary in their importance to aesthetic experiences.1 Considering aesthetic experience as the raw data that philosophical aesthetics seeks to explain is a relatively recent phenomenon. This was certainly not the focus in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Aesthetic judgment was the focus of Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Kant: How do we make meaningful judgments (hopefully real ones) about the aesthetic quality of (certain) objects and events? But with George Santayana, John Dewey, and Jerome Stolnitz, the focus changes. Now the interest is in the aesthetic experience: what makes those experiences we label aesthetic special? Why do we separate those experiences from others? The movement from the Taste Theories to those focused on aesthetic experience is not a movement that is over and done with far from it. There is still (and I think there will always be) a tension between these two very basic aspects of philosophical aesthetics. And, although I claim that aesthetic experience is the most basic thing that aesthetics studies, I recognize that this is challengeable and only true from a certain temporal viewpoint. I recently taught the most rewarding undergraduate course in aesthetics. The reason that it was so rewarding was that the students carried the class with deep and insightful discussions, and they were not shy about challenging what was coming out of my mouth. One of the challenges that informed our entire semester focused on the tension between experience and judgment. I lectured comfortably about aesthetic experience as our raw data, and I lectured equally comfortably about how taking an aesthetic view of an object or event meant focusing primarily, if not exclusively, on
David E. W. Fenner is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Florida. He is the author of The Aesthetic Attitude and editor of two books, Ethics and the Arts: An Anthology and Ethics in Education. Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 37, No. 1, Spring 2003 2003 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

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what is available to us through simple sensory acquaintanceship with the object. Aesthetics, I said, is about the sensuous aspects of our experiences. And so we could, for instance, take an aesthetic view of a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph which precluded our experiences being mired in the themes that the more famous Mapplethorpe photos take as their content. Mapplethorpe is a great photographer, I argued, and one can see this if one is willing to focus strictly on what meets your eye when you look at the picture. In short, I held the position that the aesthetic view is the formal one. Without saying more, what I did was conflate two different things. On the one hand, I argued that aesthetic experience is a natural part of life that aesthetics seeks to explore. On the other, I argued that appreciating something aesthetically was to appreciate its formal qualities, those qualities that one could access simply through looking, hearing, touching, for example. But these really are two different things. Aesthetic experiences, if we are to treat them as raw data, must be explored without pre-conception, prejudice, or limitation. And, truly enough, the vast majority of aesthetic experiences are not focused exclusively, in terms of their contents, on formal or simple-sensory matters. Aesthetic experiences are, first, experiences. They are complex things, having to do with things as tidy as the formal qualities of the object under consideration and with things as messy as whether one had enough sleep the night before, whether one just had a fight with his roommate, whether one is carrying psychological baggage that is brought to consciousness by this particular aesthetic object. Later in this essay, I want to explore some of this complexity. The other side of what was happening in my class, the formal focus on the sensory as the basis for an aesthetic viewing, is not the substance of aesthetic experience per se. It is rather the basis of what we might call aesthetic analysis. Aesthetic analysis has to do with separating out from our aesthetic experiences one specific part. To look simply at the contrasts of light and shading in a Mapplethorpe photograph, to see the textures that the light brings out, to see the balance of the composition, these sorts of things are, to be sure, included in aesthetic experiences of (most) Mapplethorpe photos, but these are infrequently the first things that rise to ones focus when one sees a Mapplethorpe photo. Our pre-theoretical experiences tend to focus first on the photos contents, and, here in the Bible-belted South where I write this, our first experiences tend to be ones of discomfort and perhaps alarm. They initially do not tend to focus on the very deft handling of light and balance that marks most of Mapplethorpes work. Experiences and analyses are different, the latter only one part of the former. So to speak of each as the basis of the philosophical exploration of aesthetics is to conflate. Once more for the record, I want to state that this tension is not a new one. The substance of this conflation goes back to an attempt to do service in the history of this discipline to the two energies,


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one toward judgment and articulation of the proper subjects and proper methods of judgment, the other toward the psychological, to the raw data of pure and complex experience that we seek to taxonomize into aesthetic experiences and nonaesthetic experiences. The Recent History Archibald Alison is one who stands out among the lot of aestheticians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries because he began to focus on the psychology of aesthetic experience instead of the conditions of aesthetic judgment. In the eighteenth century, Alison made association one of the cornerstones of his treatment of aesthetics. Alison was writing in an intellectual context of empiricism, and he emphasized more than any other aesthetician in that tradition the importance of imagination in the construction of aesthetic experience. For Alison, imagination was largely a matter of actively drawing out associations in the viewer, through what he called attentive contemplation of the object/event at hand.2 Imaginative associations are not matters of intellect; they are matters of psychology. In the last part of the nineteenth century, and the first half of the twentieth, Santayana was perhaps the voice that heralded loudest the movement from the judgment-based view of aesthetics to the experiential-psychological view. Santayana did not care a bit about articulating conditions of judgment, of building realist frameworks, or of avoiding subjectivism or relativism in aesthetic discourse. Quite the reverse he embraced it. Santayana reveled in the individual, the particular. He argued that aesthetics, the theory of beauty, is concerned with the perception of values that are dependent upon emotional consciousness: appreciations, appetites, and preferences. He argued, in defiance of Kant, that pleasure is the essence of the perception of beauty, and aesthetic pleasure cannot be divorced from interests. Universality is unnecessary. It is meaningless to say that what is beautiful to one man ought to be beautiful to another. The claim to universality rests on the mistake that beauty is an objective property; beauty of form arises from a conscious synthesis of distinguishable parts in a unified whole.3 Contemporary with this, of course, was the work of Dewey, yet another aesthetician who focused not on conditions of judgment but on exploration of the psychological nature of experiences. Deweys account centers on what he calls an experience. An experience is any garden-variety experience that one might have which has the character of being maximally unified and highly meaningful. An experience is a bounded organic whole; when a moment is sufficient to itself, is individualized, this is an experience. In aesthetic experience there is a heightened interest in the factors that constitute an experience, in the experiences omnipresent form, in its dynamic construction, in its rhythmic variety and unity.4

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Dewey was followed by two of the greatest aestheticians of the twentieth century: Stolnitz and Monroe Beardsley. Stolnitz argued that the goal of aesthetic experience is a goal worthy of achievement on its own. For Kant, the motivation to achieve the goal is epistemic in nature. For Stolnitz, the motivation is aesthetic, simply having an aesthetic experience on its own or for its own sake. Stolnitz begins his account of the aesthetic attitude by focusing on the nature of attention. Attention is selective, he says. One focuses routinely, either consciously or not, on different aspects of what she senses, and she dismisses, again, either consciously or not, those aspects or properties which are not relevant to the purpose of viewing. It is the attitude we take which determines how we perceive the work. An attitude is a way of directing and controlling our attitude organizes and directs our awareness of the world.5 Stolnitzs work focuses on the conditions of having aesthetic experiences and not on the conditions of judgment. Beardsley was comprehensive in his treatment of aesthetics; he wrote about everything.6 But it is clear that his focus was also on the treatment of aesthetic experiences as experience, as psychology. This is very clear in the debates in the literature that he had with George Dickie, and even more so in the last version of his account of the nature of aesthetic experience:7 My present disposition is to work with a set of five criteria of the aesthetic character of experience (1) Object directness. A willingly accepted guidance over the succession of ones mental states by phenomenally objective properties (qualities and relations) of a perceptual or intentional field on which attention is fixed with a feeling that things are working or have worked themselves out fittingly. (2) Felt freedom. A sense of release from the dominance of some antecedent concerns about past and future, a relaxation and sense of harmony with what is presented or semantically invoked by it or implicitly promised by it, so that what comes has the air of having been freely chosen. (3) Detached affect. A sense that the objects on which interest is concentrated are set a little at a distance emotionally a certain detachment of affect, so that even when we are confronted with dark and terrible things, and feel them sharply, they do not oppress but make us aware of our power to rise above them. (4) Active discovery. A sense of actively exercising constructive powers of the mind, of being challenged by a variety of potentially conflicting stimuli to try to make them cohere; a keyed-up state amounting to exhilaration in seeing connections between percepts and between meaning, a sense (which may be illusionary) of intelligibility. (5) Wholeness. A sense of integration as a person, of being restored to wholeness from distracting and disruptive influences (but by inclusive synthesis as well as by exclusion), and a corresponding contentment, even through disturbing feeling, that involves self-acceptance and self-expansion.8


David E. W. Fenner

The way that Beardsley describes aesthetic experience owes a great deal to psychology, to an empirical examination of just what goes into these special sorts of experiences as experiences. Perhaps it would be more balanced to include in this brief history the other side, the side of the Taste Theorists; of those, like Kant, who sought to articulate the conditions of judgment. But this, I think, would be overkill. The point to be made here is a simple one: today we approach the field of aesthetics as a hybrid discipline, incorporating sophisticated empirical approaches to the nature of experience as well as the philosophical views and bases. Dickie argued in 1962 that psychology was not relevant to aesthetics.9 His approach was largely particularist and largely negative which is to say that he attacked various specific uses of psychology in attempting to address aesthetic issues. It is safe to say, from hindsight back to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, that Dickie was clearly a member of the minority. If this sort of psychological treatment of aesthetic experience is warranted as the right way to go about exploring aesthetic experience without prejudice or preconception, then the first step in such a treatment might be taxonomical. If we take aesthetic experience to be psychologically complex, perhaps we could analyze this a bit, suggesting areas under which to group the various sorts of experience that we have in having aesthetic experiences. Aesthetic Experience Following is an attempt to analyze the complexity we normally find in aesthetic experience. Formal Analysis This is the part of the aesthetic experience previously mentioned. If we understand aesthetics as having essentially to do with the sensuous or sensory aspects of experiences with other considerations (such as information about the object or associations the viewer makes in attendance to the object) being of secondary concern then we understand that in some fashion these purely sensory aspects can be bracketed off from other parts of the complex aesthetic experience. This sort of thing is illustrated in the use of the rich aesthetic vocabulary that we have to describe the purely sensory aspects. We talk about balance, elegance, grace, harmony, excess, order, delicacy, grandeur, simplicity, modesty, subtlety, openness, authority, gentility, charm, garishness, and vulgarity when talking about aesthetic objects, and we in most cases are not talking about the subject matter of the object but rather about how the subject matter is presented. Or, more simply, about the presentation itself. We use aesthetic terms to reference what immediately hits our eyes, ears, or noses. From the basic objective properties of lines, colors, proportions, contrasts, and so forth, we develop a view of

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an objects aesthetic qualities (the metaphysical story of how not presently at point), and from an aesthetic description of the object, we determine the objects aesthetic worth. This is to say, of course, that aesthetic judgments tend to take as their substance the formal qualities of aesthetic objects. This is not always the case, but it is frequently so. Aesthetic evaluations are regularly evidenced by reference to the objects aesthetic properties, and these properties are said to be present on the evidence of the presence of basic properties of line and color. The argument still stands, however, that an aesthetic analysis is not the full story when it comes to aesthetic experience; this is a lesson we learned from Alison. A formal treatment of an aesthetic object is not to explain fully, in the vast majority of cases, exactly what went into a particular aesthetic experience. Associations Alison claimed that it was imagination, or certain associations, which made for aesthetic experiencing. The mere presentation of beauty was not enough to stimulate the spectator into feeling pleasure over the beauty; the spectator becomes a more active participant. He exercises his mind, his imagination, and his attentive contemplation, in order to experience more fully the nature of the object, and in so doing experience the object as fully aesthetically as he can. Without this mindful/imaginative activity, the experience is not aesthetic, but one of mere pleasure. The emotions of taste may therefore be considered as distinguished from the emotions of simple pleasure by their being dependent upon the exercises of imagination; and though founded in all cases upon some simple emotion, as yet further requiring the employment of this faculty for their existence.10 It is my experience that one of the first experiential aspects to surface in attendance to an object in an aesthetic fashion is one of association. Certain forms, colors, textures, tunes, smells, tastes, and so forth can snap to our attention memories of events and flavors of past experiences with great ease and strength. The smell of diesel fuel, mixed with cigarettes and perfume however unpleasant that combination might sound instantly transports me back to my first visits to London and the exhilaration I experienced then. Smell is a particularly effective means of associating the present with the past, but such associations can readily be had through attendance to visual and auditory stimuli the more usual aesthetic sensory vehicles. These sort of associations are not purely subjective rather, they are relational in the sense that it takes both the subjects memory coupled with the objective aesthetic stimuli to bring these associations to existence but they are purely individual and particular. They are probably temporally


David E. W. Fenner

sensitive, too; that is, certain associations may be had on one occasion, but not had, for whatever reason, on another. The associations Alison spoke of are not cognitive in type; they are imaginative. There are many different sorts of association emotional and cognitive alike but the point is that, first, in all cases these are psychological phenomena, and, second, whenever they arise, they are as much a part of the experience as any other part. They have as much claim to being a part of an aesthetic experience as, say, the formal parts discussed above. There are a range of associations which we may make in having an aesthetic experience. These could include: 1. Recollective: One recalls some past experience. 2. Emotional: One associates a certain emotion with the object under attendance. This emotion could be very general (the Blues make one feel sad), somewhat general (Merchant-Ivory films make me feel melancholy), somewhat specific (I think of Scotland on very windy days), or very specific (Mexican ballad music reminds me of my mother when I was young). 3. Cognitive: One makes a connection, in thinking about the object under consideration, to another object or event that shares some property with the first. This is the essence, I think, of all the aesthetic-interpretative work that goes on in considering text (whatever sort: literary or filmic, for example). A friend of mine recently remarked that the power of Martin Scorseses Raging Bull lies in how powerfully religiously thematic the film was. Another friend recently explained how Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey can be valuably understood as a tale about the Judeo-Christian story about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Neither of these film interpretations had occurred to me earlier. The reason for this is that these sorts of associations seem to rely heavily on the background beliefs and values of the individuals making these connections. In both cases, the interpreters were particularly religious individuals; it stands to reason that they would see, in thinking about these two films, religious themes, and that they would explain the films coherence in terms of religious themes. We would less expect atheists to make the same sorts of associations, and this reinforces the point that such cognitive associations are in largest measure dependent on the psychology of the individual making them. Contexts The artworld of the twentieth century, if it must be reduced to a single word, would be reduced to the word challenge. The early part of the century saw extensive and aggressive challenges to the very definition of art: Dadaism, the Ready-mades, and Pop Art expanded academic definitions of art very broadly. The middle part of the century saw a great deal of conceptual art,

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art that was to be understood, that was making a point or sending a message. The last part of the twentieth century challenged our values. Mapplethorpe, Rene Serrano, Richard Serra, Damien Hurst, Christopher Ofili, and a host of others have presented works that confront and provoke us. They are not merely cognitive vehicles; they are strongly emotional ones, assailing our values and the contexts in which we hold those particular values. It must be the case that there are many individuals who see Mapplethorpe photographs who do not, perhaps cannot, get beyond the subject matter of those photos. This is understandable, to some degree or on some level, because aesthetic experiences, the raw data of experiences of viewing objects presented to us as objects primarily or merely just to be looked at, tend to include reactions based on seeing the object within a context, as seeing it as a challenge. Surely this must be the case. Consider so many of the twentieth centurys artworks, ones which have very little power as aesthetic objects if considered merely in terms of their formal properties. Marcel Duchamp would hardly be mentioned in the artworld today were his art objects considered merely in terms of their formal characteristics. In Advance of a Broken Arm (once a snow shovel) is visually very boring, as is Fountain. Consider John Cages 4' 33" or Robert Rauschenbergs Erased De Kooning or Andy Warhols Brillo Pad Boxes. Each of these artists must have intended his work to be presented not in terms of their formal characteristics. Each of these items, taken as formal aesthetic objects, are remarkably dull. And that was the point (one of the points, at least). These works were meant to issue certain challenges. And this is where their value as aesthetic objects, as art objects, lies. Message-driven art, or conceptual art, will certainly fall under the associations category above. But it, and especially its late, value- or sensibilitychallenging cousins, fall into this category as well. The prominence of valuechallenging aesthetics is undeniable. One need only open any mainstream cutting-edge magazine to see the popular legacy (or fall-out) of value-challenging aesthetics in Benetton ads, Calvin Klein ads, and photos of current clothing fashions. These items are intended to rattle cages. They will offend some people. Others will embrace and champion them as tours de force of liberality and open-mindedness. Do we take these reactions, which are part and parcel of first contact with so many contemporary aesthetic objects, as bona fide parts of aesthetic experiences? Given that the meaningfulness of so many of these objects rests solely and squarely on their power for provoking us, the answer, it would seem, has to be yes. What are the various contexts under which we consider aesthetic objects contexts which we bring as categories for dealing with aesthetic objects and experiencing them?

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David E. W. Fenner Social Contexts. A. Ethnic and Racial Contexts. Many objects, perhaps all objects, today can be understood (I do not say should that would be a separate argument) as conveying, overtly or tacitly, some message about matters of race and heritage. B. Class Contexts. The same can be said for class of education, birth, or economic status. C. Gender Contexts. Does my experience of a work hold for me some significance in terms of sex or gender? Do I see Ridley Scotts Thelma & Louise as a feminist manifesto? Do I see Milos Formans One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest as essentially misogynist? D. National or Cultural Contexts. Some aesthetic objects present strong nationalist messages. In the eighteenth century, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Benjamin West produced visual works of art that celebrate and support Great Britain. In nineteenth century America, we find the work of Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins (and Gerald Murphy in the early twentieth), and, in the literary arts, the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville. Germany sees perhaps its greatest nationalist artist in the nineteenth century: Richard Wagner. In the early twentieth century, Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera, Jos Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros painted murals which focused on cultural nationalism and revolutionary politics. E. Political Contexts. I believe the New Yorker to be the best example of popular applied aesthetics today, and I usually assign a copy of it as a required text for aesthetics courses I offer. In the course I mentioned above, one student reacted strongly to being forced to read (part of) that liberal rag. He pointed out that the New Yorker has that semester celebrated the humanity of Tipper Gore, while at the same time running an article on George W. Bushs ineptitude with the English language, and spending a good deal of time in several issues mocking the aesthetic and moral sensibilities of New York Major Rudy Giuliani. I had not seen these same things, or, better put, had not seen these things as my student had. He was looking at the magazine through political eyes. Moral Contexts. A. Religious Contexts. It is understatement to say that Serranos photograph of a crucifix suspended in a jar of urine (PissChrist), Scorseses Last Temptation of Christ, and Ofilis Madonna, complete with elephant dung, have been considered widely from religious contexts. B. Sexual Contexts. The line between those objects created to satisfy prurient interests and those created to satisfy aesthetic ones has


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always been blurry. It is not a recent phenomenon. Michelangelo walked that line, apparently. Rembrandt supposedly did, too. A good example is Edouard Manets Olympia, thought to be morally unfit not due to the fact that the central figure was nude, but due to the defiance in the subjects face as she presented herself as a nude. Of course, in this century, the blurry line is as blurry as ever, with daily examples present in all the popular aesthetic media. The line between the obscene and the artistic is debated at both the highest and the lowest levels in this country; the U.S. Congress has only a few less discussions about this topic than occurs at Americas dinner tables today. C. Violence Contexts. There are those in the world whose thresholds for viewing violence are low, and there are some art objects which present deeply arresting portraits of violence (Kubricks Clockwork Orange, Tarantinos Reservoir Dogs). When these come together, the influence of the latter on the former effectively halts aesthetic experience. As some people cannot see beyond the sexual content of a Mapplethorpe photo, some people cannot aesthetically appreciate Clockwork Orange or Reservoir Dogs because they cannot get beyond the violence. This is neither a fault in the viewer or the object; it is simply a matter of human psychology. Taste Contexts. A. Good Taste. Richard Shusterman wrote a great article recently. He argues that no case has been made against censorship which would preclude the propriety of censoring for reasons that are aesthetic in nature. Shusterman argues that (i) aesthetic censorship would have the effect of highlighting the best work; (ii) it would not dull our aesthetic sensibilities with less-good work; and (iii) if economic constraints will necessarily act as a censor, better we censor on aesthetic grounds so that the best work is assured support.11 There are a great number of artworks out in the world today that are aesthetically unmeritorious. They do not reward aesthetic attention, and may even be blamed for distracting our finite attention for works which we would find rewarding. This being said, there are also works out there which are aesthetically meritorious, but which get dumped into the aforementioned category simply because they are in bad taste. Some artworks would reward aesthetic attention, but are not granted that opportunity their potential goes unactualized due to the fact that they are vulgar in some way. B. My Taste. Humes attempt, the common wisdom holds, to balance the subjectivity and incorrigibility of taste with a realist account of aesthetic judgment fails. It fails on the probability that


David E. W. Fenner two equally well disposed aesthetic judges might finally disagree about the merits of a given object. This is usually chalked up to a difference in taste. Here we are not talking about good taste versus bad, but about varieties of taste: some people like Mozart, some like John Lennon. Some people like David Lynch, some like David Lean. Some people like Kandinsky, some like Sargent. If it is an irreducible fact about human aesthetic sensibility that tastes vary, then this constitutes a very present and very real context through which we view aesthetic objects.

External Factors Not everything objective, with regard to an aesthetic experience, has to do with a formal analysis of the object under consideration. Some objective factors play a role in the creation of aesthetic experiences which we might call secondary aspects. 1. Informational Factors. Above I referred to aesthetic analysis as focusing on the formal characters of aesthetic objects. I hope that I left open, and perhaps alluded to the existence of, secondary factors in aesthetic analyses. There are many facts, the knowing of which alters aesthetic experiences sometimes only a bit, but sometimes a great deal. A. Genetic Information: What are the origins of the work? Who was the artist, what was her circumstances? What was the environment in which the work was created? When was it created? Where? What was the context of the work? What was the society in which it was created like? What were the religious, moral, social values of that time and place? B. Comparative Information: What was the genre of the work? How does it relate or compare to others of its kind? What is its kind? C. Provenance Information: What is the history of the work? Was it valued when it was first created? Who valued it? Who has owned it? How did it come to be in this museum, gallery, or collection? What awards has it won? 2. Subjective Factors. The analogy that philosophy of mind has used over the last few decades between the mind and a computer is apt here (once more). But instead of discussing hardware and software, the focus here will be on dust, magnets, and humidity. Just as a computer can be wildly affected by these sorts of things, so human experiences are subject to a variety of stimuli which on the surface have nothing at all to do with aesthetics, but which nonetheless can play a palpable role in the construction of (any) experience. A. Psychological Factors. If one is distracted, sad, or in a silly mood, ones experience will be affected. Indeed, psychological influences have a huge effect on the way that we take in the contents of our

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experiences, the way we meaningfully shape them, and the way we record them in our memories. If one is distracted enough, what might at another time constitute a very powerful experience might on this viewing constitute a minor, even a forgettable, experience. If one feels sufficiently negative or negatively critical, what might be the substance of a very valuable experience might go entirely unnoticed. B. Physical Factors. Once when I was in college, a friend of mine, with whom I was going to see a movie, indulged in a bit of marijuana smoking. The purpose, he said, was to enhance his experience of the film. After the film was over, I asked if the goal had been reached and was assured that it had been. It does not take illicit drugs to influence an experience; I find that my IQ plummets when I am on cold or flu medication. And, of course, too much alcohol or too much caffeine can be distracting. In addition to this, physical factors of temperature, comfort, and conflicting events can influence ones experience. If the theatre is too cold, if the seat is too small, if the person behind you spends five minutes getting the cellophane off a piece of peppermint, then ones experience of a performance is going to suffer for it. C. Maintenance of Distance. Edward Bullough argued that in order to experience an object or event aesthetically, one must maintain a Psychical Distance between oneself and the object or event under attention.12 Distance is that state in which the viewer understands that she, her person, emotions, the potential of her action, is not actually engaged directly with the object. She is out of direct involvement with the object, experiencing it as if it were out of reach where she cannot affect any changes that would alter the object, and the object cannot affect any changes in her. One understands, for instance, that it is inappropriate to run on stage to stop Othello from strangling Desdemona. One way to understand Distance in the theatre is to consider what has been called the fourth wall. We look onto what is happening on stage, but from the point of view of the stage, there is an invisible fourth wall that separates the audience from the players. One famous example of where the fourth wall is broken comes from Suzanne Langer.13 During Peter Pan, children normally are delighted when they are entreated by Peter to become agents in the saving of Tinkerbells life through vigorous clapping. This is a movement in the subjectivity of the audience caused by the material insistence of Peter that the audience come to Tinkerbells rescue. The childrens experience is altered, and usually for the positive. Some aesthetic objects or events, through the way they were constructed or the way they function, invade the psychical or even physical space of the


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audience member. This break in Distance can have a great affect on the attending individual: sometimes positive, sometimes negative. The affect, of course, is subjective, but the stimulus is an external or material aspect of the object itself. Conclusion Aesthetic experiences and aesthetic analyses are different. They are each at different times the focus of philosophical aesthetics. The latter is purely a philosophical enterprise. The former is frequently, although certainly not always, studied from both the viewpoints of philosophy and psychology. Today, for the twentieth century, and for much of the nineteenth, the trend has been toward focusing, as the core to philosophizing about aesthetics, on aesthetic experience, and to do so in a way that incorporates a psychological perspective. The point of this essay is to highlight the difference between the judgment-oriented approach and the experience-oriented approach, and to enhance that focus by examining many of the various sorts of experiential factors that are as much a part of an aesthetic experience as any other experience we may have.

NOTES 1. I argue for this in David Fenner, Defining the Aesthetic, Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics 23, 1-2 (2000): 101-17. 2. Archibald Alison, Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste (Boston: Cummings and Hilliard, 1812). See also Dabney Townsends treatment of Alison in Archibald Alison: Aesthetic Experience and Emotion, British Journal of Aesthetics 28 (1988). 3. George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty (1896). 4. John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Capricorn Books, Putnams Sons, 1934). 5. Jerome Stolnitz, Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art Criticism (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), 32-33. 6. Monroe Beardsley, Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958) and Monroe Beardsley, The Aesthetic Point of View (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982). 7. George Dickie argues that there is no essential nature to aesthetic experience. Dickie argues that aesthetic experience is no different in kind from any other sort of experience. The experience of fixing a car or brushing ones teeth is essentially the same as the experience of watching a play or listening to a symphony. The difference is not in kind, but in focus. We attend to different properties or aspects of object depending on our purpose in attending to them in the first place. I would argue that even though we might agree that it is unclear that there is an essence to aesthetic experience, we still find ourselves setting aesthetic experience off from other sorts of experience, so the search for commonality is valuable. See Monroe Beardsley, Aesthetic Experience Regained, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (1969); George Dickie, Beardsleys Phantom Aesthetic Experience, Journal of Philosophy (1965); George Dickie, Beardsleys

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Theory of Aesthetic Experience, Journal of Aesthetic Education (1984); and George Dickie, Is Psychology Relevant to Aesthetics? Philosophical Review (1962). 8. Beardsley, The Aesthetic Point of View, 286, 288. 9. George Dickie, Is Psychology Relevant to Aesthetics? See also E. Bulloughs The Relation of Aesthetics to Psychology, British Journal of Psychology 10 (1919). Note that Dickie does not see psychology as being relevant to the examination of aesthetic experience. After a philosophical treatment of the topic, Dickie does not see that there are any mysteries left; 296. 10. Alison, Essays on the Nature/Principles of Taste, 114. 11. Richard Shusterman, Aesthetic Censorship: Censoring Art for Arts Sake, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 43, no. 2 (Winter 1984): 171-80. 12. Edward Bullough, Psychical Distance as a Factor in Art and as an Aesthetic Principle, British Journal of Psychology (1912). He writes, Distancehas a negative, inhibitory aspect the cutting out of the practical sides of things and of our practical attitude to them and a positive side the elaboration of the experience on the new basis created by the inhibitory action of Distance.Distance appears to lie between our own self and its affections.Distance is obtained by separating the object and its appeal from ones own self, but putting it out of gear with practical needs and ends. 13. Suzanne Langer, Feeling and Form (New York, 1953), 318.