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Thoroughly understand the handout “8 Aesthetic Principles for Critically Evaluating Art.” Carefully select a work that is not widely known as “art” in the highest sense and/or whose creator’s reputation as a true “artist” is not securely established and whose work tends to be categorized as more entertainmentbased media rather than as art (most all pop music, a famous athlete (Kobe Bryant), television shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dexter, or The Daily Show). Evaluate the work of your choice, critically analyzing how it meets THREE of the Aesthetic Principles, excluding principle 8. Try to employ effective analogy, descriptions, and relevant comparisons to works that are already considered classic to help make your point. Note: Please choose the smallest unit of the work to discuss, and write “more about less,” rather than “less about more.” For instance, if you choose to write on a band, pick one song to write about. If you write on a television show, pick one episode. Only under rare cases, for example a concept album like the Mars Volta’s De-loused in the Comatorium or Green Day’s American Idiot should you write on the complete work. Essay Parameters: 3 full pages, maximum of 4. Classical Format (see Classical Rhetoric handout) MLA Format (see http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch08_o.html), including correct paper formatting, in-text citation, and works cited (if necessary). Include the language of aesthetics in an organic fashion. 8 Aesthetic Principles for Critically Evaluating Art 1. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they are meaningful or teach us truths. For example, Aristotle says that tragic plays teach us general truths about the human condition in a dramatic way that cannot be matched by real-life experience. Many people believe art shows us truths that are usually hidden from us by practical concerns of daily life. 2. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to convey values or beliefs that are central to the cultures or traditions in which they originate, or that are important to the artists who made them. For example, John Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost expresses the seventeenth century Puritan view of the relationship between human beings and God. 3. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to help bring about social or political change. For instance, Abraham Lincoln commented that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin contributed to the antislavery movement, which resulted in the Civil War. 4. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to produce pleasure in those who experience or appreciate them. For instance, the nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche identifies one kind of aesthetic value with the capacity to create a feeling of ecstatic bonding in audiences. 5. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to produce certain emotions we value, at least when the emotion is brought about by art rather than life. In the Poetics, Aristotle observes that we welcome the feelings of fear created in us by frightening dramas, whereas in everyday life fear is an experience we would rather avoid. The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud offers another version of this principle: While we enjoy art, we permit ourselves to have feelings so subversive that we have to repress them to function in everyday life. 6. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to produce special nonemotional experiences, such as a feeling of autonomy or the willing suspension of disbelief. This principle is the proposal of the nineteenth-century English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. One of art’s values, he believes, is its ability to stimulate our power to exercise our imaginations and consequently to free ourselves from thinking that is too narrowly practical. 7. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they possess a special aesthetic property or exhibit a special aesthetic form. Sometimes this aesthetic property is called “beauty,” and sometimes it is given another name. For instance, the early-twentieth-century art critic Clive Bell insists that good art is valuable for its own sake, not because it fulfills any function. To know whether a work is good aesthetically, he urges, one need only look at it or listen to it to see or hear whether it has “significant form.” “Significant form” is valuable for itself, not for any function it performs. 8. No reasoned argument can conclude that objects are aesthetically valuable or valueless. This principle is expressed in the Latin saying “De gustibus non est disputandum,” or “Tastes can’t be disputed.” Do NOT use this last principle for the assignment because it negates the other principles.

Thoroughly understand the handout “8 Aesthetic Principles for Critically
Evaluating Art.”
Carefully select a work that is not widely known as “art” in the highest sense
and/or whose creator’s reputation as a true “artist” is not securely
established and whose work tends to be categorized as more entertainmentbased
media rather than as art (most all pop music, a famous athlete (Kobe
Bryant), television shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dexter, or The Daily
Show). Evaluate the work of your choice, critically analyzing how it meets
THREE of the Aesthetic Principles, excluding principle 8. Try to employ
effective analogy, descriptions, and relevant comparisons to works that are
already considered classic to help make your point.
Note: Please choose the smallest unit of the work to discuss, and write
“more about less,” rather than “less about more.” For instance, if you
choose to write on a band, pick one song to write about. If you write on a
television show, pick one episode. Only under rare cases, for example a
concept album like the Mars Volta’s De-loused in the Comatorium or Green
Day’s American Idiot should you write on the complete work.
Essay Parameters:
3 full pages, maximum of 4.
Classical Format (see Classical Rhetoric handout)
MLA Format (see http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch08_o.html),
including correct paper formatting, in-text citation, and works cited (if necessary).
Include the language of aesthetics in an organic fashion.
8 Aesthetic Principles for Critically Evaluating Art
1. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they are meaningful or teach us truths. For example,
Aristotle says that tragic plays teach us general truths about the human condition in a
dramatic way that cannot be matched by real-life experience. Many people believe art shows
us truths that are usually hidden from us by practical concerns of daily life.
2. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to convey values or beliefs that
are central to the cultures or traditions in which they originate, or that are important to the
artists who made them. For example, John Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost expresses the
seventeenth century Puritan view of the relationship between human beings and God.
3. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to help bring about social or
political change. For instance, Abraham Lincoln commented that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s
Uncle Tom’s Cabin contributed to the antislavery movement, which resulted in the Civil War.
4. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to produce pleasure in those
who experience or appreciate them. For instance, the nineteenth-century German
philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche identifies one kind of aesthetic value with the capacity to
create a feeling of ecstatic bonding in audiences.
5. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to produce certain emotions we
value, at least when the emotion is brought about by art rather than life. In the Poetics,
Aristotle observes that we welcome the feelings of fear created in us by frightening dramas,
whereas in everyday life fear is an experience we would rather avoid. The psychoanalyst
Sigmund Freud offers another version of this principle: While we enjoy art, we permit
ourselves to have feelings so subversive that we have to repress them to function in everyday
life.
6. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they have the capacity to produce special nonemotional
experiences, such as a feeling of autonomy or the willing suspension of
disbelief. This principle is the proposal of the nineteenth-century English poet Samuel
Taylor Coleridge. One of art’s values, he believes, is its ability to stimulate our power to
exercise our imaginations and consequently to free ourselves from thinking that is too
narrowly practical.
7. Objects are aesthetically valuable if they possess a special aesthetic property or exhibit a
special aesthetic form. Sometimes this aesthetic property is called “beauty,” and sometimes
it is given another name. For instance, the early-twentieth-century art critic Clive Bell insists
that good art is valuable for its own sake, not because it fulfills any function. To know
whether a work is good aesthetically, he urges, one need only look at it or listen to it to see or
hear whether it has “significant form.” “Significant form” is valuable for itself, not for any
function it performs.
8. No reasoned argument can conclude that objects are aesthetically valuable or valueless. This
principle is expressed in the Latin saying “De gustibus non est disputandum,” or “Tastes can’t
be disputed.”
Do NOT use this last principle for the assignment because it negates the other
principles.

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