What is relative and what is objective?
SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) informs me that objectivity is our shared subjectivity. That is to say that everything that we think, know, or perceive is subjective to some degree and this degree of subjectivity is dependent upon the cognitive structure that we use to process all of our thoughts, knowledge, and perceptions.
It is the universality of our human cognitive processing system that belies both the objectivity and relativity that objectivism philosophy wishes to teach us. Reality that we think that we know is not the thing-in-itself that Kant tells us that we cannot know with certainty. All of our sensual input is processed by our cognitive system to provide us with what we know as reality.
It is human nature to be attracted to the mere appearance of things; the survival of many kinds of animals is dictated by the ability of the male and female to attract one another resulting from the colors and forms of eye appeal. We dress in the morning often based upon what type of trial we are facing; we gain a sense of confidence when we are confident of our appearance.
Our culture provides us little incentive to examine the common principles of our nature in such matters as morality and aesthetics. Such principles represent the very foundation for our actions. We finish our formal schooling without even rudimentary comprehension of these fundamental aspects of our nature. Not only do we finish our schooling with this fundamental ignorance but we leave schooling with a disdain and dismissive attitude of such matters.
We finish schooling with a prejudice against our self. We develop a satisfaction only when we think of our self as being surrounded by objects and laws independent of our self. We finish school unaware of the psychology which is the instrument of our speculations about these laws and principles. We aggressively dismiss the exclusively “subjective and human department of imagination and emotion…we have still to recognize in practice the truth that from these despised feelings of ours the great world of perception derives all its value, if not also is existence…had our perceptions no connection with our pleasures, we should soon close our eyes on this world”.
I think that specialization is perhaps a necessity but it is not necessary, nor is it health, for us to graduate sophomores who lack the rudimentary knowledge of fundamental human capacities and limitations? Also the self congratulatory attitude resulting from a mistaken hubris leaves us handicapped in any effort to develop a sophisticated comprehension of our problems after our school daze are over.
Criticism emphasizes deliberate judgment whereas enjoyment emphasizes the instinctive and immediate.
Criticism implies judgment and aesthetes (having an affecting sensitivity to beauty) imply perception. To reach a common ground between the two we must consider perceptions that are more than passive but are critical. Also we must adjust our notion of criticism to include “those judgments of value which are instinctive and immediate, that is, to include pleasures and pain”.
If we also narrow our concept of aesthetics (pleasing in appearance) so as to exclude all perceptions which are not appreciations, i.e. which do not find value in their objects, we can reach a “sphere of critical or appreciative perception”.
Thus, aesthetics is “concerned with the perception of values”.
Self consciousness is the precursor of the possibility of worth. For the existence of ‘good’ in any form, emotional consciousness is required. “Observation will not do, appreciation is required.”
From this we can assert an axiom that is important for all moral philosophy; and science of morality should it ever come to be. “There is no value apart from some appreciation of it.”
Spinoza informs us that we desire nothing because it is good but that it is good because we desire it. We can find value in that which is not instinctively good only because it is derivative of the instinctively appreciated. “The verbal and mechanical proposition, that passes for judgment of worth, is the great cloak of ineptitude in these matters…Verbal judgments are often instruments of thought but it is not by them that worth can ultimately be determined.”
Quotes from The Sense of Beauty by George Santayana