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Arts/Music: is Beauty objective or subjective? Watch

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    Is Beauty in the eye of the beholder? A friend of mine believes Miley Cyrus is superior to Mozart in every way. I believe in Kant's "good" taste, and differentiate the agreeable and the beautiful.
    Why do you (not) believe Vivaldi is better than Eminem? Simply because you enjoy listening to it more, or are there other reasons?
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    Vivaldi, being a baroque composer, is by default inferior to all other musicians other than other baroque composers.

    Also, your friend is comparing performers and composers (based on the assumption that he has never heard a recording of Mozart performing, since there aren't any). That's like me saying a bicycle is better than a cupboard - they are two very different things. Comparing them is silly.
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    I'm willing to accept anything as long as it's an informed decision. If they've given Mozart a good chance and still prefer Miley Cyrus, then fine. Too many are too hasty/ignorant. The best things in life are an acquired taste.
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    (Original post by Bobifier)
    Vivaldi, being a baroque composer, is by default inferior to all other musicians other than other baroque composers.

    Also, your friend is comparing performers and composers (based on the assumption that he has never heard a recording of Mozart performing, since there aren't any). That's like me saying a bicycle is better than a cupboard - they are two very different things. Comparing them is silly.
    Good point. But then he could also say he sees no difference between Blink 182 and the Chet Baker Quartet.
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    (Original post by Withered)
    I'm willing to accept anything as long as it's an informed decision. If they've given Mozart a good chance and still prefer Miley Cyrus, then fine. Too many are too hasty/ignorant. The best things in life are an acquired taste.

    Well that's the point - if he actually listened to Mozart, and listened to Miley Cyrus as well - there's no problem of him liking Miley Cyrus more, but wouldn't it still be reasonable to admit/ackowledge that Mozart (or any excellent genius/artist) was better than Cyrus?
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    Comparing Vivaldi to Eminem would be absurd. Rap and hip-hop and baroque music have completely different conventions and intentions (and I would not say that I find either beautiful in the Kantian sense). Please define beauty.
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    (Original post by littleshambles)
    Comparing Vivaldi to Eminem would be absurd. Rap and hip-hop and baroque music have completely different conventions and intentions (and I would not say that I find either beautiful in the Kantian sense). Please define beauty.
    Agreedmore or less, but even if they are different, does that make them completely incomparable?
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    Beauty is subjective when a work of art appeals to us on the receiving end, but I don't think this sort of visceral/emotional reaction can be used to measure beauty since people's perceptions are variably flawed. Ultimately I think there is a certain objectivity regarding a piece of music's inherent beauty. I have lots more to say but it's too late to articulate myself properly

    (Original post by Bobifier)
    Vivaldi, being a baroque composer, is by default inferior to all other musicians other than other baroque composers.

    Also, your friend is comparing performers and composers (based on the assumption that he has never heard a recording of Mozart performing, since there aren't any). That's like me saying a bicycle is better than a cupboard - they are two very different things. Comparing them is silly.
    Even Bach? (IIRC you love Rach, right?)
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    (Original post by SebK)
    Agreedmore or less, but even if they are different, does that make them completely incomparable?
    Maybe not, but let's see. How successful a hip-hop song or a piece of baroque music is depends on its conventions. I would actually argue both are capable of invoking the "free play" of imagination that Kant argues constitutes aesthetic experience, and that Eminem is probably more capable of it than Vivaldi (I really do not like Vivaldi).

    I generally listen to baroque music to work to and I prefer Bach infinitely to Vivaldi who is just... Bleh. I don't know what it is about Vivaldi, but he's sort of like a Marks and Spencer ready meal, you know? "Seems" posh and high quality but is actually just bland. Anyway, I'm going to take Bach as my other example. The main aesthetic quality in Bach (least, the Bach I listen to) is the use of polyphony and the layering of phrases and motifs. It's very intricate and it's the intricacy that engages your brain and provides you with enjoyment. It took me a long time to accept this stuff as "beautiful" though, because immediately it isn't: unusually for music it doesn't inspire any emotional states in me at all, merely cognitive-imaginative ones. For this reason I suppose this is the quintessential Kantian aesthetic experience.

    For me, the essential aesthetic quality of rap music lies in the rhythm both of the beat and of the words. Listening to an Eminem song, a good one anyway, what always catches my attention is the rhythm and flow of the words first and foremost rather than the content (i.e. the form), but what will maintain my attention is the content and so on. Content - lyrical sense, emotional impact, intelligence - these are all absolutely essential to making a successful rap song, far moreso than baroque or even other forms of popular music. I don't think you can or should judge a piece of art simply based on Kant's detached idea of aesthetic judgement because it fails to justify reducing any properly "aesthetic" (I have been using aesthetic in the narrow sense throughout for the sake of argument) judgement of art to its own perameters: I think the idea that it is or should be removed from social-cultural dispositions, emotional impact, etc is false.

    I would say, however, that I do think the Kantian notion has something to it: it definitely chimes with my feeling of what aesthetic experience is. So I'm not sure. In answer to your question, though, I think "beauty" is necessarily subjective, because even for Kant beauty is a relation between subject and object which involves the "free play of the imagination".
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    Yeah, I totally changed my mind from what I wrote 8 hours ago.
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    (Original post by SebK)
    Is Beauty in the eye of the beholder? A friend of mine believes Miley Cyrus is superior to Mozart in every way. I believe in Kant's "good" taste, and differentiate the agreeable and the beautiful.
    Why do you (not) believe Vivaldi is better than Eminem? Simply because you enjoy listening to it more, or are there other reasons?
    This is a good question, and the whole "what is subjective, what is objective" argument often makes for a lively debate.

    Firstly, I would say the "beauty" is a slightly too narrow definition of what art and music are "for", although that is a whole different debate in itself. Beauty is entirely subjective, but art and music are about more than just the creation of beauty.

    In terms of judging the "value" of a piece of music or art there are a whole range of factors that must be considered, some of them more objective than others. My personal opinion is that ultimately the value or efficacy of a piece of art is both objective and subjective.

    For example, in judging music, clearly Mozart is "better" than static white noise. That can be seen objectively, no matter what particular criterion you use to value the work. But which is better out of The Magic Flute and Requiem? At that point it becomes hard to judge and therefore a subjective decision.

    Of course, before you can judge the "value" of an art form, we really need to nail down what art forms are "for", within the paradigm of human civilisation as a whole. That's no easy task. If we were all able to agree, then we would in theory be able to make objective judgements on the value of every art work. But this day will never come, so we will always be left with the fuzzy logic of subjective opinions.
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    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    HOWEVER often people mistake the level of skill with goodness. Music elitists, more specifically.

    It's beyond doubt that Yngwie Malmsteen is a far more talented guitarist than Tom De Longe but a very significant amount of people prefer Blink-182 to any of Malmsteen's work. I'm not one of them, but that's not the point.
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    Beauty to me is the best work of art in that particular genre of music

    For example, I think both Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life is a work of art, but I also think The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds is a work of art too. I'll never compare them though, one is R&B whilst the other is baroque pop.

    They're both bloody gorgeous though.
 
 
 
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