Blog Coordinators

Goal of the Blog!

« Dialogues on Disability: Shelley Tremain Interviews Melinda Hall | Main | Way Beyond the Lifeboat: An Indigenous Allegory of Climate Justice (guest post) »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I worry that there is an equivocation on 'objective.' In this context, when it is said that art has an "objective" aesthetic value, this is not meant to imply some kind of Platonism about aesthetic value, where it exists independently of human beings (and their history/culture). It is rather meant to imply that it is a real value that art has, insofar as any values are "real."

The reality of all values may well be mind-dependent (culture dependent, or what have you). Even so, some values are b.s. and others are real, though this distinction too might be changeable according to cultural context, etc. But in the present context, when I say that climate change is bad, I am expressing a value that is not merely a matter of personal taste (akin to 'I like rocky road ice cream). Further, it is a shared value in the present community of human beings, even though it is dependent on us. The point about calling aethetic value "objective" is that it is a value which has those kinds of qualities, and not that it is transcultural or transhistorical or the like.
By the way, your work indeed has objective value, and I am in no way trying to devalue it. Rather, I am am trying to be helpful in advancing the discussion on this important matter. I hope I was of some help.


Ann, thanks for your provocative remarks. I held off on responding in case others wanted to chime in. My discussion of disability and aesthetic value addresses, as I indicated, an objection that is commonly directed at approaches to disability that do not assume it to be a prediscursive, self-evidently natural human characteristic or attribute. This discussion of disability and aesthetic values is part of a larger discussion in the chapter about models of and other approaches to disability that academics and activists have advanced. My aim in the chapter is to show that a historicist and relativist feminist philosophy of disability can account for the historical specificity and culturally relative character of the apparatus of disability in ways that, and to an extent that, other philosophies and theories of disability do not.

We seem to disagree about what the term ‘objective’ means and what it entails. As I understand it, when people claim that something is “objective,” they mean something like it is true in nature, a fact of the matter, obtains for everyone, at any time, in any place.

Given my historicist and relativist approach, including the influence of Foucault (among others) on my thinking, it is not surprising to me that I do not have the confidence in objectivity or (as you refer to it) "shared values" with respect to art that you seem to hold. For example, I think that the contested character of definitions of art itself--that is, what counts as art, who makes it, what it comprises, etc.--suggests that there is considerable disagreement with respect to “real” aesthetic values even in this historical moment: Is this art or (merely) craft? Is this an art object or a religious artifact? Is this person a bona fide artist or simply a craftsperson? Is “outsider” art really art? Are tattoos art? What about graffiti? Flower arranging? Architecture? Is the price that a piece of artwork garners at an art auction a reflection of its “real” aesthetic value or of something else?

Finally, I find Jesse Prinz’s genealogical arguments and other historical research (in the podcast I cited and elsewhere) with respect art, the plasticity of aesthetic values, the mutually constitutive character of aesthetic values and social and political events and movements, and the artifactual character of art more generally to be extremely compelling. I have learned a great deal from them.

Thanks again for your comment.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

D & D on Social Media