What is beauty? There is no absolute truth when it comes to beauty because it is a perception, a subjective opinion that we make of something. So what makes something beautiful to one person and ugly to another? ‘Judgments of beauty’ is a topic that has been philosophised about for many years.
In the 18th century there were two contradicting views on aesthetics, the first being that the judgment of beauty is non cognitive, and is an expression based on emotions and feelings. This view was supported by philosophers such as Hume and Hutcheson. The other view was a more rationalistic one in which the judgment of beauty was a cognitive response to the objective properties of something.
Kant aposed both these theories and claimed that one’s judgment of beauty is influenced by our aesthetic experience of it as well as our intellectual response to it. The intellectual response, however, was one of disinterest and free from concept. This allows pure beauty to pleasure the mind and hold its attention without the need and desire for the object, for it is not the object itself that is being contemplated. He stated that a judgment of beauty has a universality to it therefore being a judgement that is universaly agreed upon.
I agree with Kant’s sentiments that when we judge something to be beautiful it is due to our aesthetic experience of it as well as an intellectual response. I do however, disagree that beauty can only be judged free of concept. I think that the understanding and appreciation of an object in its entirety enhances our perception of the object’s beauty. I aslo disagree on the universality of such a judgment. I think one’s judgment is influenced so much so by factors such as their experiences, upbringing, culture, beliefs and values that it is unlikely for there to be such a universal judgment of beauty.
Yesterday while looking up the meaning of value, I realised that up until now I have had a somewhat primary understanding of the word and the meaning it holds. Especially being something so closely related to what I do! I’m not going to go into the whole load down of everything, but simply comment on some factors that intrestd me.
Value can be subcategorised into absolute value and relative value. Relative value is considered subjective and varies across different cultures and people. It is this relative value that I think applies to or work as artists.
It can also be subcategorised further into intrinsic value and instrumental value. The intrinsic value of something belongs to it by its very nature, wheras an instrumental value of something is its value in ameans of acheiving something else, ie- a radio is very valuable for listening to music.
What I find so interesting about this particularly, is that as a jeweller or artist we create something and through the creation process are instiling an intrinsic value into something. We can however, manipulate this intrinsic value to become an instrumental value as well.
On the other hand, I think a jeweller can make a piece of jewellery with an instrumental value such as a wedding ring, and over time it is able to obtain an intrinsic value. For example, If I was to receive a wedding ring that had been passed down from my great grandmother to my gran to my mother, and now me, the instrinsic value of it to me would be that of a family heirloom and a personal connection to the piece of jewellery.
The distinction line of value therefore becomes less black and white when relating it to the value of jewellery, and I think that it comes back to its relative value.