The Problems of Aesthetics and Moral Values

(1) Problems of Aesthetic Values

Aesthetic value-judgments, as well have seen, appraise objects according as they possess, or do not possess, that peculiar something called beauty. There are, of course, manifold forms of the beautiful, but it is in some real sense supposed to be the same in all; so the basal aesthetic concept is that of beauty. There are mainly there problems clustering about this basal idea which we shall consider.

These are:
(a) What is the nature of beauty?
(b) What is the nature of the experience which we call ‘appreciation’ and ‘creation’ (in art) of beauty? and
(c) What is the relation between beauty and goodness?

The first of these problems is, strictly speaking, largely a problem of the science of aesthetics, though not wholly so; it touches upon a certain general question that has philosophical implications of considerable importance.

The second problem is primarily as psychological one, though here also the problem leads naturally and inevitably out into the field of psychology.

The third problem is strictly philosophical, since it is concerned with the interrelation of two sciences, -namely, aesthetics and ethics.

(2) Problems of Moral Values

(a) What is the nature of goodness?
(b) What are the conditions of the creation of goodness?
(c) What are the conditions of the conservation of goodness?

The traditional formulation of these problems, with which the reader may perchance be more familiar, are as follows:

(a) What is the chief end of life or the highest good?
(b) Is there such a thing as a free will, or are wills determined?
(c) Can the human soul be said to be immortal or does it die with the body, and what can we know about the existence and nature of God?

(Cunningham, The Problems of Philosophy, 352-53)


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