Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Aesthetics and Ethics

pic has not a gd thing to do with anything--at Cafe du Monde in NOLA
I had an amazing time in New Orleans. It was really fun, a really nice city. Good even for such a short trip. Of course while I was there I became interested in some obscure Southern writers named Anne Rice and Charmaine Harris. 

 I read the book Interview with the Vampire last week. It was pretty good, I felt like it took a long time to get going though. The last 2/3 were great. I have no issue with her writing style. 
There was a passage in it where Lestat is talking about ethics, and makes some statement that aesthetics are the highest form of ethics. I'm not well read in philosophy but the idea stuck with me. I like it. He basically said that all aesthetic decisions or determinations are also ethical. 

Okay I found the passage:
"But've said Lestat shouldn't have made you start with people. Did you you mean for you it was an aesthetic choice, not a moral one?"
"Had you asked me then, I would have told you it was aesthetic, that I wished to understand death in stages....But it was moral. Because all aesthetic decisions are moral, really."
"I don't understand," said the boy. "I thought aesthetic decision could be completely immoral. What about the cliche of the artist who leaves his wife and children so he can paint? Or Nero playing the harp while Rome burned?"
"Both were moral decisions. Both served a higher good, in the mind of the artist. The conflict lies between the morals of the artist and the morals of society, not between aesthetics and morality."

2 pics of the garden district in NOLA 
This makes perfect sense to me. I like it a lot actually. I think aesthetic choices and determinations aren't given enough consideration actually. 

And it turns out really smart people have thought about this too. This from Wikipedia: 

Aesthetic ethics

Aesthetic ethics refers to the idea that human conduct and behaviour ought to be governed by that which is beautiful and attractive.....the unity of aesthetics and ethics is in fact reflected in our understanding of behaviour being "fair" - the word having a double meaning of attractive and morally acceptable. 

Wittgenstein stated that ethics and aesthetics are one, that only through aesthetics and art can what is truly important in human life be shown. Thus ethics and aesthetics can illuminate the relationship between art and our lives.

I have to think more about this but I'm excited to think that choices you think are purely about beauty also incorporate ethical and moral values. Wait I gues that means what we think is superficial is really meaningful! Which is what I have suspected all along!

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