1. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    25 Feb '08 14:25
    What a good idea the new forums are!

    Here are some comments to help get the ball rolling. Or, at least, one ball.

    There is a lot a talk--for example in the Spirituality forum--about whether ethics is relative or absolute, and how ethics should or could be justified.

    But it seems one can have an at least partly isomorphic discussion about aesthetics.

    For example, a lot of people seem to believe that, without God, there can be no real ethics. However, not as many seem to believe that, without God, there can be no real aesthetics. It seems that me that God's existence would in principle be equally relevant or irrelevant to both aesthetics and ethics.

    More generally still: what is the link between ethics and aesthetics? I once had the following thought: "Ethics is the aesthetics of aesthetics". Was my thought profound or vacuous?
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    25 Feb '08 14:56
    I always thought of 'ethics' as being on the liabilites side of the human values balance (we should or should not act according to ...) and 'aesthaetics' on the asset side (we benefit from ...).

    That is probably too simplistic but it feels aesthetic to me. Here is one example (could be in the science forum):

    Einstein used aesthetics as one of his guidelines in deriving theories from his observations. E=MC² looked pleasing to him, which confirmed his trust in the formula. On the other hand, he rejected (although he was wrong in doing so) the quantum mechanic principle of uncertainty based on an ethical argument: God surely would not gamble.
  3. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    25 Feb '08 20:38
    Originally posted by Mephisto2
    I always thought of 'ethics' as being on the liabilites side of the human values balance (we should or should not act according to ...) and 'aesthaetics' on the asset side (we benefit from ...).

    That is probably too simplistic but it feels aesthetic to me. Here is one example (could be in the science forum):

    Einstein used aesthetics as one of his ...[text shortened]... echanic principle of uncertainty based on an ethical argument: God surely would not gamble.
    Well, I agree that "ethics" often has a negative feel, as it connotes impositions, whereas "aesthetics" often has a positive feel, as it connotes appreciation. However, construed more broadly, ethics straddles both good and bad (acts and people), and aesthetis straddles both good or bad (acts and objects). So it would be false to assert that ethics only involves costs, and aesthetics benefits.

    The Einstein quote is interesting. However, Einstein didn't really base his aethetics in ethics, because he didn't believe in a personal God, and only people can behave ethically or unethically; he's is employing a mixture of analogy and hyperbole by asserting that God would not dare play dice. His underlying argument, however, is directly from aesthetics to truth. However, this is not a good general argument, because truth can be complex and ugly, even, it seems, in physics.

    But you raise the issue of either ethics or aesthetics being a source of the other. It seems to be that aesthetics is one source of ethics. For example, I suspect you would agree that having sex with a dead chicken is unethical. (You might feign liberal tolerance: but would you *really* want your daughter going out with a man who did so?). Unfortunately, no ethical theory really explains why. However, it is certainly unaesthetic. So is incest, for nearly everyone. Judgmental homophobics also object to homosexuality, I believe, primarily because it disgusts them. However, aesthetics is not sufficient for ethics: we may still judge incest unacceptable and homosexuality acceptable. Hence, I think that ethics is a kind of aesthetics of aesthetics.
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    25 Feb '08 21:35
    I haven't studied greek. Is there an ethimological link (the spelling of the 'ethics' part is not identical)? If there is, then your position might be confirmed from that aspect as well.
  5. Donationbbarr
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    27 Feb '08 03:36
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    What a good idea the new forums are!

    Here are some comments to help get the ball rolling. Or, at least, one ball.

    There is a lot a talk--for example in the Spirituality forum--about whether ethics is relative or absolute, and how ethics should or could be justified.

    But it seems one can have an at least partly isomorphic discussion about aesthe ...[text shortened]... lowing thought: "Ethics is the aesthetics of aesthetics". Was my thought profound or vacuous?
    This is such an interesting and difficult question, since we seem torn between claiming that some things really are beautiful, or sublime, or even hilarious and yet we want to make ample room for personal taste and variety. So, we seem torn between the claim that some aesthetic judgments command universal assent, that one makes an error by not appreciating some aesthetic quality, and yet we also want people to be able to justifiably like different sorts of music, art, etc.
  6. Donationbbarr
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    27 Feb '08 03:46
    Originally posted by Mephisto2
    I haven't studied greek. Is there an ethimological link (the spelling of the 'ethics' part is not identical)? If there is, then your position might be confirmed from that aspect as well.
    I don't think there is. 'Aesthetics' comes from the Germans, who used it to refer to the study of the beautiful, but the Greek word 'Aesthesis' refers to sense-perception (or sometimes to sensation, sometimes to perception, and sometimes to the process by which sensory states turn into instances of perceiving).
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