Topics Worth Investigating

  1. Alexander explains, " I perceive the tree in front of me to have a reverse side though I see only the front; but the tree really has a reverse side, and if I change my position the back of it is now seen and the front is supplied in idea.… The more perfect the artistry the more definitely does the work of art present in suggestion features which as a cognized object it has not." Explain whether or not you think that on the basis of this passage Alexander would recognize Cubist art as intrinsically more beautiful than landscape painting.

  2. In explaining the mind's contribution to the ęsthetic experience, Alexander writes, "[T]he ęsthetic semblance is not attributed to any real object outside the ęsthetic experience itself." Explain whether or not, then, ęsthetic semblance is entirely a subjective quality for Alexander.

  3. Alexander writes, "It is only through what is thus added [by the mind] that the beautiful object has meaning or character or expressiveness." In other words, beauty is a complex of "both mind and object." Contrast this view of beauty with Schelling's point:

    We must transcend form, in order to gain it again as intelligible, living, and truly felt. Consider the most beautiful forms: what remains behind after you have abstracted from them the creative principle within? Nothing but mere unessential qualities, such as extension and the relations of space.… Not only, however, as active principle, but as spirit and effective science, must the essence appear to us in the form, in order that we may truly apprehend it.[1]

    Evaluate whether Alexander's illusive aspect of beauty is accounted for as an active principle in nature by Schelling.

  4. In this reading, Alexander concludes, "Thus in the beautiful object, whether of art or nature, one part is contributed by the mind, and it is relatively a matter of indifference whether the mind in question is that of the person who creates the work of art or that of the mere spectator, who follows in the artist's traces." How can he assume that the intent of the artist is the same thing as that appreciated by the spectator? For Alexander, "[T]ruth and art are impersonal." Therefore, how does he show the view De gustibus non est disputandum is false?

Notes

[1]

F.W.J. von Schelling. "Über das Verhältnis der bilden Küste zu der Natur" in J. E. Cabot. The German Classics. New York: German Publication Society. 1913.