Aethetics and Ethics: Companion Investigators into Human Values
There are two opposing schools of thought. On the one hand authors such as Swanger (1991) claim that, while there are parallels between aesthetic and moral education, art does not teach morals. In fact, art does not instruct at all. On the other hand, authors such as Nussbaum (1990) and Carroll (2002) claim that the arts, especially literature, do indeed instruct, and that the focus of the instruction is directed towards human values. I will explore the pros and cons of both arguments, with particular attention to visual art. While it seems clear that some literary narratives have a deliberate moral message, it is less clear that a parallel can be made with regard to visual art, especially non-representational art. I argue that the closest we can come to instruction is through attention to feelings engendered upon encounters with an artwork, and that these feelings reinforce knowledge we already contain.
Keywords: Aesthetics, Ethics, Human Values, Art Education, Visual Art, Feelings, Knowledge
Dr. Boyd White
Associate Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education