The Virtue of Subtlety and the Vice of a Heavy Hand

British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (2):119-137 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Subtlety is a concept as deeply intertwined with aesthetic judgements as virtually any other. But it is not clear what makes subtlety a good property of an artwork, or indeed if it is one. In this paper, I explore this under-discussed issue. First, I spend some time setting out hallmarks of subtlety and discussing different ways in which subtlety might be valuable. I then go on to defend a particular view about why subtlety is aesthetically valuable, by thinking through why heavy-handedness is aesthetically bad. In essence, subtlety is valuable because it promotes active engagement with the artwork, and heavy-handedness is bad because it forces us into too passive a role. I connect this to the role of agency and autonomy in artistic experience. Finally, I discuss some related aesthetic concepts, and expand the view of subtlety to cover borderline art forms, nature, and people themselves.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,931

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Notes on subtlety and ineffability in Pκλ.Yoshihiro Abe - 2005 - Archive for Mathematical Logic 44 (5):619-631.
The Subtlety of Emotions.[author unknown] - 2001 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 63 (4):810-811.
Aaron Ben-Ze ev: The subtlety of emotions.Peter Zachar - 2001 - Consciousness and Emotion 2 (1):180-188.
Some Aspects of n‐Subtlety.Pierre Matet - 1988 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 34 (2):189-192.
Subtlety and partition relations.Toshimichi Usuba - 2016 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 62 (1-2):59-71.
Judgment Day: A Review of Aaron Ben-Ze'ev's The Subtlety Of Emotions. [REVIEW]Thomas Raab - 2002 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 8.
Facing our Delusions: Rosenzweig’s Defence of Subtlety. [REVIEW]Camelia Gradinaru - 2011 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy 3 (2):505-509.
'Primate'— Sensationalism For Subtlety.Tabitha Powledge - 1975 - Hastings Center Report 5 (1):5-6.
Subtlety and moral vision in fiction.Eileen John - 1995 - Philosophy and Literature 19 (2):308-319.
Callimachean subtlety in Asclepiades of Samos.W. Geoffrey Arnott - 1969 - The Classical Review 19 (01):6-8.
Some Aspects ofn-Subtlety.Pierre Matet - 1988 - Zeitschrift fur mathematische Logik und Grundlagen der Mathematik 34 (2):189-192.
Homeostasis is insufficient to account for subtlety of behavior.D. H. Overstreet - 1979 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 2 (1):113-113.

Analytics

Added to PP
2017-03-24

Downloads
100 (#177,564)

6 months
24 (#121,678)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Alex King
Simon Fraser University

Citations of this work

Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1127-1156.
The aesthetics of country music.John Dyck - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (5):e12729.
Non-Monotonic Theories of Aesthetic Value.Robbie Kubala - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Rethinking Low, Middle, and High Art.Ting Cho Lau - 2022 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (4):1-12.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Moderate moralism.Noël Carroll - 1996 - British Journal of Aesthetics 36 (3):223-238.
Moderate Moralism.Noël Carroll - 1996 - British Journal of Aesthetics 36 (3):223-238.
Anything but argument?Cora Diamond - 1982 - Philosophical Investigations 5 (1):23-41.
Moral and Aesthetic Judgments Reconsidered.Daniel Came - 2012 - Journal of Value Inquiry 46 (2):159-171.

Add more references