British Journal of Aesthetics 61 (4):505-526 (2021)

Eli I. Lichtenstein
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
While the idea of art as self-expression can sound old-fashioned, it remains widespread—especially if the relevant ‘selves’ can be social collectives, not just individual artists. But self-expression can collapse into individualistic or anthropocentric self-involvement. And compelling successor ideals for artists are not obvious. In this light, I develop a counter-ideal of creative receptivity to basic features of the external world, or artistic objectivity. Objective artists are not trying to express themselves or reach collective self-knowledge. However, they are also not disinterested or emotionless. They can be unmoved by personal feelings and human concerns, but they are still receptive—just attuned to the more elemental forces that creatively inspire them. I elaborate this ideal in dialogue with John Ruskin’s influential critique of the pathetic fallacy. By contextualizing Ruskin’s view vis-à-vis Romantic and Modernist poetics, post-Kantian aesthetics, modern environmental art, and contemporary theories of expressiveness, I show how it indirectly motivates my account.
Keywords Art  Creativity  Expression  Objectivity  Receptivity  Self-Expression  Pathetic Fallacy  Nature  Expressive Qualities  Anthropocentrism  Anthropomorphism
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayaa041
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References found in this work BETA

The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1689 - London, England: Oxford University Press.
Art as Experience.John Dewey - 1934 - G. Allen & Unwin.
Critique of the Power of Judgment.Immanuel Kant - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.

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