Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ethics and Aesthetics, Addendum

A few things off the back of yesterday's post.

First, here is a useful discussion (which I found after I had posted) applying this sort of concept to a concrete example.  I haven't looked into the background of it all, but the key thing for me is the awkward way in which aesthetic repugnance and moral repugnance can be confused, and the importance of clarity.

Secondly, it occurs to me that I should have said that we will rarely (never?) encounter pure ugliness in the ethical realm.  This is not because there is some inherent good in everyone which shines through even the darkest deeds; rather, it is because evil cannot overcome God's grace in creation and redemption.  Even where I have to make a negative ethical judgement on the basis of God's command, and train my aesthetic sense to a corresponding distaste, there will be something good, something praiseworthy, something beautiful.  Even when it is only the fact that God can and will weave even the most evil things into his overall story.

Thirdly, it would be useful to clarify that a disciplined aesthetic can be a great servant of ethical judgement.  It is easier to say 'no' to a wrong which I also see as ugly.  It is easier to detect evil when not only my ethical judgement but also my taste is attuned to good.

Fourthly, and more practically, I probably need to watch less TV, or perhaps just consume less popular culture in general.  It is hard to discipline myself to feel rightly in the realm of sexual ethics, for example, when I have just spent half an hour chuckling at the sexual antics of some character in a sitcom.

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