Can Art Be Immoral

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Imagine you just woke up to the sun peering into your bedroom window. You get up and walk over to your patio window. You never imagined to be awoken to a more glorious view. The ground is covered in a fresh blanket of snow covering the landscape. The blanket rolls up and over the nearby mountains where the jagged peaks seem to reach beyond the sky. You see two massive elk breaking the first trails through the freshly fallen snow. You feel so overwhelmed with beauty that it leaves a smile on your face all day long.

Is the beauty of an object a function of the way we see it or a function of the way it really is? Everyone sees beauty in different things. I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder is as different as the beauty. Everybody is raised and exposed to different ideas and experiences throughout their lives.

I think our personalities are shaped thru these ideas and experiences. Since no two people will ever experience the exact same things throughout live, this leaves us all unique individuals who find beauty in things we are familiar with or have had exposure to. When we see something we consider to be beautiful we are filled with emotions. We derive pleasure from within ourselves when we see beauty.

If beauty were limited to only certain objects would everyone find beauty in all the same objects? People have preference based on prior experience therefore I think people would still find beauty in only certain objects and no one would see the same beauty in the objects. Beauty causes an aesthetic response in people, which is measured by each individual. A material object, such as a mountain, cannot feel a sense of beauty or ugliness and can not express feelings therefore beauty exists in the eye of the beholder and not the object itself.

If Paco was raised in a heavily populated city surrounded by a concrete jungle and everyday he woke to the sound of traffic and sidewalks filled with shuffling people he may find beauty in a particular face in a crowd of people or a particular style of architecture like gothic. If Paco had been raised in the country and he was always around a more natural setting he would probably find beauty in things like rivers, mountains, wildlife or other scenery. Paco may also find beauty in a natural setting but, having been raised in the city, I don't think his aesthetic response to objects in the natural setting are going to be as obvious as his responses to objects he has been accustom to his entire life. Paco sees beauty from within and with relationship to his prior experiences in life rather than objects themselves.

Paco may walk down the street and the beauty that may catch his eye is the massiveness of a skyscraper that seems to tower above the city like a king who stands before his peasants. While Joe, who comes from the country, may see beauty in watching a quarter horse gallantly stride across an open field covered in flowers. He notices the mane flowing in the wind like the shimmering waters of a stream. Beauty is in its essence very objective and every individual sees beauty in different things with respect to their personality. A person's personality is developed over time through different experiences and predispositions. Since everyone's personality is different and therefore people see beauty in different things so beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Tim Cordes Dr. John Dillworth Phil 312 T/TH 2-3:15 Jon is an artist who painted for King Henry the VIII. He was asked to paint a glorious picture of a recent battle on a portion of the castle wall. Jon instead paints a picture of the king standing with his arms raised, an almost Christ like image, smiling and surrounded by heaps of dead corpses that lay strewn as far as the horizon. The painting repulses the king. He said that it was morally and politically wrong and orders Jon to be beheaded and the painting to be destroyed.

Was Jon's painting immoral? Was he trying to express a political point to the public? I don't think the painting was immoral and that Jon was only trying to make a political statement. For centuries societies have asked what morality is and where it comes from. Has morality been defined as my religion? Is there, essentially a "god"? This is a very subjective question since there is no definite proof of a higher power ever existing. Yet, we still live by the ideas and beliefs within a religion.

The American Justice system was developed and formed in a way that abides by the morals that came from the bible. Thou shall not kill and thou shall not steal are examples of what the bibl says not to do and most of our laws abide by these ideas. Can a work of art be immoral if the immorality of it is something we cannot prove? I think art needs deep expression in it to be a good work. Since, moral topics such as sex, death, violence are very intriguing to people, I think it is easier for people to express deep thought on these topics because it is much like a fantasy for people to think about these topics. People tend to want what they cannot have and if we are not expected to think or act a certain way it tends to make people want to even more. This is why I think we see a lot of beautiful art that comes from such topics as sex, violence, drugs or death.

In a governmental system were a dictator rules the people, there was no questioning of what is right or wrong. It did not matter if the painting was immoral or not. The king did not like it and felt threatened by it therefore he had it destroyed as well as Jon. Maybe the king felt threatened by Jon and thought his expression in the painting was a foresight into a rebellious uprising against him or maybe he felt very strongly about the morality of the painting. In a more civilized society like our own the question of morality is always present among the topic of art.

We live in a free society, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Although, we still must produce art within the realm of what our society considers to be "good art" so it is credited. Like in the case of 2 Live Crew who was prosecuted for explicit material on their music albums. The repercussion brought forth banned albums and parental advisory stickers on albums containing explicit material. Since we live in a democratic society, I can understand that we would question the morality of a work of art more than in a dictatorship but how can we punish those who we do not agree with when we all have the right to free speech.

I don't believe art can be immoral and that art is a form of expression that has no limits. Although it may not be accepted by society as a whole and never receive credit if it does not follow an indefinite set of guidelines. In a society that is free to expression is it possible to be immoral? We are all individuals who have different beliefs and come from different backgrounds. A work of art maybe accepted by one person and not by another but this does not mean it is immoral.