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How do ethical values shape one's aesthetics?

Philosophy Asked by Frogbert on October 15, 2020

I have been struggling through an idea for the past several months regarding the order of values and its influence upon art. It started with a quick tour of an online art gallery showcasing Rafael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rambrant etc.. and I was taken back by the shared symbolic architecture upon which many of these scenes were painted. They seemed to all have Greco-Roman pantheons and the Judeo-Christian narratives as a means to convey very human emotion and forms. Now I am aware that many of the artists mentioned were working in the time of the rebirth of ancient themes and literature, but I can’t help but think the shared symbolic pallet of Christianity across the continent at their time influenced the way their art appeared and was received.

I have been wrestling with the idea that the highest position of value a person can set their thinking to is their ethical conduct, which affects the rest of their thinking. This is why we can appreciate something but know it is wrong first, this being evidence that the aim of ethics is forefront but not commanding as much an influence over the individual like the base instincts of pleasure and survival.

However, if the ethical landscape had enough of a shared foundation in the christian narrative, then perhaps their art would have the aesthetic of their ethic. The same way art has remained thematically similar since the age of post modern thought, their aesthetic is modeled upon the landscape of their ethical values. Perhaps this is why the christians of today favor classical art and frown upon the forms produced by post modern and modern artists and the way the further away from traditional values one strays the more away from classics their taste in art becomes.

In which school of Philosophy can I find more guidance and literature on this subject of values as it pertains to Aesthetics?

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