Ideas of Daniel Jacobson, by Theme

[American, fl. 2006, Professor at Bowling Green University, Ohio.]

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 8. Humour
Jokes can sometimes be funny because they are offensive
     Full Idea: Sometimes it is exactly what is offensive about a joke that makes it funny.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], 'emotional')
     A reaction: Jacobson offers this in support of his immoralist view, that immoral literature can be aesthetically successful. It is uncomfortable to find yourself laughing at a joke of which you disapprove.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 2. Aesthetic Attitude
We don't often respond to events in art as if they were real events
     Full Idea: We routinely do not respond to art as if we were as if we were real-life spectators of its events.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], 'rejection')
     A reaction: This strikes me as one of the basic facts about aesthetics, and especially of narrative art. People sometimes encounter terrible events on the street, only to find someone is making a film.
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 7. Art and Morality
Audiences can be too moral
     Full Idea: An audience can be overly moralistic.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], 'emotional')
     A reaction: People can be too moral in real life as well. Goody Two Shoes.
'Autonomism' says the morality is irrelevant to the aesthetics
     Full Idea: 'Autonomism' is the theory that the intrinsic moral merits and defects of an artwork are irrelevant to its aesthetic value.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: This contrasts with 'moralism', which says the ethics is part of the aesthetics. Autonomism seems to be the modern academic label for art for art's sake. In nineteenth century novels the ethics are central; in modernist novels they seem to be irrelevant.
Moral defects of art can be among its aesthetic virtues
     Full Idea: To put my claim most provocatively: the moral defects in a work of art can be among its aesthetic virtues. This claim has been called 'immoralism'.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: To describe sympathetic descriptions of vile moral behaviour as 'defects' may be a misunderstanding. If a work sets out to promote wickedness, then its wickedness isn't a defect in the work. It could be a masterpiece of corruption.
Immoral art encourages immoral emotions
     Full Idea: Humean moralism includes the view that immoral art prescribes unethical emotional responses.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], 'emotional')
     A reaction: [He cites Hume's 'On the Standard of Taste'] 'Prescribes' is tricky. Is a vivid description of wicked events, given without comment, a prescription? What if the commentary condemns, but the description entices? Trust the work itself, said Lawrence.
Moderate moralism says moral qualities can sometimes also be aesthetic qualities
     Full Idea: NoŽl Carroll's moderate moralism maintains that some moral defects in artworks are aesthetic defects, and some moral virtues are aesthetic merits.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], 'How moderate')
     A reaction: I'm beginning to think that moralist critics are confusing morality and wisdom. We don't admire novels for hammering on about goodness. We admire their insight into characters and actions, of which the most interesting aspects happen to be moral.
We can judge art ethically, or rate its ethical influence, or assess its quality via its ethics
     Full Idea: Ethical criticism includes 1) ethical judgements of art works, 2) assessment of an art work's role in moral education, or 3) bringing moral praise or censure to bear on the aesthetic evaluation.
     From: Daniel Jacobson (Ethical Criticism and the Vice of Moderation [2006], 'What is')
     A reaction: [a compressed summary of Jacobson. He cites Levinson 1998 and Carroll 2000 as examples of ethical criticism]