Aesthetic Experience Research Essay

Now that we are getting towards the end of the course, you might be wondering how philosophy connects with Introduction to Humanities. As we have seen, we have been discussing this somewhat mystical thing “the aesthetic experience”. We have established that the aesthetic experience is a special “inner’ experience. By this “inner” experience I mean a “mind internal” experience which is evoked as a result of some “mind external” thing happening to us (like viewing art). Thus, examining “perception” is one way that philosophy connects to humanities.
For example, we view a piece of art, and the art evokes a mental image to us. That mental image can affect us both rationally and emotionally. The artists intend to create an emotional response in some cases. In other cases, they are trying to do so (i.e. create an image) through rational means. An example would be through a rational presentation of geometry or even mathematics via art. Of course that is not the case with every type of visual art.
Common Threads
One important question is: What do viewing and experiencing different types of art have in common?
We have looked at literature, visual art (including sculptures and paintings), listened to music, and studied theater (including different types of theatrical productions). We have also looked at opera that combines music, stage, and theater to tell a story. We have seen the musical stage and/or Broadway Musicals. We have seen dance as performance art and realized that even things like poetry reading can be a performance art.
Now we start to see some common threads starting to emerge. All of these things (i.e. viewing the varying art forms) are giving us what we call in philosophy: “Veridical Perceptions.” These are perceptions of something outside of our minds that are causing a personal perception in our own minds–just like you are hearing my voice, seeing my image, etc. that is causing a mental image in your personal mind.
The Experience
However, in these “humanities” experiences (in the “aesthetic experience”), we see that these outside veridical perceptions (like viewing art) are forcing us into some sort of rational or emotional analysis (since we are human beings who respond this way). These are the types of commonalities that we have seen by taking an interdisciplinary approach to the humanities. The commonality is: All art, by giving us veridical perceptions, causes us to have a personal, inner mental perception (called a phenomenological perception) that we experience, contemplate, and react to.
Key Terms
• Aesthetic Experience: having an experience in the arts (broadly) such as viewing art, stage productions (like theater, dance, etc.), or viewing and listening to music (like concerts, opera, singing, etc.), or reading literature and philosophy, that we value intrinsically. Also see key terms at the end of Chapter 1, page 15
• Phenomenological Perception: A perception that exists in your mind as a result of (1) mind internally produced, mind internal causation (like hearing your favorite song while no music is playing), or (2) the mental image (in your mind) that is produced as a result of a veridical perception as it is happening (like seeing color while viewing a painting).
• Veridical Perception: A perception caused by something outside of your mind (e.g. light waves striking your eyes causing an image in your brain). This is a perception caused by a sensory experience (like viewing a painting).
How Are the Arts Similar?
Now we start to ask NOT how the arts are different, but rather: How are the arts similar?
Even though we have actually tried quite consciously to make a dichotomy between Western and Non-Western humanities (indeed that is one of the learning objectives for the course), I submit to you now that we’ve nearly completed the course, that the artistic approaches are really quite similar. Whether one is trying to evoke theater though Hollywood or Bollywood, ultimately the same thing is trying to be achieved. One is trying to engage the viewer and trying to share some sort of aesthetic experience, whether it is reading a novel East or West, studying a philosophical analysis (East or West), or studying a religion which shows us a way of viewing the universe (which is a particular worldview). A world view shapes our perceptions and this shapes our very notions of reality. This world view affects how you perceive the world and what sort of things you think are valuable, important, and real (or unreal). This ends up shaping your interaction with each other–and really (at some level) with yourself.
Thus, the arts contribute to your notions of reality and this affects your world view.
We have learned that “the arts”, in the broad sense of word, are actually teaching us different ways to experience a vast array of creations by us and our fellow humans. So, I hope as you start to think about going to your second (or perhaps first) cultural experience (and by that I mean getting ready to do an evaluative report on either a musical performance, theatrical performance, dance concert performance, or museum visit) that you think about kicking it up a notch and approaching this project at a deeper level than you would have at the very beginning of the course. So, what I want you to think about is:
How are these perceptions (what is happening while you are watching the performance or viewing the art) affecting you?
You know you are getting some kind of visual and auditory aesthetic experience (i.e. veridical perceptions). But try to think about these questions:
• What exactly is happening during the aesthetic experience?
• How are these images and veridical perceptions (i.e. mind external perceptions) affecting you?
• What type of “inner” aesthetic experiences are they causing?
• Are they causing something similar to the other audience members?
• Is this what the artist or composer intended?
• And, as we learned earlier: Is this aesthetic experience creating some sort of “catharsis” within you? Recall that a catharsis is a healthy release of pent up emotion.
• Are you emotionally engaging with the material? It is, ironically, through emotional engagement with the material that we can have some sort of rational and “critical analysis” response to the aesthetic experience.
For this assignment you will VIRTUALLY attend an art museum. [Note: Cinema / film is not an option for this assignment].
If, for some reason, you choose to attend a museum or event “in person”, you are assuming all risks and responsibilities associated with attending. You are in no way “required” to go anywhere “in person” for this course for the Aesthetic Experience Research Essay or for any other reason.
Before the Experience (Do These Steps EARLY in the Semester)
1. View the Aesthetic Experience and Perception video and read the associated transcript in the Aesthetic Experience Materials area of this module.
2. Look through the pre-approved list of VIRTUAL art museums in the Aesthetic Experience Materials area of this module and choose your experience.
3. Plan for and schedule the time and date to do your VIRTUAL chosen experience.
4. After Virtually Viewing the museum, compose a research essay pertaining to this aesthetic experience based on the detailed instructions in the Aesthetic Experience worksheet. Incorporate terms from the list at the end of your worksheet.
5. Conduct the appropriate research to support your responses to the worksheet prompts. Be sure to cite all sources, including the event or work of art.
6. Finally, submit your completed Aesthetic Experience Research Essay Worksheet to this dropbox folder. (Note: Be sure that the completed worksheet REMAINS in a WORD FORMAT and that your responses reflect in-depth critical evaluation and analysis based on research with careful editing/proofreading and research citations before submitting.)
Virtual (online) Art Museum Visit Options
During the current pandemic you will not be able to attend a museum, so this assignment will NOW be an online experience. This is the approved list of online museum resources to complete this assignment. Select ONE online museum and then select a specific Art Work to analyze for your Research Essay. Be sure to include the url for the art work in the essay.
Approved Virtual (online) Visits to Select a Work of Art for the
Aesthetic Experience Research Essay
Visit the British Museum
Explore this African Art Collection from the Smithsonian.
See this Native American Collection from the Smithsonian.
Explore these collections at the Louvre Museum.
Visit these collections at the Uffizi Museum.
Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Visit the collections at the National Gallery of Art
Explore French Museums
Explore the Museums of the Vatican
Explore the Farnsworth Museum


They have a nice collection of Wyeth’s and are very accessible.
Museums in the Tampa Bay area:
• SPC’s Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at the Tarpon Springs Campus (Free “in person” with SPC ID). Call first to make sure if it is open. Otherwise, a virtual visit is fine.
• Museum of Fine Arts –
• Salvador Dali Museum –
• Tampa Museum of Art –
• The Imagine Museum –
Links for other Approved Museums (do NOT use the Museum of Natural History as it does not have art).

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