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YURI BOREV

AESTHETICS

AESTHETICS: THE AXIOLOGY OF UNIVERSAL HUMAN VALUES
Aesthetics: The Branch of Knowledge Dealing
with the Social Nature of Art

ART: ITS FUNCTIONS

The Social and Transforming Function
(Art as an Activity)

Art is active and helps to transform the world, since (1) a work of art produces an ideological and aesthetic impact; (2) involving people into purposeful and value-oriented activity, art encourages social reform; (3) artistic creation itself means using imagination to transform the impressions and facts of life. The author turns his material into images building a new kind of reality – the world of art; (4) the artist's activity has one more aspect – processing the material he uses to mould an image. To create a sculpture, a painting, a poem or a symphony means to transform marble, paint, word or sound.
Taken together, all these aspects of art as an activity lend it its power to change society and life. Art is action, transformation, the creation of a world in accordance with the artist's ideals.
In the far from heroic period of its history, the oppressed people of Iceland produced sagas whose heroes were freedom-loving, brave and all of a piece. Through sagas, the people realised their desires by creating a world which had nothing in common with the world they had to live in. But the most amazing thing is that this imaginary world became, to a certain extent, a reality. The sagas shaped the moral character of the people; they are essential for understanding the inner life and the national character of modern Icelanders.
There exists a direct connection between the type of the epoch's artistic consciousness, the ideals advanced by art, and the type of personality. The myths and art of Ancient Greece which widely used them helped mould the character of the Greek, the type of his approach to life, his mental attitudes and ideas. Renaissance man, who had rejected mediaeval dogmas, was shaped by Renaissance art. The treatment of the theme of love by 17th-century French writers formed the French variety of this feeling, while the eroticism of the 20th-century novel led to the emergence of eroticism in life.
Certain aesthetic doctrines refuse to acknowledge that art is able to change, or treat the function it possesses too narrowly. Advocates of the "art for art's sake" concept maintain that it cannot be measured by the yardstick of the results it produces, and that it should take man from the life in which he has to act into the world of aesthetic delight. Another opponent of the reformist role of art are the aesthetic doctrines which champion "art for the elite" (Jose Ortega y Gasset).
Mikel Dufrenne, a contemporary French theorist, maintains that a major issue of human history and culture is that of harmony between man and the world and of the individual's inner harmony. According to him, there is not much of this at present; as a result, an individual becomes empty and alienated: he loses the ability to think, since this is done for him, and the ability to speak, since this is dangerous. The outcome is the social inertia, conformism and dehumanisation of man. The antidote to all this is art, which has two sides: the artist's work, and perception of art by the public. This type of activity reconciles man with himself, develops his creative potential, and motivates him. According to Dufrenne, aesthetic experience is the beginning of all roads traversed by mankind. Modern society has distorted the original unity of man and nature and that has given rise to the sense of the aesthetic, which is in fact nostalgia for man's lost natural state. Art in its ideal form gives man back his unity with the world, which in real life may be gone forever.1
Accepting the social role of art, Dufrenne reduces it to consolation and compensation which in the realm of the spirit are called upon to restore the harmony which is no longer there. Art does compensate, but its socio-transformative impact is not illusory but very real and effective indeed. The ideal of harmony of man and the world and man's inner harmony it advances is a means of awakening man's capacity for socially oriented action. Art enhances man's awareness of the loss of harmony in society, shapes his aesthetic ideals, and thus compels him to attempt to raise the world to the level of the ideal. This role of art is particularly obvious in periods of transition.

The "Heuristic" Function of Art
(Art as Cognition and Enlightenment)

Plato was convinced that all true artists (even Homer, whom he would have crowned with a laurel wreath) should be banished from the ideal state. For him, art was the lowest form of cognition of the Absolute Idea. He regarded material objects as shadows of the Idea, and art, which analyses and assimilates the concrete, sensual wealth of the world through its system of images, as a shadow of a shadow. At the very start of philosophy, idealism already questioned the cognitive opportunities of art. Hegel also considered it the lowest form of cognition which in the end was to be supplanted by philosophy and religion.
However, the cognitive potential of art is immense; it cannot be replaced by any other form of man's spiritual activity. One may safely say that Balzac's novels contain more information about the life of French society than the works of contemporary historians, economists and statisticians.
Art is fully capable of reflecting and assimilating those aspects of life which are hardly accessible to science. H2O, the chemical formula of water, has grasped the law of the existence of this phenomenon, but the phenomenon is more "capacious" than the law. The formula of water is powerless to convey the murmur of a brook which may remind one of a dear voice, the iridescence of waves, the sparkle of the moonlight on the surface of the sea, or the elemental power of the billowing waves so brilliantly depicted by the Russian painter Aivazovsky. Hundreds of properties of water remain outside the boundaries of scientific generalisation, but they can be analysed and reproduced by art, which shows the objective-sensual world in the infinite variety of its aesthetic qualities.
Thanks to its concrete sensual character, art is able to discover new aspects in familiar things. In a sense, portrayal of a phenomenon is in itself a discovery. Art penetrates into hitherto unnoticed processes, among which was "the dialectics of the soul" discovered by Lev Tolstoy, and reveals the unusual in the ordinary and the habitual. The artist gives back to things their original charm. Art refines our feelings and teaches us to perceive the world as human beings should. It becomes the lens civilisation places between the human eye and nature.
Oscar Wilde insisted that Turner's paintings created London fogs. This paradoxical aphorism contains the idea of art as an active agent. Art shapes human sensuality and vision of the world, forms an eye able to appreciate the beauty of colour and form, and the ear able to perceive the harmony of sound.
The active and the cognitive principles find different expressions in different arts. The forte of the arts which are more active than cognitive, e.g. architecture, is expression, while of the more cognitive arts, e.g. easel painting, representation. When an architect concentrates on representation, he goes against the nature of his art.
Literature, cinema and theatre can be both expressive and representative.
Art is a means of enlightenment, which is achieved by passing on experience and information, and of education, which is carried out by communicating experience, habits of thinking and generalising, and a system of mental attitudes. It is "a textbook of life" which is used even by those who dislike ordinary textbooks. The information contained in art is enormous. It adds a great deal to our knowledge of life. Throwing a bridge between individual and collective experience, art helps man to cognise the world and understand his own self.

Art as a Concept
(Art as Research into the Condition of the World)

It is a mistake to regard art as a sort of illustration of philosophical or political ideas. The artist invariably falls back on his own observations and meditations concerning life to build a complete concept of the world.
Hegel believed, quite erroneously, that art is inferior to philosophy and religion, being a lower form of cognition of the Absolute Idea and a less perfect way to arrive at the truth. He wrote that "religion as universal awareness of the truth is an essential prerequisite of art".2
B. Croce, an Italian philosopher, defined art as intuition and refused to acknowledge that it has a conceptual meaning which in his opinion is the property of logic alone. Croce considered art a more elementary form of cognition than conceptual cognition. But true art leans towards philosophy, it seeks to solve global problems and mysteries and attain an understanding of the condition of the world. The artist is concerned not only with the destiny of his characters but the destiny of mankind as a whole; his thought embraces the epoch and all history, and he views events and people in historical perspective.
The mysteries of existence puzzled Sophocles and Euripides. In his Divine Comedy, Dante constructed a complete system of the Universe. Shakespeare embraced the condition of the world by a single concept. Voltaire developed the genre of the philosophical short story. Analysing society and the individual, Lessing conducted intellectual experiments involving the characters of his plays. He insisted that a thinking artist doubles the value of his work. Goethe's Faust contains a profound idea of man and mankind. Beethoven's, Tchaikovsky's or Shostakovich's music, Eisenstein's or Fellini's films, Le Corbusier's buildings are all deeply philosophical and are a perfect expression of the essence of their epoch.
The philosophical approach and the desire to embrace the whole world found brilliant expression in Russian classical literature. The opening lines of its first work marked by freedom of thought are filled with concern for humanity. In 1790, Alexander Radishchev wrote in the dedication to A. M. Kutuzov, which opens his novel A Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow, "I looked around me, and my soul was stung by the suffering of mankind.... I felt that everyone is able to do something to further the well-being of others."
The historically concrete national idea of abolishing serfdom was developed against the background of universal humanitarian ideals. The poverty and misery of the Russian peasant, "the despotism which is most abhorrent to human nature", spiritual slavery – all these problems are treated by the author of the Journey as universal ones, as individual manifestations of universal suffering.
In his thoughts, Pyotr Chaadayev linked Russia to the rest of the world. In his first Philosophical Letter (1829), he laments the fact that it is as it were outside mankind and speaks that it is necessary to change the situation.
Dostoyevsky said that Pushkin was a poet who had a universal appeal. His own genius, too, was "universally humanitarian". Lev Tolstoy advanced the theory of moral self-perfection as the way to resolve the contradictions torturing the world. Dostoyevsky sought to attain an understanding of human nature and of what mankind is like. His consciousness constantly worked at vital problems facing humanity; in that, he was akin to Albert Einstein. A great writer and a great physicist are always concerned with the universal.
The very history of Russia, a country which more than once tied its destiny to that of the world, produced the type of the thinking artist concerned with global problems in his work.
Western culture today has a strong current of anti-intellectualism, which in philosophy originated in Henry Bergson's intuitivism, in psychology – in the teaching of Siegmund Freud, and in art – in such trends as surrealism with its principles of the "intellectual defeat", "automatic writings", "epidemics of dreams" and "experiments in switching off the mind". But on the whole, 20th-century culture also demonstrates a leaning towards the philosophical approach. Suffice it to recollect the work of Brecht, Frisch or Durrenmatt. Hegel predicted the death of art, but it happened to have more viability than he had expected. Art cannot be ousted by thought, but the tendency towards intellectualism is there; the realistic art of the 20th century is proof enough of that, showing a growth of the role of thinking in the general sum of creative imagery.

Anticipation
(Art in the Role of Cassandra, or Art as Prediction)

Cassandra prophesied the fall of Troy when the city was still powerful and flourishing. Art has always been like Cassandra in its ability to foresee the future.
One of the features of man's intellectual activity is the ability to overcome information gaps and make correct surmises about the present and even the future phenomenon even if the available information is obviously incomplete. Since the time of David Hume, there has existed an opinion that thinking is inductive and tends to arrive at logical conclusions on the basis of generalisation of recurrent phenomena. At the same time, there is a neurophysiological and psychological data showing that thinking proceeds by leaps and bounds and is able to arrive at conclusions not only by means of induction but also on the basis of a single observation or extrapolation, i.e. surmising a probable continuation of events and their development in the future. Science reveals the essence and laws of objective processes, while art concentrates on the nature of man's relationship with the world, other people and himself. If the scientist can surmise as to the future, the artist can portray it. In actual fact, both ways of prognostication are interwoven and complement each other.
There exists the so-called immediate, intuitive knowledge, which implies direct understanding of the truth, i.e. understanding of the objective connection between things not based on proof. The advance of thinking allows us to accept certain truths as self-evident. Among them are pictures of the future conjured by the artist with a greater or lesser degree of probability and accuracy. This is the basis of many science-fiction and Utopian works of art, which prognosticate, as it were, the future of society.
Literature has been able to look into the future more than once.
Jules Verne's Nautilus covered 80,000 kilometres under water long before the first submarine was built (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea). Before becoming reality, space flights and lazers were described in Jules Verne's De la terre a la lune and Alexei Tolstoy's Aelita and The Garin Death Ray. Science fiction as well as Utopian and anti-utopian works sustained the spirit of Cassandra. They conjured pictures of man's future technology, and tried to imagine society's future structure and envisage the destiny of the personality.
There is a kind of science fiction which contains a "warning", making people beware of certain trends of social development. Sometimes it records utter hopelessness. In Franz Kafka's novel The Trial there is a drastic shift of logical accents, a transference from details described in remarkably precise terms to complete irreality. Kafka was concerned with the problem of the forces which are alienated from the personality and hostile to it; yet they are manipulating it. In his opinion, the world is doomed owing to its antihuman nature, and the personality cannot stand up to the metaphysical evil in life. Hopelessness, despair, awareness that the personality is crushed and the world is absurd – that is the sum total of Kafka's predictions. However, history has proved that man's potential, his capacity for resistance and his courageous spirit are strong enough to oppose even the cruellest forms of nazism.
Similar to those of the Delphic oracle, Kafka's prophecies assumed the form of vague, indefinite visions and dreams which can be interpreted in many ways; realistic writers, on the contrary, anticipate the future on the basis of a system of images illuminated by thought. Thomas Mann in his Doktor Faustus not only analysed contemporary culture and the condition of the world but prognosticated the ways of their evolution. The tragic story of the composer Adrian Leverkuhn is the story of an artist whose work is torn from the inside by formalism and decadent tendencies. The world outlook of the hero is counterbalanced by the position of the author, which makes itself felt on the background of the objective unhurried flow of the story told by Zeitblom, a friend and biographer of the composer. Leverkuhn produced technically refined, complicated and rationally calculated musical "artifacts" (artificial constructions). And yet, his magnum opus. The Lament of Doktor Faustus, was not only the triumph of formalism but also a moan of despair of a whole generation of German intellectuals crushed by Nazism. Contrary to Leverkuhn's historical pessimism, Thomas Mann declared that the individual, the nation and mankind are indestructible no matter how hard the ordeals they have to go through; the freedom and happiness of man are inevitable as fate itself and will provide the basis for a resurrection of art. Doktor Faustus is full of premonitions which were to come true. "Is it not funny that for a while music regarded itself as a means of salvation and liberation, while like all the other arts it itself needs to be liberated from lofty, high-flown apostasy ... from being left tete-a-tete with 'the cream of intellectual society', that is, with the public which will soon disappear, which in fact has already disappeared, so that in the near future art will become completely isolated and doomed to a lonely death if it does not turn to 'the nation' or, to be less romantic, to the people.... Believe me, new art will approach life in a totally different way. It will be more joyous and modest. This is inevitable, and this is happiness.... The coming generation will regard music, and music will regard itself, as a servant of society. No one will any longer be surprised by art without suffering, art which is wholesome in spirit, light-hearted and confiding, art which is friendly towards mankind."
In his satirical comedies, Vladimir Mayakovsky gave a great deal of attention to the future. One of his characters is the Phosphorescent Woman, an emissary of the future, and it is there that the time machine takes the heroes. Mayakovsky's poetry was itself "a ride into the unknown", an effort to foresee.
Anticipation and prevision are a sort of a leap, a break-through of poetic thought into the future. In his verse Sur les propheties (On Prophecies), Guillaume Apollinaire wrote,

All the world is a prophet, my dear Andre Billy,
But people have been persuaded for such a long time
That they have no future that they are forever
ignorant
And born idiots,
That everything's settled and no one even thinks
Of asking whether he knows the future or not.
There is no spirit of religion here
Neither in the superstitions nor in the prophecies
Nor in everything called occultism;
There is only a means of observing nature
And of interpreting nature
With nothing illegal about it.

The Informative and the Communicative Function of Art
(Art as Information and Communication)

Art is a specific type of communication, whose kinship with language has been frequently noted in the history of aesthetics (G. Lessing, J. Herder, A. Potebnya, B. Croce). The communicative plane of the existence of art has provided the basis for its modern semiotic interpretation as a sign system carrying certain information, and a specific channel of communication which serves to socialise individual experience of relations and encourage individual assimilation of collective experience.
Aristotle said that the information contained in a work of art has the quality of probability: the artist shows that which could happen. In Aristotle's opinion, that which did not happen but is probable is to be preferred to that which actually did happen but is improbable. Such information, built on the principle of probability, is highly valuable from the point of view of the modern theory of information.
Like any sign system, art has its historically and nationally determined code and its own set of conventions. Contacts between nations and assimilation of the culture of the past make these sets universally available, including them into the store of world culture. The communicative and the informative function of art allows people to exchange ideas and get acquainted with historical and national experience which is far removed from them both historically and geographically. Consequently, art enhances the spiritual potential and the unity of mankind.
Information passed on through the language of the dance, painting, architecture, sculpture and applied and decorative art is easier to absorb than information transmitted in words. Therefore, the informative capacity of art is greater than of language. Besides, it is qualitatively superior, for the language of art and literature is richer in metaphor, more flexible, figurative, paradoxical and more perfect aesthetically than a natural spoken language.
Art serves to unite people. When two tribes speaking different languages concluded peace, they used to stage a dance whose rhythm brought them closer together.
When in the late 18th-early 19th century Italy was split into small states, duchies and counties, art made it possible for the Italians to continue to regard themselves as a single nation. Art played an equally important role in ancient Russia torn by internecine dissention, and in Germany of the late 18th-early 19th centuries. In the world of today, art facilitates understanding between peoples; it is an effective instrument of peaceful coexistence for states with different social systems.

Art: Its Educational Function
(Art as Catharsis; Shaping a Harmonious Personality)

Art has a formative effect on the way man thinks and feels. Other forms of social consciousness each have their own domain: ethics shapes morals, politics – political views, philosophy – the view of the world in general, and science makes man a specialist in this or that sphere, while art affects simultaneously both the mind and the heart, and there is no side of human spirit which is inaccessible to it. Art helps shape a harmonious personality.
The Pythagoreans interpreted art as purgation. Aristotle developed and introduced into aesthetics the notion of catharsis – purification, a kind of relief from passions through "similar emotions". Depicting heroes who have passed through terrible ordeals, art excites compassion in the listener or spectator making him go through these ordeals together with the heroes and thus purifying his inner being. But why are "similar emotions" necessary to do this? As a diamond can be cut only by another diamond, so the human spirit is affected only by sublime manifestations of human spirit, as if illuminated by the aesthetic ideal. Aristotle developed these ideas using as his material tragedy and its impact on the audience. But it is probable that in the parts of his Poetics which are not extant he also treated the problem of comic catharsis. This supposition tallies with the traditional interpretation of catharsis as a broad aesthetic category which reflects the catharsis-compensatory function of art. In the opinion of certain researchers (a case in point is the American anthropologist A. Wallace), this function is one of the major reasons for art's social value. The French sociologist and theorist of culture Edgar Morin maintains that art gives people a chance to relieve anxiety and tension engendered by life and compensate, at least in part, for the monotony of everyday life.
The catharsis-compensatory function of art has three principal aspects: 1) art as entertainment; 2) art as compensation; 3) art as catharsis. The innate harmony of art affects the inner harmony of the personality keeping up or restoring its psychic balance. The nature of emotion produced by art depends on both the nature of the work of art and the type, life experience, cultural level, and the emotional state of the recipient. The function of art as catharsis (purgation) and compensation helping man to achieve spiritual harmony are the two principal channels through which the educational and formative roles of art are fulfilled.
The influence exercised by art has nothing in common with straightforward lecturing; art acts through the aesthetic ideal which is present in the characters of both heroes and villains. Paraphrasing Pushkin, one may say that art "shortens the experience of fast-moving life for us"; it gives one a chance to live the lives of other people and assimilate their experience making it part of one's own. That is the reason why art affects the whole of the personality.
The experience of the approach to the world passed on by art enhances the individual's personal life experience doing it in a specific way. Art expands the historically established boundaries of man's experience giving him access to the historically varied experience of mankind; equips him with aesthetically organised, selected, generalised and thought-out experience; it is experience "processed" by the artist, and it enables the individual to work out his own principles and approaches to typical life situations; it is condensed, crystallised experience. A two-hour film dealing with the problems of contemporary life is a sort of synopsis which dissolves in our everyday life experience making it more socially meaningful. The influence of the art enhances the harmonious individual's social awareness and asserts his independent value.

Art as Suggestion
(The Impact of Art on the Subconscious Mind)

Art suggests a certain system of thoughts and feelings; its effect upon the psyche can be almost hypnotic. A work of art frequently can entrance the recipient. Such psychic impact – suggestion – is particularly striking in primitive art and in folklore. On the night before a battle, Australian aborigines used to sing to cause an influx of courage. An ancient Greek legend says that when the Spartans, who were exhausted by a long and hard war, appealed to Athenians for help, the latter contemptuously sent them a lame and puny musician Tyrtaeus instead of reinforcements. But as it happened, they could not have done better. Tyrtaeus's songs raised the morale of the troops, and they emerged victorious.
Suggestion plays an important part in Indian art, a fact which has long been noticed by Indian scholars. Thus, K. Pandey maintains that art is not art if it is not dominated by suggestion.
European cathedral architecture inspired the people with holy awe of the divine forces. The power of suggestion in art is obvious in military marches, which are called upon to cheer up the marching columns of soldiers. In folklore – charms, incantations, lamentations – suggestion is the leading artistic and social function. In time of stress, suggestion in art can acquire a particularly important role. That was so during the hardest period of the Great Patriotic War. S. Kussevitsky, the first foreign performer of Dmitry Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, said, "Since Beethoven, there has been no other.composer who had such a tremendous power of suggestion when addressing his audience."
In its desire to be effective, the poetry of the Great Patriotic War resurrected such ancient poetic forms as incantation, curse and commandment. One of the popular songs which glorified courage was based on a sort of chant peculiar to incantation whose purpose is to convince, cast a spell over the listener and instil in him courage and contempt of death as the pattern of behaviour.

The bullet is scared of the brave man,
The bayonet gives him a miss.

Lyrical verse of that period was also marked by enhanced power of suggestion. Consider an extremely popular poem by Konstantin Simonov Wait for Me....

Wait for me, and I'll come back,
Wait and I will come.
Wait through autumn's yellow rains
And its tedium.
Steel your heart and do not grieve,
Wait through winter's haze,
Wait through wind and raging storm,
Wait through summer's blaze.
Wait when others wait no more,
When my letters stop,
Wait with hope that never wanes,
Wait and don't give up.

In twelve lines, the author uses the word "wait" nine times counting on the hypnotic effect this must produce. The idea behind the repetition, all the power of suggestion accumulated in the word "wait" becomes apparent in the poem's finale:

Wait for me! Let those who don't
Once I'm back with you –
Let them say that it was luck
That had seen us through.
You and I alone will know
That I safely came,
Spiting every kind of death,
Through that lethal flame,
Just because you learned to wait
Staunchly, stubbornly,
And like no one else on earth
Waited, love, for me.3

The author's poetic idea was vitally important for millions of people separated by the war. Wartime poetry sought to exert an active and immediate influence on man's inner self, and as a result turned to time-tested folklore forms. Popular at that time were such ancient poetic forms as vows, orders, dreams, visions, conversations with the dead, appeals to rivers, towns and countries. The vocabulary of such poetry and the anachronistic character of figures of speech ingenuously conveyed the truly popular character of the fight against the Nazi invasion, the fight which was referred to as "the holy war".
The simple but appealing lines by Lebedev-Kumach, The war you wage is holy. All peoples shall it save gave a precise idea of the war itself and the poetic response to it. The nation's history loomed behind the words which brought to mind the past of Russia, and a sense of history was essential for strengthening the people's loyalty to their country and for victory itself.
Suggestion is the function of art which is very close, though not identical, to its educative function. In crucial historical periods, the magic force of poetry plays a great, and sometimes even the decisive role in the system of art's functions.

The Aesthetic Function of Art
(The Role of Art in Shaping a Creative Personality and
the Ability to Form Value Judgements)

In antiquity, the aesthetic function of art was already fully appreciated. The Indian poet Kalidasa (c. 5th cent.) singled out four principal goals of art: to arouse the admiration of the gods; to create images borrowing the material from the world around the artist and the life of man; to be a source of many sublime joys through aesthetic sensations (rasas): the comic, love, compassion, fear, horror, etc.; to be a source of everyone's pleasure, joy, happiness, and all beauty. Quoting this excerpt, the contemporary Indian scholar V. Bahadur noted that the chief purpose of art is to ennoble man's inner life and that in order to inspire, purify and ennoble, art must be beautiful.
The aesthetic function of art is unique to it and can have no substitute. It develops the aesthetic tastes, abilities and needs of man, thus providing him with a means of orientation in the world; it also awakens his creative spirit and puts to use his creative potential. Perfecting man's value judgements, art teaches him to see life in images. An aesthetically advanced consciousness is able to appreciate the aesthetic significance of life's every manifestation. Nature itself becomes an object possessing aesthetic value. The Universe turns into poetry, pictures, works of art non finita. The artist's sense of the aesthetic importance of life helps him to get his ideas across to the audience providing people with value judgements in their perception – of the world.
At first sight, the aesthetic function of art does not seem very important. True, art improves one's aesthetic taste. But why is that important? Does it mean that it can help one to decorate one's flat or choose the nicest dress? This it can do, of course, but the aesthetic function of art is a great deal broader. Its aim is to awaken the artist in man. By this, we do not mean that everyone would take part in amateur theatricals but that man should act in accordance with the inner measure of things, i.e. conform to the laws of the beautiful in his exploration of the world. Making a purely utilitarian article, for instance, a table or a chandelier, man is concerned with both utility, convenience and beauty. The latter is not the monopoly of art; its laws should guide man in whatever he is doing; therefore, everyone needs a sense of beauty. A character in one of Alexander Korneichuk's plays, the surgeon Platon Krechet, is also a violin player. This is not a detail introduced to "humanise" the character. A surgeon's hand must be just as strong, dexterous, trained, sensitive and musical as a violinist's. "Musical" fingers are a detail and an image which makes it possible to link the character of Platon to his life job.
Discussing the significance of art for man's inner life and for the process of scientific research, Albert Einstein said that works of art gave him delight. He derived from them more intellectual enjoyment than from anything else. He insisted that Dostoyevsky meant much more to him than any scientist.
The aesthetic function of art – to awaken a creator in man who likes and is able to make things according to the laws of the beautiful will gain in importance with the advance of society. The man of the future will have no direct economic or non-economic inducement to work but will be motivated solely by the need to create. And that is precisely what art develops.

The Hedonistic Function of Art
(Art as Enjoyment)

By giving people access to the artist's work, art becomes a source of delight. Ancient Greeks noticed the unique character of aesthetic delight distinguishing it from carnal pleasures. It is sprititual delight which accompanies and highlights all the other functions of art. The hedonistic function of art has a number of aspects and roots in a work of art, all of which are a source of pleasure which a person experiences when in the presence of a work of art.
First, there is the free mastery of the artist over the complicated and varied material provided by life. Art is always a realm of freedom, in which the artist owns all the infinite riches of the world, and this delights us and excites our admiration by the miracle of creative exploration of the world.
Second, no matter what the artist deals with, he has humanity in his mind's eye, i.e. reveals the aesthetic value of all things.
Thirdly, there is the harmony of form and content, and the necessary perfection of form.
Fourthly, there is harmony of the world, the artistic reality, conjured up in accordance with the laws of beauty.
Fifthly, there is the delight brought by the access to creativity and bursts of inspiration, which makes one think and feel like the artist himself.
And finally, there is the side of art as a game. It would be a mistake to reduce art to play, but one cannot fail to notice that it models human activity in the form of a game which does not pursue any practical purpose. The play of man's free forces, which is yet another manifestation of his freedom in art, also affords aesthetic pleasure. Art is valuable precisely in that it communicates the truth of life becoming a source of the sublime joy which appreciation of beauty gives. The hedonistic function of art is to delight the audience asserting the absolute value of human personality.

The Unity of the Object and the Goals of Art

It is absolutely impossible to find a range of real phenomena which could not become an object of art. Neither nature, nor society, nor man's inner life are beyond it. When Pushkin's Prophet felt the artist stirring in him, he perceived all around him:

There came tome the gentle flutter
Of angels' wings; I heard the vine
Push through the earth and skyward climb,
The deep-sea monsters in the water
Like tiny fishes glide...

It would be in vain to look for areas which alone afford material for art. The whole world is the object not only of scientific but of artistic exploration as well. In both, the role of practice cannot be overestimated. It is practice that determines just what man wants from the object or phenomenon he deals with. Man invariably proceeds from certain practical needs: if he is thirsty, he uses a glass for drinking out of; if a geometrical problem has to be explained which features a cylinder, the same glass can be used as an aid. In the process of cognition, practice makes sure that the required aspect of the object is presented. One cannot act arbitrarily, for instance, smelt steel in a glass. But, guided by the object's innate properties, one will be able to examine and use this object. And if even a glass can present quite a few aspects, what a wealth of variety and meaning the world around us must contain!
When entering into a relationship with the world, the artist and the scholar are prompted by different motives. The former proceeds from his goal, which shapes his point of view and his special, artistic vision of things.
What is it then that motivates the artist to establish a link with the world around him? What is the purpose of art?
Art exists for the people, and its sublime goal is humanism, and the happiness and meaningful existence of the individual. But this is, so to speak, the general goal of art. Considered analytically, art is polyfunctional: it cognises, educates, foretells the future and appeals to man's emotions by the magic of word, colour, sound and shape which sometimes have a hypnotysing effect upon the recipient; art is also information, communication, a source of delight, etc. It is social practice which determines the manifold purpose of art.
The fact that art is polyfunctional tells a great deal about its nature. But to grasp its very essence, it is necessary to single out art's most general purpose which would unite all its numerous functions. Let us go back to the example with the glass. This object can serve various practical purposes, but originally it is an instrument of drinking. Art has many functions, but essentially its goal is to enhance the individual's social awareness and assert his absolute value. Art makes the individual a truly humane and social being involving his most intimate and personal sides into the realm of social life. Directly but unobtrusively, art affects the individual's approach to the world.
Having theoretically defined the specific and most general function of art, it is possible to distinguish between its object and subject. The object of art, science and philosophy, as well as of any consciousness, is the whole world. But each form of social consciousness has its own way of dealing with it, concentrating on certain of its relations, aspects and features. Art is no exception: the artist is concerned only with those sides, features and relations found in the world which allow him to attain his specific goal. The object of art emerges at the intersection of the objective qualities of the world with the specific practical goal of the artist. This goal makes him concentrate on those facts of life which present a general interest, i.e. which interest man not as a scientist, or a specialist, but as a human being. The object of art is life interpreted with reference to the humanitarian goal of art, life in its broadest social sense, its aesthetic diversity, the world with reference to its significance for mankind.
The characteristic features of the object and goals of art determine the forms of cognition of the world in art (the artistic image) and the way of figurative thinking (the method of art).

1 M. Dufrenne, Esthétique et philosophie, Editions Klincksieck, Paris, 1967.
2 Georg Wilhelm Hegel, Ästhetik, Band I, Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin, 1965, p.507.
3 Translated by Irina Zheleznova – Ed.

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