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To what extent should our emotions be considered an important aspect of our ethical and aesthetic judgments?

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Introduction

Sebastian Symonowicz To what extent should our emotions be considered an important aspect of our ethical and aesthetic judgments? Emotions are one of the most significant factors that affect our life. They accompany us most of the time; sometimes we don't realize that, but they have a giant influence on our life. Occasionally this influence is dreadful, especially in formation of aesthetical and ethical judgements. That's is why men always wanted to define the extend of its use as an aspect of our ethical and aesthetic judgements. Aesthetic issues have been discussed since classical times, but they would not then have been so described. 'Aesthetics', deriving from the Greek word aesthesis ('perception'), was coined by the German philosopher, Alexander Baumgarten, in the middle of the eighteenth century. By it, he meant 'the science of sensory knowledge', though the term soon began to be confined to a particular area of such knowledge and understood as 'the science of sensory beauty', the examination of taste. Aesthetics judgements have always been considered a matter of personal taste and therefore subjective. Attempts to look at aesthetics objectively go back to the ancient Egyptians who devised precise mathematical systems for proportioning their structures and art. More refined systems were cultivated by the classical Greeks and Romans and later revived by renaissance Europeans. ...read more.

Middle

There are also other ways of looking on art. For example when we are looking at something that we have never seen before, like C�zanne's pictures: "His landscapes have lost almost every trace of visuality. Trees never looked like that;" "A bridge is no longer a pattern of colour... it is a perplexing mixture of projections and recessions, over and round which we find ourselves feeling our way as one can imagine"4. The aesthetical judgement about such painting would be based on our imagination and emotions, because we don't have a record of something similar in our mind, to what we can relate it. There are many grounds on which, we can base our aesthetical judgements. In each of them we can see a seed of emotions. The emotions are an important aspect of our aesthetic judgement but not the most important. They are used and should be but to what extend we cannot define it. Ethical judgements correspondingly to the aesthetical judgements have their fundaments in similar aspects. To make them we use emotions, reason, logic and other ways. We need to answer a very complex question: whether we can use emotions in ethical judgements? And if yes, to what extent should we use them? As we know all judgements based on emotions are subjective. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here comes in the idea of utilitarianism by saying that it is morally justifiable to sacrifice one life to safe the other one. An alternative idea of looking at the extent to which we should use emotions in ethical judgements is proposed by David Hume. He argues that reason has only a very limited role to play in influencing what we decide to do. Hume furthermore argues that, it is not possible for reason to establish what is good or evil - for to recognize that something is good or evil must influence our action, otherwise ethics would have no point. At the end Hume concludes that we can only distinguish good and evil using feelings not reason. The same opinion as Hume has the Aristotelian philosophy: "In any, case for us moral virtue is a disposition to express emotions or passions (such as anger, fear, desire for food, etc.) appropriately, i.e., in the right degree, neither excessively nor deficiently, at the right time, towards the right object, etc. For us moral virtue and experiencing the emotions are compatible."7 I think that now we can answer the question: whether we can use emotions in ethical judgements. The answer is yes, we can use them but the extend is not very big. Emotions are more important in aesthetical judgements than in ethical. But in both cases there is no exact formula for a perfect judgement. The extent varies from case to case and should be considered differently in each of them. ...read more.

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