Monday, March 20, 2017

Websites and Aesthetics

161 days until the first class.

I am taking additional steps to preparing myself for a new, more academic, lifestyle. In 148 days, I will switch to being a part-time employee, providing me with 20 extra hours per week to devote to academic pursuits.

This weekend - on an impulse, I bought the domain name and set it up as a website. I will be doing some blogging there, and that is where I will be posting my papers for people to read and comment upon.

So, here's the new the new desirism website.

As some have already pointed out . . . the aesthetics is terrible. I am not a designer.

I have a theory of aesthetics that fits in with my overall theory of value. All value relates objects of evaluation to desires (defined broadly to include emotions, sentiments, and the like). Morality evaluates malleable desires according to their relationship with (tendency to fulfill or thwart) other desires. Beauty - or aesthetics - evaluates that which is seen or heard according to their tendency to fulfill desires directly.

It actually takes some knowledge about these relationships to be able to do aesthetics well - and this is something I never studied in any detail. I have been interested, instead, in the relationships between malleable desires and other desires. Consequently, my ability to do aesthetics, or even to judge aesthetics, is poorly developed. And one can see that on the website.

A person who is good at aesthetics has determined, through training and experience (and perhaps a bit of talent) the relationships between those things that are heard or seen and human sentiments or desires. They have acquired an understanding of what will generally cause human approval or disapproval, and they put that knowledge to use in the creation of art, theater, movies, music, buildings, parks, and web sites. It is simply not the case that something that an amateur like myself can put up and have it be done well. As is obviously the case by looking at the desirism site (at least as it exists today).

A person concerned with aesthetics also has to be concerned with usefulness. In my writings, I do devote some effort to those aesthetic elements that help to improve understanding. For example, I have rules that require avoiding large paragraphs. One could ground this on the fact that big, blocky paragraphs look ugly. I ground my decision on the fact that the human brain needs bite-sized pieces of information to digest. I try to create reasonably sized bites to put on the page.

I am generally more concerned with content than appearances, but I do have an interest in aesthetics when it influences the content - or, at least, the user's ability to understand that content.

I am not denying that appearances matter. In fact, I would deny that appearances do not matter. When one creates valuable content, it is still the case that one needs to get eyes onto the content before it can do any good. It's the aestheticist who gets the eyes on the content.

We are told not to judge a book by its cover. However, how else are we supposed to judge a book? We certainly do not have time to read every book and then judge after reading them which are worth reading. We need a way to determine the quality of the book before opening and investing too much time in it. The same is true of a web site or a philosophy paper. (Now you see why I have given short descriptions of my papers on the web sites - so that people can judge whether the content seems worth reading without a huge investment of time.)

If somebody wants to give me aesthetic advice, then I would be pleased to get it. This would count as one of those cases, such as those I discuss in my writing, concerning a harmony of interests. In my writings, I frequently illustrate my points with a reference to the harmony of desires between Alph, with a desire to gather stones, and Bett, with a desire to scatter stones. These desires work well together, and provide an argument for the conclusion that, in some areas at least, we do not want everybody to value the same thing.

There could be a harmony of desires here between me - with my interest in content - and somebody else - with an interest in aesthetics.

I am not that person - and doubt that I have the time or inclination to become that person.

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