Aesthetics to ethics

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  • It has been a pleasure to be involved in the ‘Contemporary Thinkers Reframed’ series produced by I.B.Tauris. I would like to pay tribute to Susan Lawson’s initiative and courage in proposing a series of books on contemporary thinkers aimed specifically at the visual artist and visual-arts students. I would also like to acknowledge Philippa Brewster, Liza Thompson and Gretchen Ladish’s patience and commitment to the project. Estelle Barrett has, as always, enriched this book through our ongoing dialogues and her generosity in reading the manuscript.

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  • Nietzsche’s story ends as our narration begins. Wheelchair-bound, intermittently lucid, he is, as before, tremulous and peremptory. Cavernous, his eyes retain a rheumy dignity. The void into which he so long gazed would now seem to gaze into him.

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  • This piece of art was created by the Finn Raimo Veranen and is entitled Ready to Fly. It depicts 56 children dancing or jumping, but the shadows cast by the light give the impression of many more. Raimo Veranen has almost made the motif of children his own trademark over the years. “In the early 1980s, my wife was expecting a baby and was scanned. On the screen, we saw a tiny figure making rapid, jerky movements. I remember that very clearly and it has become a source of inspiration in my work,” he says. The children in the pie- ce are happy, open and ready to jump into...

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  • The term ‘aesthetic labour’ first appeared in 1999 from Dr Chris Warhurst and his team at the University of Strathclyde. Attempts are made to link the concept of aesthetic labour with the medieval Italian concept of sprezzatura. Also implicit, but not developed in this paper are decisions around the allocation of training resources to favoured employees. A different approach to ethics is introduced.

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  • Fluorosis is the result of an excessive intake of fluoride during enamel formation and calcification, usually the third month of gestation through the eighth year after birth.When high concentrations of fluoride are absorbed by the body, the metabolic function of the ameloblasts is altered, which leads to defective matrix formation and hypocalcification (Figure 7-2). This type of discoloration can affect the primary and the permanent dentition. Histologically, a hypomineralized porous subsurface, covered by a well-mineralized surface enamel layer, is observed.

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  • For the HR context there is a supplementary and vital research question: ‘How should an HR manager respond to the competing pressures of recruiting and retaining attractive employees while at the same time keeping legislative and professional competence intact?’ What stance, either personal or organisational, gives rise to potential ethical anxieties? Unanswered here but noted are gender differences for aesthetic labour and also for sprezzatura, treated historically as the male mind at work.

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  • The literature on aesthetic labour provides some definitions. Martin describes aesthetic labour as ‘the requirement to have the management-determined mix of appearance, age, weight, class, and accent characteristics.’(2001, 106). He cites the work from Strathclyde University with ‘a hotel seeking to project a total image concept, with the hotel building representing the hardware and the staff the software’ (2001, 106). He remarks further that staff are expected to mould themselves into the required characteristics.

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  • Where the two terms differ is in the imposition by organisations of courteous or forced ritual behaviour on employees – a modern phenomenon. Insincerity is concealed, leading to the whimsical even offensive notion that we are all air hostesses now. There are moral implications here too. Sprezzatura could be aligned to the moral theories of hedonism and egoism – where the focus is on the individual who decides to pursue a working life of fulfilment based on self interest, by the appearance of relaxed competence that may or may not be borne out by actual effectiveness at work....

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  • Aesthetic feelings are distinguished from sensory feelings, now, by the fact that the former are related to the content of a presentation, the latter to the act itself. 21 Thus sensory feelings, but not aesthetic feelings, are directly sensitive to the quality and intensity of the act, and all sensations are, above a certain intensity, painful. Further, the sensory feeling disappears or is at least reduced to an almost unnoticeable intensity in the passage from sensation (perception) to a reproduced presentation in memory. ...

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  • Our students were deeply moved, as we were, for example, by a bronze flutist from Benin, Nigeria; a Haida mask of western Canada; a Mayan god of Central America—as we saw how in the very purpose and structure of art, such opposites as sameness and difference, surface and depth, the intimate and the wide, hard and soft are made one. And these are the very same opposites we are trying to put together in ourselves. Through the opposites, we see our true kinship to peoples far away in place and time....

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  • The second reason illustrates a more profound difficulty. The image of nonchalance is linked in perhaps subtle ways to power, and ethical aspects of its use. A challenging book, born out of a deep understanding of mostly western culture, is Robert Greene’s The concise 48 Laws of Power. In his preface (page xii) he states, “If like the courtier of times gone by, you can seduce charm, deceive and subtly outmaneuver (sic) your opponents, you will attain the heights of power. You will be able to make people bend to your will without them realizing what you have done....

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  • The concept of aesthetic labour is partly seen from the perspective of ethics. There may be strictly applied selection criteria for the recruitment and selection of new employees. For an appointments panel such a situation could cause conflict between organisational requirements and personal private views on what is moral or fair. The ethical problem concerns the Human Resource manager, who wishes to appoint someone, but who needs professional reasons for appointing a less attractive person.

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  • The initiating problem is unstructured design processes and vague descriptions of the form problems in the students’ critique of each other's product proposals, and very vague presentations of the product's aesthetic qualities in their reports. The problem must be seen in relation to the fact that the majority of the students can express themselves clearly in engineering fields and that design methodology is based on technical parameters.

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  • Numbers cited for hair loss only take into account the absolute number of hairs. They do not reflect the fact that the regrowing hairs are lighter and thinner than before, which also adds to apparent clinical hair loss. Hair color was measured by calculating the absorption coefficient from the hairs’ transmission of 700 nm light. Hair diameter was measured from digital photographs. The study showed that the regrowing hairs appeared lighter (with a transmission coefficient 1.

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  • The problem of subjectivity is a profound one. Jackall’s very powerful book, out of print, gives at least some guidance. Looking at ‘the occupational ethics of corporate managers’ (1998, 4) he asserts that career minded managers do not have to work hard but well: that a bureaucracy, which he considers the main structure of organisations, ‘transforms all moral issues into immediately practical concerns.

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  • Considerations of a similar sort can be applied also, now, in relation to our experience of music. Here, too, it is phantasy-feelings which are involved as the presupposition of our (genuine) feelings of aesthetic pleasure. But the phantasy- feelings that are evoked by absolute music dispense with all presuppositions similar to those which one would find in a corresponding serious feeling: such phantasy-feelings are in this sense meaningless (are, as one might say, a matter of `pure will' - or of pure intoxication).

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  • The concept of aesthetic labour and sprezzatura may offer a new way of seeing employees. The concept needs to be tested along two routes – the employee and the organisation. The focus is firstly inwards to the recruitment, selection and training of staff and secondly outwards, to the public faces the organisation presents to the specific business environment. In the first of the two roles at least, the Human Resource manager can have a major influence and here ethical concerns may be considered as operational embedded practical aspects to daily work.

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  • The rise and valuing of human reason is a driving and organizing force in the story of Western philosophy and civilization. It would be a mistake, however, to believe that the story of Western culture is only about the importance of reason and control. Even as the Tradition of reason was given form in the Greek idea of logos, a parallel tradition—one that would be received less favorably in the millennia to follow—was emerg- ing. An early example is ...

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  • “The central purpose of the University of Virginia is to enrich the mind by stimulating and sustaining a spirit of free inquiry directed to understanding the nature of the universe and the role of mankind in it. Activities designed to quicken, discipline, and enlarge the intellectual and creative capacities, as well as the aesthetic and ethical awareness, of the members of the University and to record, preserve, and disseminate the results of intellectual discovery and creative endeavor serve this purpose.

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  • A British visitor to the Rocky Mountains, despite the fact that his Denver hosts had urged him, 'You'll love the Rockies', complained that there were too many trees of too few kinds, mostly the same monotonous evergreens, too many rocks, too much sun too high in the sky, not enough water, the scale was too big and there were not enough signs of humans, no balanced elements of form and colour, nothing like the Lake District or the Scottish lochs. 16 Can one argue that he was wrong? One argument is that he did not have the right scientific categories....

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