Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

Art Experience and Disagreement

Antonia Veitschegger

Thursday 2 December 2021

09:40 - 10:20

Zoom 1-2

We often disagree regarding the evaluations inherent in our art experiences. In this talk, I will call such disagreement “aesthetic disagreement,” referring both to disagreement about whether a work of art possesses certain valuable qualities and disagreement about the work’s overall value. First, I will present examples of aesthetic disagreement understood in this way, in order to better make sense of what it is that we disagree about in such exemplary cases. I will then turn to a structural analysis of the object of art experience: it is, I argue, a complex whole with a threefold structure, consisting of what I call art thing, art work, and art object.

The art thing is the spatiotemporal ontic foundation of the art work, the real thing, through which the art work is manifested. The art work, then, is what Roman Ingarden calls the “schematic formation,” or “skeleton,” which is identical throughout different art experiences. As a schematic formation, the art work involves both determinate aspects and “spots of indeterminacy” (Ingarden), which are meant to be filled out and concretized by the experiencing subject, according to the possibilities offered with respect to its determinate aspects. The art work is meant to be concretized, to present itself “in the flesh” in art experience. Apart from that, it can also be thought of, analyzed, and discussed. The art work does not cease to exist apart from individual experiences of it; this is the reason why people can share their thoughts on the same art work across time—and have disagreements about it. Finally, the art object is the experiential ontic foundation of the art work. It is the body, with which the “skeleton” of the art work is provided within art experience. The art object is a synthesis of a manifold of concretized aspects of the art work. It correlates to a synthesis of perceptive, cognitive, emotional, evaluative, and imaginative states of the experiencing subject. The art object possesses aesthetically valuable qualities, such as being elegant, sad, exciting, banal, comic, and the like. The aesthetically valuable qualities are the founding qualities of the values, which in turn determine the art object’s overall aesthetic value.

Following this analysis, I will argue that recognition of the threefold structure of art thing, art work, and art object helps us identify three basic kinds of aesthetic disagreement: first, disagreement stemming from more or less conclusive awareness of the art thing, second, disagreement stemming from more or less legitimate understanding of the art work’s schema, and, third, disagreement stemming from differing values of concretized art objects. While distinguishable in analysis, these kinds of disagreement are necessarily entangled, as are art thing, art work, and art object. The analysis offered, I conclude, allows us to develop strategies for dealing with aesthetic disagreement, which can benefit future art experiences and self-understanding.

Panel details

Forms and Levels of Dis/Agreement

chaired by Fabio Rovigo

Art Experience and Disagreement

Antonia Veitschegger


Love and Disagreement

Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl