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Aesthetics and critical pedagogy: a critique of Parsons’ stage theory of aesthetic development Balomenos-Trifonas, Elefteria 1993

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AESTHETICS AND CRITICAL PEDAGOGY:A CRITIQUE OF PARSONS' STAGE THEORY OF AESTHETICDEVELOPMENTbyELEFTERIA BALOMENOS-TRIFONASB. Ed., University of British Columbia, 1984A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Visual and Performing Arts)FACULTY OF EDUCATIONWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJune 1993© Elefteria Balomenos-Trifonas, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of V^At_ ivsm PfC.P-oarzr-i ingr Ag_T S (CotAces-lio►vThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate ^1(04" ici DE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTThe present study brings to light the limitations of Parsons' (1987) stage theoryof aesthetic development by facilitating a critical examination of it through thepostmodern tenets manifest within critical pedagogy. It is pointed out that theaesthetic phenomenon exists as an entity within experience which ultimately deniesdefinitive conceptual absolutes in its description. A divergency of theoreticalpositions within aesthetic traditions are reviewed so as to convey the problems andlimitations of an aesthetic developmental theory which restricts responses to adesignated sequence of possibilities. Aesthetic experience exists as a complexnetwork of alternatives, not easily ordered into clearly definable conceptualframeworks from which to base teaching practices. Although Parsons' theoryoffers a structured order which identifies sequentially appropriate objectives for theteaching of aesthetics, it is critically rendered suspect based on the philosophicalpredispositions of critical pedagogy. It is argued that ideological biases maintainedthrough cultural membership serve to orient researcher and subject belief systemsso as to allow for normative behaviour(s) to be presented as given and natural ratherthan their being considered as culturally legitimated developments. Parsons'structural theory, which offers a strictly Eurocentrically biased conceptual itinerary,is critically assessed for the moral and ethical implication it imposes on subordinategroup populations. Marginalized group belief systems are implicitly denied duerecognition as valid and valuable options within experience. Critical pedagogy, asit is delineated within the present study, exposes the limiting and restrictive natureof an educational agenda which offers a definitive and a closed system ofdevelopmental possibilities.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT ^  iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ^  iiiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  viCHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION^  1Significance of the Present Study: Aesthetics Theory and Pedagogy... ^1Methodology and Research Purposes ^4General Problem ^11Specific Problems ^11Outline of Thesis ^12CHAPTER TWO - THEORIES OF AESTHETIC PERCEPTION ^ 14Overview ^14Introduction ^14Realism and Imitation ^15Didactic idealism ^21Formalism ^29Expression ^35Creativity ^42Cognition ^45Historical/Cultural Context ^50ivCosmic Tensional Order ^55The Quality of Experience: Justifying the Aesthetics of Popular Art ^60Postmodernism ^66Summary ^  73CHAFFER THREE - A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF PARSONS'RESEARCH PROGRAM ^  76Chapter Overview ^76Identifying and Justifying: The Proposed Critical Perspective ^77Qualitative Studies and Aesthetic Development ^80Summary ^  99CHAFFER FOUR - THE PRACTICAL, MORAL AND ETHICALIMPLICATION OF A CURRICULA BASED ON PARSONS' THEORYOF AESTHETIC DEVELOPMENT ^  103Chapter Overview ^  103Identifying the Structural Nature of Parsons' Theory  ^103Ethical and Moral Limitations of a Stage Developmental Approach^ 112Summary ^  123CHAFFER FIVE - AESTHETIC DEVELOPMENT AND CRITICALPEDAGOGY ^  125Chapter Overview ^  125Postmodernism and its Influences on Critical Pedagogy ^126VCritical Pedagogy ^  133Conclusions  144Summary ^  146CHAPTER SIX ^  147Summary of theConclusionsStudy ^  147 150Implications for Theory ^152Implications for Research ^153Implications for Education ^  154Critical Reflections^ 155REFERENCES ^  161APPENDIX A - Parsons' Stage Theory^  174APPENDIX B - Chapter Summaries for Thesis Presentation ^ 176APPENDIX C - Conclusions (Summarized for Thesis Presentation) ^ 180ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThis thesis is dedicated to Peter whose support, understanding and patiencewere a constant source of inspiration. I would also like to dedicate this thesis toPeirce who gives us many hours of joy and love.My sincere thanks to Dr. Anna Kindler, Dr. Rita Irwin, and Dr. StuartRichmond for their careful reading, thoughtful questions and many helpfulsuggestions.VICHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONSIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRESENT STUDY: AESTHETICS,THEORY AND PEDAGOGYAesthetics has become a subject area designated as central to the study andteaching of art in schools. During the last three decades, art activities haveundergone radical reanalyses resulting in shifts to their underlying pedagogicalorientations (Smith, 1987; Di Blasio, 1987). What used to be a focus on studiowork and creative development has transpired, through the precedents andtheoretical mandates initially set out by theorists such as Barkan (1963) andKaufman (1963), to a focus which presently delineates the study of specific contentareas as an important dimension of art education (see also Greer, 1984; Silverman,1988; Eisner, 1988). Consequently, the impact of suggestions advocating theformal study of disciplines within art curricular agendas has deeply influenced thetheoretical foundations of art educational curricula. Subject based orientations tothe teaching of art have recently gained impetus and support during the last decadethrough Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE) programs (Eisner, 1987; Greer1984, Clark, 1991). These programs focus mainly on the inclusion of fourdiscipline areas as necessary components for developing literacy in art: art history,art criticism, studio art and aesthetics. A similar orientation was initiated withinB.C. in the 1981 secondary art curriculum guide which generally supported thetheoretical orientations outlined by DBAE as a framework for defining desiredcurricular practices in art education (see Frost, 1988). Although incorporating the12study of aesthetics into school art programs has been defined as a desirableobjective of instruction, in practice it has failed to be a truism within the practice ofschool art curricula (Hamblin, 1986, 1988, Dorn. 1981). Similar findings relate topractices within B.C. school art programs. A study conducted by Frost (1988)determined that within B.C. secondary school art practices "the importance ofdeveloping the ability to reason critically is not fully recognized by most artteachers" (p. 132). Although Frost (1988) does not directly relate her study andfindings to aesthetics, but to reasoned criticism, it may be maintained that integral toreasoned criticism within the arts exists the actualization of a qualitative aestheticresponse and awareness (Gray, 1987). As Greer (1988) points out. "identifyingaesthetic qualities is part of art criticism" (p. 14). It may therefore be maintainedfrom the findings of Frost's (1988) study that the development and refinement ofaesthetic responses in students does not receive in classroom practices the attentionand place of importance designated it by curricular theoretical mandates. In a studyconducted by Gray and MacGregor (1990), educators supporting a discipline basedart orientation within their art programs were observed and interviewed. Thedifficulty of incorporating aesthetics into art educational practices was conveyedwithin the findings of the study through a number of comments: voicing herfrustration with the expectations of DBAE, namely its aesthetic component, oneinstructor states, "I became saturated with DBAE and overkill and the mystique ofaesthetics: how do we understand it" (p. 9). Another teacher who had training in alldisciplines but aesthetics points out that to competently teach the four strandsindicative of a DBAE educational format "too much is needed; it's too complexwithout resources. Integrity is difficult to achieve, and it's difficult to avoidsuperficiality" (p.11). These comments assert that implementing aesthetics into3one's art class objectives requires a depth of background knowledge that not allteachers have actualized. Hamblin (1988) also points out that the average teacherdoes not possess the required resources to develop transferable critical and visualliteracy to his/her students; and for this reason the study of aesthetics is frequentlyevaded as a distinct component of art programs (see also Broudy, 1976).Educators who are ill equipped to convey comprehensive instruction in the subjectlack the means to transfer an effective understanding to their students.In an attempt to counter such a void within school art programs, Parsons (1987)has sought to uncover developmentally relative stages of aesthetic understanding.He points out that such a developmental theory of aesthetics offers "a sequence ofsteps, each of which is basically a new insight, these steps have nonarbitrarysequence. Some must be acquired before others" (Parsons. 1987. pp. 10-11). Hemaintains that,These ways of understanding paintings are arranged in a developmentalsequence. I argue that people adopt them in certain order. . . .The result is acommon sequence of development built on a series of insights into thepossibilities of art. Each step is an advance on the previous one because itmakes possible a more adequate understanding of art. (Parsons, 1987, p..5)Parsons (1987) identifies a framework within aesthetic responses by definingdistinct response phenomena at various ages. Five stages of aestheticunderstanding which students exhibit at these predetermined ages are posited.These stages, as Parsons defines them, are structured sequentially and are exhibitedprogressively from stage one to stage five. Parsons delineates the value of suchfindings as offering conclusive, ordered and age appropriate objectives for theinstruction of aesthetics in schools.4Parsons (1987) theory of aesthetic development has received recognition as aviable and valuable instructional tool which offers a structured order for theteaching of aesthetic concepts. Its inclusion in a volume of selected writingsconcentrating on aesthetics in education attests to the fact that it is viewed asengendering valuable insights from which pedagogical practices may be oriented.The theoretical presuppositions of Parsons' theory are presented among papers byindividuals such as Ralph Smith, Harold Osborne, Nelson Goodman, AlanSimpson, David Best and Howard Gardner to name only a few of the significantscholarly figures who have contributed insightful rhetorical pieces within theaforementioned volume entitled Aesthetics and Arts Education  (1991). AlthoughParsons' (1987, 1991) stage theory has been generally well received, it will beposited that there are inherent limitations within the structural ordering andsystematization of aesthetic responses according to a stage developmental hierarchy.The present study will critically examine the methodological biases inherent withinParsons research so as to convey the restrictive nature of the developmental theoryitself. By employing the analytic tenets of critical pedagogy to critique Parsons'research, the value and generalizability of his stage theory of aesthetic developmentwill be rendered suspect.METHODOLOGY AND RESEARCH PURPOSESThe study seeks to identify and distinguish the limitations of applying Parsons'(1987) analytical classifications to the teaching of aesthetics in schools. A valid andviable means for bringing into question the legitimacy and value of developmentalprograms may be founded on methods of conceptual analysis (Short, 1991). As a5potential resource for the development of curricular programs, Parsons' theoreticalconclusions merit such a critical and comprehensive assessment. Conceptualcritiques of structural theories in education are typically undertaken with thepurpose of identifying flaws and weaknesses within theoretical frameworksstructured for optimizing and guiding teaching practices (Short, 1991). Short(1991) points out that,... the purpose of conceptual structure assessment is not simply tounderstand the conceptual structure underlying a theory model, argument orresearch program, but to determine its adequacy for use in curriculumdevelopment. (p. 35)The adequacy of Parsons' (1987) theory will thus be reviewed through the use ofconceptually structured assessment based on a comparative analysis. Comparativeanalytical formats are a credible means for assessing the value of existing theoreticalagendas (Short, 1991). By way of employing contrasts one may reveal the inherentinadequacies of conceptual programs for practical implementation.In critically reviewing Parsons' (1987) stage theory of aesthetic understandingwithin a postmodernist perspective, the value and universalizability of hisconclusions will be questioned. It will be pointed out that an educational programwhich instills critical thinking in students, as is advocated by a postmodernistapproach to education, may foster aesthetic responses which do not correlate withthe linear developmental progression defined by Parsons' (1987) theory. Thepedagogical merit of structuring aesthetic educational programs within theguidelines suggested by content specific frameworks, such as that of Parsons'theory, will thus come into question.Short (1991) similarly suggests that behavioural taxonomies and developmental6schedules should be evaluated for the 'moral - implications they maintain. Hepoints out that:Generally, we tend to assume that our conceptual structures are morallyneutral technical tools. This assumption is often false. For example, theconceptual structure associated with operant conditioning, which has beenwidely adopted as a way of thinking about classroom instruction anddiscipline, invites us to think of children, not as autonomous moral agentsbut as objects to be manipulated by conditioning techniques. (p. 35)Within this vein of assessment. Parsons' (1987) theory will be considered for itsunderlying ethical implications based on the theoretical presuppositions maintainedwithin the moral tenets of critical pedagogy. By delineating age related responseexpectations, Parsons' theory may serve to discriminate and enforce artificial normswithin educational practices which deny difference and polyvocality —a naturallyinherent characteristic of multicultural populations. The theory reviewed willtherefore be carefully scrutinized for the limitations that the identified behaviouralexpectations might place on students in their responding to art.It has also been suggested that a conceptual analysis offers a base understandingof the key terms the study is based around (Scriven, 1988; McMillan &Schumacher, 1989; Short, 1991). To condense the meaning of a concept or terminto one holistic all-encompassing definition, frequently means that the provideddefinitions disregard a plethora of specialized but distinctive nuances, terms andconcepts may possess. So as to avoid the limitations inherent to precise definitions,it is necessary to provide an array of conceptual examples which evoke a trueawareness of a term's definitional associations. Scriven (1988) points out that:One should nearly always use what I have called -method of examples and7contrasts", and not the method of explicit definition. That is you should tryto clarify a notion by giving paradigmatic examples which illustrate the coremeaning. the most typical use of the term ... The method of examples andcontrasts" is better able to clarify important distinctions that are appropriatefor a particular application while avoiding the risks of oversimplificationinherent in operational or arbitrary definitions. (p. 145)Within Chapter Two and Chapter Five, the proposed study will offer a detailedanalysis of the concepts integral to the topic of study itself. A review of thepositions which have been maintained on aesthetics will be presented withinChapter Two so as to illuminate the complex nature of aesthetic theory. Thisreview will serve to present aesthetic theories not to qualitatively classify them, butmoreover to identify the arguments as they have been ardently supported bytheorists. In so doing, the subjective validity of a diversity of theories will beconveyed.Similarly, a conceptual analysis of critical pedagogy as it may relate to educationwill be posited in Chapter Five. It must be noted that to define critical pedagogyrequires an auxiliary definition of postmodernism. Although such an exercise is notin keeping with the postmodern notion of legitimacy within multiplicity relative tothe personalized value of the argument, a description of the "postmodern condition"(Lyotard, 1984) is necessary so as to consider what effect such a philosophicalperspective has had on educational theories such as critical pedagogy. This studywill review a number of positions which exemplify a shift from the modern to thepostmodern paradigm, and then go on to posit a description which reflects upon thetype of thinking and awareness which will provide for a postmodernist orientationwithin pedagogy. Because there exists no single encompassing definition of8postmodernism (Giroux, 1988a: Harvey, 1990), one must convey the philosophicalessence of postmodernist positions through presenting a variety of the possiblestances which have been posited under the term "postmodernism - . The proposedstudy will review a diversity of postmodern theories and attitudes (Lyotard, 1984;Jencks, 1992; Hutcheon, 1992; Derrida, 1976; and others) so as to suggestpositions which have served as productive baselines for curriculum reform(Cherryholmes, 1988; Giroux, 1988a; Stanley, 1992; Lather, 1991; etc.). It shouldbe pointed out that postmodernist thought is relevant within contemporaryeducational theories as it exists within its reconceptualized form of - criticalpedagogy" (Stanley, 1992). For example, critical theorists (Apple. 1990: Stanley.1992; Giroux, 1987) suggest that educational systems should provide a context forempowering students to be "critical and self determined thinkers" (Giroux. 1987.p.17). Similarly, in presenting a postmodernist perspective for art education,Pearse (1992) posits a view which acknowledges art as a social process. Heidentifies the value of developing within students a receptive critical ability so as toallow them to critically challenge the legitimacy of interpretations within art. In sodoing, students learn to actively realize the value of an array of artistic forms andthe diversity of influences which constitute the potential for valid but uniqueperspectives. Pearse (1992) explains,Educational theories which are based within a postmodernist positionsuggest that pedagogy provoke a new awareness and sensitivity withinstudents which push the boundaries of notions of paradigms. Yet as is thecase when a new paradigm replaces other ones, it still has to contend withthe old ones being somewhere on the landscape—sometimes as competitionsometimes as clutter. (p.249)9This perspective is further supported by Giroux (1988) who posits that educationalcurricula should not be based on closed systems of knowledge, but should cultivatein students an empowering attitude which questions the influences that serve toorganize the foundation of their subjective experiences:... teaching and learning must be linked to the goals of educating students:to understand why things are the way they are and how they got to be thatway; to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. (p.13)Theorists of critical pedagogy suggest that students should be freed from the codeswhich limit learning to imposed rhetoric, and be presented with the challenge offorming and broadening their own subjective realities (Cherryholmes. 1988; Lather,1991). It also is pointed out that students should not be expected to compile a list ofphilosophical arguments from which the power of the institution may belegitimized, but but rather they should be prompted to raise questions regardingissues presented, and consequently to play an active role in the formation andcritical awareness of their own subjective differences and understandings (Giroux,1988a). Postmodern pedagogy, as it exists within - critical pedagogy - , will allowstudents a freedom of thought which serves to broaden the boundaries ofexperience. Thus, Parsons (1987) stage theory of aesthetic development possessesthe inherent capacity to be undermined, both conceptually and methodologically, bypedagogical practices which encourage students to realize perspectives outside ofthe boundaries delineated by societal and institutional norms.It must be pointed out that it is not the intent of this study to establish thequalitative value of a postmodernist orientation within educational practices, but toconsider the diversity of developmental progressions critical pedagogy (as areconceptualization of postmodernist thought for educational contexts) might10engender within students' aesthetic understandings. This analysis will bemaintained for the purpose of bringing into question Parsons' (1987) stage theoryof aesthetic development.Upon providing a conceptual analysis of aesthetics, Chapter Three will go on toprovide a detailed critical review of Parsons' stage theory of aesthetic development.The validity of Parsons' (1987) conclusions will be questioned based on the limitsinherent within the research methodology employed for the study. Within hisresearch findings. Parsons fails to consider the influence of socially determinedcontextual expectations upon an individuals perceptual orientations. In effect,basing his theory on cognitive growth without examining or disclaiming the processof acculturation caused by societal expectations. The relationship betweenknowledge and the socializing process which supplies individuals with legitimatingcodes (Giroux, 1988a; Apple 1990; Cherryholmes, 1988; Kellner, 1988; Lather,1991) will be addressed in the proposed study so as to identify a particulardeficiency inherent in the perspective presented by Parsons (1987). Namely, whateffects socio-cultural expectations can have on student responses.The value of Parsons' (1987) theory within a pedagogical context will bequestioned within Chapter Four on the basis of the limitations engendered within itsstructural approach to knowledge and understanding (Lather, 1991). Thestructured system that Parsons posits, in which there exists a sequential progressionof stages which is hierarchical and suggests the possibilities of universalizablecategories, implies a particular sequencing to teaching and learning respectively.Consequently. were Parsons' stages of aesthetic developmental responses to betaken as absolute, as is intended by the researcher, the pedagogical possibilitieswithin aesthetic education would be restricted to the expectations that such a11theoretical construct would convey. It will similarly be suggested within ChapterFour that Parsons' theory of aesthetic developmental understanding constitutes aparticular perception of the phenomenon which through its dominant cultural biasesserves to disenfranchise minority group populations while concomitantlyexemplifying a favoritism for Western ideological possibilities which do notfacilitate an appreciation and empathy for otherness and difference—an importantethical objective within critical pedagogy. The effect of a structural pedagogicalapproach to the teaching of aesthetics will thus be criticized for its moral and ethicalimplications within educational agendas.In summary the present study will use conceptual analysis, which through apostmodemist critical framework, brings into question the value of a stage theory ofaesthetic developmental understanding as it is posited by Parsons (1987).GENERAL PROBLEM1) To bring into question the value of Parsons' stage theory of aestheticdevelopment from a postmodern perspective of critical pedagogy.SPECIFIC PROBLEMS2) To illuminate the multiplicity of critical rationales which have served toinscribe theoretical delineations of the aesthetic experience so as to implicitlyconvey the relativistic nature of its possibilities.3) To convey ideological biases inherent within Parsons' research12methodology so as to bring into question the validity. generalizability of hisstage theory of aesthetic understanding.4) To illuminate the moral and ethical implications of Parsons' stage theoryof aesthetic development when considered in relation to the principles ofcritical pedagogy.5) To consider how aesthetic development actualized within the practice ofcritical pedagogy might engender potentials for aesthetic understandings instudents which would deviate from the norms defined by Parsons'sequentially ordered possibilities.OUTLINE OF THE THESISIn Chapter Two a diversity of conceptual theories defining the aestheticphenomenon will be reviewed so as to convey the complexity, diversity andheterogeneity of potential sources for aesthetic experience. This exercise isintended to suggest an open system of possibilities dependent on the criticalarguments which serve to justify the positions taken. Chapter Three will provide adetailed presentation and critical analysis of Parsons' (1987) stage theory ofaesthetic development so as to illuminate the methodological biases inherent withinhis findings, thus rendering the generalizability of his theory suspect. Studieswhich offer relevant research in relation to Parson' stage theory will similarly beanalyzed for the methodologically dependent limitations of their findings. InChapter Four the conceptual presuppositions manifest within critical pedagogy will13be adhered to so as to consider the moral and ethical implications of an aestheticinstructional program such as that offered by Parsons (1987, 1991). Chapter Fivecompletes the present critical analysis of Parsons' theory by offering an in depthdelineation of critical pedagogy, as reconceptualization of postmodern theory, so asto convey an educational program bias that could serve to engender aestheticdevelopment different from the normative definitive patterns of age relatedunderstanding identified by Parsons'. Chapter Six summarizes and concludes thestudy.CHAPTER TWOTHEORIES OF AESTHETIC PERCEPTIONOVERVIEWThis Chapter will identify the complex nature of aesthetics as a subject of study.The plurality and heterogeneity of philosophic debates surrounding theoreticallybased rhetorics on aesthetics will be discussed in order to foster an awareness of thedivergent discourses which have been developed to describe the phenomenon itself.A conceptual analysis that presents numerous paradigmatic examples offers arepresentative sense of the phenomenon which cannot be realized through a holisticdefinition of aesthetic theory. The depth of critical arguments offered is intended tobear witness to the subjective and essentially relative nature of the aestheticphenomenon.INTRODUCTIONHistorically, the etymology of the word "aesthetic" is derived from the Greekroot aesthetikos, refering to sense perception (Crawford, 1991). As pointed out byBaumgarten, "the aesthetic value of a work of art depends on its ability to producevivid experiences in the audience" (cited in Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson, 1990,p.7). Attaining a more clear and precise definition than this has constantly evadedany lasting consensus within its conceptual possibilities. It could be argued that theonly common factor in the various efforts that have been made to define aestheticsexists in the admission of the difficulty of any such definition. Multiple positions1415have encoded the aesthetic phenomenon by offering divergent interpretationsengendering the experience itself, thus supplying a multiplicity of perceptualfragments which work towards conveying the complex nature of aestheticviewpoints. This chapter will juxtapose opposing positions concerning the natureof aesthetics as they' stem from variable philosophical knowledge sources withindominant art world traditions and discourses. Common conceptual streams ofthought among existing philosophies will be used to classify potential sources foraesthetic experiences. Toward this end, major underlying art movements andideologies which adhere to basic aesthetic categories will be presented. It must benoted, however, that it is not within the scope of this chapter to categorize all artmovements, but moreover to inform the reader of the characteristics inherent withina diversity of aesthetic ideologies. The theories to be presented have survivedcritical scrutiny and in so doing have taken their place within dominant art worldtraditions and discourses on aesthetics. The delineation of such a variety ofdiscourses is hoped to serve in portraying the ultimate relativity of aestheticarguments as they foster valuable personalized vocabularies and insights whichacquire relevancy when understood and maintained through the sincerity ofexperience.REALISM AND IMITATIONThroughout history art works have imitated and represented objects in the realworld. The technical skill and astute hand-eye sensitivity' displayed by artists hasserved to infuse audiences with a satisfying sense of awe and admiration. Becausepeople have continually taken pleasure in recognizing the features and qualities16rendered available to them through the medium of art. it may be posited that realismas an artistic genre has provided a source for engendering in the viewer a state ofexcited pleasurable aesthetic appreciation. It may also be recognized that art worksare qualified as realistic and imitative in relation to the conditioned expectationswithin the viewer (Gombrich. 1960). An art work is an interpretation of the realand is therefore never capable of objectively reproducing that which is real. It wasnot until the Renaissance period that artists rendered objects according to the lawsof perspective and diminishing planes. Before this period. art tended to sincerelylack representation of the proportions and planes of reality. Art styles of many non-Western countries still rely on codes for representing which fall short of what we inthe western world have come to understand as realism. This is not, however, tosay that realism and imitation in art are not heralded as important qualities amongstthese groups. It simply suggests that what people consider as a faithful mimickingof reality depends greatly upon accepted standards permeated through the normsand expectations of one's culture. A portrait painted by a seventeenth centuryJapanese artist would greatly differ from that painted by a Renaissance artist and yetboth would undoubtedly conceive of their work as representational. Gombrich(1960) points out that realism in art is relative to the modes of representationfamiliar to the artist. The artist being limited by a number of factors: his/herindividual disposition and temperament, the possibilities of the medium, and theschema he/she has come to use as a means for defining what is seen. Nietzsche. ascited by Gombrich (1960), suggests that nature cannot be rendered objectivelythrough art:-All Nature faithfully" — But by what faintCan Nature be subdued to arts constraint?17Her smallest fragment is still infiniteAnd so he paints but what he likes in itWhat does he like? He likes what he can paint!(p.86)Realism and imitation are subject to the norms of artistic convention, and theviewer, then. accepts even stylized images as immediately real if the depiction isfaithful to ones preconceived notions of how reality is represented. Realism in artthen is never pure but tempered by the conditions of the artist. Regardless of theschema used, however, viewers of art have consistently found pleasure in anartist's ability to reproduce a likeness of what they' see before them.A number of theorists have considered the role of mimesis and realisticrepresentation as a factor for qualitative responses in the viewer. Plato. one of thefirst philosophers to require of art that it imitate reality, considered works of artsubordinate to reality in that they were "mere imitations". In considering art'smimetic function as primarily instrumental for conveying moral ideals to the public,Plato deemed realistic representation important only in so far as it served thispurpose (Swanger, 1982). Aristotle, unlike Plato, considered imitation andrepresentation in art as serving to do more than illustrate the ideal; throughrepresenting nature convincingly, the artist could create novel experiences in theviewer which would serve to establish connections to the real world. Realist art indepicting worldly phenomena and the psychological states of man was regarded asa valuable means for the viewer to learn about the world. Through learning onederives pleasure; realism in art engenders a mode of intellectually edifyingexperience from which satisfaction may be actualized. Contrary to Plato, whomaintained that art not portray undesirable emotional states such as jealousy and18greed because of its potential to transfer depictions to an individuals real worldactions, Aristotle believed that socially degenerative states of human nature renderedrealistically would allow the viewer to conceive their undesirability and thus bypassa need to actualize them within one's own existence. Art, as accorded by Aristotle,can serve as a form of -catharsis -. He believed that well structured art forms whichconvincingly and realistically represent human feelings, arouse in the viewer anaesthetic response engendered within the delight of gaining knowledge andunderstanding about the depicted phenomena (Werhane. 1984). By actualizing anunderstanding of the emotion through experiencing it in its artistic representation,the viewer is not compelled to reinstate the experience through action in reality. Theart work frees the individual of the need to realize the emotion rather than activatingit:To Aristotle, aesthetic emotions are felt during a performance of a play, andthese emotions are then purged rather than activated by the work of art.Thus art has a positive rather than a negative social effect by exhibiting andcleansing persons of emotions without leading persons to violent action.(Werhane, 1984, p.8)Although this comment focuses on Aristotle's perception of drama, the text goes onto point out that the cathartic function of art is applied in general to all forms of art.One broadens one's awareness through representation in art, and thus art gainsimportance in its ability to tell us about the world. Through learning about theworld or recognizing already perceived understandings one encounters feelings ofpleasure.Sheppard (1987) also points out that through imitating and representing objectsexistent in external reality, art works have traditionally interested and appealed to19the viewer. Recognizing and identifying objects. people. or scenes which the artisthas rendered through the use of artistic materials, generally serves to generatepleasurable responses in the viewer. It has been determined that individualsinexperienced in assessing art tend to base their preferences on a work's level ofreal world representation (Gardner, Winner. Kirchner. 1975; Parsons, 1987).Aristotle's theory of aesthetics suggests that representational works heightenexperience by allowing one to verify or expand knowledge about the world.Realistic works may evoke an untutored natural appeal for individuals who havehad little exposure to art in that training is not required to realize and find pleasure inlearning. Finding pleasure in learning exists as a fundamental response prerequisiteto human existence.Similarly, Hutcheson's (see Dickie, 1988) theory delineates interest forrepresentational works as dependent on the pleasure derived from discerning unityand similarities between reality and the art works depiction may exist withoutexcessive training in the arts. The theory presented by Hutcheson (see Dickie,1988) on the marked appeal of imitative art works' offers an alternate explanation tothat of Aristotle's. His primary concern, however, does not directly relate to therelationship between representation and art: he is moreover interested in assessingthe complex nature of aesthetic preferences by considering how the cognitive sensesof perception and the reflex senses of morality and beauty function to elicit aestheticexperiences. Hutcheson (see Dickie, 1988) suggests that the cognitive sensefunctions to perceive uniformity and variety and the "reflex sense" of beauty reactsto produce pleasure triggered uniquely by uniformity in variety within the objectviewed. Therefore, in perceiving uniformity and variety one experiences aestheticpleasure. This theory may apply to the pleasure individuals take in viewing20representational art in that representational works convey beauty through twosources: uniformity and variety perceived within the elements and structure in theworks themselves (a concept native to formalist theories). or through uniformityand correspondence to a real world referents. The similarity of the visualarrangement of elements in the art work to the visually perceived structures inexternal reality serve to elicit pleasure through recognized associations. Uniformitybetween the real world and the represented world structures may allow for aheightened sense of pleasure manifest within the uniformity perceived between thedepicted and the depiction. Hutcheson (see Dickie, 1988) thus posits that the reflexsense of beauty is triggered by' unity within variety as is afforded by thereferentiality of the work. If this theory were proved as true, it would not then besurprising that individuals inexperienced in viewing and responding to art may basetheir judgments on intuitively felt harmonies derived from a works reference to realworld objects and phenomena.Within contemporary aesthetic theories, Nochlin (1978) points out that realismcontinues to maintain a base from which to engender aesthetic experience. Realismin art offers a fragment of our physical structured environment to be captured:What is therefore the distinguishing feature of the new realism is not somephony superimposition of humanist values onto formulas, but rather theassertion of the visual perception of things in the world as the necessarybasis of the structure of the pictorial field itself. (Nochlin, 1978, p.222)A split second of a generic banal scene may be transposed as exactly what it is, aframe of experience necessarily stark and void of meaning. Insignificant detail isrendered so close in verisimilitude to real world perceptions that Gombrich's (1960)and Nietzsche's (see Gombrich, 1960) objections to art's ability to copy nature is21truly tested. It would seem that bringing to our attention a deliberately photographicview which would otherwise go unnoticed can serve to interest and please, in that,one is drawn to the importance in detail of even the insignificant. Similar toAristotle's conception of art, one is posited to find pleasure through gainingknowledge. It is a knowledge of the significance of the common place withinexperience which serves to please the viewer. Art, by capturing a moment ofexistence and presenting it through the picture plane. tantalizes and excites theviewer through facilitating a previously unactualized discriminatory awarenessThe proliferation of representational art throughout the ages serves to maintain itas a valuable feature of art works. However, despite the fact that many individualscenter art preferences on an art work's degree of realism, it must be acknowledgedthat art works void of realism are not necessarily void of potential for generatingaesthetic experiences. Works are not limited to imitation as a gage of their worth,and being sensitive to the array of diverse possible sources for finding pleasure inart enables one to encounter a potentially rich field of aesthetic experiences.Although representational qualities in art works deserve mention and appreciation inaesthetic theories, being uniquely limited to realism as a criterion for enjoying artserves to restricts one's depth of visual experiences. Imitation and representationshould be considered as one of an array of potential sources for aesthetic responsesto art.DIDACTIC IDEALISMIt has been posited by numerous philosophers that art works which conveyspecific exemplary didactic functions ultimately serve as catalysts for heightened22aesthetic realizations. By lucidly illuminating social. moral or religious idealswithin the viewer, an art work exists as a source for elating and instillingpleasurable awareness. An art work attains recognition and praise by enlighteningthe viewer to ultimate ideals of mankind, and as accorded through such ideologiesof art, the importance of the work depends on its power as an instrument toenlighten the populous to preferred states of being. Art may influence the viewer totake on attitudes pertaining to moral, social or religious issues or more generally itmay simply serve to teach (Sheppard, 1987). For the purpose of the present study."didactic idealism" will be maintained as a category for theories of art whichexemplify this expectation. Conceptions of art. such as those presently outlined,translate - good" art as being art which sustains - positive" moral or social affects onthe viewer. The transmission of an idealized mode of thinking and its power toconvey moral or social ideal understandings then becomes the base from which tomake qualitative judgments about art. A number of theories which convey a"didactic idealist" orientation will now be presented.Werhane (1984) posits that art directly influences the audience so as toinevitably serve a utilitarian function. He labels this instrumental attitude towardsart as "didacticism" and suggests that the main concern for theorists adopting the"didactic" theory of art is not what the subject of a work is. but the quality ofknowledge or experience it is capable of manifesting in the viewer. Aristotle'sunderstandings which claimed that one can learn about nature through art, or that artis capable of arousing emotional empathy within the viewer and the depictedemotion, are early examples of didacticism in art theory.Plato also maintained a form of didactic idealism within his conception of art.As identified within the previous "realist" category of aesthetic theories outlined.23Plato supported a somewhat condescending attitude toward artistic forms ofcommunication, he proclaimed the superiority of reality over the imitation of realitythrough art and deemed art useful only in so far as it faithfully depicted exemplarystates of human kind (Efland, 1978). An art work's faithfulness to its referent wasessential in that alterations to a strict mimesis of reality in art could serve to conveyaberrations of reality which might be regarded as possible real world phenomenaand in turn could serve to stimulate and influence the public to less than ideal statesof existence (Swanger, 1981). This notion is conveyed in Plato's suggestions foreducating the young:A young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is liberal; anythingthat he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible andunalterable; and therefore it is most important that the talks which the youngfirst hear should be models of virtuous thought. (cited in Ross, 1984, pp.11-12)Plato is referring to the art of poetry as it may influence the young, but thisunderstanding was also paralleled in his perception of how visual arts were capableof affecting the lives of the average citizen. Realistic representation was essentialnot simply to mimic reality, but to convey a reality of being in its ideal state. Platoacknowledged art as valuable only if it were capable of provoking moral inspirationthrough depicting the beautiful. Art was to serve the ultimate purpose ofilluminating the model morals of reason and only those capable of conveying suchideals through art were deemed appropriate individuals for producing art works:Let our artists rather be those who are gifted to discern the true nature of thebeautiful and the graceful: then will our youth...receive the good ineverything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eye24and ear. and insensibly draw the soul from the earliest years into likenessand sympathy with the beauty and reason. (cited in Ross, 1984, p.66)Art, as Plato perceived it. maintained the ability, when portraying the beautiful. to- prepare the soul for reason" (Efland, 1978, p.6) which ultimately was believed toguide one towards ideal moral states—art served a meaningful purpose toward adesirable end. One could come to know the - good" through perceiving it in art.Thus, as accorded by Plato, art's purpose was to serve instrumentally inperpetuating a desired morality within individuals. and in so doing could instillvaluable pleasurable insights.Plato's theory required that ideal forms and states of human kind be depicted asthey exist within the external world. His didactic idealist theory of art was lateradopted and altered to suggest that art create the ideal rather than merely imitatenaturally existing forms of the ideal. This modified theory allowed the artistfreedom to imagine and juxtapose at will for the purpose of presenting imageswhich surpassed in beauty the restrictiveness of natural forms (Sheppard, 1987).Artistic depictions were expected to embody a perfected state of representationalreality by way of the selection and arrangement of exemplary forms. The artist'spurpose was to envisage and present ideals to man so as to offer council indeveloping strong idealist tendencies. This modified version of Plato's artisticdoctrines significantly influenced later movements in the arts. During theRenaissance, artists such as Raphael or Michelangelo sought to artistically create theperfect states of mankind through visual form. Beauty, as it was composed by theartist, was considered the pinnacle of the ideal and consequently the target forwhich artists strove to achieve in an attempt to exceed the restrictions of true realism(Sheppard, 1987). Renaissance art conveyed the "beautiful" so as to bring the25audience to a "higher" and more refined consciousness of exemplary states.Leo Tolstoy, writing in the nineteenth century, similarly held a didactic conceptof art. He believed that through art one could communicate profound deep felthuman emotions which could be valuable in enlightening the viewer to more noblereligious ideals. Great art, according to Tolstoy. "affects - or - infects - the viewerby promoting in one an understanding of the unity and spiritual goodness of thebrotherhood of man. Successful communication of praiseworthy and morally"good" feelings such as the humble harmony of existence were considered desirablein that one could be moved toward a more righteous morality of character. Tolstoypoints out the importance of art when he writes:Art, like speech, is a means of communication, and therefore of progress,ie., of the movement of humanity forward toward perfection. . .theevolution of feeling proceeds through art—feelings less kind and moreneedful for the well-being of mankind are replaced by others kinder andmore needful for that end. That is the purpose of art. And, speaking nowof its subject matter, the more art fulfills that purpose the better the art, andthe less it fulfills it, the worse the art. (cited in Werhane, 1984, p.95)Tolstoy held that superior works of art transmitted feelings which served to elevatethe audience to a belief in the spiritual and universal union of mankind.Other philosophies have also purported to acknowledge the importance of art'sinstrumental function in enlivening the viewer toward a predetermined set ofdesirable beliefs and values. For example, Marxist theories of art identify the"beautiful" in art, through a work's ability to convey depictions of preferred socialconditions within the economic situation of the time. The Marxist perception of artis not a simple account of a view existing independently of alternate possible26interpretations. Fundamentally, however, all Marxist theories of art identify arelationship between art and the social and economic structures. It is interesting tonote that the nineteenth century German philosopher. Karl Marx. did not himselfaddress the role of art as a factor in societal structures, his writings in art beingmore contemplative than dictative in regard to art's potential to contribute to theclass struggle and social evolution. Although he wrote little about art, his discourseon the capitalistic exploitation of the proletariat, and his views on social and politicalconsciousness served as a basis for the proliferation of theories relating to thefunction and purpose of art in society (Marcuse, 1978).Nearly thirty years after Marx's death, Plakhanov. a Russian follower ofMarxist philosophy published a text addressing the social implications of art.Within this work, Plakhanov addressed the existence of a state preference forutilitarian art because it served to convey ideologies which proved conducive insupporting state beliefs. The state held philosophy, termed Social Realism. whichheld the weight of state support behind it called for a political commitment on thepart of the artist. This view is exemplified in Lenin's decree on the expectedattitude of a state writer:It is not simply that, for the socialist proletariat, literature cannot be a meansof enriching individuals or groups; it cannot, in fact be an individualundertaking independent of the common cause of the proletariat. Downwith non-partisan writers! Down with literary supermen! Literature mustbecome part of the common cause of the proletariat, a 'cog and screw' ofone single great Social Democratic mechanism set in motion by the entirepolitically-conscious vanguard of the entire working class. (cited in Laing,1978, p.22)27What was deemed as inspiring and "beautiful" within art was its ability to unit apeople toward a single cause—the ideals of the state. Laing (1978) points out thatby the 1930s Social Realism was designated as the sole requirement for artisticexcellence. Art was expected to inspire unity toward a common social end, andindividuals under the social realist doctrine were expected to overcome personalfeelings and motives so as to support the ideal social structure as it was set out andperpetuated by the state.An alternate interpretation of Marxist theories of art, however, serves to disputethe foundational validity of the Social Realist philosophy. Such theories proclaimthe importance of the individual in the struggle for liberation and deny statedelineated conformist attitudes by defining what is - real" over the state promoted"ideal". Essentially, this Marxist perspective suggests that art bring one to a higherconsciousness and in so doing facilitate social awareness and class freedom.Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson (1990) convey the essence of this attitude in thefollowing passage:True aesthetic experience may break through the bonds that tie people intothe existing system. Emancipation from false consciousness, or thesystematic understanding of alienating social forces, is the raison d'etre forthe existence of works of art and the ultimate criterion by which they are tobe judged. Thus the most valuable contribution of the aesthetic experienceto the progress of mankind consists in bringing to the fore those humanpotentialities that the social system has repressed and in showing the causesof repression. (p.16)Thus, diametrically opposed philosophies on art exist under the guise of a singleterm—Marxist philosophy. Both theories. however. do maintain some common28ground in that they similarly involve the emancipation of man from constrictingsocial institutions. The Social Realist theory fighting against the dehumanizingpower of capitalist societies requires social cohesion and denial of personal interestsand concerns so as to offer the proletariat strength and stability for overcoming thedictates of capitalist rule. The alternative Marxist perspective on art is alsoconcerned with emancipation from constricting and dehumanizing powers, butalternately does not see these powers as existing only within the false-consciousness perpetuated by capitalist rule, therefore. suggesting the need forconscious public awareness of all social systems and their potential to repress anddeny the value of human life. Both these Marxist theories of art serve a didacticfunction—the power and quality of art works are determined by their ability toconvey an intended social purpose.A number of theories have been presented within a "didactic idealist"philosophy. In their ideological presuppositions, these theories all sustain acommon thread which suggests that art functions to instill reactions within theviewer that serve a predesignated purpose. Plato believed art could. and should, ifit were to exist at all, morally edify, and exemplify virtuous ideals. Classical andRenaissance theorists saw art as serving to create idealized reality so as to provide amodel for the public. The view taken by Tolstoy maintained that art should instillthe viewer with an understanding and desire for ideal brotherly love, and finally.according to Marxist theorists, art should socially indoctrinate or conversely liberateso as to produce desired societal conditions.In all instances, the quality of an art work was based on its potential forachieving a desired effect or state in the viewer. These theories have inspiredmarked recognition for some of the finest works produced in art history, and29cannot, then, be relegated as unimportant in the study of aesthetic responses. Itmay be said, however, that taken in isolation of other theories of art, they arereductionistic in their view of the art experience. Much of what has been cultivatedas fine works of art cannot claim to perform any instrumental function. The"didactic idealist" theories exist therefore as a single view contained within acomplexity of aesthetic possibilities.FORMALISMUltimately, it may be acknowledged that art exists as an arrangement of lines,colors, shapes and masses. Formalists believe that it is the arrangement of theseelements which one must be sensitive to so as to actualize pleasurable heightswithin visual experience. A viewer's response, generated by way of intuitivesensitivity to colors, lines and forms engenders within the individual qualitativelydefined sensory reactions. Formalist theories have led to the concept of "art for artssake" (Werhane, 1984). According to this philosophy, pure sensory perception ofthe work exists autonomous to any external associations, art thus being liberatedfrom a need to relate form to content and in the process to supply any worldlyinterpretations. The artist is responsible for creating works of "pure form" whichexist void of meaning outside of themselves (McEvilley, 1991). Impervious to anart work's historical significance or the artist's intent, the aesthetic significance of awork exists in relation to the perceptual impact its formal structures have on theviewer.Traditionally, a number of specialists in the philosophy of art have presentedtheir understanding(s) on how formal visual pictorial arrangements affect our30encounters with works of art. To this end, Kant articulated the importance of thearrangement of elements in an art work for the actualization of aesthetic experiencewithin the viewer. His account of "free beauty" gave rise to later formalist theoriesof art by suggesting that "free beauty is ascribed to an object in virtue of its formalone, without any consideration of any end to which the object may be directed"(cited in Sheppard, 1987, p. 41). Until the 18th century, art was generally valuedfor its functional potential as a religious and moral influence or alternately for itspower to convey knowledge (Thompson, 1990). It was not until this time that theimportance of a pure experiencing of the aesthetic object was consideredindependently of any purpose. Kant. deriving inspiration from revolutionaryconcepts initiated by eighteenth century writers such as Shaftesbury, created afoundation for the acceptance of disinterested attention as a symptom of aestheticexperience. According to Kant, art maintains values different and external tocognitive or moral judgment (see Werhane, 1984). He explains that withinaesthetic experience the mind is active in that understanding and imagination,qualified specifically for realizing aesthetic experiences, and differing fromunderstanding and imagination used for reasoning, allow one to undergoheightened states of experience when viewing great art works. One is able tomeaningfully detect an intelligibly organized arrangement of forms so as toexperience the pleasure of visual aesthetic perceptions. Aesthetic perception, beingvoid of rules and purpose, lacks any adherence to definite concepts, but pleasesstrictly by way of the mind's synthesis of visual relationships in that one intuitivelyresponds to "universally defined" visual order so as to perceive arrangements ofoptic beauty. Universals of aesthetic beauty, as accorded by Kant, are notsusceptible to objective definition and therefore cannot be defined but through31subjective aesthetic experience (Ross, 1984) .Bell (1958) also postulates that true aesthetic experiences are unique andsubjectively guided through arrangements of formal elements by asserting that acommon denominator exists within such experiences which is the essence of allaesthetic encounters. This common denominator is a universal within thesubjective, a concept similarly presented by Kant (1951). Combinations of linesand colors sustain formal arrangements and tensions which instill aestheticexperiences. Such arrangements are termed by Bell (1958) as -significant forms".It being pointed out that:For discussion of aesthetics, it need be agreed only that forms arranged andcombined according to certain unknown and mysterious law s do move us ina particular way and that it is the business of the artist to combine andarrange them that they shall move us. . .we have to discover only whatquality is common to objects that do move us as works of art. (Bell, 1958,p. 19)In stating that art works -move us", Bell (1958) refers to an emotional responsegenerated through immediate pleasurable sensations derived from pattern sensationsof the visual stimuli. Bell (1958), in the vein of strict formalist theories, postulatesthat for viewers of art to be induced to feel emotions associated with the artist'sintent or the viewer's experience of worldly concerns such as "terror, mystery, orlove", is to fall short of true aesthetic emotion. Following such a formalist, orpurist, doctrine, aesthetic encounters are void of worldly concerns and, asmaintained by Bell (1958), "win an emotion more profound and far more sublimethan any that can be given by the description of facts and ideas" (p.30). So as toexplain the feelings of exhilaration and pleasure one undergoes by way of aesthetic32experiences, Bell ascribed to a belief in the potential of art to convey transcendentalexperiences and insights to the viewer through formal arrangements (McEvilley,1991).Fry also suggested that experiencing an intelligently organized combination offorms satisfies the "human need for abstract beauty which is fulfilled through theright distribution of elements in the formal structure" (cited in Falkenheim, 1980,p.89). He points out the significance of formal structure in art as a source foraesthetic experience by suggesting that one must appreciate the dynamics of theformal arrangements within works over interests directed to representation and themoral or social implications manifest within such representation (see Falkenheim,1980). According to Fry (1990), it is only in this way that one may actualize thedifference between the pleasure derived from viewing commercial and "impure" artforms as compared to "pure" art forms. The pleasure derived from the so called"impure" art is materialistic, superficial and transient while that of the "pure" art islasting and permanent. To enjoy the lasting sensations of "quality" art. Frysuggests that one must direct attention to the formal relationships within thearrangement of a work so as to perceive the important interdependencies of formalelements as they contribute meaningfully to the entirety of the composition. Fry(1990) points out that most people are unable to actualize an understanding of theimportance of formal elements in the perception of art and moreover are involvedwith the materialistic and personal value the work might maintain. He suggests thatinterest in the subject matter of an art work serves to distract from its aestheticpotential. In attempting to address the source of aesthetic experience, Frypostulates that,One thing I think we may clearly say, namely, that there is a pleasure in the33recognition of order, of inevitability in relations, and that the more complexthe relations of which we are able to recognize the inevitableinterdependence and correspondence, the greater is the pleasure. ( p.78)He points out that only art works which convey arrangements of visually pleasingformal stimuli will stand the test of time in that the popularity of subject matter andsocial importance of depicted issues are ever changing and transient. It is theformal beauty of a work which will serve to continually excite visual pleasureresponses in the viewer so as to define works of classic (lasting) beauty regardlessof popular trends (Fry, 1990).Convinced of the validity of theories such as those presented by Bell (1913) andFry (see Falkenheim, 1980), artists of the 20th century began overtly to concentrateon form over content in their work. Focusing on the importance of formalarrangements to the aesthetic experience, artists divorced their work entirely of anyrepresentational qualities which might adhere one's attention to pictorial purpose orsocial message over a concern for formal order. Art movements such asSuprematism and Neoplasticism which generated paintings void of anyrepresentation, strictly displayed arrangements of plastic and perceptual variables asa source for the viewers response. Mondrian, the founder of the Neoplasticmovement, believed that through the use of formal elements one could convey theessence of universal beauty. Figural work, for Mondrian, served to distract theviewer in that one inevitably maintains subjective reactions to subject matter andonly through responses to work which possesses no resemblance to subjects is onefree to experience the "true essence of art" (Osborne, 1970). Osborne citesMondrian's acknowledgement of the metaphysical power of formal arrangementswithin art in the following statement:34They are the great hidden laws of nature which art establishes in its ownfashion. It is not necessary to stress the fact that these laws are more or lesshidden behind the superficial aspects of nature. (p. 96)Mondrian perceives that the universal beauty of form potentially existent in allvisual planes is often unrealized by the viewer due to an overt concern for thecontextual significance of objects. So as to divulge art of its contextual distracters,formalists believed work pure of form and empty of content more fully serves thepurpose of illuminating natural harmonious arrangements of design.Similarly, Greenberg (1990) conveyed support of formalist beliefs in that hedescribed "true" art as being necessarily non-representational, existing as a puresensory experience void of concepts or signification outside itself. In a paperentitled "The state of art criticism" (published in 1961, as cited from Thompson,1990) Greenberg suggests that aesthetic value judgments are unanalyzable and are"acts of intuition" which depend on one's like or dislike of a work of art. Thesejudgements, in being considered unanalyzable, are dependent on the subjectiveabsoluteness and universality of responses to the formal arrangement of elementswithin works. So as to allow for the universality of form to radiate one'sconsciousness, judgments of art must be made in isolation of concerns forirrelevant factors such as fashionable trends in the art world or the social political,or biographical implications of a work. These aforementioned preoccupations areconsidered by Greenberg (1990) as a form of interpretation which deviates fromtrue experiencing of art as art. Painting, in that it is a flat surface which takes onpigments, cannot according to Greenberg be translated as anything but what it is—apainted surface to be experienced and appreciated for the only true qualities itpossesses—the arrangement of formal elements.35The importance of developing sensitivity to the formal arrangement of elementswithin the work of art has been highlighted through a study conducted byCsikszentmihalyi and Robinson (1991). Intending to uncover the salient features ofthe aesthetic experience, the researchers interviewed individuals highly trained inseeing and interpreting art. and by way of questioning. were able to discernsignificant aspects of the aesthetic experience engendered. The formal qualities ofan art work, as discussed presently, proved to be one of the most frequentlyarticulated sources for aesthetic appreciation for the viewers. Through the formalorganization of elements such as line, color and texture, the -expert viewers" wereable to sense a -beauty" in even -repulsive paintings which, although lacking inappealing subject matter, gained in attractiveness through harmonious and balancedformal arrangements (Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson, 1991).EXPRESSIONThe aesthetic theories to be discussed in this section examine the emotionalexpressive dimension of art as a primary characteristic and expectation of great art.The significance of communicating emotions through art was first recorded throughthe writings of Plato and Aristotle. Plato devalued emotional expression in artunless it exhibited ideal human emotions in that it could serve to coerce the alreadyweak character of the average citizen into less than desirable sensibilities.Conversely, Aristotle saw the depiction of emotions in art as serving a catharticfunction where an imaginative identification of the audience within the artisticallydepicted emotions could serve to purify the individual of any desire to maintainthem within his/her own personal experience. Renaissance artists were concerned36with the accurate depiction of emotional states through careful observation of thephysical characteristics which corresponded to specific emotions, and the Romanticperiod saw the depiction of emotional expressions in art gain importance in that artenabled one to expand one's life experiences through sympathetic identificationwith the depicted circumstances. Through art. one w as able to gain anunderstanding of emotions which existed outside the limits of one's own life. Thepleasure of art resided in its ability to present an understanding and empathy for avariety of emotional experiences (Osborne,1970). It was not however until the1930s that an "Expression Theory" was clearly articulated within philosophicaltheories or art (Thompson, 1990).The concept of emotional arousal as essential to aesthetic experience wastheoretically developed by individuals such as Tolstoy. Collingvvood, and Croce.Tolstoy (1984) postulated that the essence of "good" art was that the artist was ableto sincerely convey a feeling in a way that it be transmitted strongly and clearly soas to infect the recipient with the emotion genuinely felt and intentionally transmittedby the artist through the work. It is the ability of one man to convey feelings andexperiences to another that Tolstoy considered the essence of art and aestheticexperience, as is suggested through the following passage:Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, bymeans of certain external signs. hands on to others feelings he has livedthrough, and that others are infected by these feelings and also experiencethem. (cited from Ross, 1984, p. 181)As accorded by Tolstoy, aesthetic responses demand of art that it render powerfulfeelings engendered by the human condition visible for the viewer to experience.Tolstoy, in seeking a criteria from which to identify "good art", justified art's37qualitative nature in its potential to influence socially . Art. by way of presentingconvincing depictions of external emotional experiences could pass on thesefeelings to the viewer, and parallel emotional states of understanding could becommunicated through -good" art. Having outlined the nature of art as being thatof conveying emotions from artist to viewer, Tolstoy went on to stipulate that themoral correctness of depictions was also a necessary criteria of good art. -Good artwas for him that art which transmits to others by infection the highest and bestfeelings to which men have arisen" (Osborne, 1970, p.241).Croce (see Sheppard, 1987) and Collingwood (cited in Ross, 1984) alsosupported the notion that aesthetic experience is dependent on emotional empathysustained through the art work. Their theories however differ from that ofTolstoy's in that Tolstoy based the criteria for judging art on its ability to evoke anemotion in the viewer. Collingwood and Croce moreover were interested increating an appreciation for the artist's ability to transpose emotions into a concreteform through art (Sheppard, 1987). Croce believed that "good" art was that whichmanifests the artist's ability to display the emotion felt, and great artists were thosecapable of translating inner tensions and feelings into an outwardly recognizablerendering of the felt emotion. Art was considered by Croce as the activity of themind in its synthesis and understanding of an experience (Werhane, 1984).Collingwood maintained a theory of art which resembled that of Croce's so closelythat their views on art are frequently presented as one (Sheppard, 1987, Osborne,1970). Both Collingwood and Croce have organized mental activity into a series ofstages. In the initial stage, one experiences sensations and perceptions in their pureform without being conscious of them. They are however manifest in unconsciousphysical reactions such as smiling or alternately the trembling and shaking of the38hands. The feeling is made tangible only through the individual's expression of it.therefore, the artist must manifest the abstract feelings into an actual form before theemotion may be apprehended:It is by being clarified through the formative impulse of art that the formlessand elusive feeling tone and mood which accompany all our perceptions andour other commerce with the world outside us acquire in the case of theartist both structure and precision. (Osborne, 1970, p.232)The need to communicate emotions to a viewer is not the purpose of art; whatreigns as essential is the artist's ability' to translate felt emotions so as to clarify whatis being experienced. One expresses emotions through what Collingwood callsimagination and Croce terms intuition. These communications involve embody ingthe felt emotion into a form of expression such as poetry, visual art or dance. Theultimate source for the production of art then is the artists expression of feltemotions through "imagination" or "intuition". "Imagination - and -intuition" allowfor the transformation of intangible moods into tangibly comprehensible structures.The viewer similarly must employ imagination to actualize an awareness of what theartist has experienced in creating the work (Osborne, 1970). As Collingwoodoutlines in refering to himself as the artist, "if there is any effect which we wish toproduce in the hearer, it is only the effect which we call making him understandhow we feel" (cited in Werhane, 1984). Works of art then are evaluated by way ofassessing the artist's ability to translate emotion into content. Although one mayappreciate a work of art which offers such insight, it must be acknowledged that itinevitably lacks generalizable credibility in that a concrete embodiment of a depictedemotion may suggest alternate readings because of diverse experiences.The aesthetic theory presently discussed concentrates exclusively on the artist's39emotional experience and neglects the possible uniqueness of the viewer's reactionsdue to dissimilar life experiences. It must be pointed out, as suggested by Dewey(1934). that an expressive reading of art works is subject to unique nuancesdepending on the different stages of one's maturation as well as the influences ofone's place in time and society. According to Dewey. works of art cancontinuously inspire new personal realizations in and of experience. Gombrich(1960) similarly emphasizes the significance of the audience's predispositions andexperiences in defining what kind of communication will be elicited from an artwork's presentation of features. Aesthetic experience may begin as innatebiologically bound reactions to visual stimuli, however. it has been suggested thatthese reactions become colored through worldly associations which areexperientially, culturally and socially bound. To state then that great art must allowone clarity of insight into the artists experience, would be to deny that individualswith dissimilar life experiences could alternately decipher the structures presentedby the artist. Although one may appreciate an artist's ability to convey personalemotional experiences through artistic mediums, it would serve as limiting to isolateall artistic responses and judgements within this aesthetic possibility. Thephilosophy of art presented by Croce and Collingwood would better serve as onedimension of a complex many in our responses to art.An alternative view which deals with the importance of emotional content in artas integral to the aesthetic experience does not ascribe either to the work's powerfor "infecting" the viewer with emotion or in its serving as a medium to convey theexperiences of the artist. What is utmost in such a view, as presented by Langer(1953), exists in developing sensitivity to the emotional structural content of a workitself. Langer suggests that art works function as "iconic signs" and symbols of40emotions in that the works structural form serves to reproduce the structural formexistent within the experienced emotion itself. The entire arrangement of formswithin a work function in unison to produce a rhythm. an over all impression or-gestalt" of emotional possibilities (Osborne, 1970). The cognitive emotionalinsight presently described is actualized not through analysis of the individualsymbolic components of the work but through a synthesis of the work in its entiretyof interrelated forms. The viewer then by way of experiencing the totality of forms,apprehends the nature of the depicted emotion. Langer (1953) ultimately perceivesthe concept of form as integral to expression. Suggesting that art deals with"beauty which is expressive form" (p. 3%), this conceptualization conveying arespect for the formal qualities of an art work, but extending the formalist doctrineto encompass worldly feelings and expression within tensional arrangement ofelements. Through her theory of aesthetics, Langer establishes the importance ofthe expressive symbolic nature of formal arrangements and their role within theaesthetic experience. From the "space tensions .' created through pictorialarrangements within the art work, the viewer is able to elicit a unique experience.Through formal arrangements, one instinctively associates the elements perceived tostructures relative to experience, and one makes connections with "life" through theexpressive symbolic qualities of the pictorial stimuli. Tensions within pictorialarrangements can elicit reflections of experiences one has encountered, orconversely, one may sustain novel encounters of pictorial stimuli which maintainpreviously unfelt "life tensions" and emotions thus serving to expand one's -felt"life experiences (Langer, 1953). Langer's theory on arts expressive potentialresides in the symbolic representation of emotions through the dynamics ofarranged formal elements. She suggests that expression in art is dependent on the41personal expression of the artist's emotions and that emotions and feelings may be"captured and symbolized" through formal combinations which ultimatelyilluminate tensions representative of inner sentiments (Langer, 1953).A view which similarly ascribes to the importance of visual properties andperceptual totalities for conveying emotional and symbolic expression is onepresented by Arnheim (1974). Arnheim, like Langer (1953), points out that inviewing art one may undergo experiences derived from the symbolic expressionswithin the formal patterns the work presents. He cites Wertherme's understandingwhich suggests a relationship between the forms used within an artistic medium toconvey an emotion and their direct characteristic manifestations within the actualexperience (see Arnheim 1974). A -sad" art work typically displays subduedcolors and lines of confined movements and tensions representative of the limitedenergy and tensions felt in the actual physical experiencing of sadness. Artworks,in succeeding to manifest intended moods, rely on the formal structures of thosemoods as they are translated to perceptual arrangements of elements which in turnreflect through their inherent characteristics, symptoms of the depicted emotions.In the case of color, it may be acknowledged that even though learning caninfluence an individual's reaction to color stimuli, the affects of color are toospontaneous to be strictly derived through acculturation (Gombrich, 1960;Arnheim, 1974). The formal features are not experienced and important in isolationbut contribute to a "gestalt" through which one perceives the parts only so far asthey contribute to the whole (Werhane, 1984):What a person or animal perceives is not only an arrangement of objects, ofcolors and shapes, of movements and sizes. It is, perhaps first of all, aninterplay of directed tensions. These tensions are not something the42observer adds. for reasons of his own, to static images. Rather, thesetensions are as inherent in any percept as size, shape, location, or color.Because they have magnitude and direction. these tensions can be describedas psychological -forces". (Arnheim, 1990)The visual display of structural combinations serve to reflect tensions and dynamicsof inner psychological states. Form, subject matter, and the overall structure of thework contribute to convey universal symbolically represented emotionalexpressions (see Werhane, 1984). According to Arnheim (1974), heightenedaesthetic responses may be attained through an awareness and appreciation of theexpressive and communicative power of a work's totality of features.The theories presented by both Langer (1953) and Arnheim (1974) suggest thatthe dynamics of formal arrangements evoke an aesthetic response by way of lucidlydisplaying emotional tensions within a composition. Unlike the previous"expression" theories conveyed by Tolstoy (1984) or Collingwood (1990) andCroce (see Osborne, 1970), the source of the visual beauty does not rest in thecompositions potential to evoke emotional experiences within the viewer or in itsability to clearly convey the emotional experiences of the artist. What is ofrelevance to great art, according to Langer (1953) and Arnheim (1974), is that itcapture through visual form emotional tensional associative realities.CREATIVITYAesthetic experience has been attributed to a dimension of -expression" separatefrom an isolated view of the power of expressive formal and emotional content inart works. Hochberg (1978) presents the argument that aesthetic encounters in43todays "art worlds" are frequently dependent on the artists ability to expressindividuality of vision through the form of his/her artistic rendering:The aspect of creativity has become so important that expression - indeedself-expression - is the most important, and perhaps the only function of artto many educators, psychologists and critics. (p. 167)Aesthetic encounters in such a context are thus dependent on the artist's ability tocreate a means of expression novel to the previous experiences of the viewer. Sucha stance suggests that the percipient of art takes an active role in assessing the visualwork so as to mentally file and compare the novel stimuli to those of traditionalpractice in an attempt to assess its quality of new insights and new modes oftransmission. Creative expression serves to produce novel encounters which,through expanding the breadth of one's experience and understanding, evoke in theviewer an aesthetic realization (Young, 1982). Within an aesthetic attitude such asthe one being presently cited, a cognitive preoccupation on the part of the percipientis necessitated. The viewer must actively endeavor to synthesize new connectionsin understanding the world through the images and forms presented within the artwork. Best (1985) cites Bond in pointing out that imagination in art is oftenmisconstrued:It is commonly assumed that because imagination is central to the arts thisimplies that they are concerned not with truth or reality but with fantasy,illusion, escapism. In fact, it often requires imagination to peel awayillusions in order to see the truth, and it can involve a creative struggle toachieve the precise medium necessary for expressing and recognizing trueinsights. (p.84)Imagination portrayed through art serves to activate heightened aesthetic responses44not because it simply presents -fantasy, illusion or escapism", but through art theimagination organizes whatever means necessary so as to allude to cognitiveinsightful realizations about human phenomena and existence.The artist's "creative vision" allows the viewer to diffuse illusions for the sakeof new insights. Best (1985) suggests that imagination engenders one to see thetruth through conveying expression within a medium which reorganizesconventions. Through working with existing raw material in novel ways, the artistilluminates realities beyond those of accepted cannons. The value of an artist'scontribution within the "creative" philosophy of aesthetics lies in his/her ability todisplay imagination and invention. Eaton (1989) cites Summer's quote whichconveys the importance of invention within the aesthetic experience:The Cinquecento no longer regarded the imitation of nature, as the acme ofartistic achievement, but rather viewed 'invention' as its foremost aim.(p.35)The artist is thus considered responsible for conveying novel insight beyond that ofthe norm. Cultural norms serve as accepted patterns from which individuals basetheir expectations of perception. Creative works ideally reorganize the conventionalstructures of artistic forms in such a way so as to give new meaning to traditionalconvention. Imaginative artistic productions challenge one's preconceived orderingof supposed experiential limitations so as to deepen and expand one's sense of theworld and oneself. Reimer (1991) suggests that it is imagination which engagesour feeling in viewing art in that novel experiences engendered in viewing a work,be it powerful or modest, allow an "out of the ordinary" experience to stimulatenew insight. He suggests that when art presents a new way of seeing one is forcedto pay attention and find worthwhile properties in the work. According to Reimer45(1991), creative acts,... do not follow through in a straight, undeviating line of expectation butreach for the original solution, the unexpected event. the novel twist andturn, the unfolding of events that pull us, as we follow them, to feel moredeeply because we cannot entirely predict the outcome. Great works of artpresent such challenges to our feelings by their richness ofimagination—sometimes the audacity of the imagination—as to shake us toour foundations. Every good work of art, no matter how simple, must haveenough originality to vivify our feelings, to bring them to more vibrant life.All such works, across the entire spectrum from the modest to theprofound, enliven our experience. (p.335)A work lacking clarity and vividness of novel insight does not draw the viewer intoan excited effort to attend to newly illuminated truthful conceptions of existence.The aesthetic value of imagination in art is that it serves to strip away culturallydetermined norms which, through artistic invention, expose previously unrealizedtruths about reality, and in so doing allows for a depth of novel insights.COGNITIONCognition as an active agent in generating aesthetic experience has beenprominently supported by Goodman (1968). Goodman (1991) points out thedifficulty in stating that art refers to nothing but itself and the interplay of its formalelements. Goodman's theories of art appreciation which emphasize the cognitivedimension of the art experience, suggest that to view an art object without makingreference to phenomena external to it, as is suggested by the formalist or purist46doctrines on art, sets restrictions unrealistic to the experiencing of art. Even inviewing non-representational paintings which make no direct reference to socialmoral or experiential issues, the colors or shapes within the composition emanate alife or symbolic quality of their own (Goodman, 1991). Goodman presupposes theexistence of meaning and content within art. The function of cognition in art isprescribed as a means for continued active and alterable discovery of the changingsymbolic content of an art work which is dependent on and comparable to previousexperiences of the percipient. Works of art are taken to - denote" and "exemplify"and the viewer's role is to make subtle "discriminations" while coming to termswith what it may be that a work conveys. It is suggested that we come torealizations about the world through the arrangements within a particular art workand our perception of the world may be altered and expanded by way of therealizations acquired through aesthetic experience (see Smith 1991). This conceptis presented by Goodman (1968) in the following passage:Representation or description is apt, effective, illuminating, subtle,intriguing, to the extent that the artist or writer grasps fresh and significantrelationships and devises means for making them manifest ... Inrepresentation, the artist must make use of old habits when he wants to elicitnovel objects and connections. If his picture is recognized as almost but notquite refering to the commonplace furniture of the everyday world, or if itcalls for and yet resists assignment to a usual kind of picture. it may bringout neglected likenesses and differences, force unaccustomed associations,and in some measure remake our world. And if the point of the picture isnot only successfully made but is also well-taken, if the realignments itdirectly and indirectly effects are interesting and important. the picture—like47a crucial experiment—makes a genuine contribution to knowledge. (pp.32-33)Goodman points out the capacity art works posses for bringing forward insightsabout the world which might otherwise go unrealized. Through carefuljuxtaposition of elements and/or subject matter, connections and understandingsnovel to previous experience are engendered and the viewer is offered a mediumfrom which to expand awareness. Art's ability to stimulate newly awakenedpossible readings involves a conscious cognitive synthesis of the metaphoricalpossibilities of the forms and content within the composition. It is these realizationsand insights which Goodman (1968) sees as integral to the aesthetic experiencewithin art.Although Goodman's theory has been criticized by art specialists (Mitchell,1991; Wolheim, 1991) for it's lack of definitive value systems, and for its denial ofthe relevance of a work's historical context, his theories do however enable theboundaries of art and aesthetics to encompass art forms which are not within theperimeters of theories relying strictly on the formal and intuitively emotionalqualities of a work. Goodman (1991), in proposing and lending strength to theimportance of cognition within aesthetic encounters, maintained that all art workseither "represent, express, or exemplify", and also pointed out that circumstanceserves instrumental to the objects potential for expressing, representing orexemplifying. An example used is of a rock being capable of attaining artistic statusupon being placed in gallery where it may attain credibility as "art" and thuspotential for eliciting aesthetic responses through the symbolic qualities exemplifiedby way of its beauty of form and proportion (Goodman, 1991). According to thedoctrine set forth by Goodman, art works are judged strictly in terms of their48symbolization and in terms of how well they "serve the cognitive purpose inexpanding one's realization and understanding of the governing principles of theworld in which one exists. Olson (see Smith. 1991) also acknowledges theimportance of intellectual functions to the aesthetic experience by pointing out thatcognition serves to activate and expand one's perceptual abilities. Beardsley (1991)parallels this understanding by suggesting that the cognitive dimension of aestheticexperience allows for the discovery of interrelationships and connections withinworks which act as catalysts for instilling a heightened experience throughintellectual discovery. Schopenhauer (see Sheppard, 1987) too favored the notionthat art "elates" by offering insight and great knowledge. He maintained thatmetaphysical truths are represented through art as is conveyed in his perception thatthrough art "the universal was perceived in the particular" (p. 63). It could be saidthat:... the blinding intuition one experiences in front of a great work of art ispleasurable because a great amount of knowledge about the world isencapsulated in the transaction. What we ordinarily recognize as an aestheticexperience is a cognitive rush. (Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson. 1990, p.12)This understanding is reinforced by Young (1982):The nervous system of man has come to link cortical thinking areas of thebrain and the limbic or pleasure areas of the brain so that it become possiblefor man to experience cognitive pleasure from nonsensory activity such asthinking. (p.10)Cognitive dimensions of aesthetic encounters are explained, if only partially, by thesatisfaction humans experience in gaining knowledge and insight through the arts(Arnheim, 1969; Winner, 1982).49A majority of the - art specialists" within the previously cited study byCsikszentmihalyi and Robinson (1991) referenced the "intellectual" as an importantdimension of the aesthetic experience. For some, it was relegated as significant butof secondary importance serving to enrich one's experience successive to one'sinitial intuitive sensory and emotional encounters, while for others it maintained astatus of primary importance. In such cases, an understanding and significance of awork was sought out through cognitive analysis as a means to broaden one'saesthetic appreciation of the qualities inherent within the work of art.Cognition may be relegated as relevant to the composition of a diversity ofaesthetic theories. Just as the didactic idealist theories of art encompass cognitiveactions as essential to perceiving the - ideal within the "real", theories based on anart work's "emotional" "creative", and - cultural/historical" aesthetic qualities maysimilarly engender cognition as instrumental in evoking and heightening aestheticexperience. Although formalist doctrines deny cognition any role within aestheticexperience, it may be acknowledged that there exist weaknesses within such anargument. It lies true that formal sensual patterns may elicit pleasurable responsesvoid of thinking about what the source of the pleasure may be. In approaching awork with formalist expectations however, the viewer begins the act of reacting toart with a cognitive consciousness of that which is expected of the art work. Theability to allow an openness of appreciation to formal arrangements within artisticcompositions demands a conscious cognitive acceptance of the validity of theformalist doctrines. Upon having realized aesthetic appreciation of a work's formalqualities, cognition again serves as instrumental in the synthesis of after thoughtswhich function to bring the conception of harmonious relations within art to a trueappreciation. Although aesthetic responses may exist independent of cognitive50functions, it may be acknowledged that cognition can serve. if only peripherally, toenrich and broaden one's aesthetic experiences of art.HISTORICAL/CULTURAL CONTEXTA philosophy of art which maintains the existence of a diversity of possibleaesthetic dispositions, suggests that an art work, to be actualized in its trueexperiential potential for the viewer, must be judged relative to its culturally andhistorically designated aesthetic codes. Functioning as a means to bring the artwork into a historical and cultural context, cognition serves not only to infuse thework with meaning but in turn constitutes it's cultural and historical significance.Goodman has been criticized for his denial of the potential influence cognitiveunderstanding of a work's "historicity" may have on one's aesthetic experience ofthe work, stating that one should only interest oneself in the "symbolic structures"of a work and not its "origins" (see Mitchell, 1991). In disagreement, some artspecialists (Mitchell, 1991; Wolheim, 1991; Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson, 1990)suggest that one's experiences of art may be intensified if the work is considered inrelation to the modes, beliefs and traditions of the time in which it was created. Awork's significance may be missed because of its period and culture specificcontent, and only by way of considering the work in the historical and social milieufrom which it was conceived, can one revive its meaningful insight and aestheticpotential.The relationship between art and history has been traditionally explained as amutually reflective mirror which affords a harmony of vision between the artist andsociety, an understanding which can serve to enrich one's experience of an art51work. Cultural conditions work as an impetus for the production of artistic stylesand dogmas. A work structured by the predispositions of historical influences maydelineate requirements of art unique to the artistic biases of the time. Art then mayshine as a work of genius and aesthetic quality only if understood or experiencedwithin the historical context and artistic expectations for which it was intended.Judging a work using aesthetic predilections foreign to its creation may allow itsgreatness, determined by its temporally specific intention, to go unnoticed andunactualized due to assessment using unrelated historically determined criteria forits analysis. It is pointed out by Hausen (1959) that evaluations and interpretationsof art are not binding from generation to generation. He suggests that there is nodevelopment of art which is perpetuated entirely independently of the economic andsocial conditions of the era. Culturally tainted aesthetic requirements havecontinuously been subject to multiple interpretations which offer an infinitely richvariety of shifts in point of view. Art then is constantly undergoing changesdepending on the dominant philosophies of the time. Each generation, in judgingartistic creations of the past under the guise of the current artistic views, placesobjectives and expectations on work which inevitably do not always coincide withpast aesthetic priorities. Hausen points out that ideologies within art are generallyselected and preferred according to their appropriateness to the conditions of life atthe time. An empathy and understanding of the artist's historical milieu allow foran earnest evaluation of the work's aesthetic merit in relation to its intention.Although certain principles for aesthetic responses continually reemerge asdriving forces behind the production and analysis of art, temporally specificnuances inevitably engender the styles with historically specific relevance.Understanding the context from which an art work transpires allows for a fuller52breadth of sensitive responses. Bourdieu (1984) presupposes the necessity of aviewer's cognitive referencing system which serves to situate the work within itshistorical and cultural codes for the viewer. Its pointed out that to read an art workone must maintain some prerequisite understandings:In a sense, one can say that the capacity to see (voir) is a function of theknowledge (savoir), or concepts, that is, the words, that are available toname visible things, and which are, as it were, programmes for perception.A work of art has meaning and interest only for someone who possesses thecultural competence, that is the code into which it is encoded. Theconscious or unconscious implementation of explicit or implicit schemes ofperception and appreciation which constitutes pictorial or musical culture isthe hidden condition for recognizing the styles characteristic of a period, aschool or an author and, more generally, for the familiarity with the internallogic of works that aesthetic enjoyment presupposes. A beholder who lacksthe specific code feels lost in a chaos of sounds and rhythms, colours andlines, without rhyme or reason. (Bourdieu, 1984, p.2)"Cultural competence" then requires the "beholder" to possess an understanding ofthe artistic codes and objectives relative to a work's designated reality as determinedby the creators aesthetic codes. So as to comprehend the aesthetic potential ofworks, the viewer must not ascribed to general undefined reactions to art works,but possess understandings relative to the underlying specific concepts engenderedin the creation of the art product. Given a conceptual framework of a work'sstylistic purpose, a viewer is able to judge a work in earnest according to theconditional criteria of art within its intended experiential tradition (Bourdieu,1984).53True aesthetic visual literacy and artistic appreciation then within the"historical/cultural" orientation entails experiencing works within the expectationsand demands of their socio-historical artistic codes. A similar argument may bepresented for actualizing an appreciation of works within cross cultural contexts. Ithas been established that cultural biases infringe on the viewers freedom toappreciate culturally diverse art forms. Chalmers (1978) points out that:Our literature is full of terms suggesting that judgment is crucial toappreciation, but rarely is appreciation related to understanding the natureand meaning of art in multicultural societies. (p.18)This understanding posits the importance of studying the culture from which an artwork came so as to fully actualize an appreciation of the presented artistic forms.Chalmers (1978) cites Finkelstein (1947) contention that:To understand art, we must know not only the individual works of art butthe cultural life of which they are a part. Works of art come into beingthrough artists' imagination, thought and labor. Cultural life, however, iscreated by society. Whether an artist shows meager or full comprehensionof his times, whether he accepts the dominant cultural values of his age or isaware of the contradictions within that culture. his work is shaped by thatcultural life. (p.19)Because every cultural group defines its own artistic standard as it relates to theirpermitted local aesthetic canons. the use, purpose and value of art work is sensitiveto peculiar beliefs and traditions of the given culture (Keeling, 1958). So as totruly appreciate the nuances of an artistic work, one must view it in relation to theenvironment and circumstances in which it was created. By studying the culturefrom which an art work originates, one comes to understand the learned patterns of54'` correct - behaviour, attitudes, beliefs and values" which influenced the making ofthe work within its specific cultural context:Art itself is a repository of cultural meaning but the meaning in a given artform depends on the viewers' subcultural pool of knowledge in respondingto it and the subculture of art of the original artist and of those in thesubcultural context in which the artist works. (McFee, 1988, pp.227-228)One lacking knowledge of the canons and codes integral to the creation of art formswhich exist external to the boundaries of one's own cultural expectations of art andthe art experience, may be denied access to a work's aesthetic impact.Understanding diverse societal biases and attitudes towards art influences anindividual's appreciation of cross cultural art forms in that one gains a deeperunderstanding of how a society's art production reflects its values and beliefs(Wasson, Stuhr & Petrovich-Mwaniki, 1990). A work seen through the codes ofits own cultural perspective gives meaning to its artistic form and helps oneunderstand the purpose for its creation. Such an understanding serves to enhanceaesthetic responses to culturally unfamiliar works which might otherwise gounappreciated.Maintaining a unicultural orientation to art under the pretense that all art may beassessed under universally applicable criterion and codes, limits the viewer'spotential for realizing the possible aesthetic beauty of cross-cultural works. It maybe acknowledged that commonalities exist within global arts. All cultural groupshave some understanding and sensitivity to qualitative experiences such as balance,symmetry, proportion and surface finish. Contentions supporting the universalnature of art however cannot be maintained superfluous to culturally specificaesthetic cannons if works are to be appreciated in the light of their true intended55experiential possibilities. The viewer of art must possess the necessary vocabularyand literacy skills in relation to the specific art form's historical and cultural codesso as to fully actualize a work's aesthetic capacity.COSMIC TENSIONAL ORDERPainting within the Chinese artistic tradition was proceeded by calligraphywhich served to set the standards for the aesthetics of oriental art. In both paintingand calligraphy the artist, in mastering brush techniques and achieving meditativeself-discipline awareness of nature, aimed to depict the cosmic emotional essence ofobjects through the expressive quality and handling of line. Subject matter forpaintings were of neutral character with plants, bamboos and flowers beingselected to embody the rhythms and laws of nature through calligraphic expressivebrush strokes. In succeeding to convey the spiritual emotional tensions of non-animated subjects, the artist could then incorporate the same essential awareness todepict animated forms such as the human figure (Osborne. 1970).Aesthetic principles embodied within Chinese pictorial art exemplify criteriadistinct from Western theories of art. Classical Chinese paintings do not aim toreproduce the physical appearance of objects, or to express an individual's feelingor a society's ideals. The artist, moreover, through self discipline and intensivememory training strives to cultivate an empathy for universal and cosmic principlesof nature. Upon actualizing personal identification with universal - life tensions" byway of study and meditation, the artist then aims to reflect the felt harmony ofcosmic tensions through the medium of art. Painting penetrates and illuminates thecosmic interdependencies of forms in nature and universal order. The general56distinguishing characteristics of Chinese art are described by Osborne (1970) in thefollowing statement:Painting as an activity which at once brings the artist into unity with andmakes manifest the cosmic principle of Tao lies at the root of Chinesethinking about art, whether it is described as the cultivation of character, theexpression of personality, or the search for the essence of things. It isessentially a non-naturalistic conception of art. The Chinese painter was notconcerned, except incidentally to the pursuit of other aims, to - imitate" theappearances of things or to represent things ideally as he would like them tobe or as they ought" to be or even to reveal some metaphysical realitybehind the appearances of things. The cultivation and practice of paintingwere thought of as a ritualistic activity creating an embodiment of the cosmicforce of order which infuses all reality, human society, and the individualpersonality. (pp. 105-106)The Taoist Philosophy, which serves as a base for Chinese pictorial traditions,emphasizes the importance of achieving intellectual and spiritual harmony withnature through disciplined study and meditation. Great works of art succeed inconveying the essence of natures rhythms, relegating the subject as unimportantover the portrayal of the vital energies which connect the organic and the inorganicin nature.Osborne (1970) points out the six canons which exist within the aesthetics ofChinese pictorial art. The first being the Ch'i vun sheng Lung. Ch'i standing for"Spirit resonance which brings life movement" (p.110), vun suggesting"sympathetic vibration" (p. 111), and sheng Lung being "life movement" or "liferhythm" (p. 116). Ch'i represents the vital force which influences all the animate57and inanimate in nature. Traditional Chinese philosophies maintain that theinanimate elements of the earth such as rocks and plants maintain equal importanceto that of animate beings such as man—both play a vital role in the balancing ofcosmic energies. The Ch'i also reflects man's personality as it exists in accordancewith the ordering principle of the - life spirit - . An individual must nurture righteousqualities of the mind so as to be a strong and harmonious element in the energystreams of universal existence.Ch'i vun posits an identification between spiritual rhythms of the universe andtheir existing energies within the individual and the objects contemplated. The artistmaintains a conscious awareness of universal energies so that in the act of paintinghe/she succeeds in unconsciously capturing the underlying rhythms of nature. Alldiversions are removed if one is to lose oneself within the object and render its vitalforces visible. Osborne (1970) conveys the workings of this process in thefollowing passage:The demand is for complete concentration upon the object with eliminationof all distractions until the painter becomes, as it were identified with hisobject. Only when the conception is fully formed in the mind does thepainter begin to give expression to it. (p.112)For the artist to succeed in "identifying" with the subject, complete mastery oftechnique is required. Set free of technical concerns, the artist is able to preparethrough concentration and meditation to achieve through art a depiction of naturesenergies. In coming to understand the forces underlying the objects, their essencecan then be effortlessly rendered through a "spontaneous naturalness" of depictionwhich is highly valued in Chinese art. The ease of conveying the objects essence isthought to be derived from the artist achieving enlightenment through intense58meditation of the life forces.The sheng Lung of the first aesthetic canon, translated as life movement",posits the importance of capturing within the artistic rendering of an object its vitalgrowth energy and rhythm. This is accomplished by way of the expressivecalligraphic quality of the line produced through the artists manipulation of thebush.The second canon, Ki fu vung pe , or -Bone structure, a technique of thebrush" (Osborne, 1970, p. 117), embodies the mediation of the essential structuresof a form revealed visible through brush strokes. The manipulation of expressiveline is intended to convey the strength of the elements within the depictedcomposition. The artist's rendering of a bamboo depicts its strength and sturdinessthrough the use of calligraphic lines which engender such an effect. Calligraphicbrushstrokes set the foundation, not for the anatomical structure of the objectdepicted, but for the embodiment of the characteristic qualities which empower the"nature" of the form.The third canon termed Ying we hsiang hsing is translated as "Reflecting theobject, which means (drawing) its forms" (Osborne, 1970, p.1 18). Rather thanmaintaining a concern for depicting an object's formal resemblance, the Chineseartist aims at conveying the "idea" of a form through suggesting its "essence"andcapturing its "mass and shape". Form may be conveyed simply through one or twopowerfully expressive lines. Verisimilitude in Chinese art is thought to detract fromthe spirituality and beauty of brush work as it should capture the "idea" and cosmicforces of nature and not superficial physical resemblances. The successfuldepiction of the "life energy" through the use of but one or two lines allows theviewer to fill in the -idea" resonating from the limited but expressive depiction. The59artist in attempting to represent reality is striving moreover to capture physiognomicqualities which enliven the representation with the characteristic nature of theform(s) rendered rather than reproducing correct proportional depictions:The Chinese were concerned with what are now called the 'physiognomicproperties' of things or rather with the class of physiognomic propertieswhich are most indicative of the individual and the type—the featheriness oftrees, the spikiness of reeds, the characteristic placing and posture ofvegetation in landscape, the textures and conformation of rock formations,the hairiness of animals, lightness of birds and butterflies; with expressivepoise or gesture, the attitude of deprecation, the dignity of an eagle or anemperor—all those qualities of things for which no exact words exist andwhich are for the reason sometimes loosely said to express things. Chinesepainting sought to suggest rather than Imitate'. But except insofar as itconveys physiognomic qualities Chinese painting was relatively uninterestedin external appearances and deprecated the reproduction of appearances asan end in itself. (Osborne, 1970, p. 122)The aim of Chinese art was not mimetic in order to create illusionistic, realisticallyrendered forms, but to suggest its aesthetic underlying physiognomic character.The fourth canon entitled Sui lei fu ts'ai involves color use within pictorial art.In classical Chinese painting color is used more for its symbolic quality to conveymood than for representing faithfully accurate color reproductions of the referent.Monochromatic color schemes being frequently employed with an understandingthat ink can render all five colors visible by conveying atmospheric nuances throughvalue changes (Osborne, 1970).The fifth canon, Ching ting wei chih refers to the organization and arrangement60of elements within a composition (Osborne. 1970). This principle of compositionalarrangements within Chinese pictorial works involves placing objects within apicture plane so as to support the natural tensional relationships of cosmic energiesbetween the depicted forms. Every element of the composition contributing to thefostering and rendering of an emotional mood for the viewer to experience, andgrouping and balancing in art has to do with reflecting psychological tensionsthrough simple and economical manipulation of design elements.The sixth and final canon, Chuan me i Hsieh, involves copying andreproducing exemplary models created by master artists. Although Chinesepainting engenders the rendering of an artists self through his/her personallydepicted affinity to the natural energies of being, it is considered important forartists to also learn by copying past masters. Through copying great works with adegree of accuracy the artist is able to gain an insight into the "life principles" as feltby other masters and to sustain the insight of great accomplishments.In summary, the underlying characteristics of classical Chinese aesthetics existin the embodiment of universal tensions within art. The stability of existence isilluminated through the depiction of spiritual tensions which enliven each object andbeing with its own physiognomy and energy in relation to its existence within auniversal order of things.THE QUALITY OF EXPERIENCE:JUSTIFYING THE AESTHETICS OF POPULAR ARTDewey (1934), although not attempting a clear definitive explanation of what isengendered within aesthetic experiences. suggests a view which acknowledges that61the quality of experience evoked by an art work serves to determine its aestheticmerit. Ultimately, he points out that the function of art is that it be instrumental inactualizing experiences within the viewer in such a way as to enrich and integratethe diversity of life's encounters. Shusterman (1992) cites Dewey's declaration ofsuch a belief:The work-song sung in the harvest fields not only provides the harvesterswith a satisfying aesthetic experience, but its zest carries over into theirwork, invigorating and enhancing it and instilling a spirit of solidarity thatlingers long after the song and work are finished. The same wide-ranginginstrumentality can be found in works of high art. They are not simply arefined set of instruments for generating a specialized aesthetic experience.They work to modify and sharpen perception and communication; theyenergize and inspire because aesthetic experience is always spilling over andgetting integrated into our other activities, enhancing and deepening them ... Art thus 'keeps alive the power to experience the common world in itsfullness' and renders the world and our presence in it more meaningful andtolerable through the introduction of some 'satisfying sense of unity' in itsexperience. (p.10)Art, as accorded by Dewey (1934), generates an awareness which essentiallyrefines and embellishes an individuals worldly existence. He takes a stance whichcontrasts with those of traditional aesthetic theories in that when refering to artisticsources of heightened aesthetic experiences he acknowledges the aesthetic potentialof both popular and -high" art alike. This conception of popular art as a valuableaesthetic mode capable of enriching life differs greatly from the -art for arts sake"doctrines advocated by alternate - elitist" streams of aesthetic thought. Art within62such doctrines is considered separate from real life because it involves educated andsocially conditioned insights to the - disinterested" and "higher" philosophicalpossibilities of the art experience which common individuals are not expected toactualize (Kant, 1984; Bourdieu, 1984). Such philosophies maintain that art existsin isolation of reality in that it exudes understandings beyond those derived fromcommon experience. Dewey opposes the belief that aesthetic experience may existin isolation, and suggests moreover that it engenders important and influential lifeenriching effects. Art is instrumental in the life process. and aesthetic experienceexists as a natural experiential need of all humans; it serves to vitalize existence byintegrating a variety of insights into ordinary daily life (Dewey, 1934). Deweydoes not separate and specify unique strands of experience as ultimate to aesthetics,but instead acknowledges its diverse nature, and maintains that art essentiallyperform an integral life enhancing function for all social classes. Popular art elicitsexciting pleasurable experiences which serve to elate the common individual, andalthough these responses may be based less on academic "know how", and moreon personal identities and ideologies, they nonetheless evoke the heightened state ofpleasure associated with aesthetics.Shusterman (1992), like Dewey, acknowledges the aesthetic possibilities ofpopular art and suggests that traditional conceptions of art exist as idealized theorieswhich deny the potential benefits to be maintained through popular designs of art.He challenges the differentiation between elite art and the art of popular culture byconsidering the similarity of experience which may be engendered from both "high"and "low" forms of art. It is suggested that in coming to appreciate the aestheticpossibilities of the so called "low art" or art of popular culture one acknowledges asimportant the aesthetic experiences of the masses. Traditionally, popular art has63been relegated as an inferior form of art (Fry, 1990; Collingve ood. 1984; Bourdieu,1984). In effect, Shusterman (1992) provides an argument which effects adenunciation of such a stand owing to the aesthetic pleasure afforded by so much ofpopular art. He points out that to deny the value of popular art experiences is todeny the legitimacy of enjoyment of popular art forms inspired in a large proportionof the population.In an enumeration of charges against popular art, Shusterman (1992) exposesweaknesses in the arguments posed by critics. Against the contention that popularart produces a negative effect on society by reducing the quality of civilization andincreasing cognitive lethargy of the masses, he posits that such beliefs existunsupported by empirical proof. The fact of the matter being that according tostatistical data, the cultural interest of the general public has risen with the growthand development of mass-media and popular art (Shusterman, 1992). Popular allowing more people access to artistic experiences, increases the population'sawareness of art, and thus serves as a fulcrum from which to base discussions anddevelop understandings about its experiential possibilities. In response to theconviction that mass media art will lead the public to a state of totalitarianism,Shusterman cites Gans' opinion that "media are merely responsive to public opinionproving at most 'the reinforcement of existing social trends', rather than shaping ortransforming them" (p.176). Art of mass culture has similarly received criticismfor its tendency to "sell out" to popular commercial trends (Shusterman, 1992).This contention, however, loses credibility in that like popular art. fine art isconsistently influenced by the modes and artistic fashions of the time, andirregardless of such influences, works of aesthetic excellence have continued to beactualized within the stylistic trends of the epoch. It has been suggested that64popular art denies potential for stimulating intellectual thought. Its effortlessness"easily captivates those of us who are too weary and often beaten to seek what ischallenging" (Shusterman, 1992, p.183). The -effortless passivity" of popular artis thought to explain not only its wide appeal but its failure to truly satisfy anexperience of heightened aesthetic involvement. Shusterman posits that it would befalse to relegate mindless involvement as integral to all experiencing of popular art,and audiences of mass culture cannot legitimately be labeled as incapable of taking acritical attitude toward the presentation and quality of popular art. Concomitantly,popular art, like "high" art, does not always expect of the viewer intellectual effortsfor the actualization of heightened aesthetic experiences. Independent perceptualresponses may compel aesthetic appreciation without vigorous and active cognitiveinvolvement. One may derive pleasure in both popular and -high" art by way of thebeautifully discriminating arrangements of formal elements within design. Becausethe average individual does not posses the theoretical knowledge to discuss theredeeming qualities or weaknesses of compositional design. is not to say that he/shedoes not embody perceptual apparati which can find pleasure within sensitivearrangements of visual popular art products.The final argument to be presented which suggests the illegitimacy of popularart forms derives its point of force from a view posited by Bourdieu (1984).Bourdieu clearly states that art should not maintain a role subservient to function.Art ideally within traditional "elitist" aesthetic doctrines makes a break with ordinaryexistence and through form and style excites aesthetic responses. Shusterman(1992) argues against such an ideology of art by pointing out the interrelationshipswhich inevitably exist between art and life. He reviews Dewey's understandingwhich stipulates that all art, even that of formalist traditions, serves some kind of65function, be it simply that it function to embellish. Art allows for a richer moresatisfying existence, and its qualitative evaluation is dependent on the quality ofexperience the work may afford. Dewey (see Shusterman. 1992) points out that thevalue and character of an art experience may vary from person to person dependingon the individuals diversity of preparation or conditioned training. According toDewey, however, aesthetic standards which maintain an elitist prioritization ofcriteria alienate the mass population from cultivating benefits derived through theappreciation of art. Shusterman (1992) cites Dewey's contention on the alienatingforce of "high" art within popular culture:Identification of art with the high tradition of fine art can thus serve anoppressive socio-cultural elite seeking to assert and bolster its classsuperiority by making sure that art (at least in its canonized modes ofappreciation) will remain beyond the taste and reach of the common man, atonce marking and reinforcing his general sense of inferiority. (p.19)"High art" philosophies prove too esoteric and intellectually demanding forcomprehension by the common individual. Such elitist attitudes on art deny thegeneral populace the experiential benefits which Dewey identifies as a derivative ofthe art experience. Dewey acknowledges art's power to embellish the quality of lifefor both the common and cultured individual and deems as essentially important theaesthetic pleasure realized within the art experience regardless of socio-culturaldifferences. He finds shortcomings in adhering to a culturally elitist concept of artin that it not only denies the legitimacy of the mass public's aesthetic experience,but it serves to restrict the range of possible aesthetic experiences of the culturallyelevated (Shusterman, 1992). The importance of denying distinctions between highand commercial or industrial aesthetics is posited in that both may afford aesthetic66experiential rewards. - High" art, although it may set valid and valuable standardsof insight, should not presuppose that its erudite demands on artistic experiencecannot be expanded to encompass entertainment and popular cultural forms of art assimilarly valuable and legitimate to the art experience. It can be acknowledged thatmass art maintains the capacity to foster intellectually as well as perceptuallyinspiring responses within the audience (Shusterman, 1992).Mass media products may exhibit poorly designed superficially conveyedpopular imagery, but again the same can be posited about poor quality art derivedfrom the trends set by the art world. Recognizable subtle complexities whichcontribute to popular art's aesthetic potential in enriching one's experience cannotbe denied of the - best" of the mass produced. Like high art, popular art maypossess diverse aesthetic potential depending on the type of encounters it effects.Not all popular art promotes heightened aesthetic experiences, just as not all fine artdeems aesthetic recognition. Judgements and standards may be made by the qualityof experience afforded based on the level of heightened and/or vivified experienceengendered through the art work.POSTMODERNISMPostmodern theories break with modernist beliefs in that they do not identifyultimate truths, but support the search for the diversity of possibilities withinexperience. Consumer society has made available to individuals a legitimate varietyof encounters which has served to obliterate the homogeneity of experiencepreviously ascribed because of socioeconomic stigmatizations (Jameson, 1991).The postmodern age, presents the coexistence of a wide range of experiential67possibilities which serves to liberate and relax the restrictions effected by modernistaesthetic theories (Lyotard, 1984). As Foster (1983) points out:... the postmodernist strategy becomes clear: to deconstruct modernism notin order to seal it in its own image but in order to open it, to rewrite it; toopen its closed systems to the "heterogeneity of texts" (Crimp), to rewrite itsuniversal techniques in terms of "synthetic contradictions" (Frampton)—inshort, to challenge its master narratives with the "discourse of others"(Owens). (p.xi)Postmodern strategies allow for a realm of translations which do not attempt toconstitute a single reality, as was the case within modernist ideologies. Art withinpostmodernist theories denies autonomous presynthesized dogmas, allowingmoreover for an awareness of a realm of translations from which one maysynthesize an understanding of a heterogeneous collage of possibilities. The artexperience does not emerge from a stable core of experience but moreover isderived from the idiosyncratic possibilities within experience, and one's perceptionof a situation or object is influenced by' a host of vocabularies deduced from themultidimensionality of possible influences (Shusterman, 1992). Postmodernismattempts to illuminate the diversity of "private languages" (Foster, 1983) whichinfiltrate our existence and serve to perpetuate an awareness of alternate personalpossible affiliations.Identifying a plurality of beliefs does not suggest that art present an eclecticarrangement of images for the sake of composing nostalgic memorabilia, butinstead suggests that art aims to facilitate critical discourse by involving the viewerin a process of "ana-lysing, ana-mnesing, of reflecting" (Jencks, 1987, p.7). Thecomplex components of aesthetic experience are constituted by countless variables68which do not lend themselves to reduced empirical prescriptions. Because of a lackof conventional unity within imagery, the viewer becomes involved in a process ofassimilation and assessment of the various cultural and social codes which may besimulated. The postmodern does not fix a new language of experience but suggeststhat visual artistic codes engender an awareness of new unlimiting modes whichserve to extend the viewers experiential reach. The reorganization of existingpossibilities allow one to acknowledge that reality is composed of a multiplicity ofversions which become evident within the juxtaposition of possible historical andsocial dialects.Newman (1986) introduces postmodernist philosophies by presenting, throughhistorical assessment, the art movements which led the way to the emancipatoryethics of postmodernist philosophy. The shifts in philosophical priorities within artwere dependent largely on critical reaction to the structures of existing art theories.Minimal art, an important component of modern art theory, maintained a focus onthe purity of disinterested experience dependent on the internal structuring of the artobject itself. Reactions to the socially detached theories of Minimal art served as animpetus for the birth of Pop art concepts. Pop art engaged objects from massculture in place of purely formal visual elements of pictorial design so as to questionthe theoretical framework of the Minimal art movement. Products ofindustrialization and contemporary consumptive society were displayed as "highart" emblems mockingly demanding pure formal appreciation. The Pop artmovement began a shift in philosophy from the purely perceptual to the essentiallyconceptual in that it began to allude to art's potential to question the status quo.This critical discourse was later fully realized by way of conceptual art theorieswhich took on the precedent of eliciting conscious membership to critical69ideological positions with respect to questionable accepted societal norms.Conceptual art ultimately aimed to elicit insight into the realities of class politics byway of focusing a critical eye on societal ideological issues. It was this narrowlydesignated autonomy of perception which the postmodernist movement sought todispel within its new doctrines of aesthetics that essentially involved conceptualemancipation. Postmodernist movements go beyond the focused strategies ofconceptual art in order to engender an awareness of the fragmented possibilitieswithin the divergent realms of human experience (Newman, 1986).A selected number of lexical terms derived from the "discourse ofpostmodernism - and presented by Newman (1986) will be review ed in an attemptto illuminate the essential character of Postmodernist art. The first of these, thetransavantgarde" alludes to the denial of art history in being important as a lineardevelopment of autonomous historical movements. Postmodernist philosophiesessentially acknowledge the coexistence of multiple artistic possibilities portrayedwithin a fragmented totality. Newman cites Olivia's image of the state of"discontinuity" within postmodernist doctrines:The initial precept is that of art as the production of a catastrophe, adiscontinuity that destroys the tectonic balance of language to favor aprecipitation into the subject of the 'imaginario', neither as a nostalgicreturn, nor a reflex. but a flowing that drags inside itself the sedimentationof many things which exceed a simple return to the private and thesymbolic. (p.38)Postmodernist art involves the portrayal of portions of reality not through aconventional linkage of myopic themes engendered within a single consciousness,but through an amalgamation of possibilities beyond the conventions of singular70private totalities. The essence of "transavantgardism - lies in the fact thatpostmodern art exemplifies -subjective fragmentations". One is continuallypropelled to aspire to and recognize the multiple vocabularies available to experience(Newman, 1986). Postmodern art does not take an aggressive position in denyingall single autonomous positions, but instead appreciates the existence of-dispositions different from its own" (Jencks, 1986). Much of the content ofpostmodern art recycles past attitudes and philosophical agendas so as to actualizenew possibilities within new contexts and thus actualize benefits by way ofacknowledging the diversity of preexisting and possible vocabularies.A second lexical category outlined by Newman ( 1986)— "the death of theauthor"—involves negating the role of the artist as instrumental in infusing a workwith intentional nuance. The viewer looks not at what the author intended but at thework as an autotelic self sufficient entity which may actualize meaning only within aviewing consciousness. Intentional structures presented by the artist cannot inthemselves possess significance but rely on -psychoanalytic formations" availablewithin the viewer to invest them with contextual significance. The viewer absorbsthe inscriptions presented and brings them together so as to engender possiblevisions and understandings within the experience. Newman cites Barthes inpresenting this principle of postmodernism:We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single"theological" meaning (the "message" of the Author-God) but amultidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of themoriginal, blend and clash'; and the reader is the space on which all thequotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them beinglost; a text's unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. (pp. 38-39)71An art work attains meaning only by way of analysis and synthesis within anaudience's conscious effort in perceiving the complexity of possibilities within itssignificance. By denying the author a position and critical stance, postmodernismdiffuses the possibility of theoretical -polarizations - which would serve to inhibitthe actualization of an emancipated -collectivity - of perceptions (Newman, 1986).The "collectivity"of perceptions is frequently conveyed within postmodernisttheories through the use of "allegory". Allegory serves the purpose of illuminatinga fragmentation and diversity of meanings through a works presentedcharacteristics. It is implemented as a medium to liberate, reveal and deconstructautonimity of translations and to initiate previously inhibited association. Unlikemodernist art, which supposes that art ultimately convey -symbolic" metaphoricalconnotations, postmodernist art aims at conveying allegorical illusions which do notsupply a singular decided association, but reveal enigmatic labyrinths of possiblereferences. The associations are void of ultimate truths in that they are nottransparent, but through allegorical associations one -deciphers" multipleconstituted positions and meanings which the viewer then enters into his/herpossible cognitive repertoire (Newman, 1986).In addition to assemblages of allegorical connotations, postmodernist artfrequently presents elements of "fascination and the uncanny" through which theviewer both "collects" and "consumes" symbolist reveries. The audience escapesinto a world of intangible and foreign possibilities which evade any unifying senseof order. Through the chaotic possibilities conveyed in the fragmentation ofimagery and its juxtaposition, the viewer actualizes -sudden revelations" by way ofthe "uncanny" (Newman. 1986)."Bricolage", an alternate term cited as integral to the postmodernist lexicon by72Newman, verifies the importance of combining fragments within artistic imagery ashas been postulated by the postmodernist use of allegory, the fantastical andtransavantgardism. This prescription within contemporary art is not isolated toconcepts and abstract ideological possibilities, but also presents itself in thetechnical practice of assembling actual fragments of varied objects within singleartistic works. By taking from a "stock of elements" which previously existed inalternate contexts, the artist brings together a complex diversity of -earlier ends" tosignify indeterminate new possibilities. Segmented wholes are placed within apreviously incompatible milieu of varied fragments so as to convey a multilingualset of alternatives within artistic interpretation. Bricolage conveys the existence of"irreducible differences" which exist within the "decentered" works of thepostmodernist movements.In an attempt to create cognitive unity of new information on the pretext ofcultural codes, one generally "simulates" personal justifications for experiencedphenomena. Postmodernist theories suggest that one go outside of his/her personalpredilections and encyclopedic knowledge in order to "simulate" an awareness ofmultiple existing possibilities. There exists no "real", therefore all possibilitiesprevail as alternatives which ultimately engender a "simulated" "real". Newmanpoints out that "there never was an authentic truth or origin, that these are nostalgicconstructions" (p.47), and thus supports the postmodernist belief which identifiesthe illegitimacy of copying the "real".Characteristically, postmodernist works exemplify a wide range of traditionswhich convey contrast and discontinuity so as to personify the heterogeneity of thepossibilities within our pluralist societies. By way of "parody" postmodernistworks divulge the futility of cynicism owing to the indiscriminate lack of73superiority within all possibilities (Newman, 1986). In place of choosing betweenalternatives, postmodernism allows for a collage of alternatives and thus comes toaccept the authenticity of an existing pluralism (Harvey, 1990). Art works do notpropose a unified representation of the world but instead present a perpetuallychanging selection of options which strip away illusionary representations of acoherent, -accurate" picture of existence. A work's beauty and aesthetic potentiallies in the lucidity of insight imposed on the viewer to the indiscriminate validity ofpluralistic alternatives. Art breaks down barriers within techno, mass, historicaland/or sociological dialects and thus demonstrates the authenticity of all possible"otherness" (Harvey, 1990).SUMMARYThe objective of this chapter has been to present the diversity of philosophicalattitudes which have ultimately served to delineate a conceptual bases from whichone may gain insight to the character of aesthetic responses. The theoreticalframeworks which provide insight to the experiential possibilities of art remain asdynamic and diversified as do art works themselves. Because art works remaininfinitely varied and interpretations of art are similarly diverse, it may be positedthat the only norm or criteria amongst the diversity of interpretations lies in that allaesthetic experience involves a unique response of heightened awareness. It is thequality of experience evoked, rather than the characteristics within the art piecewhich identify aesthetic responses. The sources of visual experience within the artpiece, however, are the raw material from which one draws on so as to synthesize areaction to the visual stimuli presented. Aesthetic traditions have enjoyed a diverse74array of alternative theoretical constructs from which to focus when discerningaesthetic evaluation of a work. A detailed itinerary of aesthetic theories havepresently been reviewed not so as to limit aesthetic possibilities to the theoreticalsystems presented but so as to illuminate the complex realm of positions which maybe ardently adhered to within aesthetic understanding. Theorists have soughtabsolute autotelic definitions which by way of a purity of dogma, serve as a basisfor their aesthetic beliefs engendered from within their philosophical biases.Through problematizing and questioning the relevancy of interpretations, theoristscome to realize the value of conceptual possibilities and the need for furtherretheorizing so as to actualize base understandings of yet unvoiced conceptualpossibilities which explain actualized aesthetic experiences. Aesthetic ideologieshave remained in a state of flux, each belief system maintaining only a temporallylimited gestational period before being overridden by a new theoretical replacementconsidered to be superior by its advocates. It becomes evident, consequently. thatthe divergent aesthetic possibilities cannot be stratified into hierarchical systems ofpriorization, but must be reconciled as phenomena of a complex and varied index ofpossibilities. The art experience may not be understood within the limitations of asingle definition, but exists as a rich body of experiential possibilities. If differenttheoretical models generate different ways of defining aesthetics and knowingaesthetics, then it should be clear that there are no absolutes within aestheticunderstandings. Aesthetic interpretations then may be understood as relativisticrather than foundational in nature in that an art work must be enjoyed from thesubjective position of the viewers' contextually bound vocabularies andexperiences.In Chapter Three, Parsons' (1987) research which identifies a stage theory of75aesthetic development, will be critically analyzed for its biased research orientationthat engenders conceptually limiting requirements for aesthetic education programs.By delineating aesthetic developmental understanding as limited within a sequentialand specific order of concept presentation, Parsons restricts the breadth of aestheticunderstandings individuals may realize.76CHAPTER THREEA CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF A METHODOLOGICALLYFRAMED THEORY OF AESTHETIC DEVELOPMENTCHAPTER OVERVIEWParsons (1987) stage theory of aesthetic development offers a framework fromwhich to appropriate pedagogical programs relative to students' conceptual abilitiesand sequentially defined predispositions. Although Parsons' research illuminatesnormative aesthetic developmental understandings as they exist within Westernsocieties, the generalizability of his stage theory will be questioned on the groundsthat the methodology employed by the researcher does not check for socio-culturalactants which function to shape behaviour. Studies (Machotka, 1966; Moore,1973; Gardner, Winner & Kircher, 1975; Rosenstiel. Morisen. Silverman &Gardner, 1978) which offer findings that support Parsons' theory will similarly bereviewed and considered in relation to the bias inherent in their ideologicalorientations which serve to limit the depth and breadth of their inquiries, findingsand conclusions. A brief outline of the research procedures used in the studies citedwill be provided which will engender a description of the retrieved data, theresearchers' analyses and the conclusions drawn from the data obtained. Suchinformation will facilitate a critical analysis of the conclusions made by theresearchers. The perspective to be maintained in evaluating the aforementionedstudies acknowledges the possibility of behavioural norms within societies existingas phenomena shaped through the power of dominant cultural discourses. The firstsection of this chapter will qualify the nature of the critical orientation taken within77the present inquiry, while the subsequent and final segment of this chapter willemploy the approach described in an analysis of Parsons' stage theory and of otherrelated studies (Machotka, 1966; Moore, 1973; Gardner, Winner & Kircher. 1975:Rosenstiel, Morisen, Silverman & Gardner, 1978).IDENTIFYING AND JUSTIFYING: THE PROPOSED CRITICALPERSPECTIVEEducational research has typically sought to uncover data which existsunproblematized by any indice to subjectivity. As Eisner (1992) points out:Objectivity is one of the most cherished ideals of the educational researchcommunity. In fact, it is so important that if our work is accused of beingsubjective, its status as a source of knowledge sinks slowly into the horizonlike a setting sun. (p.9)Fostering empirically based data to guide educational practices, has ultimately beenconsidered an objective link and source for optimizing the effectiveness ofpedagogical methodologies. Of late, however, the epistemological value ofeducational practices based on absolutist or foundationalist regulatory systems ofknowledge have come into question (Eisner, 1992; Guba, 1992; Von Glassersfeld,1989). Guba (1992) points out "that relativism—particularly ontological relativismthat postulates multiple socially constructed realities rather than an objectivereality—is now the favored position of many philosophers of science" (p.18).Objectivist scientific knowledge claims within educational research are generallybeing considered in regards to the dependent nature of much of their designatedfindings. Concepts such as " better" and "improved" are being qualified as relative78to their applicability within a given context and not as universals whichindiscriminantly foster optimum conditions for all possible participants. Thiscurrent trend within educational philosophy recognizes that one's perception of asituation or object is inevitably influenced by a host of vocabularies deduced fromthe multidimensionality of possible influences (education, culture, experiences,etc.).Research methodologies which strive to identify generic trends for the purposeof efficient and practical transcription of data into "easy to use and apply"educational methodologies are thus rendered insensitive to the reality of individualdifferences and needs which may exist in school populations. In an attempt touncover generalizable - rules" which serve to optimize learning conditions for ageneral body of students, researchers have traditionally attempted to formatseemingly "neutral" research programs. Cherryholmes (1993). however, pointsout the futility of such an objective in that research methodologies are not producedwithin a vacuum; they depend on the belief systems and ideological orientations ofthe researcher to stimulate and identify areas of needed study and to outline methodsfor realizing the researchers goals. The questions asked and orientations takenserve to "bias" research from the onset and to divulge information and patternswhich, while illuminating important factors dealing with the interests and goals ofthe researcher, may serve to ignore the influence of possible variables which wouldoffer further insight to the subjective and relative nature of the research findings.The remainder of this chapter aims to identify such oversights within researchprograms relating to aesthetic development. The methodological weaknesses ofstudies which support the existence of age related developmental responses instudents aesthetic understanding will be reviewed by way of a critical approach to79research which identifies the potential for socio-cultural contexts to enforce andshape behavioural norms. Although a number of studies will be identified andassessed, the primary focus will engender a criticism of Parsons' stage theory ofaesthetic development as it offers conclusions which identify aestheticunderstanding as limited by developmentally determined behavioural capabilities instudents. Behavioural findings, it will be pointed out, cannot be attributed to theorganicity of biologically determined variables in individuals, as is suggested inParsons' (1987) work on aesthetics, until the effect of dominant cultural influenceshave been analyzed and ruled out. Therefore, in not establishing an analysis of thecultural context which might enhance the possibility of certain behaviours existingover that of others, Parsons' argument, which posits developmental phenomena asabsolute, identifies and infers claims that supersede the data obtained.Hammersley (1992) points out that conventional ethnography (similar to themethodology utilized by Parsons) typically offers theoretical findings which do nottake into consideration implicit institutional effects on observed behaviours. Hesuggests that:... such research neglects the constraints operating on the people studied,who are portrayed as simply exercising their freedom. This criticism hastwo aspects. One is that people's understandings of the world are taken atface value rather than their distortion by ideology being recognized.Another is that there is a failure to identify the macro-social structuraldeterminants of people's behaviour. Associated with this, it is claimed, is aneglect of social conflict and contradictions, and of power differences. Inshort, it is argued that simply to describe people's behaviour as if it were theproduct of a freely expressed culture is systematically to misrepresent that80behaviour. (pp.99-100)It will be pointed out that the research studies to be reviewed take subject responsesat "face value"; they do not attempt to identify socially determined canons andexpectations as potential catalysts in shaping consistency within subject responses.Behavioural conventions which might be mediated through conformity to the statusquo should be realized as such and tested for before being taken as exemplars offundamental patterns inherent to normative biological development. Theresearchers furnish evidence and support arguments based on the data gatheredwhich validate the inferences and conclusions made. The probing techniques andspecific rhetorical questions posed, however, disclose value based programs ofinquiry which regulate and bias the findings in relation to the epistemologicalorientation of the researcher(s). The hypothetically - objective" and "neutral"methodological programs ordered by the researcher(s) will be critically analyzed inorder to identify how researcher values permeate the forms of inquiry and effect theconclusions drawn. Ultimately, a stage theory of aesthetic development, as positedby Parsons, will be questioned in relation to the controlled and limited focus theemployed process of inquiry facilitates.QUALITATIVE STUDIES AND AESTHETIC DEVELOPMENTIn the studies to be reviewed (Machotka, 1966; Moore, 1973; Gardner, Winner& Kircher, 1975; Rosenstiel, Morisen. Silverman & Gardner, 1978; Parsons.1987), data were collected through qualitative research designs. This method wasappropriated by the fact that most of the skills used in art perception do not lendthemselves to directly observable behaviour; if one is to learn what goes on in the81mind of an individual, one must rely on their direct testimony for such information.Through listening carefully and systematically to how individuals reacted andresponded to paintings, the researchers were able to acquire insights and discovermeanings relayed by the subjects through the verbalization of their aestheticexperience in relation to the art work presented.Parsons (1987), in his book How We Understand Art. proposes five stages ofcognitive aesthetic development which delineate insights people have at variousstages of aesthetic understanding. Through a qualitative method of data collection,five distinct patterns used by the subjects to respond to art are discerned by theresearcher. He points out that people react differently to paintings because of variedexpectations regarding what paintings should be. The reasoning involved inanalyzing the merit of art works is identified as undergoing expansion and changesin focus as a child gains new abilities and insights to the experiential possibilities ofart works. The ways people understand art is sequentially manifest in a certainorder by Parsons, consequently, the stages are hierarchical, sequential andcontinuous: Stage one comes before stage two and stage two comes before stagethree and so on from lower to higher capacities. Almost all preschool children usestage one concepts, almost all elementary school children use stage two ideas, andsome, but not all, adolescents use stage three concepts. Developing stage four andfive aesthetic constructs was not found to be a spontaneous consequence of age.These more advanced stages are perceived to be attained only through experienceand conscious interaction with the possibilities of visual art (Parsons, 1987).Stage one, as Parsons (1987) describes it, was usually found in subjectsduring their preschool years, with these individuals generally exhibiting anattraction for both abstract or realist works. A strong attraction to color was82prevalent at this stage and respondents enjoyed merely enumerating the objects theyindividually viewed within an art work. Individuals at stage one were alsoidentified as being aware of only one point of view—their own— and theirresponses to art seemed to take on more of a "biological than social character" .During their elementary school years, the subjects generally demonstrated stagetwo responses to art works by conveying an understanding that art worksrealistically and "ideally" represented objects or scenes. There was no insight intothe artists' motives or intent, excepting the artist's desire to demonstrate technicalskill in reproducing a painting which was faithful to its referent. At this stage, it isposited that individuals required an understanding of what a painting was about soas to enjoy viewing a work and similarly levied approval of the moral quality of thesubject matter in order to classify the work as "good art".By stage three, which usually surfaced in individuals during their high schoolyears, realism was no longer a prerequisite for enjoying art. Abstractions wereaccepted in that they extended the work's expressive capacity. Individuals at thisstage had not yet grasped the expressive potential of strictly formal qualities in artworks and as yet there was no clear acceptance of totally non-objective art.Expression and universal meaning conveyed in the art work was of paramountimportance, and abstraction and less than "ideal" subject matter merited worthyappraisals if these qualities served to further the expressive intent of the art piece. Ajudgment at this stage was based on intuitive or subjective feelings which requiredof the art work, expressively conveyed meaning relative to humanity and societyitself.In stage four, it was judged that the subjects no longer relied on intuitive feelingto understand and evaluate the works of art. and that viewing paintings became an83intellectual exercise in which newly received information is constantly checkedagainst previous knowledge. The subject's experience of viewing a painting is anobjective one in which "interpretation becomes the attempt to relate togetherdifferent views of a painting and to make a whole of its various elements" (Parsons,1987, p.8). Hence, one continually revises an understanding of a work of art assignificant aspects of the work are brought to light. At stage four, the viewerconstructs a framework for understanding art works that is based on an objectiveanalysis of style, technique, historical and social issues of the art world. Evaluationis no longer personal and subjective but becomes -intersubjective - or - intertextual".At stage five, it was identified that the subjects evaluation of an art work becamepersonal. For example, the individual takes on the authority to question the idealsof the artistic community and does not require validation of opinions to maintain apoint of view. Understanding artistic tradition serves to give one the authority totranscend the dictates of society and make personal judgments. Througharticulating one's reading of art works, a dialogue is opened that may serve toreinterpret the situation, but the final analysis, at this stage, involves a subjectiveinterpretation of the reasoning employed in analyzing works of art. "The essenceof stage five is the seeking of reasons for interpretations (Parsons, 1987, p.150-151).Through this study, Parsons (1987) aims to identify the basis of a theory ofaesthetic stage development which parallels Kohlberg's and Piaget's structuraltheories of moral and cognitive development respectively. Kohlberg's and Piaget'sstage developmental theories are considered universal and totalizing in scopebecause of their ahistorical and decontextualized structural formations, it isquestionable, however, whether Parsons' could similarly be considered so. For84example, in looking at the cross-cultural requirements of art, it is clear that realism(a stage two requirement of art) is not an inherent criterion for all peoples. TheEuro-American regard for realism in art is a Western cultural ideal which is notmaintained by all world cultures: for instance, two such cultural groups, withinCanada, being the Haida and the Inuit. Although the art of these two groups showsthe presence of schematic representational qualities, it does not, at any point of itsdevelopment, reach the stage of photographic-like realism. Since advancement inaesthetic understanding, according to Parsons' stage theory. is sequentiallyinvariant, if stage two is not realized, the higher levels of aesthetic cognition cannotbe attained. Is one then to infer that these two groups never fully actualize stagetwo, three, four and five understanding of art? In assessing the art of these twocultural groups it is clear that the above case is not a point in fact. Indian and Inuitart clearly demonstrate sensitivity to the expressive potential of art, as well as ahighly refined ability for arrangement and organization of the formal qualities of anart work concomitant to a conscious understanding of their own artistic traditions.It is therefore evident that these peoples attain higher level aesthetic abilities, but notby way of stage two. Consequently, this case confirms that Parsons' (1987)invariant sequential stages of aesthetic cognitive development are not universallytransferable, nor totalizing in scope because of variance due to historical andcontextual factors. This leaves one to question the validity of Parsons' stage theoryeven within the Western context. If stage development is dependent on societalinfluences, rather than innate psychological aptitudes, were societal expectations tochange, Parsons stage theory would prove inapplicable. The question thus arises:Does Parsons' stage theory reflect stage development which cannot be alteredthrough instructional intervention or alternate socio-cultural normative expectations?85The methodology used by Parsons (1987) to advance a stage theory of aestheticdevelopment lends itself to criticism in that it offers value based inquiry whichmakes claims beyond the scope of the data collected, organized and provided by theresearcher. The designated program of inquiry essentially optimizes the potentialfor attaining data which supports the researcher's ideological presuppositions whilelimiting procedures that might challenge the taken perspective. For example,Parsons accessed information for his data analysis by way of semi-structuredinterviews which were conducted over a ten year period with more than threehundred subjects of various ages, ranging from preschool students to college artprofessors. Since subjects were all chosen from a population of "ordinary peopleliving in and around Salt Lake City" (p.18), the subject selection employed byParson's optimizes the chances of conformity within subject responses due to thehomogeneity of environmental norms influencing behavioural outcomes for this setof subjects. Had Parsons' subject selection represented a diversified populationconsisting of individuals with varied cultural, class and race affiliations, theresearcher might have uncovered less consistency within responses based ondivergent, context-bound, normative expectations. The researcher having not doneso, does not validate the potential cross-class, culture, or racial relevancy andgeneralizability of the findings.In asking the subjects to respond to five or six fine art reproductions by meansof questioning that touched on a number of preplanned topics, Parsons' (1987) aimwas to understand what people thought about paintings. His procedures sought touncover the cognitive abilities students, or others maintained through illuminatingtheir rhetorical understanding of -fine art - and there was no attempt made toconsider how attitudes might be experientially formed or effected which, according86to Parsons' developmental theory, are a sequential definition of cognitive abilities.Stimuli chosen for the subject/interviewer discussions reflect a selection bias whichmight have served to limit the breadth and pattern of subject responses whileincreasing the possibility of uniformity existing within the findings. The art worksemployed as a basis for discussion were all classic works from the Western artistictradition. Non-Western and popular art examples were not a composite part of theimages discussed by the subjects. In not including such art styles, Parsons doesnot realize the possibility for eliciting data which might offer insightful nuances toalternate aesthetic sensitivities held by individuals as relevant to their "real life"experiences. The stimuli selection then serves as a threat to the generalizability ofthe findings because of the narrowness of scope in the selection of art works.The form of inquiry inherent within the questions posed to the subjects similarlydoes not discount the possibility of constancy existing within the early stages ofaesthetic responses based on the norms potentially instilled through societalmainstream expectations. Semistructured interviews that comprised a selection ofstandard topic questions were employed to initiate all discourse from which datawas recorded. The following list identifies the questions used in the study:1. Describe this painting to me.2. What is it about? Is that a good subject for a painting?3. What feelings do you see in the painting?4. What about the colors? Are they good colors?5. What about the form (things that repeat)? What about texture?6. Was this a difficult painting to do? What would be difficult?7.^Is this a good painting? Why ? (p.19)Parsons (1987) format of questioning reflects an ideologically biased procedure of87inquiry which engenders questions representative of the researcher's theoreticalbeliefs, expectations and practical intentions. For example, question oneestablishes in a neutral way, the possibility for probing the subjects responses to theart work in terms of its formal characteristics and its thematic content. Questionstwo to six isolate specific aesthetic dimensions within the art work in order to focusand define the thematic content of discursive replies to specific dimensions andaspects within art works such as color, form, expression and technique. Allquestions exemplified within Parsons' procedures lead students to discussdimensions in the art works which belong to Western art world traditions. Inasking specific questions such as those about color or form the researcher instills anawareness of these aspects within an art work so as to limit the subjects responsesto the identified areas. The prescriptive system of inquiry designated by Parsonstherefore identifies "appropriate" content specific topics upon which individualsmay model future discourses on art. Similarly individuals who have had someexposure to art and art talk, but who still maintain potentially limited understandingof topics such as form or expression, might borrow from mainstream discourse soas to satisfy the questions asked over transmitting a true portrayal of theirunmediated artistic experience. Again, it may be pointed out that the researcher'sconclusions, which culminate in a stage theory of aesthetic development, cannotrelate such phenomena as cognitively dependent without initially attempting to ruleout the effect of socio-cultural expectations on behavioural norms.A number of related studies were uncovered through computer searches andfollowing up cited studies which similarly identified patterns within aestheticbehaviour similar to those identified by Parsons (1987). These studies willpresently be reviewed and analyzed so as to consider how the ideologies frame the88various arguments rendered. In the first of these studies to he reviewed Machotka,(1966) conducted research in which he analyzed the criteria children use forevaluating paintings. Pointing out that a number of studies have been conductedwhich identify children's painting preferences, Machotka (1966), demarcates theshortcomings of previous studies in that no specific ages are identified as related tothe various perceptions of art. He also suggests the shortcomings of previousstudies where there was no attempt made to connect suggested aestheticdevelopment to other theories of child development. Towards such an end,Machotka (1966) posits a relationship between aesthetic development and Piaget'sstages of cognitive development, and thus identifies a personalized base ideologyfrom where his process of inquiry is focused. It is this goal which serves to framethe system of questioning which generates data relevant to the researcher'sparticular objectives while eschewing forms of inquiry which might challenge thetheoretical presuppositions that inspire the researcher's efforts.For the purpose of Machotka's (1966) study, fifteen color reproductions wereselected from classic works by Western artists dating from the time of therenaissance to more contemporary periods. In uniquely employing Western fine artreproductions the stimuli selection could limit and constrict the rhetorical positionsmaintained by the subjects, thus not engendering a comprehensive array of possibleattitudes to art forms from alternate styles The subjects (N=120) interviewedconsisted of the following population: French boys from an upper middle-classelementary school and an upper middle-class junior-high school. as well as a groupof 18 year olds from a similar socioeconomic milieu. A group of 15 subjects fromeach grade were involved in the study. The selection of subjects demonstrates apopulation of a relatively homogeneous nature in regards to socio-cultural and89economic experience. Uniformity within subject responses thus maximizes thepotential for uniformity in the findings. A subject selection diversified in race,class, culture, etc., would have served to challenge and test the researcher's theory,consequently strengthening the generalizability of the findings. Instead, the fieldsituation provides a decidedly theory driven selection of subjects which engenders acontext that, while it optimizes the likelihood of validating the researchersideological beliefs, does not verify any absolute correlation between aesthetic andcognitive development.Interviews were conducted individually and the subjects were shown a group ofthree paintings from which they were expected to identify a) which painting theyliked best, and b) what reasons they had for making the choice. Content analysis ofthe responses was based on criteria selected from a prior pilot study whichidentified what children deemed as important in their analysis of art. Twelve criteriawere identified from which the frequency of responses from the present study werecalculated. The data collected suggested age related aesthetic preferences. It wasnoted that preference criteria which refer to color and content exist before a childdevelops sensitivity to formal analysis of works. Realism, it seemed, becomes acriterion for evaluation at age seven and increases in importance until age eleven, atwhich time the demand for realism becomes increasingly less pronounced.Sensitivity to formal relations between elements of the composition such asharmony or contrast of colors did not occur markedly in the subject's analysis ofpaintings until the age of 12. Machotka (1966) attributes this shift to a correlationbetween Piaget's stage of formal operations in which a child becomes lessconcerned with concrete analysis and more interested in "hypothetico-deductive"reasoning. It is suggested that because of the onset of formal operations, children90begin to engender preferences based on concepts related to composition. it beinginferred, that this is a result of the child's ability to consider hypotheticalpropositions at this stage of cognitive mental development. Machotka (1966)suggests that the art observer must be aware of a number of existing styles in orderto be sensitive to style and composition in paintings. Younger individuals whobase their judgment of painting on a single criterion of realism are aware of onlyone style, that of realism, which Machotka suggests explains younger children'sinability to use criteria such as style and composition in their analyses of paintings.It is pointed out that the ages identified as transitional points in a child'sunderstanding of art closely parallel Piaget's transitional ages for cognitive stagedevelopment. Consequently, Machotka (1966) maintains that it could be suggestedthrough this analysis that a child's framework for interpreting art is directly relatedto his/her cognitive development. Although the connection Machotka makesbetween aesthetic sensitivity and cognitive development is valuable in suggesting apossible relationship between a child's intellectual and aesthetic development, thistheory is not validated through the findings of the presently cited study. By simplyobserving behaviour, one cannot infer the child's inability to access other modes ofunderstanding art if appropriate or different contextual stimuli were applied. Itcould be suggested that the findings, instead of reflecting a child's age relatedaesthetic ability, might reflect norms derivative of the status quo or of the normativeforms of exposure traditional aesthetic education has allotted. Fully developingaesthetic sensitivity is directly related to training (Hamblin, 1988, Bourdieu, 1984),or in Piagetian thought to encountering stimuli which initiate accommodation andassimilation of novel schemata and understandings. In not qualifying studentexposure to the aesthetic phenomena, it cannot be assumed through Machotka's91(1966) study that the aesthetic critical abilities identified are related to anindividual's aesthetic aptitudes and not to predefined age specific art activitieswithin educational and dominant cultural norms which might delimit children'saesthetic sensitivity. Information selection then serves as a threat to the externalreliability of Machotka's (1966) theory which maintains that aesthetic criteria injudging art directly relates to an individual's cognitive development. Observereffects threaten the study's internal validity in that Machotka claims the findings tobe representative of correlations between cognitive and aesthetic development, anassumption which goes beyond the context of the study. Alternative explanationscould and should be delineated and eliminated in relation to the coercive powers ofcontextual variables so as to ensure that alternative explanations will not serve as athreat to the internal validity of Machotka's theory.Moore (1973) also points out that it is necessary for more research to be doneon individual's art appreciation. Towards this end, he conducted a study in whichhe analyzed the verbal responses to works of art by children in grades one (n=20),four (n=20), seven (n=20), ten (n=20), and twelve (n=20). The subjects chosenoriginated from the same community and had not received any formal lessons in artappreciation. Subjects were interviewed individually and were asked to respond toindividually presented reproductions. Three art works were shown (arepresentational. a semi- abstract, and a non-representational piece) all typical of theWestern artistic traditions. As in the previous two studies, stimulus selectionserved to bias and limit the findings. The subjects were asked to tell the interviewerwhat they saw in the painting, whether they saw anything in the painting other thanobjects and to explain what they liked best in the painting. Similar to Machotka's(1966) itinerary of questions, Moore's (1973) form of inquiry offers descriptive92insight to an individual's aesthetic point of view. It similarly does not, however,question preferential commitments in relation to their possible context dependentnature.It was concluded, through the data collected, that - children at different gradelevels did make different types of comments about art works" (Moore, 1973, p.29).For example, young children's statements were proportionately more objectivethan were the statements of the older children in that they focused on objectsshown in the paintings. Older children considered the whole painting rather thanthe parts, attended to the artist and historical period and made references to the artwork as possessing human feeling "proportionately" more than did the youngersubjects. It was pointed out however, that all groups made -proportionately" morereferences to the objects portrayed in the painting than any other aspect of thepainting. The researchers suggest this to be a result of lack of instruction in artappreciation. It was deemed difficult for a child to understand aspects of paintingwhich have not been presented to him or her. It is pointed out that if theprevailing concept of art is one of visual representation of objects, it seemsreasonable to assume that the subjects would look for visually depicted objects inthe paintings" (Moore, 1973, p.31).The researcher recognizes that the study attempts to simply describe theresponses to art made by children who had not received formal instruction in thesubject area. There are not, however, any claims made as to whether the responsesgiven by the students are desirable, unalterable or contextually dependent. It isacknowledged that the questions used to elicit responses from the subjectsinfluenced the sorts of responses which the subjects made, in that commentssubjects offered about the art works might well have been influenced by the leading93questions posed. This suggests a threat to the internal validity of the study in thatthe study originally proposed to identify what children of various age groups choseto discuss about art. and not what researchers initiated from them throughprompting.A fourth study conducted by Gardner, Winner, and Kircher (1975) analyzedresponses to poems, paintings, and music, from children aged four to sixteen. Forthe intent of this paper, it will be useful to consider only the findings which relate tovisual perception. To understand the "personal experiences" individuals encounterwhen viewing art, these researchers interviewed 121 subjects between the ages of 4to 16, all from middle and working class families. The subject selection does notengage responses from a variety of socio-culturally determined affiliations withrespect to class, economic or racial status. Again this does not allow the findings torepresent all possible discourses. The interviewers presented a work of art to thesubject and asked him/her to describe what was perceived. From there, a numberof randomly ordered but preplanned questions were solicited by way of an "open-ended" clinical procedure. This procedure allowed for the probing of "unexpectedpotentially relevant responses" (Gardner. Winner, and Kircher, 1975. p.62). Theresearchers' however did not pursue the relevancy of socio-cultural and potentiallycoercive lived experiences which could serve as instrumental in shaping responses.The probing techniques were moreover concerned with fine tuning the rhetoricaldescriptions offered by the students. Subject responses were categorized into threebroad groupings which demonstrated similar age specific distinct characteristicsused by the subject to make sense of art. Subjects aged four to seven demonstratedwhat were termed by the researchers as "immature" responses. Those aged eight totwelve demonstrated what were termed as "intermediate" responses. and individuals94aged fourteen to sixteen characteristically elicited responses that the researcherscategorized as "mature" responses.The "immature" subjects' responses were frequently contradictory (eg., therewas an inability to understand the human origin of paintings) and subjects oftenbelieved the works to be made by machines or in factories, and yet conversely, inanswer to following questions, the same subjects would state that anyone, ofteneven animals, could produce paintings. "Immature" subjects were little concernedwith the presence of opposing views in their answers, and they generally did notunderstand the difference between a representation of a horse and its referent; thus.indicating a lack of differentiation between symbolic representation and the actualsubject. Only a vague understanding of the distinction between real and imaginaryworlds was exhibited by this group. Four and five year olds tended to preferabstract over representational works for their `pretty colors" and "nice designs",while six and seven year olds tended to demonstrate an increased preference formore traditional realistic paintings.Individuals at the intermediate stage were described as possessing a strongpreference toward realism which they believed should ideally be qualitativelyjudged by expert authorities. There was, however, a confusion regarding whatmakes one opinion better than another. The responses and interpretations of thisgroup rarely, if ever, deviated from a strictly concrete interpretation of the "here-and-now" of their responses. They demonstrated an appreciation for the difficultiesof producing art works and understood that it takes a great deal of work andperseverance to become a good artist. The subjects where able to distinguishbetween real and imaginary objects, but displayed a "preoccupation with realism."(Gardner, Winner, Kircher, 1975, p.68). At this stage, subjects demonstrated95some understanding of style but no conception as yet of formal aesthetic propertiesin the works viewed.The oldest subjects, those demonstrating what the researchers termed as-mature - responses, were - capable of a broader, more complex and cognitive viewof art" (Gardner, Winner, Kircher, 1975, p.65). They were open to expressivenon-literal rendering of subject matter, but as yet, had not elicited an understandingof the expressive potential that formal qualities in art works can convey. The modalresponses of this subject group revealed an appreciation of the direction -artisticcreation" could take in terms of style and different media, and art was able to thentake on significance as a medium for personal and universal expression. Althoughthese subjects showed marked appreciation for imaginative and expressive works ofart, they continued to demonstrate a preference for schematically representationalpaintings as compared to non-objective imagery. Responses were characterized bya tolerance for many different ways and occasions for creating art rather than by theoften narrow and contradictory views of the two younger groups.Through the findings of this research, it is posited that the theory ofdevelopmental aesthetic sensitivity is supported, in that it becomes apparent thatmechanisms used for understanding art change as an individual matures. Gardner,Winner and Kircher (1975) pointed out that there is no evidence that the stages ofthought are taught or imitated: rather they appear to be spontaneous constructions ata certain developmental stage" (p.74). Because this study makes no attempt toanalyze the previous art experiences of the subjects, the aforementioned commentby the researchers makes claims beyond the context of the study. The researchersdid not probe the art education histories and experiences of the subjects so as toidentify aesthetic development as "spontaneous" and not "taught" or culturally96bound. Again, development in aesthetic sensitivity was identified, but no effortwas made to analyze the consequences of instruction or contextual influences onaesthetic development so as to account for its effect(s) in regards to the behaviouralphenomena observed.A fifth study, conducted by Rosenstiel, Morison, Silverman and Gardner(1978), identifies the necessity for understanding the development of aestheticsensitivity so as to better understand what training should be engendered at specificgrade levels in art education classes. The researchers acknowledge the findings ofthe previously cited studies but go on to identify if. when and how children begin to- distinguish" between personal preferences, community preferences and whatidentifies -technical competence". The researchers randomly selected subjects(N=180) from grades one (n=45), three (n=45), six (n=45) and ten (n=45), allchosen from suburban area school classrooms. The subjects were asked threequestions: 1) "Which painting do you like best?"; 2) "Which painting do you thinkother people would like the best?"; and 3) "Which painting do you think is paintedthe best?" (Rosenstiel, Morison, Silverman and Gardner. 1978, p.97). Theanswers the subjects provided to the questions were itemized and then separatedinto nine "subordinate" categories by the researchers, and the percentage ofresponses pertaining to the nine categories within each grade level were thencalculated. It was found that subject groups from grades one, three and sixdemonstrated similar responses in that little variation existed between a subject'spersonal preference, perceived community preference and technical qualitypreference. An increased ability to identify differences in the questions came withan increase in age. The developmental trends of age specific responses identifiedmore varied responses paralleling an increase in age. When subjects were asked97about personal preferences. their responses showed that - mood. theme andpainterly' surfaces are increasingly taken into account" by the older subjects(Rosenstiel, Morison. Silverman and Gardner, 1978. p. 105), and preference forcolor and subject matter decreased with age. When asked what painting thesubjects thought other people would like best, grades 3 and 6 subjects regularlycited specific persons and groups while the older group tended to refer to genresand personality types. The third question pertaining to the technical quality ofworks of art elicited the greatest variation in responses between first and tenth gradestudents. First grade students made comments -general in nature and similar totheir answers for questions one and two, whereas third grade student statementsshowed an admiration for technical realism, and a slightly higher tendency to referto the works painterly qualities or to suggest the relevance of art history. It is notuntil grade ten, however, that students were likely to refer to formal qualities withinthe work or to demonstrate an ability to operatively utilize terms specifically relatedto art criticism.The researchers themselves identify possible limitations of the methodologyused; it being suggested, that children's limited vocabulary may have proved as astumbling block for fully actualizing, through dialogic interactions, how thesubjects perceived and felt about the art works. They state that "it is quite possiblethat children could make finer discriminations but were handicapped by a limitedvocabulary for discussing the topic" (Rosenstiel, Morison. Silverman and Gardner,1978, p. 105). Such an understanding serves to suggest a threat to the internalvalidity of the findings in that students may be sensitive to more than they are ableto express verbally. Because of the limited verbal ability of young students, theirresponses may be only revealing a part of their actual experiences. The power of98conventional discourse to constrain and homogenize subject responses is thusrealized.Going on to point out the educational implications of the findings derived fromthe study, the researchers suggest that in understanding the sequence ofdevelopment of aesthetic sensitivity (as cited in previous studies and as supported inthe study presently cited) procedures for implementing age appropriate aestheticinstruction can be identified. Rosenstiel, Morison, Silverman and Gardner (1978)suggest that it makes little sense, for instance, to invoke diverse critical standardsamong first graders or to focus on issues of mood or message among thirdgraders—these topics seem out of reach of the average child of this age" (p.105).These conclusions, however, depart from the specific context of the study. in thatthe study attempted to determine age specific characteristic reactions to art works;there being no attempt made to ascertain whether first graders were capable ofaddressing -diverse critical standards" or whether third graders were capable ofunderstanding notions of "mood or message" within an art work. The researchersin no way attempted to engage young students in such activities so as to determinetheir ability or lack of it in synthesizing these concepts. Rosenstiel, Morison,Silverman and Gardner (1978) themselves in fact acknowledge in their concludingparagraph that, "It is worth noting in conclusion, a confirmation of the generallylow degree of aesthetic sensitivity among school children in this country" (p.106)and suggest this tendency to be a result of poor education in the field of aesthetics.In ascribing to a lack of effective aesthetic education, the researchers acknowledgethe limited education/exposure students receive in school toward developingaesthetic sensitivity. Regardless of this point, however, the researchers do notsuggest the possibility of age specific responses to art as being a lack of training or99contextually determined, and do not rule out such a possibility through theirresearch. Observer effects again threaten the internal validity of the researchbecause in suggesting that young subjects are not capable of certain aestheticperceptions, the researcher's are going beyond the context of their findings.SUMMARYThe studies reviewed employed qualitative research methodology to uncovernorms and patterns within subject responses to art. These qualitative studiestypically relied on the accumulation of evidence which identifies patterns withinbehaviour so as to impart the findings with interpretive significance. The validity ofthe claim which suggests normative standards within age related patterns ofbehaviour is not the issue in question here. Patterns which exemplify age specificclusters of common responses existed, as supported by the densely illustrated fielddata furnished as evidence by the researchers. What is in question, however, iswhether the data supplied conveys a comprehensive picture of the variablesinfluencing aesthetic understanding. It is posited by Parsons (1987) that thedevelopmental changes one exhibits within his/her responses to art are indicative ofexisting behavioural phenomena which exist as sequentially definitive experiencesstructured by a form of cognitive development specific to visual responses. Databases offered by Parsons and the related studies cited frame research findings insuch a way which excludes forms of inquiry that could be conclusive in challengingthe theories drawn. Cultural forces and societal guiding principles must be takeninto account if behavioural norms and developmental theories are to be consideredas foundationally and epistemologically sound. The following questions thus arise:100Are linearly defined stage developmental trends within aesthetic understanding. asdefined by Parsons (1987) and supported by the findings of Machotka (1966),Moore (1973), Gardner, Winner & Kircher (1975) and Rosenstiel. Morisen,Silverman & Gardner (1978), dependent on cognitive developmental growthpatterns, or are they formed and/or influenced through a complex system ofacculturation and socially defined expectations based on cultural normativestandards? It is not within the scope of the present study to verify aestheticunderstanding as a consequence of socio-culturally dependent influences. It is.however, the purpose of the present chapter to bring into question the validity of theconclusions made by Parsons (1987) which supports a stage theory of aestheticdevelopment in that the data offered does not validate such an inference based onthe methodological research formats provided. In accordance with thepostpositivist perspective taken by critical ethnographers, it may be maintained thatthe studies cited do not take into consideration the complex, contextually relativeand indeterminate nature of most human experience as a possible factor shapingWestern societal norms within aesthetic understanding. Convictions held byresearchers, bias inquiry mediated for the purpose of uncovering usable -foundational knowledge claims for aesthetic educational programs.The studies reviewed suggest that aesthetic understanding is developmental andcharacteristic of predefined age groups. It is suggested that if this were to holdtrue, appropriate age specific activities could be delineated for the implementation ofage appropriate programs for aesthetic development in schools (Parsons 1987).The developmental trends that the cited studies convey are legitimately validatedthrough the research methodologies employed. What is lacking however is aconsideration of the possible socially and historically dependent nature of the101researchers' positions and research findings. Dominant cultural traditions mayground understandings of normative patterns within behaviour as essentially innateand foundational in nature without challenging them as "socially constituted,historically embedded, and valuationally based" (Lather, 1991, p.52) possibilities.Guba (1992) points out the constructivist position which asserts that.the findings of any inquiry are literally created, relative to the particularinquirer and to the particular context in which the inquiry was carried out. Ifeither inquirer or context is changed different findings are created. Thedifferent findings are neither more or less true than the first, but onlydifferent. (p.19)The studies presented exemplify such context and perspective dependent relevancywithin the methodology provided, data obtained and theories derived. There is adirect interrelationship between the researchers' biases and the realities uncovered inthat, as exemplified in the cited studies, an ideological frame of reference engendersfindings which fosters the reproduction of a theorist's beliefs while subverting theeffective recognition of potentially content threatening ideological possibilities. Theresearch findings cited portray a fragmentary representation of phenomena as theydo not acknowledge the shaping and behaviour framing potential inherent todiscourses of dominant cultural power systems.The research studies reviewed engender such a theoretically dominatedprogram of study. In attempting to identify developmental logic structures withinhuman experience, Parsons (1987) has not considered the possibility of sociallycoercive practices as shaping responses before attributing conformity to essentialistbehavioural norms. Had Parsons excluded the effect of overt and covert socio-cultural expectations as instrumental in engendering consistency within subject102behaviours, he may have empowered his claims relating existing generalizedpatterns as developmentally and "objectively" determined. Not having done so, themethodology employed does not allow for a stage theory of aesthetic developmentto be validly claimed as sound knowledge based on the procedures engendering itsformation.In the following chapter, the present study will be furthered by addressing themoral limitations of adhering to a structural program such as Parsons' by examininghow its inherent features serve to regiment and limit behavioural possibilities.103CHAPTER FOURTHE PRACTICAL, MORAL AND ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF ACURRICULA BASED ON PARSONS' THEORY OF AESTHETICDEVELOPMENTCHAPTER OVERVIEWThe first section of this chapter will attempt to characterize structural basedtheories, so as to allow for a critical examination of the limitations they inherewithin pedagogical practice. The structural nature of Parsons' theory will beconveyed and outlined as it impartially orders and defines aesthetic developmentalunderstanding in relation to Eurowestern art world traditions. In the second sectionof this chapter, the theoretical absolutes within a structural delineation of theaesthetic experience will be critically examined for their moral and ethicalimplications as engendered within a postmodern perspective.IDENTIFYING THE STRUCTURAL NATURE OF PARSONS'THEORYParsons' (1987) theoretical analysis of aesthetic understanding displays anordering and defining of behavioural phenomena characteristic of structural theory.It is an analysis of human responses which aims at uncovering generalities withinbehaviour patternings so as to provide a cohesive descriptive order to phenomena.Gardner (1972) points out that:The structuralists are distinguished first and foremost by their ardent104powerfully held conviction that there is structure underlying all humanbehaviour and mental functioning and by their belief that this structure canbe discovered through ordering analysis, that it show cohesiveness andmeaning, and that structures have generality. (p.10)In a like fashion, Parsons' theory clearly organizes a behavioural framework foraesthetic understanding by distilling, through research findings, distinct age specificresponse generalizations and expectations. A structuralist theory. such as Parsons',attests to the systematization of existing experiential phenomena within the aestheticexperience as bounded by ordering principles. Thus, his theory renders explicit therules and norms for reasoning about art as they exist incrementally anddevelopmentally with the presupposition that behavioural phenomena can beattributed to explanatory frameworks possessing an inherent and explicit logicalityand order (see Culler. 1975). In this way, Parsons theory of aesthetic developmentexemplifies a tendency characteristic of structural theoretical approaches toknowledge which objectify the nature of the - systems - underlying an event (seealso Scholes, 1974). By clearly delineating and characterizing five unique stages ofcognitively related and conceptually based aesthetic understandings, Parsons isable to offer conventions attestable to the aesthetic experience as definitive anddeterminately organized. A -coherent system" for understanding how peoplerespond to art at various stages of development is thus fostered through the use of astructuralist orientation.In attempting to give order to a phenomenon and to offer a standardized designwithin visual preferential response patterns, Parsons (1987) synthesizes, throughresearch data, a model of insights individuals sequentially acquire. He identifies,through discoursive questioning and discussions, stage specific sequentially105arranged understandings individuals actualize which are attained in a non-arbitrarysequence of increasing conceptual complexity. The constructed formal frameworkidentifying such a generative pattern hierarchically describes how individualschange in their experiences and appreciation of art. By making no qualifyingcontextual requirement for the acquisition of competency in the stage levelsdelineated, Parsons implies that response behaviours exist as the product of a stablepattern within normative development. Incrementing one's conceptually basedappreciation of art is defined as limited within the boundaries of cognitive specificabilities maintained in a chronologically ordered sequence of conceptualpossibilities. By noting patterns within art preferences as exemplified in age relatedclusters of common response behaviours, Parsons sequences conceptualdescriptors and gives system and structure to aesthetic understanding. Thedevelopmental framework employed for definitively ordering aesthetic abilities isconveyed in the following passage:... we acquire them—some of them—gradually, i.e., in a sequence ofsteps, each of which is basically a new insight. These steps have anonarbitrary sequence. Some must be acquired before others. Adevelopmental account identifies the steps that a particular domain requires.and the sequence of our learning them. It plots the growth of ourconstructions as we gradually come to understand a major area of cognition.(Parsons, 1987, p.10-11)Parsons describes the structurally framed nature of the responses given by subjectswith an explicit intention to offer behavioural patterns, while attributing an existingdevelopmental sequence as foundational in nature. Such a segmented andhierarchical structuring of the developmental itinerary simplifies the complexity of106the tasks involved in the teaching of aesthetics by delineating objective criteria to beaspired to at each level of understanding so as to gage "progress" or development.Parsons points out that the value of such a methodological ordering of aestheticconcepts lies in the framework it provides for making age appropriate contentdecisions in the teaching of aesthetics. His stage theory of aesthetic development"offers some general explanations and predictions of what will be suitablychallenging at different stages, and some guidelines for selecting such works inparticular cases" (Parsons, 1991, p. 371). Thus identifying behaviouralexpectations within aesthetic responses orient educators in content decisions withinaesthetic educational programs that facilitate recognition of "appropriate"educational guidelines for the instruction of aesthetics at various grade levels. AsCherryholmes (1988) puts it with respect to the utility of structural theories inpedagogy, "knowing rules means knowing how to proceed" (p.4).This aspect of structural theory is of particular importance to the instruction ofaesthetics in that it has frequently been dismissed from practical application withinclassroom practices because of an inherent elusiveness and intricateness of contentpossibilities (Hamblin, 1986; 1988; Dorn, 1981). It is posited by Redfern (1985)that "within the thinking of many educationists today aesthetic education is asomewhat amorphous notion which makes both for widespread theoreticalconfusion and for practical shortcomings in many classrooms . . . . as a subject oftheoretical investigation and as a practical enterprise aesthetic education isenormously complex and demanding" (pp.x-xi). The concept of aesthetics,therefore, in lacking potential for a unitary definition among art educators, does notreadily facilitate its inclusion into art programs (Abbs, 1989; Kaelin, 1989). AsAbbs (1989) notes:107One of the major confusions in the teaching of the arts revolves around theword aesthetic remains a crucial term for both the renewal andunification of the arts in education, yet it is a term that is constantlymisunderstood and even maligned. (p.75)Research findings such as Parsons' (1987) would then seem to offer an insightfulsolution to the complex and congested melange of options facing art instructors inthe teaching of aesthetics. The problem. however, arises when one questions theindiscriminate applicability of Parsons' age specific findings to real worldexpectations in students. Does consistency exist within the responses of designatedage groups because of limitations within developmental cognitive potentials or dosituational expectations serve to restrict and structure given responses?Parsons' (1987) philosophical viewpoint, that specifies Eurocentric norms as abasis from which to elicit discussions on art works, intersects only thoseunderstandings complying with perspectives dominating and comprisingmainstream culture. For example, Parsons' (1987) himself identifies theideological bias which his research is grounded in:I too have been as much influenced by artists and philosophers of art as bypsychologists, and the focus of my analysis is on concepts that weordinarily use when we talk about art .... For example, we ordinarily lookto art for beauty, expressiveness, style and formal qualities. Our aestheticdevelopment consists precisely in coming to understand concepts like thesein increasingly adequate ways. (p.12-13)The ideological basis for Parsons' aesthetic distinctions hinges upon the premise ofa unified intersubjectivity based in Eurowestern traditions which are presented asfoundational representations that totalize the aesthetic experience and formalize its108nature. This results in anything outside of the ideologically determinatediscourses—those of dominant Western art traditions—being marginalized withinthe procedural methods employed in the research study. Parsons participates toselectively isolate the corpus of behavioural characteristics available for subjectdiscussions by ordering questioning procedures in accordance with predefinedWestern world masternarratives which incur a normalizing and totalizing structureto the research project. The potential for the expression of marginalized groupdiscourses within responses is limited by the privileging of one ideologicalviewpoint over another in objectifying the aesthetic experience in the form of astructure .In effect, the logic of Western cultural discourses immanently frame thelegitimacy of Parsons' (1987) design which in itself decidedly concurs with a self-validating foundational bias provides grounds for self-representation—that of theresearcher's ideology—while denying potential for the expression of subordinategroup understandings. The philosophical basis to which the researcher ascribessuggests the possibility of the existence of ahistorical theoretical absolutes manifestoutside of socio-cultural influences which function to order human behaviour andunderstanding. Parsons renders explicit the conventions engendered within eachdevelopmental stage not so as to uncover possible contextual catalysts contributingto stage response descriptions, but simply to determine the objective nature of thestage system itself. His argument exists as unchallenged by the research findings inthat it is presented according to a non-relativistic view of reality which does notacknowledge, or leave space for the - macro-social - structural determinants ofhuman behaviour. Culler's (1975) description of structuralist analysis exemplifiesthe methodological premises of such an approach:109Structural analysis does offer a particular type of explanation. It does notattempt, as phenomenology might to achieve empathetic understanding: toreconstruct a situation as it might have been consciously grasped by anindividual subject and hence to explain why he chose a particular course ofaction. Structural explanation does not place an action in a causal chain norderive it from the project by which a subject intends a world ... (p.27)A structuralist system of inquiry, as that used by Parsons, does not address thecultural coding actants which effect generative processes of individualunderstanding. Rather than explain the phenomenological or interactive processesinfluencing and governing perception within aesthetic experience, Parsons limits theportrayal of the phenomena studied to foundational links between aestheticexperience and a determinate organismic relationship that governs its experientialcharacteristics. He makes the connection between aesthetic stage specificdevelopment and forms of cognition specifically tailored for aestheticunderstanding. Contextual sources which are instrumental in engenderingperceptual biases or abilities in individuals are not identified nor considered in theirrelation to the phenomena studied. In acknowledging the basis for aestheticunderstanding and responses to be universalizable, normative and totalizing due tothe presupposition of the "shared" nature of cognitive structures found in subjectswhen assimilating art works visually, Parsons fails to examine the role andinfluence of experiential variables as potential sources for the engenderment ofconceptually based aesthetic understanding. It therefore becomes necessary to ask:Are the common structured features of aesthetic responses organismic in nature, orare they produced by the qualifying effects of dominant cultural discourses oncognition?110Parsons (1987) does not explore the specific stimulus factors which mightengender the preferential awarenesses maintained by subjects in relation to theirpersonalized experiences with art. In not considering the socio-cultural catalyststhat shape subject responses, the researcher denies consideration of variabledominant sources on which he himself hinges the development of aestheticunderstandings. Parsons (1987), in fact, acknowledges that one must realizeconceptual challenges so as to attain a broader and higher level of perceptualabilities, specifically pointing out that actualizing conceptual prowess typifiedwithin incrementations in aesthetic understanding is dependent on experience:Where individual people wind up in this sequence depends on what kinds ofart they encounter and how far they are encouraged to think about them.(p.5)He similarly points out that:... aesthetic development requires significant interaction with artworks andhard work struggling with them. Because, like all cognitive developmentaltheories, it is a cognitive conflict approach. (Parsons, 1991, p. 371)Although Parsons (1987; 1991) recognizes a relationship between encounteringconceptual structures through exposure and attaining an understanding of thosestructures, he does not infer any possibility of altering the delineated pattern ofdevelopment based on alternate patterns of conceptual encounters, exposures andchallenges. A structuralist account of the phenomena studied, does not necessitatefor an exploration of the possible situationally dependent nature of responsepatterns which function to incur the behaviours observed. Parsons' belief in thestatic structures inherent to the organismic character of aesthetic developmentalunderstanding does not require an inquiry into the causal variables which might111serve to instill variation in the quality and nature of the aesthetic experiences. Thestage theory proposed clearly develops an agenda posited in the form of a grandmetanarratives embodying in its principle formation, theoretical absolutes foraesthetic understanding which serve in themselves to legitimate Western elitistdiscourses as maintained within fine art traditions. This is brought to bear in thestages outlined by the researcher that set out understandings which coincide withand parallel the major doctrines governing the creation of fine art within Eurocentriccultures. Ultimately, the centering of discourse in the ideals of dominant culture,does not allow for the possibility of expression of subordinate groups or for therecognition of alternate patterns adhered to in actualizing aesthetic pleasure from artworks. A structuralist orientation ascribing normative patterns for developmentalknowledge claims (such as Parsons' [19871) does not consider the relative nature ofaesthetic experience, but instead creates a working equilibrium from theconsequences of a hegemonically defined order (see Culler. 1978: Apple, 1990).In referring to Parsons' (1987) structural theory, it is necessary to recognize inits formulation an adherence to the continuity of the whole concept of Westernabsolutist traditions guiding research (see Lather, 1991). A poststructuralist,postmodern viewpoint acknowledges the diversity of possibilities engendered byattempting to transgress foundational knowledge systems which would allow forthe voicing of subordinated discourses of - disenfranchised" groups, societies orcultures to be heard (Freire, 1970; Spivak, 1992). The ideological influencesdominant in Parsons' structuralist perspective do not allow for the representation ofan agenda which accesses alternative understandings beyond those maintained andreproduced within the mainstream discourses pervading and upholding Westerncultural traditions. There is no acknowledgment of the differences and112counternarratives which may be perpetuated in a society that constitutes alternategroup representations based on race, ethnicity, class and gender affiliations. Thefollowing section of this chapter will consider, by way of a postmodernperspective, the ethical implications and moral consequences of initiatingpedagogical practices in school curricular programs based on a structurally definedframework such as that of Parsons' (1987) stage theory of aesthetic development.THE ETHICAL AND MORAL LIMITATIONS OF A STAGEDEVELOPMENTAL APPROACH IN THE TEACHING OFAESTHETICSA theory such as Parsons' (1987) which supports a Eurocentric elitist itineraryof aesthetic ideals and conceptual possibilities must be considered for the ethical andmoral implications its biased system of knowledge claims conveys. Withinsocieties which increasingly embrace greater numbers of multi-ethnic and minoritygroup populations (Kanpol, 1992), it is questionable whether a pedagogicalmethodology which normalizes behavioural expectations to the status quo, justlyserves the needs of all concerned. There exists,wide evidence from many countries that cultural and class groups developvery different needs and interests, that have had to be addressed withdifferent social and education policy solutions. (Corson, 1992, p.193)Pedagogical practices, then which are based on established a priori structuredsystems should be considered for their suitability to the different socio-culturalpopulations they affect before being implemented as standard educationalitineraries. Members of lower status groups are disadvantaged in school systems113which transmit only dominant cultural value systems in that their ow n culturalcapital must be repressed so as to allow for successful integration withinmainstream expectations. Conformative behavioural expectations imposed onstudents, by way of the perpetuation of rule systems which are insensitive toknowledge bases individuals maintain in relation to personalized codes and formsof discourse, instill a sense of inadequacy within understandings that deviate fromthe status quo.The recent impetus evident in contemporary critical discourse has brought tolight a postmodern awareness of the limitations inherent within structural basedagendas derived from modernist paradigms. In this way the structural frameworkwithin Parsons' (1987) theory may be criticized for its underlying modernistpremises that frame stable, elitist categories as defining totalizing principles inherentto the aesthetic experience. The definitive polarization of conceptual thought withinstructuralist mandates creates an unrealistic determinism evident in such a stance.Ultimately, this has led to the demise of its popularity within recent interpretiveparadigms, as Apple (cited in Lather 1991) suggests:The program of making everything knowable through the supposedlyimpersonal norms and procedures of "science - has been radicallyquestioned. The hope of constructing a "grand narrative" either intellectualor political, that will give us the ultimate truth and will lead us to freedomhas been shattered in many ways. Reality it seems is a text, subject tomultiple interpretations, multiple readings, multiple uses. (p. vii)Apple discerns the existence of power frameworks which infuse society withdominant discourses presented under the guise of a "scientific - objectivity. Hequestions the existence of these "master narratives" by recognizing the possibility of114indiscriminant options within objective conditions and situational realities. Inpresenting concepts which advocate that the existence of multiple sets of powerrelations are inevitable" (Apple cited in Lather 1991. p. vii), Apple inadvertentlyreveals the limitations in stage models such as Parsons" (1987) as a conceptualcurricular tool from which to orient teaching practices. In essence dominantstructural mandates that designate uniformity within subject responses, relative tototalizing cultural expectations, do not allow for an appreciation of the existingpluralism of needs and understandings maintained by cultural, gender andsocioeconomic groups within contemporary societies.In place of doctrines articulating ultimate truths centered on foundational socialand scientific epistemologies, discourses now resonate an understanding of therelativistic nature of positional realities. There presently exists a socio-culturalawareness which highlights and privileges diversity, multiplicity and difference bycritically acknowledging a host of existing subject positions and social dialects.Jencks (1992) points out that the postmodern condition challenges monolithicelitism, to bridge the gaps that divide high and low cultures, elite and mass,specialist and non-professional or most generally put—one discourse andinterpretive community from another" (p.13 ). Postmodernism essentiallychallenges positivist belief systems which offer foundational models for guidingsocial policies that are absolute and totalizing in nature. Critical pedagogy, aphilosophical movement within education, derives its bias from a postmodernrespect for otherness and difference as it exists within human experience.Objective and definitive interpretations of knowledge claims are denied within suchorientations so as to allow for interpretive frameworks characterized by individualswho exemplify difference based on divergent affiliations grounded in their class,115gender, age and race related experiences.A structurally limited educational program which offers dominant classtendencies as normative in nature may be questioned in relation to the moral andethical implications inherent to pedagogical agendas that enforces Eurocentricunderstandings on marginalized group populations. Siegel (1990) qualifies theethics of education as it is exemplified within the principles of critical theory:.. ethical considerations arise in educational contexts in that how weteach—our manner of teaching—has an ethical as well as an instrumentalside. We want to teach effectively, so that learners stand a good chance oflearning; however, our methods of instruction must meet certain moralstandards if they are to be acceptable. For instance. instructional methodswhich call for physical or psychological abuse of the learner are morallyobjectionable, no matter how effective. (p.42)Although Parsons' (1991) stage theory of aesthetic development provides anordered framework which supports a workable system for the teaching ofaesthetics. The structuralist approach adopted would concomitantly serve todisenfranchise subordinate group perspectives in its objectives goals, and purposes.Individuals, in an attempt to aspire toward success within given institutionalizednorms must, to a great extent, deny the value of their own personalized culturalcodes based on age, race, class and gender membership so as to succeed withindominant socio-cultural expectations. Thus, aesthetic pedagogical programs whichdo not address the perspective understandings of marginalized groups offer amethodology which, by way of excluding subordinate group orientations. implythat there is an inferior quality inherent within such perspectives. In notrecognizing belief systems external to the Eurocentric paradigm. instructional116methods are impoverished in their potential to instill confidence or a sense ofpsychological assuredness in minority groups. Negative psychological dimensionsare brought to bare on the act of learning through the denigration of certain beliefsystems in that the traditions they maintain are denied enunciation in the classroom.Thus the egalitarian principles underlying the foundational concepts of a right toequality of representation in education are undermined by practices founded strictlywithin Western based philosophies.Giroux (1988c) points out that morally and ethically correct educational policiesshould enhance possibilities for furthering a dialogue that allows for an accurate andfull exchange of views, and that such practices involve using situational conditionswhich foster quality learning while maximizing an individuals potential to succeed.Fostering "quality learning" for all populations within socio-culturally diversifiedcommunities cannot be based on seemingly objective systems of knowledge. Thispresupposition is based on the premise that perceptual and experiential biases arenot generalizable in character, but exist moreover as relative to personalizedhistories and customs. Programs which treat the individual as a commodity bysubscribing to foundational views of knowledge do not appropriate codes which arefamiliar and comfortably suitable for all individuals. World views maintained bysubordinate group population which are based on personalized context dependentunderstandings are denied a place of communicable importance within thehegemonic order subscribed to by foundational research based agendas such asParsons (see Apple. 1990; Lather, 1991; Cherryholmes. 1988).If Parsons' (1987) schema were to be appropriated, art pedagogy would beorganized around a core curriculum based on the reinforcement of an educationalsystem designed to reproduce itself according to the canons of knowledge which it117sanctions its students to possess. Thus, the capability of students to reveal genuineindividuality in questioning opinions, belief systems or methods "modeled" andupheld in art classrooms becomes restrained due to limited acceptance of non-dominant ways of thinking which are ultimately cultivated in Eurocentricallyoriented school programs. Such pedagogical situations present a hiddencurriculum, by way of modelling programs of study which are to some extentdiscriminatory, conveying a narrow mindedness which does not foster empathy foralternate ways of seeing. Siegel (1990), referring to modes of critical thinking,suggests that a student's moral education should include the development of certaindispositions and habits which include:... a willingness and an ability to face moral situations impartially ratherthan on the basis of self-interest, for adequate moral behavior demands suchimpartiality. Hand in hand with impartiality is empathy, for the maturemoral agent must be able to put herself in the position of others, and grasptheir perspective and feelings, if they are to take seriously into considerationthe interests of others; the development of empathy as a moral sentiment isthus equally a part of adequate moral education. Likewise, a morally matureperson must recognize the centrality and force of moral reasons in moraldeliberation, and moral education must strive to foster that recognition.Such -rational virtues" as impartiality of judgment, ability to view mattersfrom a variety of non-self interested perspectives, and recognition of theforce of reasons, to name just three such virtues, are indispensable to moraleducation. (p.43)A developmental theory, such as Parsons'(1987), exhibits a specific delineation ofappropriate and valued response patterns which in itself does not leave space for the118engenderment of open recognition for alternate perspectives. In confining aestheticpossibilities to a designated sort of reasoning at various developmental levels,Parsons sets up a structure which exemplifies rigidity and correctness in responsesto art that do not allow for an empathy of otherness to be fostered in relateddiscourses. Cherryholmes (1988) cites Wittgenstein (1953) in stating that"Discourses are not composed by randomly choosing works and statements.Instead, rules constitute and regulate language use" P.3). These rules, asCherryholmes further explains, are relative to accepted cultural and social exemplardefinitions. It is here posited that the power of ideological arrangements withinsociety and a given culture may serve to shape subjective appraisals. This positionsuggesting, in a system such as Parsons, that an individual is denied a degree offreedom due to a psychological need to realize a comforting degree of familiaritywithin the designated norms of one's cultural and social milieu. If there are onlyEuro-classic conventions conveyed within teacher expectations, educatorsthemselves, then, limit experiential possibilities by communicating a dispositionwhich suggest the superiority of dominant understandings over that of others. Apedagogical program that does not offer lower status group representation in itscurricula perpetuates biases which instill a partiality for certain belief systems overthose of others thus perpetuating forms of prejudice by way of selective exemplarrepresentation.Parsons' (1987) stage theory does not allow free development of perceptualexperience in that each stage is sequentially defined by the definition of stagespecific behavioural dictates. In adhering to ultimate dogmas of exemplarbehaviours, the objectification of aesthetic responses within a fixed pattern ofdevelopmental progress, renders the student, in the eyes of the pedagogue or the119institution, a homogeneous and indistinguishable subject to be weaned through theassimilative stages of a theory such as Parsons'. In essence, the structuralconception of aesthetic response becomes a means for regenerating the dominantsocial norm in schooling because it leaves no space for recognizing contextualbased difference among individuals (see Bourdieu & Passeron. 1977). Theperpetuation of normative standards in educational objectives, to be met in aestheticpedagogy by the teacher in relation to the student, commodities the content of thesubject area and diminuates it by transforming it to a form of cultural capital(Bourdieu, 1984). What is implied by an adherence to the hierarchical andsequential progression delineated in Parsons' stage theory. is the suppression ofhuman agency which would personalize, through experiential variance, aestheticbehavioural expectations and endeavours. Simply put, Parsons' theory does nottolerate the deviation of the subject from its structuring of human experience, butdepends on willing conformity to universalize its claims. Parsons theory, in thisfashion, perpetuates the researchers culturally based values in regard to thepossibilities within the aesthetic phenomenon by conveying the transmission of apersonal cultural heritage as absolute. Such a structural system posits and enforcesa sense for the habitus, or the socio-cultural rules which have been manifest due toexposure within a given environment (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977). The habitusis rendered identical for each student thus fostering data which is indicative of theperspective which Parsons adopts in suggesting universals within the developmentof aesthetic responses in all peoples. Uniformity is not attributed to powersystems, which do not apprehend themselves as such, in that the relative nature ofaesthetic experiences are misrepresented in the form of objective truths (Bourdieuand Passeron, 1977; Bourdieu, 1984)). In adopting authoritative research based120instructional programs, such as that offered by Parsons. educators privilege theillusion of a socially valid consensus of viable options in respect to aestheticdevelopmental potentials. Structured procedural guidelines, although they mayoffer effective means for transmitting dominant cultural systems of appreciating art,do not provide for an empathy and critical appreciation of alternate viable aestheticpossibilities. Parsons' developmental program which identifies ordered restrictionsto the development of aesthetic preferences places limits on individual freedom forgenerating and engendering perceptual preferences. In not addressing the effect ofdifference existing due to race, class and ethnicity, the structure Parsons detailsdoes not allow for an appreciation of aesthetic principles which permeates theconfines of a Eurocentric dominated discourse.Parsons (1987) posits a foundational conception of - natural - stages asbiological and determinate in nature, over considering the situational dependencyfor the perpetuation of their distinctions. Dominant cultural discourses serving toperpetuate a uniformity in his own perception of the aesthetic experience as well asthat of the subjects interviewed are not acknowledged as a limitation to thegeneralizability of research outcomes. The habitus which serves to form normswithin a designated socio-cultural milieu is thus not take into consideration.Bourdieu and Passeron (1977) convey situational realities which procurecommonality within subject understandings in the following passage:Insofar as it is the arbitrary imposition of a cultural arbitrary presupposingPedagogic authority, ie. a delegation of authority which requires thepedagogic agency to reproduce the principles of the cultural arbitrary whicha group or class imposes as worthy of reproduction both by its veryexistence and by the fact of delegating to an agency the authority needed in121order to reproduce it pedagogic action entails pedagogic work, a process ofinculcation which must last long enough to produce a durable training, i.e. ahabitus, the product of internalization of the principles of a cultural arbitrarycapable of perpetuating itself after pedagogical action has ceased and thereby'of perpetuating in practices the principles of the internalized arbitrary. (p.31)The habitus involves normative conditioning which allows the reproduction ofdominant class understandings through implicit and explicit transmission ofmainstream value systems for the regeneration of normative values and ideals. Inthis respect pedagogical agendas are patterned on a "centered" way' of seeingultimately' serve to privilege dominant group understandings while relegatingalternate belief systems as inferior in relation to the perspective they offer. Giroux(1988a) questions the value of definitively structured programs of instruction whichemanate Eurowestern world norms and ideologies as far as they can be consideredgenerically efficient, and effective methods for guiding instruction. The ideology'shaping Parsons' (1987) expectations and students stage related behaviours can betraced to prevalently biased Eurowestern codes of aesthetic perception. Examiningstage one of Parsons' developmental theory, which is characterized by anidiosyncratic attitude to art works, it is evident that individuals at such an early agehave not yet been assimilated into socially appropriated codes governing aestheticresponses. Stage two, however, involves a developing interest in realism whichhas existed since ancient times as a prevailing preoccupation within Western artworld expectations. Such artistic traditions valorize iconic representations of realworld phenomena in relation to the artists ability to offer an illusion of realityfaithful to the ideals evident in the forms found in nature. Stage three similarlycommunicates an expectation of art which has manifest itself as a tenet within122Eurocentric artistic ideals. This stage of development is characterized by anappreciation for art which communicates emotions and expressive contentpictorially. Stage four also engenders a representation of well-worn values derivedfrom Western artistic traditions which privilege a transcendental quality inherentwithin formal arrangements. Parsons ultimately places this form of artisticappreciation within the higher levels of aesthetic awareness. Stage five exemplifiesresponses to art which are mature in lower level understandings thereforefacilitating a more personalized and eclectic selection of concepts in actualizing artcriticism and art appreciation promulgated through exposure and disciplinedtraining. The ideological parameters within which Parsons limits his thematic basedquestioning do not allow for the expression of responses relevant to non-Eurocentric traditions of aesthetics concepts. Recognized are the responses thatdraw on and reproduce the existing structures within Western traditions in artconcerning discussions centered on topics such as those mentioned above, e.g.,form, color, expression and technique.The stages Parsons' (1987) identifies may thus be perceived as serving tovalorize only those aesthetic concepts relevant to mainstream agendas whilemarginalizing alternate perceptions and visual modes of appreciating art. These"instructional" methods, in denying the value of non-dominant art preferences,shape one's appreciation of art through the lens of dominant cultural ways ofseeing. Concomitantly, subordinate groups are required to willingly disenfranchisetheir own cultural heritage as conceptually inferior based on the normative standardsconveyed within institutional expectations. Methods of instruction which enforcecommodification and consensus within aesthetic awareness to mainstreamperceptual systems, may be considered as morally objectionable in that individuals123must undergo a form of "psychological abuse" which, as subtle as it might seem,serves to disparage one's pride in personalized codes and forms of art appreciationthat do not adhere to the readily accepted dominant cultural norms. Similarly, inconveying Eurocentric elitist value systems as absolute, Parsons system of aestheticdevelopment does not engender moral standards in students as they may bedetermined within an attitude of empathy and appreciation for the possibility ofotherness. A theory of aesthetic understanding which constitutes a totalizingperspective of the experience, as it normatively develops within the institutionalnorms engendering its consistency, thus regulates the imposition of a Euro-Westernelitist value system as an ultimate depiction of the aesthetic experience. Anunderstanding such as this bounds and constitutes meaning within the aestheticexperience which denies an awareness of an existing pluralism that morerealistically frames the forms of understanding actualized by the increasing numbersof multi-ethnic and non-dominant minority groups which constitute a largepercentage of school populations.SUMMARYThe first section of this chapter offered a descriptive analysis of structuralisttheories so as to allow for a critical review of the conceptually biased limitationsinherent within such theoretical descriptions. A structural theory which organizesaesthetic responses, as that posed by Parsons (1987), was reviewed so as toilluminate the narrowness of vision which is offered through a structurally andideologically based methodology that intersects only Eurocentric norms in defining124the nature of aesthetic experience. The second section of this chapter delineates acultural condition which embraces the multiplicity of needs and interests individualsmaintain based on understandings grounded in divergent class, gender and ethnicaffiliations. A postmodern appreciation for diversity and otherness was conveyedso as to critically examine the moral, practical and ethical implications imposed onindividuals by an ideologically centered system of study such as that proposed byParsons. Although Parsons' stage theory offers a practical and efficient means forincrementally introducing aesthetic concepts to students, it may be criticized in thatit valorizes only dominant cultural discourses while marginalizing alternate aestheticexperiential possibilities. A program of instruction based on Parsons delineation ofaesthetic development would serve to disenfranchise and disadvantage individualswithin subordinate group populations, thus limiting their potential for successwithin such partial systems of study. Similarly, Parsons' theory in offering strictlyEurocentric ideals as ultimate in nature, facilitates, by way of modelling,discriminatory programs of study that do not foster empathy for otherness andalternate ways of seeing. Within the philosophical predispositions conveyed incritical pedagogy, the philosophy to be extensively delineated in Chapter Five,educational practices such as those supported by Parsons theory, would impede acritical appreciation of difference among students. Critical pedagogy, moreover,advocates educational programs which allow individuals to view phenomena from avariety of non-self interested perspectives while simultaneously instilling aconfidence to actualize a personalized code of possible understandings.CHAPTER FIVEAESTHETIC DEVELOPMENT AND CRITICAL PEDAGOGYCHAPTER OVERVIEWThis chapter presents a conceptual analysis of critical pedagogy so as to foster acomparative assessment of its -behavioural - objectives in relation to those outlinedby Parsons' (1987) theory of aesthetic development. By delineating thebehavioural and philosophical orientation of critical pedagogy, the limitations withinParsons' developmental theory will implicitly be conveyed. The first section of thischapter will briefly introduce the conceptual precursors of critical pedagogy as theyexist in postmodern perspectives in order to facilitate the grounding of a deeperunderstanding of critical pedagogy itself. The second section of this chapter willcharacterize critical pedagogy in relation to the conceptual value system it maintainsas an educationally based philosophical orientation. A descriptive analysis of itseducational goals and practices will offer an understanding of the affectivebehavioural possibilities such a system of study might actualize within students'aesthetic developmental understandings. Parsons' prescriptive delineation of aconceptually defined system for responding to art will thus be brought into questionfrom the postmodern perspective of critical pedagogy.125126POSTMODERNISM AND ITS INFLUENCES ON CRITICALPEDAGOGYCritical pedagogy has surfaced as a theoretically developed program withineducation, its philosophical orientation grounded in the discourses of postmodernthought (Giroux, 1988c, 1990; McLaren. 1988). Essentially, there exists withinpostmodern theories a range of conceptual alternatives which discoursively conveythe complexity of a contemporary socio-cultural phenomenon reflected in criticalpedagogy. The present investigation will examine only the concepts withinpostmodern arguments that have influenced perspectives maintained in criticalpedagogy.The principle connection to be made between critical pedagogy and postmoderndiscourses lies in a realization of the limitations and repressive inadequacies withinthe foundational premises of the modernist paradigm. Postmodern theoriesaggressively refute modernist belief in the possibility of describing determinaterules and systems which premise a depiction of truth and reality as existingindependent of tradition, bias and prejudice (Harvey, 1990; see also Lyotard,1984). The philosophical groundwork for theorists in the postmodern age whooppose the dissemination of closed, totalizing systems of knowledge (Derrida,1976; Foucault, 1973; Lyotard, 1984 and others) was laid in the late Nineteenthcentury by the pre-postmodern philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche who disputed thelegitimacy of claims to the possibility of metaphysical truths, self explanatory causalsystems or objective conceptions of reality by attacking such absolutist positions aspretentious and illusionary in nature (Best & Kellner, 1991). Similarly, Foucault(1973), although never personally aligning himself to the postmodern cause, offers127an understanding of theoretical constituents which have served to fuel much of thepostmodern debate along these argumentative lines of inquiry. Modernistsystematized and prescriptive knowledge bases are critiqued as conveying areductive interpretation of phenomena in that norms are misrepresented as naturaland given over being considered as socio-historical constructs of power anddomination (Martusewicz, 1992). Postmodern theories in general question modernviews of objective knowledge and truth as being essentially repressive andreductionistic in nature. Foucault (1980) illuminates the power/knowledgedependent nature of rationality as it exists formed by incommensurable arrays ofhegemonically influenced belief systems. He posits a belief in the need to -respect .. . . differences, and even try to grasp them in their specificity - (Foucault, 1973,p.xii) so as to reflect on the inconsistencies within the ways in which the world maybe interpreted and read from personalized perspectives. Jencks (1992) similarlyreinforces the conception of difference as a hallmark of postmodernism whichmarks the end of a search for totalizing universals. No longer does (or can) theregional or particular serve as a model for regularizing and systematizingbehavioural expectations by suggesting equational absolutes governing phenomena:... the uncontested dominance of the modern world view has definitelyended. Like it or not the West has become a plurality of competingsubcultures where no one ideology and episteme dominates for long.(Jencks, 1992, p, 11)There exists a valorization of fragmentation and difference in postmodern rhetoricwhich suggests a plurality of discourses and modes of power that constitute societytoday. In identifying the need to be open to an indiscriminate range of possiblesubject positions, Foucault suggests that:128. we must not imagine a world of discourse divided between accepteddiscourse and excluded discourse ... but as multiplicity of discursiveelements that can come into play in various strategies. (cited inMartusewicz, 1992, p. 147)Modernist authoritative claims give primacy to Western, cultural reliance whilerepressing and disenfranchising peoples of marginal group identities based on race,class ethnicity or socio-cultural capital (Giroux, 1988c). Giroux (1988c) points outthat postmodernism provides a shift in power references which recognizes thelegitimacy of voices sustained within marginalized group representations. Jencks(1992) puts it succinctly in delineating what a postmodern perspective of educationinvolves:It is crucially important that free communication be safeguarded and a goodeducation provided for everyone. Otherwise, it is quite certain, we willcreate more vicious divides within society and between cultures, and deepenthe shame of a post-industrial society—the permanent underclass. Suchmoral points are not out of place. .. since every post-modern discourseemphasizes the interconnectedness of things. (p.36)Corollary to this understanding is the recognition of the indeterminacy constitutedfrom difference which requires a more open interpretive framework upon whichunderstandings can be critically negotiated. Through recognizing differences,power knowledge claims can be sublimated so as to privilege marginalized identitiesover idealizing norms and enforcing unity within subjects through visible orinvisible training, correction and/or normalization (Foucault, 1979).Lyotard (1984) furthers the argument which aligns the postmodern arena to anetwork of intersubjective realities, by including computer simulated images and129techno-pseudo realities within contemporary society as serving to complexifydiverse power/knowledge struggles that shape multiple possible stances. Simulatedrealities have so proliferated in contemporary society through video, computer,television and alternate forms of media that the boundaries separating the real fromthe fabricated are no longer clear. Simulations serve to shape understandings andknowledge, thus imposing a more intricate network of knowledge bases fromwhich subjectivities are realized. A fixed transcendental referent foundationallydefining reality within the existing complexity of cultural discourses and powersystems thus loses plausibility as a generically normative interpretation ofphenomenon. Lyotard (1984) echoes a typically postmodern stance in refuting thefoundational claims within modernist universals and metanarratives:Consensus does violence to the heterogeneity of language games. Andinvention is always born of dissension. Postmodern knowledge is notsimply a tool of the authorities; it refines our sensitivity to differences andreinforces our ability to tolerate the incommensurable. (p.75)Reflecting a fundamental given within postmodern discourses, the phrase"language games" refers to the incommensurable nature of individualunderstandings that refuse consensus due to the differing ideological orientationsmaintained within positional differences. It is suggested that claims to knowledge,then, can only be approached through the process of dissent. whereby thequestioning of differing perspectives functions to broaden one's awareness ofalternate discoursive possibilities within expression. These discoursive possibilitiesmust be scrutinized for their privileging of ideologies and for biased interpretationsgoverning the expression of content. Such is the case within postmodern readingsof real-world phenomena which are discursive or textual in nature embodying the130power of an ideologically influenced perspective.The postmodern relationship to historical knowledge claims is a contested issuewithin postmodern philosophies. It is generally maintained within postmodernthought that there is an acknowledged break in perspectives from the modern, butwhere the break leads to in the culmination of the logic of its arguments remains ahighly contested issue. Factions within the postmodern debate on one side see ourpresent post-modern condition as an apocalyptic acceptance of an end to history inthat all options have been totally exhausted, leaving no future from which to realizethe progression of history (see Kellner, 1988; Best & Kellner, 1991). Other moreoptimistic factions see the current postmodern condition as delineating arepresentation of the modern by aligning it to discourses of intertextual possibilities(Hutcheon, 1992; Jencks, 1992). Hutcheon (1992) points out that the pluralisticand fragmentary nature of the times have given rise to a need for a new form oftheorizing and expression which exist in the complexity of form represented withinpostmodernism. The complexity of a postmodern awareness is posited thatengenders an acceptance, if only a relative one, of the very belief systems itattempts to subjugate and - problematize by incorporating them within its corpus.In this fashion, perspective standards are immanently assessed so as to allow their"aesthetic forms and social formations to be problematized by critical reflection"(Hutcheon, 1992, p.77). Similarly, Stuart Hall (1986) points out that individualscan no longer uniquely subscribe to absolutes within understandings. It issuggested, however, that systematized traditions offer insightful knowledge claimswhich may be critically consumed for their relative value as discourses of differenceor otherness which strengthen or change the force of old arguments in light of therelative nature of newly incited perspectives. Theoretical absolutes are viewed as131having offered a - series of uneven developments that have emerged out of conflictsbetween traditional economic models and new cultural formations and modes ofcriticism . . .- (Giroux 1988c, pp.10-11). Although a postmodern perspectivesupports an acceptance of plurality and difference, it does so through a criticalanalysis of the discourse of the arguments posited in order to bring to the surfacethe unacknowledged or unintentional meanings, positions, etc. In thedeconstructing of perspectives, the power of their positions expressed are assessedby way of the traditions which effect their reality. Derrida (interviewed in Kearns& Newton 1980), the author of deconstruction theory (a constituent poststructuralperspective within postmodernism) conveys the illegitimacy of considering such a-deconstruction" to be a blind rejection of all knowledge claims:I would never say that every interpretation is equal ... The hierarchy isbetween forces and not between true and false.... I would not say thatsome interpretations are truer than others. I would say that some are morepowerful than others. The hierarchy is between forces and not between trueand false. There are interpretations which account for more meaning andthis is the criterion. (p.21)This line of argument is pursued to the statement of a position maintaining thatsome individuals argue that the meaning one engenders to experience is relative tothe "external and internal forces" which influence one's interpretation. The "systemof forces" (as Derrida refers to psychologically influenced factors) acting togenerate meaning-making potential however is never identical for any twoindividuals since each individual brings to their own experience a personalizedsystem of experiences and mental attitudes to all experiences which serves toconstitute the formation of a personal reality. Derrida (Kearns and Newton, 1980)132further qualifies by stating that.-No-one is free to read as he or she wants. The reader does not interpretfreely, taking into account only his own reading, excluding the author, thehistorical period in which the text appeared and so on.... I think that onecannot read without trying to reconstruct the historical context but history isnot the last work, the final key, of reading. (pp.21-22)Derrida's argument acknowledges the importance of possible intentional meaningsof texts, while simultaneously suggesting that such considerations are but a singleagent coloring perceptual experience. Perspectives are not consciously selected butdifferences within conditional experiences privilege a variety of stances thattherefore privilege an indeterminacy of positional definitions.Postmodern discourses engage critical analyses and interpretations which moveone beyond the personal idiosyncratic tendency to nurture - blind spots", overengendering a constant search for the possible in the unlikely or improbable. Suchan orientation becomes valorized when one considers Jencks' (1992)characterization of the postmodern condition:The uncontested dominance of the modem world view has definitely ended.Like it or not the West has become a plurality of competing subcultureswhere no one ideology and episteme dominates for long. (p.11)This complex diversification of perspectives engendered within contemporarysocieties requires an acceptance of the legitimacy of an interplay among a variety ofdiffering voices rather than their sublimation in monologue of a dominant discourseor metanarratives (Lyotard, 1984). Critical pedagogy offers an educationalorientation which is sensitive to the reality of a contemporary postmoderncondition, as will be conveyed within the following section.CRITICAL PEDAGOGYThis section aims to identify the characteristic features of critical pedagogy so asto consider its value within aesthetic education. The conceptual precursors whichhave influenced the movement will be outlined briefly in an attempt to facilitate adeeper understanding of the philosophical predispositions of the movement itself.Critical pedagogy will be reviewed by offering a description of the socio-culturalsituation which exists as fertile grounds for the movement within educationalpractices in schools. The movement will subsequently be characterized in relationto the conceptual value system it maintains as an educationally based philosophicalorientation. In effect. the theorized value of critical pedagogy, as a philosophicalfoundation for guiding teaching practices, will be presented so as to consider theinfluence such an orientation might have on the teaching of aesthetic education.Postmodernism, a societal "condition" of our times, has provided a milieu forthe development of critical pedagogy (Stanley, 1992). The term, critical pedagogy,relates and ultimately stems from the postmodern condition which focuses oncontextually based possibilities while denying the validity of universals in the formof metanarratives, or self-validating discourse (Kanpol, 1992; Giroux, I 988c:Stanley, 1992). Postmodernism essentially delegitimizes positivist tendencies tosupply objectivized solutions to questions regarding truth and reason whileappreciating the dependent nature of all understandings relative to unique andmultivariate experiences (Giroux, 1990; Lyotard, 1991; Derrida, 19'76: Baudrillard,1983). Within postmodernism, poststructuralism provides a mode of criticalanalysis which attempts to show how seemingly objective systems of knowledgeposited to explain -reality". or a given phenomenon. contain within the forms of133134their expression inherent perceptual biases which are not universalizable orgeneralizable as an explanation of -truth" (Kellner, 1988). In acknowledging themerits of valid but diversified points of view, postmodernism realizes a respect forunderstanding the otherness and difference which exists within all of humanexperience. Objective definitive interpretations of human behaviours withincultures and societies are rejected to make way for an acceptance of widerinterpretive frameworks which deny prescriptive, structural and definitiveapproaches to knowledge and the interpretive act itself (Kellner, 1989).Poststructuralism encompasses a way of thinking which is highlighted by arejection of objective and systematic knowledge claims (Cherryholmes, 1988;Lather, 1991). This way of thinking can be perceived as an inherently cynical or"playful" attitude which perpetually challenges ultimate readings as merely relativeto situationally viable but potentially variable stances which cannot be attributed toany transcendental basis for their legitimation (Derrida 1976). Poststructuralistsidentify stable objective knowledge claims as illusionary, grounded firmly incontextual situations which artificially enforce culturally and socially restrictednorms. Although poststructural approaches deny objectivity within perception,they do not repress all arguments, but realize arguments not as universals but asperspectives grounded on logical presentations of phenomena that are contextuallyperceived (Derrida 1976).Stanley (1992) points out that poststructural conceptions within postmodernarguments serve as a conceptual base which has directly influenced the tenets ofcritical pedagogy. Because the term critical pedagogy possesses obvious semanticconnotations, the early interpretations were taken to imply a form of pedagogywhich involves students in overtly critical exercises. The "critical" within "critical135pedagogy" relates to "critical theory which founds its critical perspective on aMarxist philosophical orientation. Critical theorist argue that individuals shouldstrive to emancipate themselves from political and economic domination (Stanley,1992; Kellner, 1989). Critical pedagogy emulates this basic philosophicalorientation in that it strives to maximize human freedom with a focus moreover onilluminating the oppressive power of the educational institution indeconstructive/reconstructive exercises which valorize potential plurality withinperspectives and discourses Giroux, 1988a, 1988d, Giroux. 1987: McLaren, 1991.1988).Many of the tenets of critical pedagogy can be traced back to the writings ofPaulo Freire (see Kaplan, 1991). Freire (1970) maintained the contention thateducational systems should foster in students the ability to constitute autonomousthinking and actions. Students should be encouraged to take an active role indeveloping personalized logically based systems of knowledge (see Kaplan, 1991).Freire (1970) points out that subordinate groups within a dominant culturalorientation become alienated within the status quo of the dominant culture. Headvocates school systems which perpetuate critical reflection by teachers andstudents alike so as to cultivate in individuals the ability to actively realize thelegitimacy of differences which do not subscribe a priori to oppressive structuralarrangements determined by authoritative institutional doctrines. The essentialexercise necessary in developing "critical literacy" in classrooms is then realizedthrough encouraging students to relay personal experiences so that throughreflecting upon their own discourse and that of others, they may actualizeprovisional but intelligibly framed arguments which are not governed byauthoritatively dictated understandings (Freire & Faundez, 1989). For Freire136(1970). reality is not determinate or fixed but continually dependent upon thecontextual factors which orient its construction. There is an appreciation forstudents' personal experience within Freirien pedagogical approaches. althoughconcomitantly, interpretive experience is acknowledged as troublesome if notmaintained through a critical discoursive awareness which qualifies the legitimacyof each claim as a language of possibility and not as a language of imposition (seeMcLaren, 1991). Criticism is seen as a means for broadening knowledge throughdialogic constructions which often times stem from deconstructive/reconstructiveexercises. By challenging arguments through employing critical discourse,students are able to mediate new understandings and circumvent the need toreproduce institutionally endorsed ideologies. Students criticize for the purpose ofuncovering new options and thus develop a broader and more encompassingawareness which ideally conceptually augments institutionally provided knowledgesystems.It may be said that critical pedagogy has developed from within a socio-culturalmilieu which has been increasingly insensitive to the reality of the postmoderncondition in which it exists (Stanley, 1992, Giroux, 1988b, 1988c). Contemporarysocieties are characterized in terms of a world of difference in which individuals areultimately considered to be constructed socially, politically, economically, etc. fromexposure to a diverse array of images, discourses, codes, etc. (Derrida. 1976:Lyotard, 1992; Giroux & McLaren, 1992; Spivak, 1992). The North Americanenvironment exemplifies a community of otherness which houses a wide variety ofindividuals who maintain difference by affiliations actualized through complexnetworks of gender, class, race, ethnic and age relations. The individualities whichinevitably exist within these societies, however are not given the freedom to137organize and assert personalized identities within school systems. which moreover.enforce subscription to authorized educational norms and policies. The freedom ofthe individual is thus narrowly determined by the perpetuation of dominantprescriptive understandings enforced through "democratic" rule and rule systemsexcluding the majority of participants because of their inherent differences.This attitude is taken by a number of critical pedagogues (McLaren, 1988,1991; Kanpol, 1992; Giroux, 1988a; Smyth, 1987) who ultimately question schoolrituals because they establish and perpetuate conformative behavioural expectationswithin students which exist as insensitive to the knowledge systems they hold inrelation to their personalized codes and forms of discourse (Giroux & McLaren,1992). Students are forced to comply with and commmodify their knowledgetoward the status quo so as to succeed within the delineated parameters of a schoolshegemonic order. As is maintained by Apple (1992, 1990), Bourdieu, (1984),Giroux (1988a, 1990), Lather (1991) and Cherryholmes(1988), the dominantcultural orientation transmits value structures within educational programs andendorses certain forms of knowledge and behaviours which facilitate itsreproduction and valorize its superiority over "lower level" understandings thuscreating a hierarchy based on conformity. Individuals from lower status groupsthus enter school systems at a disadvantage due to their relatively limited awarenessof "dominant culture" forms of knowledge. The understandings subordinategroups bring to the school setting are not supported by the hegemonic order ofschool curricula. An individual's class, gender and racial identity can work againsttheir attaining the optimum benefits provided from school systems which do notembrace the marginalized knowledge forms subscribed to within non-dominantworld views. Because North American societies increasingly constitute a138heterogeneity of populations and peoples. such a phenomenon within theeducational enterprise fails to offer a form of pedagogy which exists as necessarilyeffective for a large portion of groups represented within society. School systemsoften exhibit little appreciation and sensitivity to the understandings and potentialdivergent interests of lower status - groups (Giroux & McLaren, 1992 ).Kanpol (1992) identifies the importance of privileging differences by pointingout the need to supersede theories which highlight totalizing universals for anattitude which embraces the validity and legitimacy of differences. He similarlyidentifies the need individuals have to be members of social subgroups. Individualdifferences are appreciated while the existence of inherent identities relative to groupmembership must concomitantly be acknowledged. Kanpol (1992) conveys thisunderstanding in the following passage:Of course what must be established within schools are personal strugglesthat are not only separate and different—by race, class, or gender—giventheir discursive nature, but also intimately connected by theircommonalities. (p. 220)Critical pedagogy values norms as far as they exist within communities ofdifference. The purpose of educational practices is then seen as a program whichfacilitates and instills an empathy for otherness through critical reflection ondiscourse. Teachers facilitate this exploration of plausible perspectives by way ofdialogues which essentially illuminate a network of existing realities (Bromley,1989). Through dialogue, differences are understood and then woven intointerpersonal understandings for the purpose of an enriched perceptual reform.Young (1990) points out that for this genre of constructive learning to take place,classroom discourse must necessarily be reciprocal and should thus encourage139students to critically analyze the teachers' as well as fellow students' statements forthe purpose of expanding their own views. Critical pedagogues attempt to instatethe teacher's and students' authorities within the educational milieu for the purposeof identifying content relevant to the students' experiences which are not encased inthe modulated programs handed down through the preplanned and prepackagedcurricula of the ministry (Stanley, 1992).Towards this end, critical pedagogy does not identify predetermined anddefinitive learning outcomes. It allows the interpretive bias of individuals to realizethe central logic of presented areas of study beyond the confines of a delimitedperspective offered by a given - dominant group" reading. Michael Apple (1990)points out the indoctrinating powers of the institution through citing the practice ofdistribution of ready-made instructional packages which bypass any critical role theteacher or student might play in selecting materials for the learning process.Teachers and students alike are seen as cogs in a network governed by externalmanagerial organizers. A trend towards accountability, competence. excellence,and so on instated by standardized, measurable curricula enforce conformity for thepurpose of economic productivity and technological development (Stanley, 1991:Kellner, 1988 ; Giroux, 1988a). Such mainstream approaches to education tend toundermine the interests of marginal groups in that they promote inequality whileclaiming to reduce it through the provision that an equal education is provided to all(Bourdieu, 1984). Giroux (1988a) maintains the need to reevaluate schoolingsystems which treat students and teachers as consumers of commodifiedknowledge. He identifies the plight of critical pedagogy which aims to actualize inindividuals their active potential to counter domination through developing a facilityfor critical discourse which frees individuals from the need for rote-learning140(Goodman, 1988).As a theorist who has offered the most systematic outline of the merits andparameters of critical pedagogy, Giroux (1988a, 1988b. 1988d) maintains theimportance of unveiling the oppressive element of institutionalized knowledge. Thefollowing quotation by him exemplifies the philosophical nexus of critical pedagogywhich favors practices:That use the lived experiences in which students discover how they givemeaning to the world and how such meaning can be used reflectively todiscover its own sources and limits. (Giroux. 1990, p. 29)Within this self-reflexive experiential framework, pedagogy draws upon thestudents' awareness as a source of informational logic and interpretation guidingand motivating critical thinking relative to the act and function of learning. Giroux(1988a, 1988c, 1988d, 1987) emphasizes developing confidence in students tovoice ideas and not to veil and submerge the tacit, or more experientially derived,forms of understanding available to them. This process of applied reasoning canbe, as Blatz (1989) notes, - understood as the deliberate pursuit of well supportedbeliefs, decisions, plans, and actions" p.107. Such pursuits are accountable to thelogic brought through the individual's own schemas of understanding asinfluenced by gender, race, class, age and so on. Through fostering in studentsand teachers a critical voice to analyze and add to perspectives presented,"subordinate" group understandings and perceptions are given the opportunity to berealized. Critical pedagogy thus teaches students an acceptance of a variety ofperspectives, including their own by affirming difference through the problematizedanalysis of possibilities (McLaren, 1988). As McLaren (1988) suggests:Critical pedagogy is positioned irreverently against a pedantic cult of141singularity in which moral authority and theoretical assurance are arrived atunproblematically without regard to the repressed narratives and sufferingof the historically disenfranchised. (p.73)Critical educators are not interested in subscribing to "effective methods" for theefficient consumption of knowledge content. Knowledge does not reside as acommodity to be given and - consumed" but as an entity which requiresunderstanding through its analysis—it is an understanding which stems from ahighly personalized basis of experience and interpretation (Giroux, 1987).The goal of critical pedagogy is to empower students with the ability to thinkand act reflectively as individuals who have formed a conscious self-awarenesstainted by multiple affiliations and worldly transactions. That a students'experience must be maintained as an element and component within a theory oflearning is important. As Giroux (1988d) points out:...students have experiences and you can't deny that these experiences arerelevant to the learning process even though you might say that theseexperiences are limited, raw unfruitful or whatever. Students havememories, families, religions, feelings, languages and cultures that givethem a distinctive voice. We can critically engage that experience and wecan move beyond it. But we can't deny it. (p.99)Individuals are seen as maintaining understandings which are continually subject tochange and reevaluation as experience enriches and/or alters their rational stances(Giroux, 1988d). Critical pedagogues aspire toward elevating the consciousness oftheir students so as to inspire within them the confidence to actively examine themesrelative to the students own ever expanding experiential understandings (Kaplan,1991).142This is not to say that teachers are stripped of the right to voice and to conveytheir own understanding of historically based knowledge for as Giroux & Simon(1988) put it:Indeed, the pedagogical struggle is lessened without such resources.However, teachers and students must find forms within which a singlediscourse does not become the locus of certainty and certification. Rather,teachers must find ways of creating a space for mutual engagement of liveddifference that does not require the silencing of a multiplicity of voices by asingle dominant discourse; at the same time. teachers must develop forms ofpedagogy informed by a substantive ethic that contests racism, sexism, andclass exploitation as ideologies and social practices that disrupt and devaluepublic life. (p.16)The discursive presentation of knowledge is valuable in that academicaccomplishments are acknowledged by critical educators to be rich bodies ofknowledge which ultimately warrant examination and interrogation (Giroux &McLaren, 1992). Scholarly discourse is to be approached however, not as sacredareas of institutionalized understanding guarded against any argument orcontroversy, but as perspectives that speak through a voice and merit examinationas such. Through conceptual dialogic deconstruction and developments studentsgrapple with the relevancy of knowledge claims as far as they resonate a validcritical argument. Discourse serves as the medium from which students practicetheir power to problematize and realize identities and subjectivities while keeping inmind the exploitation and alienation which may arise when knowledge claims aretaken to be absolute or normative and not simply as an interpretation that can beenriched by adding minority and popular experiences to its possibilities.143Students and teachers must work together to appreciate otherness whilesimultaneously bridging the span between difference through empatheticunderstanding and rationality (Stanley, 1992). The postmodern condition, as itengages the need to develop a sensitivity for otherness over a submission toculturally dominant narratives, is clearly conveyed in the follow ing passage byGiroux (1990):This must be a discourse that breathes life into the notion of democracy bystressing a notion of lived community that is not at odds with the principlesof justice, liberty, and equalit). . ..This points to the need for educators toprepare students for a type of citizenship that does not separate abstractrights from the realm of the everyday, and does not define community asthe legitimating and unifying practice of a one-dimensional historical andcultural narrative. Postmodernism radicalizes the emancipatory possibilitiesof teaching and learning as part of a wider struggle for democratic publiclife and critical citizenship. It does this by: refusing forms of knowledgeand pedagogy wrapped in the legitimizing discourse of the sacred and thepriestly; reflecting universal reason as a foundation for human affairs;claiming that all narratives are partial; and performing a critical reading onall scientific, cultural, and social texts as historical and politicalconstructions. (pp. 24-25)Giroux is sensitive to the need for an educational program which functions withinthe realm of lived aspirations, needs and understandings of reality. He is aware ofhow the condition of postmodernism can offer an intermeshing of possibilitieswithin rational discourse which have important educational implications. Educationmay thrive on difference and otherness as it offers a wealth of knowledge claims to144be worked through analytically by students and teachers alike in their quest todevelop a discriminating but not restrictive understanding of perspectives. Theenforcing of presynthesized learning materials is ultimately seen as serving to denystudents the ability to analyze and interrogate arguments based on their own criticalpowers of perception. Totalizing systems of education offer experiences which canlimit and falsely represent knowledge by not conveying its subjective nature.CONCLUSIONSWithin recent philosophically based research in aesthetic education, there hasbeen an increasing awareness and interest in facilitating within students the ability torealize the expression of a confident identity of otherness and difference (Young,1990; Hart, 1991; Congdon, 1991). Multiculturalism and gender issues havebecome a focus within such studies, thus demonstrating the postmodern need toappreciate the proliferation of diversity and the cultivation of a means for expressionof alternate ways of knowing. This may be realized educationally through the lensof a critical pedagogy which aims at establishing a questioning and self-reflexiveconsciousness in students (Freire, 1970, Giroux, 1988a, McLaren, 1991). Itwould allow students to actualize a personalized awareness for aesthetic preferenceswhich is not mandated by dominant cultural discourses. thus allowing them thefreedom to frame rational arguments based on their own personal experience.The nurturing of a critical awareness in aesthetic education which maintains aninformed sensitivity to the power/knowledge function of discourse, would enhancestudents' abilities to reflect on and appreciate the multiple influences and sources foraesthetic understanding. Students would consequently not be restricted in their145aesthetic responses by way of conformative dominant cultural norms. They couldbe encouraged to search out the uniqueness of their own situations and to findrelevancy within the positions they maintain regarding their personalized aestheticpreferences. Educating students, by way of critical pedagogy, to appreciatedifference, as it exists within their own perceptions as well as in those of others,ultimately facilitates the development of an understanding of aesthetics rich innetworks of plausible affiliations and possibilities. Marginalized groups,enfranchised through critical pedagogy, may gain confidence and a sense of self -esteem in the legitimation of personalized perceptions. Concomitantly a criticalawareness and respect for alternate possibilities which serves to inform and enrichpersonalized aesthetic responses may be engendered through a developed ability toactively problematize knowledge sources for their potential strengths. From acritical pedagogical standpoint, the culturally defined and structurally closededucational imperatives inherent to Parsons' stage theory exist as limiting andfalsely representative of potentials individuals maintain within their aestheticexperiential possibilities.A postmodern perspective, as reconceptualized for educational purposes withincritical pedagogy, emphasizes a rejection of structures which dominate andlegitimate behavioural claims about populations and societies as a whole. Criticalpedagogues view normative developmental phenomenon as a stifling outgrowth ofinfluences afforded through institutional and dominant cultural norms and powersources. Their approach to teaching which celebrates difference, plurality,heterogeneity and the voicing of a diversity of positions delineates a stancediametrically opposed to that of Parsons which in itself outlines specificity,uniformity and consensus within aesthetic developmental possibilities. Ultimately,146critical pedagogy, within aesthetic education, opens up the potential for therecognition of alternate forms of understanding which exist outside the norms ofWestern elitist aesthetic traditions. Critical pedagogy thus brings into question thevalue of Parsons' behaviourally definitive stage theory of aesthetic development.CHAPTER SUMMARYIn the first section of Chapter Five, the theoretical positions addressed withinpostmodern perspectives were selectively reviewed with the intent of supplying anunderstanding of the biases which have affected critical pedagogy. Subsequently,in the second section of this chapter, Critical pedagogy, as an approach to teaching,was delineated so as to allow the reader an understanding of the conceptual andphilosophical orientations which are engendered within its educational premises.This conceptual delineation allowed for a recognition of the limitations andrestrictions inherent within Parsons' stage theory of aesthetic development as theyare evidenced through a perspective of critical pedagogy.CHAPTER SIXSUMMARY OF THE STUDYDuring the past two decades, aesthetics has achieved recognition as animportant component of school art curricula. Actualizing in classroom practice acurricular mandate which includes aesthetics as a subject of study in schoolshowever has proved to be a difficult objective for many teachers. The complexityof the subject itself does not lend itself to a prescriptive conceptual format offeringsimple and clear objectives on which to base teaching practices. As a result,aesthetic education has lacked formal arrangement of concepts and consequently hasalso lacked the presence of structure for teachers to use in its presentation.Although Parsons' (1987) theory attempts to counter such a void within artcurricula by offering structured order for the presentation of aesthetic concepts,there ultimately exist inherent limitations within the definitive sequencing he positsin the theory conveyed. The present study considers the theoretical,methodological, practical, moral, and ethical limitations of Parsons' theory by wayof a postmodern critique as reconceptualized within critical pedagogy.Chapter Two presented a detailed review of aesthetic theories so as to provide aconceptual delineation of the phenomenon which Parsons attempts to describe andorganize through a sequential ordering of aesthetic conceptual understandings asthey are normatively acquired by individuals in Western societies. A review oftheories which have sustained recognition as rhetorically valid claims descriptive ofthe aesthetic phenomenon clearly denote the complexity of the subject of aesthetics.The divergence of arguments, presented within Chapter Two. make clear theplurality of possibilities from which one may actualize aesthetic appreciation. In147148juxtaposing divergent theoretical presuppositions maintained within aestheticunderstanding, the dynamic and changeable nature of the phenomenon itself isrevealed as an experience which does not suggest absolutes and finite attributeswithin its fundamental nature. That aesthetic perception offers a "vivid experience'of heightened awareness may be accepted as a given to the phenomenon itself. Thecatalysts engendering these experiences, however, lie within the conceptual andperceptual predispositions of the viewer, as is evidenced through the ardent criticalarguments which serve to legitimate the divergent positions taken.Chapter Three presented the inherent biases evident within Parsons' (1987)research methodology. Similarly, studies by Machotka (1966). Moore (1973),Gardner, Winner & Kircher (1975), Rosenstiel, Morisen. Silverman & Gardner(1978), which support the behavioural trends identified by Parsons, were reviewedfor the ideological biases limiting the generalizability of their theoretical constructs.Within the studies reviewed, aesthetic understanding is conveyed as exhibitingdevelopmental patterns which are specifically defined relative to determinate agerelated visual preferences existing in students. The program of inquiry employedby Parsons and the related cited studies reflect a biased research itinerary whichdoes not take socio-historical influences into consideration as possible determinantsin the commodification of norms within aesthetic experiences. The denial toprovide a research methodology which challenges the possible effects of contextualinfluences, renders claims to the organismic nature of aesthetic development asinsufficiently substantiated by the research procedures implemented. The studiespresented exemplify a direct interrelationship between the researchers' biases andthe realities uncovered in that the researchers' ideological orientations manifest amethodological program (e.g., subject selection, questions posed, stimuli selected,149etc.) which maximized the likelihood of identifying consistency within subjectresponses. The research findings cited convey a fragmentary representation ofphenomena in that they do not consider the shaping and behaviour framing potentialinherent to discourses of dominant cultural power systems.Within Chapter Four, it is identified that Parsons' (1987) theory exemplifies astructuralist approach to knowledge claims. Phenomenological variables are notaccessed so as to identify potential contextual actants that serve to shape consistencywithin aesthetic understanding. In relating developmental patterns within subjectresponses to a priori biologically determined structures, Parsons suggestsuniformity within responses to be a consequence of maturing faculties that existoutside of cultural and societal determinants. Parsons research findings delineateonly responses which conform to Western fine art traditions. The moral and ethicalimplications inherent to an instructional itinerary that enforces strictly Westerndominant cultural belief systems on marginalized group populations is thus broughtinto question. By limiting the aesthetic conceptual possibilities at each stage to aEurocentric elitist itinerary of possibilities, Parsons' theory valorizes only Westerndominant cultural discourses therefore marginalizing subordinate groupunderstandings as qualitatively inferior. Similarly, in that Parsons' theory uniquelyconveys Eurocentric ideals as ultimate in nature, it engenders, by way of modelling.discriminatory programs of study which do not engender in students an empathyfor otherness and alternate ways of seeingIn Chapter Five critical pedagogy is defined as an educationally basedphilosophy which derives its theoretical presuppositions from understandings basedwithin selected postmodern belief systems. Postmodern paradigms that maintain anappreciation for the diversity. plurality and relativity of interpretive possibilities.150deny the value of structured, definitive prescriptions within human behaviour. suchas those posited by Parsons' stage theory. It is pointed out that implicit institutionalmandates limit one's ability to access personalized frames of reference which departfrom dominant cultural expectations. Critical pedagogy serves to empower studentswith the ability to realize subject positions which exist as relative to one's diverseaffiliations and socio-cultural influences. A school system oriented within thetenets of critical pedagogy aims to foster in individuals the ability to actively realizethe legitimacy of differences outside of dominant cultural expectations determinedwithin restrictive and oppressive institutionalized norms. In this respect, criticalpedagogy is posited as an educational itinerary which could serve to confound thenormative developmental trends upon which Parsons sanctions his stage theory ofaesthetic development.Ultimately, it is intended that the presently delineated conceptual analysis servesto bring into question the value of Parsons' stage theory of aesthetic development asit may be understood by way of the theoretical presupposition inherent to criticalpedagogy.CONCLUSIONSThe following is a distillation of the main conclusions which were drawn fromthe present study:1) Parsons' (1987) theory of aesthetic development, which delineates specificconcepts to be realized in an ordered framework. limits aesthetic possibilities toobjective definitives. Such an instructional program would not allow for a criticalawareness of personalized aesthetic experiences to be actualized through151engendering an appreciation for the indeterminacy of options which may validateaesthetic experiences that exist outside of the sequentially delineated andconceptually defined normative expectations.2) Parsons does not allow for the possibility of socially coercive practicesshaping responses before attributing conformity to essentialist behavioural norms.Had he excluded the effect of overt and covert socio-cultural expectations asinfluential in instilling consistency within subject behaviours, the researcher mayhave strengthened the credence of his claims relating existing generalized patterns asdevelopmentally and objectively determinate. Not having done so, themethodology Parsons employs does not allow for a stage theory of aestheticdevelopment to be validly claimed as sound knowledge based on the proceduresengendering its formation.3) Pedagogical practices based on established a priori structured systemsshould be evaluated for their suitability to the different socio-cultural populationsthey affect before being implemented as standard educational itineraries.Subordinate group populations are disadvantaged in school programs that conveyonly dominant cultural value systems, in that their own cultural capital must bedenied so as to allow for their successful integration within mainstreamexpectations. In this respect, Parsons' stage theory of aesthetic development whichrestricts behavioural expectations to Eurocentric normative standards, imposes onstudents understandings which exclude non-mainstream knowledge basesmaintained in relation to personalized codes and forms of discourse. By restrictingaesthetic possibilities to a designated sort of reasoning at various developmentallevels, Parsons sets up a rigid and -correct- structure within aesthetic understandingwhich does not allow for an empathy of otherness to be fostered. Similarly,152Parsons' program of instruction, based on a Eurocentrically defined itinerary ofaesthetics, serves for the disenfranchisement and disadvantaging of individualswithin subordinate group populations.4) A critical pedagogical approach to teaching that enfranchises difference,plurality and otherness by ascribing to the legitimacy of diversity within subjectpositions, offers an educational orientation which counters Parsons closedsystematization of conceptual sequentially defined possibilities within aestheticunderstanding. Ultimately, critical pedagogy within aesthetic education encouragesthe recognition of alternate forms of understanding which exist outside the norms ofWestern elitist aesthetic traditions. Critical pedagogy thus challenges the limitedbehavioural dictates identified within Parsons' stage theory of aestheticunderstanding.5) The validity and value of Parsons' theory of aesthetic development isultimately brought into question when considered from a conceptual orientation ofcritical pedagogy.IMPLICATIONS FOR THEORYThe multiplicity of perspectives which may be maintained within aestheticperception must be acknowledged so as to allow for a breadth of aestheticpossibilities to be realized in pedagogy. It must be noted that curricular programswhich instill closed systems of instruction limit the potential for non-mainstreamunderstandings to be supported, thus limiting the realm of aesthetic understandingsoffered to students. Within a program of study such as that developed by Parsons,which is based on the imperatives of Western traditions in art, students do not153develop an empathy for difference and otherness as it exists within the context ofNorth American school populations. Parsons' instructional itinerary serves todisenfranchise non-dominant perspectives, therefore implicitly conveying theinferior status of such alternate possibilities. Structuralist educational mandatesbased on dominant cultural understandings serve to increase difference byreinforcing discriminatory hierarchies within education. For this reasonEurocentrically biased educational agendas should be critically analyzed for theircross-class, cross-race, cross gender, etc., suitability before being implementedinto school practice. Critical pedagogy may be considered as an educational agendawhich offers a philosophy sensitive to the needs of multicultural studentpopulations in that it encourages a critical awareness of dominant as well assubordinate group understandings within student's aesthetic responses.IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCHThe present study exemplifies the need for research to be understood andexamined as ideologically driven praxis. Consequently, the ideologicalunderpinnings and biases specific to each form of inquiry should be identified inorder to view the findings in relation to the subject positions from which they arederived. Similarly, because the present study offers a strictly conceptual analysisand criticism of Parsons' theory, empirical studies are needed to substantiate theclaims made within such theoretically based research. These being: a) a studywhich would challenge the universalizable and sequentially invariant nature ofParsons' stage theory; and b) a study of aesthetic responses which would delineatethe affective learning outcomes of an educational agenda based on the tenets of154critical pedagogy. Before empirical research may be conducted which considers theeffects of an educational program based on the philosophical tenets of criticalpedagogy, a methodological program which serves to facilitate its implementationinto classroom practice must first be developed.IMPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATIONProfessional development must be offered to teachers in a number of areas ifthey are to provide students with an education which engenders an appreciation forthe possible diversity of aesthetic belief systems maintained within multiculturalpopulations. Teacher education programs need to be implemented in the followingareas: a) educators should be introduced to the limiting and conceptually restrictivenature of structural curricular agendas in that these can serve to disenfranchisesubordinate group understandings; b) art educators must be allotted instructionrelevant to the study of aesthetics in order to allow them the expertise to offer aknowledgable presentation of aesthetic theories within their teaching programs; andc) professional development relevant to the subject of critical pedagogy should bemade available to educators so as to foster in them an understanding of theimportance of enfranchising subordinate group understandings within teachingpractices.CRITICAL REFLECTIONSArt exists as an area of study which is laden with rich and ever expandingbodies of knowledge. Expertise within its historical, practical, critical and aestheticdimensions is acquired through extensive involvement, study and practice with theconcepts and skills pertinent to the field. Because of the quantity and complexity oftopics and skills involved, educators cannot be expected to offer expertise in allpossible theoretically and practically based areas relevant to its study. What may beexpected, however, is that students are exposed to educational situations whichinitiate knowledge and an appreciation of the main disciplines encompassed withinits content possibilities. Aesthetics, the focus of the present study, exists as animportant dimension of art in relation to its experiential possibilities. As a subjectof study, it offers philosophical complexities which remain academicallychallenging for both teachers and students. Most teachers are not afforded thetraining necessary to gain comprehensive expertise in aesthetics that would allowthem to offer students a formal program of instruction in the subject area. Althoughthis rests as a point in fact, it does not justify the limited recognition aesthetics isallotted within school art curricula.Through aesthetic contemplation, individuals develop the ability to recognizeelements within one's visual field which can allow for the actualization of richerexperiential possibilities. Aesthetic understandings thus enable the contemplationand appreciation of visual phenomena for the breadth of heightened visualexperiences they may afford. These heightened visual experiences can be derivedfrom a simple sensual appreciation of color harmonies and cadences, or from the155156intricate cognitive challenges illuminated in an art work, or again, from a diversityof alternate experiential catalysts. There is diversity and variance in the motivatingsources of aesthetic responses and only through exposure to art, art discourse andformal guidance and training can individuals gain developed insight into the rangeof its possibilities. The aesthetic understandings individuals maintain, regulate thepleasure they are able to attain from visual experiences. One's sensitivity topotential aesthetic experiences can be developed so as to allow for a richerappreciation of perceptual merits encased and coded within art works. Experienceallows for the attainment of confidence in the legitimacy of personalized visualpreferences which is not encumbered by the fear of misunderstanding thepossibilities of art. Through exercising preference by comparing and contrastingworks while learning to discriminate the beautiful, or aesthetic, from the common,or mundane, relevant to one's personalized perceptions, individuals come to realize,through practice, the existent aesthetic possibilities of art.Education programs that do not touch on aesthetics as a relevant component ofart, thus omit important facets of students' developmental potential. As previouslystated, the complexity of aesthetics has resulted in its being omitted within manyschool curricula. Parsons' (1987) research may be acknowledged for identifyingphenomena which depict norms within aesthetic development perceived in subjectpopulations within Western society. It cannot, however, be said that suchnormative standards exist as biologically developmental stages universalizable innature or inherent to all experience. The present study suggests that althoughParsons' stage theory might serve to order the complex topic of aesthetics into amanageable itinerary of workable grade specific concepts, it does so at the expenseof the intricate richness of experiential possibilities aesthetics may offer students. If157education is to engender for students, learning opportunities which optimize theactualization of an understanding that encompasses true insight into the nature of thesubject studied, Parsons' stage specific conceptual itinerary then may be seen aslimiting in that it restricts rather than optimizes aesthetic experiential possibilities.Critical pedagogy has been considered as an aesthetic program of study thatcould more fully allow for a diversity of response preferences to be realized bystudents. It is pointed out that critical pedagogy aims to instill within individuals arespect for the multiplicity of values and perspectives which may be maintainedbased on race, class, gender, or age specific affiliations. It exists as an educationalphilosophy which incorporates lived experiences and perspectives as an integralcomponent within instructional programs. Aesthetics, if it is to achieve legitimacyfor students, must be relevant to their perceptual preferencing system in thataesthetic responses are based on the quality of experience evoked through theperception of an art work. Critical pedagogy allows for acknowledgment of thesubjective nature of aesthetic experiences, thus enfranchising individuals with thepower to legitimate and give credence to their own perceptual understandings. Bothteachers (who are likely to possess the richest source of aesthetic knowledge) andstudents become active members in the learning process through relayingpersonalized aesthetic understandings. Aesthetic possibilities are illuminated inorder to initiate a critical examination of the logic, value and legitimacy of identifieddifferences existing relative to subject specific responses. An active criticalpresentation of aesthetic concepts affords one the opportunity to realize legitimatebiases within personalized art preferences while engendering an appreciation fordifference which concomitantly may serve to broaden, or heighten aestheticunderstandings.158Critical pedagogy proposes the implementation of an educational philosophywhich attempts to offer legitimacy and relevancy to non-dominant groupunderstandings while simultaneously conveying a respect for the legitimacy ofdominant modes of thinking and experiencing. An educational ideology whichconveys a respect for diversity within perspectives may be questioned on thegrounds that it emanates an "anything goes - type of orientation. This however is amisguided representation of critical pedagogy in that although critical pedagogyencourages individuals to enact their own biases and perspectives, it simultaneouslyentails the process of an active challenging and problematizing of concepts in orderto allow the value and merit of possibilities to be critically analyzed. Perspectivesare to be understood as biases shaped and formed through personalized affiliationswhich are maintained by divergent subject positions and perceptions.In theory, critical pedagogy offers a means from which to illicit an open respectfor the subjective nature of aesthetic possibilities. It must be acknowledged,however, that to actualize a program of study based on critical pedagogy, practicalguidelines are needed from which teachers may base methodologicalconsiderations. What has been developed within the research literature to dateoffers valuable insights into the underlying societal conditions, value systems andgeneralized behavioural objectives characteristic of the focus of critical pedagogy.Yet, although these theoretical developments provide for an extensiveunderstanding of the philosophical presuppositions and biases underlying criticalpedagogy, the means from which teachers can actualize a working methodology ofthe philosophy has not yet been provided or fully articulated for praxis ineducational contexts. Further conceptual development is necessary so as to providepractical guidelines for educators interested in implementing a program159representative of critical pedagogy within the contexts of their own classrooms.In developing such a program for the instruction of aesthetics in schools,practical guidelines need to be developed which support an educational agenda thatstrives to offer equality of opportunity within its teaching practices. The expertiseteachers bring to the classroom allows them the power to offer students knowledgeclaims which may too easily be taken at face value as universalizable truths. Waysof presenting information and concepts that are not dogmatic and which engendercritical reflection need to be identified. Teachers must become sensitive to the factthat every individual possesses the right to a personal point of view, regardless ofhow immature, different, etc., that point of view may initially seem. It is throughsustained critical reflection and exposure to alternate aesthetic possibilities thatindividuals develop and mature in their aesthetic understandings. It becomesessential that educators work towards instilling in students the confidence to realizeviews which differ from those expounded by the status quo. Thus, teachers mustbe trained in the ability to challenge student perspectives while simultaneously notdiscouraging them from voicing their own understandings. Educators must learn tofoster an openness and appreciation of otherness that serves as a model for studentsto develop in themselves an empathy and appreciation for divergent ways ofperceiving and appreciating art. Pedagogical methodologies must be developedwhich incorporate student experiences as relevant curriculum content and encouragethe development of an active critical awareness in students enabling them in turn toproblematize their own as well as other perspectives taken.Only through a praxis based agenda which organizes a method for theimplementation of critical pedagogy, may such a pedagogical option be takenseriously as a program of instruction which would challenge Parson's stage theory160of aesthetic development. Aesthetics exists as a valuable component of the artexperience and it is essential that teacher education programs contribute to itsinclusion within art education programs. Similarly, critical pedagogy meritsrecognition as a valuable component within teacher training programs in that itoffers an educational program that is sensitive to conceptual perspectives maintainedby multicultural populations. If teachers are to work towards developing, refiningand expanding student's personalized aesthetic biases through an active criticalanalysis of its possibilities, there needs to be made available to them an educationwhich engenders an understanding of theoretical and methodological possibilities ofboth critical pedagogy and aesthetic theory.Educational philosophies and practices are constantly shifting in an attempt toincrease the effectiveness and value of the programs offered to students. Becauseaesthetic development offers individuals valuable life enhancing skills, it should notbe overlooked as a component of art education practices. 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Studies in Art Education, 24(1). 5-15.Appendix AParsons' Stage Theory(Summarized for Thesis Presentation)The ways people understand art is sequentially manifest in a certain order byParsons, consequently, the five stages he delineates are sequential. hierarchical andcontinuous: Stage one comes before stage two, stage two before stage three, etc.Sta0e One:This stage is usually found in subjects during their preschool years and ischaracterized by idiosyncratic preferences to art works. Individuals generallyexhibit an attraction for both abstract or realist works with a marked attraction tocolor.Stage Two:During elementary school years subjects generally demonstrated stage tworesponses to art works which is marked by a strong preference for realism andmorally correct subject selection.Stage Three:Stage Three responses are generally conveyed in students' understanding of artduring their high school years. This stage of development is characterized by anappreciation for art which communicates emotions and expressive contentpictorially.Stage Four:At stage four, the viewer constructs a framework for understanding art worksthat is based on an objective analysis of style. technique, historical and social issues174175relevant to art world traditions.State Five:At this stage a subjects evaluation of an art work becomes personal.Understanding artistic traditions serves to give one the authority to transcend thedictates of society and make personal judgements.Appendix B(Selective Chapter Summaries for Thesis Presentation)Chapter Three Identifies the Biases Inherent within Parsons' Research- It is pointed out that objective knowledge, as it is elucidated through researchprograms, has come into question based on a growing awareness of the relativisticand socially constructed nature of phenomena.- Parsons' findings are considered as relative and dependent to a given context andnot as fundamental and universalizable in nature- Parsons' hypothetically "objective" and value neutral methodological program iscritically analyzed in order to identify how researcher values permeate the forms ofinquiry and effect the conclusions drawn.- Parsons' methodology discloses a value based program of inquiry which regulatesand biases the findings in the following ways:-A homogeneous subject population increases the likelihood of consistencywithin responses.-Stimuli selections from which responses are derived are comprised of strictlyWestern fine art examples.-All questions asked touch strictly on traditional Eurowestem expectations of art-No attempt is made to consider how attitudes might be experientially formed176177or effected.-The researcher fails to challenge the developmental sequence by consideringthe potential effect training might have on subject responses to art.- It is pointed out that Parsons' ideologically biased research methodology does notdetermine universalizable aesthetic development in that the effects of dominantcultural influences are not analyzed or ruled out.Chapter FourIdentifies the Moral and Ethical implication of Parsons' Stage Theory- Parsons' theory exemplifies a structuralist approach to knowledge claims.Phenomenological variables are not accessed so as to identify potential contextualactants that serve to shape consistency within aesthetic understanding.- Within Parsons theory there is no acknowledgment of the differences andcounternarratives which may be perpetuated in a society that constitutes alternategroup representations based on race ethnicity, class and gender affiliations.- It is questionable whether a pedagogical methodology which normalizesbehavioural expectations to the status quo, justly serves the needs of all individualsconcerned.- Members of lower status groups are disadvantaged in school systems whichtransmit only dominant cultural value systems in that their own cultural capital must178be repressed so as to allow for successful integration within mainstreamexpectations.- What is implied by an adherence to the hierarchical and sequential progressiondelineated in Parsons' stage theory, is the suppression of human agency whichwould personalize, through experiential variance, aesthetic behavioural expectationsand endeavours.- Parsons' aesthetic theory, although it may offer effective means for transmittingaesthetic value systems, does not provide for the development of moral standardsengendered within the fostering of an empathy for otherness and alternate ways ofseeing.- A program of instruction such as Parsons' which enforces commodification andconsensus to Western art world traditions serves to disenfranchise and disadvantageunderstandings maintained by subordinate group populations, thus limiting theirpotential for success within such a partial systems of study.Chapter Five Aesthetic development and Critical Pedagogy- A conceptual analysis of critical pedagogy is provided so as to foster acomparative assessment of its "behavioural" objectives in relation to those outlinedby Parsons' theory of aesthetic development- Critical pedagogy exists as a theoretically developed program within education179which grounds it discourses on postmodern thought, in that there exists the need tosupersede theories which highlight totalizing universals for an attitude whichembraces the validity and legitimacy of differences.- Critical pedagogy fosters an acceptance of a variety of perspectives through theproblematized analysis of possibilities.- Critical pedagogues attempt to instate the teacher's and students' authorities withinthe educational milieu for the purpose of identifying content relevant to the students'experiences.- Educating students to appreciate difference, as exemplified within their ownperceptions as well as those of others, ultimately facilitates the development of anunderstanding rich in networks of plausible affiliations and legitimated experientialpossibilities.- Critical pedagogy delineates a stance diametrically opposed to that of Parsons'which in itself outlines specificity uniformity and consensus within aestheticdevelopmental possibilities. Ultimately, critical pedagogy, within aestheticeducation, opens up the potential for the recognition of alternate forms ofunderstanding which exist outside the norms of Western elitist aesthetic traditions.- Parsons' prescriptive delineation of a conceptually defined system for respondingto art is thus brought into question from the perspective of critical pedagogy.APPENDIX CAesthetics and Critical Pedagogy: A Critique of Parsons'Stage Theory of Aesthetic DevelopmentConclusions (Summarized for Thesis Presentation)1) Through conveying numerous exemplar definitions of aesthetics, it is madeevident that the aesthetic phenomenon exists as a complex network of alternativeswhich is open to subjective and personalized interpretations. Diverse aestheticpossibilities gain credence through the power of critical argument. Parsons'developmental theory, however, designates and limits aesthetic possibilities inrelation to sequentially defined experiential expectations.2) The ideological biases inherent within Parsons' research methodology serveto limit the generalizability of his findings.3) Parsons' structural theory in its Eurocentrically biased conceptual itinerary,is critically assessed for the moral and ethical implications it imposes on subordinategroup populations. It serves to disenfranchise the understandings of thesemarginalized groups while concomitantly exhibiting a hierarchical preferencing ofviews which fail to instill in individuals an empathy and appreciation for differenceand otherness.1804) Critical pedagogy taken as an educational orientation exposes the limiting181and restrictive nature of an educational agenda which offers a definitive and closedsystem of developmental possibilities.


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