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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A critical study of a theory of aesthetic development and its implications for education Bisong, Joseph Obi

Abstract

Parsons' cognitive-developmental theory of the aesthetic experience of children envisages aesthetic development toward a particular "end state." This thesis critically examines the end state to which the development purportedly leads. The thesis also considers pedagogical questions involved in a programme of aesthetic education designed to bring about appropriate aesthetic responses. It is argued that Parsons' theory is based on an objectivist aesthetic theory which, though widely accepted, does not do justice to some aspects of our experience of art. In particular, it is argued that because the theory misconstrues the logic of expression it fails to see how works of art can express emotions and thus does not take into account the full measure of our imaginative and emotional experience of art. It is further argued that certain aspects of an Expression Theory of art give a more satisfactory account of how works of art can function to express emotions and of our emotional experience of art. In advancing this point the arguments of Sircello and Elliott are put forward and an attempt is made to show how Leavis's critical practice implicitly recognizes the points Sircello and Elliott make. The dissertation also compares Parsons' theory with the theories of Piaget and Kohl berg and makes use of criticisms directed at the theories of the latter two to criticize Parsons' work. An expressionist critique of Parsons' theory is then made. Finally, the expressionist position argued for is used as a basis for exploring the kinds of educational considerations that seem relevant for a programme of aesthetic education.

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