Charles Altieri | Why “Appreciation” Ought be Revived as a Model for the Study of the Arts


Having heard all too often the importance of literary education for developing various cognitive skills in relation to cultural contexts, the author proposes the possibility of resurrecting the concept of appreciation as a focus for talking about the values education can pursue through the arts. Appreciation is the study of performances – in life and in art –- that demonstrate particular skills and the differences they can make if we allow them to serve as examples of what is possible in experience. So appreciation differs from cognition in the emphasis on manner of expression, on the object as not an independent object of knowledge but exemplified features of how we sort the world, on the importance of expertise for making the appropriate distinctions, and on the mode of judgment by which we distinguish purposive experience from experience subsumed under purposes. But appreciation does not separate art from life; instead it calls attention to intensities in our experiences of the world that cognitive languages have trouble registering.

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