Esteetilise suhtumise mõiste Nõukogude Eesti esteetikas. The Concept of Aesthetic Approach in Soviet Estonian Aesthetics

Marek Volt


This nostalgic yet analytic article discusses the topic of aesthetic approach in the aesthetic literature of Soviet Estonia (authors Borev, Kagan, Stolovich and others). Firstly, the aesthetic approach engages man’s creative/reshaping activities in relation to the world (following Marx’s slogan that ’man also produces in accordance with the laws of beauty’). Secondly, an artistic meaning can be distinguished, followed by a third, the subjective aesthetic meaning, which indicates the actual application of aesthetic categories (such as ’beauty’, ’sublimity’, etc.). Since the subjective aesthetic meaning is fundamental in relation to the other meanings, the article focuses on the specific characterisation of this category. The first important characteristic is the appraisability, which is born from the usage of the categories; the number of categories has been subject to historical change, reflecting the development of man’s aesthetic approach. Aesthetic approach was mainly defined through the five conditions (sensuousness, direct contact with the concrete object, selflessness, and the appraisal of the object in comparison with the ideal). Analysis of the aesthetic approach in a historical dialectic relation to theoretical, utilitarian and ethical approaches indicates that aesthetical feelings only arose towards the end of the Paleolithic era. Peoples on a lower developmental level didn’t know of aesthetic appraisal, or their aesthetic appraisals were still very closely connected with the utilitaristic. Even though all approaches at times are exhibited in their ‘pure’ forms, Soviet aesthetics generally held to the opinion that they arose simultaneously in daily practice and were intertwined with one another. The societal and practical meanings are what constitute the aesthetic approach – meaning that they define what man will begin to consider beautiful (in its more radical forms, this meant reducing the beauty of an object to its usefulness), but they also affect the nature of existing aesthetic objects. An example typical of that time: relations of private property transforms a beautiful object into its opposite (a beautiful pearl found by a poor fisherman can become an ugly grey nodule due to the afflictions caused by a world ruled by selfishness). In analysing the Soviet aesthetical concept of aesthetic approach and how it differs from the corresponding notion in the ’nations of Western capitalism’, I point to the neutral appraisal of aesthetic approach in Western ethics and the fact that the aesthetic approach has been relatively unaffected by individual/ societal meanings.

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