It occurred to me that when e.g. reading poetry, I attach a lot of significance to a kind of sentiment. It seems independent of how genteel the work is.

I am interested in finding a way of thinking about it, which is reasonably strong i.e. which isn't specific to one group of philosophers but widely held or at least usually uncontentious.

So I want to know what is near universally claimed about 'sentiment', especially its limits: in the sense of whether all art can be fruitfully approached as an object of (aesthetic) sentiment.

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    How do you define "art" and how do you define "sentiment?" I'm particularly concerned with the latter, as the former is a question a lot of people have asked before. – Daniel Jan 2 '16 at 20:38
  • @Daniel i don't know hot to define what i mean beyond the term "sentiment". the original question included a note on what some philosophers have said about it. should i edit that back in? – user6917 Jan 3 '16 at 19:07
  • Some art is purely decorative and devoid of sentiment. I'm thinking of the kind of corporate art you'd see in the lobby of a bank's corporate headquarters. So inoffensive and bland as to barely deserve being called art. Yet undeniably something that somebody painted. Or maybe they have AI's paint corporate art these days. Wouldn't be difficult. – user4894 Apr 18 at 1:24
  • hm, that's interesting, thanks. good that people seem to have (intuitively) grasped the use of 'sentiment' here @user4894 makes me wonder about the difference between art and style, sentiment and decoration... – another_name Apr 18 at 2:41

I personally define Art as any attempt to be understood. This reflects essentially all writing, rhetoric, painting, and the like. Some of those things involve sentiment, and some do not. An attempt to be understood which does not involve sentiment might include a passage in a math textbook, or a scientific paper (depending on what you consider sentiment to be, and what threshold level of it is relevant). Personally, I feel that expressing a mathematical truth in such a way that it can be understood is art, whether there is sentiment in it or not. Euler's Formula is a rather beautiful piece of art, I would say, and the derivations I have seen inspire me in much the same way as other art does.

Your question hinges on how you define art. If you would like a cold mathematical textbook with no sentiment in it to qualify as art, as I do, the answer to your question is "no." If you would not like to consider that art, the answer seems to be "yes," but we still need a definition to see if we can falsify the premise. Try not to use the word "sentiment" in your definition.



The stochastic processes were used in music to create small fixed composed pieces. There were a number of specific theories from physics, statistics and mathematics that were used and applied to create a number of the stochastic musical pieces. The Greek, Xenakis was a pioneer of this movement and he also gave it the name stochastic music. Prior to Xenakis though, there were other composers such as John Cage who had created a music style called indeterminate music and this was also created on a chance basis though not as strictly mathematical as that of stochastic music. One piece by Cage, Music of Charges was simply based on a chart for the I-Ching. Other notable composers were Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Issacson who used Markov chains in one of their larger compositions though this has become known as Generative music.


Xenakis is particularly remembered for his pioneering electronic and computer music, and for the use of stochastic mathematical techniques in his compositions, including probability (Maxwell-Boltzmann kinetic theory of gases in Pithoprakta, aleatory distribution of points on a plane in Diamorphoses, minimal constraints in Achorripsis, Gaussian distribution in ST/10 and Atrees, Markovian chains in Analogiques), game theory (in Duel and Strategie), group theory (Nomos Alpha), and Boolean algebra (in Herma and Eonta). In keeping with his use of probabilistic theories, many of Xenakis’ pieces are, in his own words, “a form of composition which is not the object in itself, but an idea in itself, that is to say, the beginnings of a family of compositions”.


  • not a bad reply. but does the work, then, the idea not the composition, have sentiment? – another_name Apr 18 at 2:39
  • Maybe a (mild) sense of curiosity – user35066 Apr 18 at 13:44

All objects, indeed all concepts can be "fruitfully approached as an object of (aesthetic) sentiment" since this is a decision of the observer to do so. The measurement of fruitful is also a decision of the observer. As such these remain tightly bound to the realm of 'premise'.

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    This answer doesn't cite any sources or explain why we should accept this view. As such, it reads like a personal philosophy. – virmaior Mar 5 '16 at 5:59
  • i can't see what you're referring to, and would suggest references for that reason. i suppose you mean that, independent of premises, anything is aesthetically pleasing as anything else. right? but are you reinforcing the need for "premises" or stating that anything is aesthetic? – another_name Apr 18 at 2:45

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