Now that increasing numbers of people are stuck at home and sheltering in place, I figured I’d do a little series. Every weekday for the duration of this intense period, I’ll post a short definition of some term in/related to aesthetics and philosophy of art. Let’s see how this goes! See them all here.
Terms of Art #42:
Pronunciation: ah-KWAYN-tens… principle
Definition: Well, the acquaintance principle is a principle. About acquaintance.
Acquaintance is like direct experience. You’re acquainted with a person or a city or an artwork when you have met the person, been in the city, or seen/heard/whatever-ed the artwork.
The acquaintance principle is a thesis about when you’re licensed to make judgments about artworks and their quality, value, etc. It says: you’re only licensed to make a judgment about an artwork’s quality if you are acquainted with it.
In concrete terms: If your art teacher says that Picasso’s Guernica is magnificent, you couldn’t actually know that it was (it is) unless you’d seen it. If Rotten Tomatoes says that Black Panther is the best movie of all time, you can’t know that it is (it’s not*) until you’ve seen it yourself. If your bestie told you that they heard a funny joke, you couldn’t know whether the joke was actually funny unless you’d heard it for yourself.
Okay, you probably get it now. So some people accept this principle, and others reject it. But it’s a fun puzzle to think about! (But you can’t know that it’s a fun puzzle to think about unless you think about it yourself. Maybe.)
*No hate, but the best movie of all time?? Come on now.
Not to be confused with:
acquaintances – those people you sorta know but don’t really and have to say hi to on the street if you see them but sometimes look away and pretend you don’t see them so you don’t have to bother with the awkward small talk