a personal journey through heaven and hell

it all started on the 26th of Feb 2016 at 14:53

when I had to sign the university's code of conduct

How did it start?

I wondered if I could truly commit to that code.


Can I ever be certain that not even a single soul will find my art disrespectful?

After considering what my art is mostly about, my answer was a big fat NO, I can NOT be certain.


What determines the good and/or bad influences my art can have?

At this point, I realised that I'm getting into something deep. The big word appeared: morality...


This brought me to a bigger question; what's the relationship between art and morality?

It turns out it wasn't just me! This question has been around for a good few thousands years.

Two Big Rivals

The autonomists deny connection between art and morality. And the moralists believe an immoral work is not to be valued as art.

Autonomism | Moralism

The Big Dogs (if too small to read, click to zoom in!)

Oscar Wilde 
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.
 (551 – 479 BC) 
 His disciples' related of him: "There were four things which the Master taught: letters, ethics, devotion of soul, and truthfulness." (Analects, bk. vii., c. xxiv.)
 CONFUCIUS held that the encouragement of the fine arts was no less a duty of the state than the protection of the people from foreign foes and the suppression of internal disorder.
Plato  no philosopher has distrusted art more than Plato and in many occasions he has warned of their cunnings and evils!
 (Art as Imitation) Good speech, . . . good accord, good shape and good rhythm follow upon goodness of character. (400de)
 Culture, Art and Poetry in The Republic by Professor Alexander Nehamas Princeton University
Nietzsche  Nothing is beautiful, only man: on this piece of naivete rests all aesthetics, it is the first truth of aesthetics. Let us immediately add its second: nothing is ugly but degenerate man — the domain of aesthetic judgment is therewith defined. 

When might art be considered immoral?

How do moral and artistic values relate?


ex, Peter Lamarque Art, Emotion and Ethics by Charles Repp, 2009 ASAGE Vol 1 Issue 2

Moral Value is irrelevant to artistic value. So there is no relationship between art and morality in Autonomism.

Moderate Moralism

ex, Noël Carroll Art, Emotion and Ethics by Charles Repp, 2009 ASAGE Vol 1 Issue 2

Moral value is SOMETIMES relevant to artistic value. The problem is that there is no definite way to determine when and to what extend art and morality connect. It all seems very subjective.


ex, Berys GautArt, Emotion and Ethics by Charles Repp, 2009 ASAGE Vol 1 Issue 2

This is on the other end of the Autonomism. If art is morally flawed, it is then artistically flawed (it is not considered art at all).

Cognitive Immoralism

ex, Matthew Kieran, Daniel Jacobson Art, Emotion and Ethics by Charles Repp, 2009 ASAGE Vol 1 Issue 2

This is the middle ground. When immoral aspects help to nurture an understanding or to enhance a culture, then they are not to be viewed as artistic defects. They will in fact add to artistic values.

My Resources


Academic Journals

20 +




15 +

Glasses of Wine

What Now?

Art communicates with us on so many different levels and it can affect our senses, emotions, reasons, behaviours and imaginations more than other areas of knowledge. It can open us up to new ideas and beliefs. And it also can influence us in a negative way. This makes us wonder if there should be some limits when creating art and what these limits are?

To many artists, art experts and art lovers, morality defines these limits. I have discussed above the relationship between art and morality and what some of the big names in philosophy and art think. Morality is a subjective matter and this makes it almost imposible to define. What is immoral in one culture or religion, might very likely be seen differently in another culture or religion.

That's why the question still stands after a few thousands years,

How do Art and Morality relate? And Do they At All?