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BULLOUGH’S ESSAY, “Psychical Distance as a. Factor in given some attention to psychical distance; N1nd Essays Edward Bullough (Stanford, California. , , et passim. 6 Edward Bullough, ‘Psychical Distance’ as a Factor in Art and an Aesthetic Principle,”. The British Journal of Psychology, V (June. The concept of “physical distance” developed by Edward Bullough in his well- known article1has come to be generally accepted as an aesthetic principle.

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It has a negativeinhibitory aspect – the cutting-out of the practical sides of things and of our practical attitude to them – and a positive side – the elaboration of the experience on the new basis created by the inhibitory action of Distance. An axiom of Euclid belongs to nobody, just because it compels everyone’s assent; general conceptions like Patriotism, Friendship, Love, Hope, Life, Death, concern as much Dick, Tom and Harry as myself, and I therefore either feel unable to get into any kind of personal relation to them or, if I do so, they become at once, emphatically or concretely, my Patriotism, my Friendship, my Love, my Hope, my Life and Death.

‘Psychical Distance’ as a Factor in Art and an Aesthetic Principle

It has been an old problem why the ‘arts of the eye and of the ear’ should have reached the practically exclusive predominance over arts of other senses. The jealous spectator of ‘Othello’ will indeed appreciate and enter into the play the more keenly, the greater the resemblance with his own experience – provided that he succeeds in keeping the Distanfe between the action of the play and his personal feelings: Views Read Edit View history.

A New Look at Aesthetic Eistance.

He will prove artistically most effective in the formulation of an intensely personal experience, but he can formulate it artistically only on condition of a detachment from the experience qua personal. Find it on Scholar.

Several studies have been made on the definition and validity of ‘Psychical Distance’. Nor are they the only pair of opposites. In the practice, therefore, of the average person, a limit does exist which marks the minimum at which his appreciation can maintain itself in the aesthetic field, and this average minimum lies considerably higher than the Distance-limit of the artist.


According to Bullough, this distance lies between the self and affections or objects as the sources of those affections. The variability of Distance in respect to Art, disregarding for the moment the subjective complication, appears both as a general feature in Art, and in the differences between the special arts.

Bassam Romaya – – Philosophy and Theology 12 2: Perhaps the most obvious suggestion is that of actual spatial distance, i.

Naoko Korita, Edward Bullough’s Concept of ‘Psychical Distance’ – PhilPapers

He did experimental work on the perception of coloursand in his theoretical work introduced the concept of psychical distance: To do so usually results in paradoxes, which are nowhere more inevitable than in discussions upon Distancee. That distance, by changing our relation to the characters, renders them seemingly fictitious, not that the fictitiousness of the characters alters our feelings toward them.

Eric vd Luft – – Evental Aesthetics 2 2: This contrast, often emerging with startling suddenness, is like a momentary switching on of some new current, or the passing ray of a brighter light, illuminating the outlook upon perhaps the most ordinary and familiar objects – an impression which we experience sometimes in instants of direct extremity, when our practical interest snaps like a wire from sheer over-tension, and we watch the consummation of some impending catastrophe with the marvelling unconcern of a mere spectator.

The consequence disttance a loss of Distance through one or other cause is familiar: In point of fact, he will probably do anything but appreciate the play.

It was a convention at the time that articles in the Caian were signed with initials only. Edward Bullough is best known for this article, which has been reprinted extensively and discussed widely in twentieth-century aesthetics.

Edward Bullough’s Concept of ‘Psychical Distance’

There exist, therefore, two different sets of conditions affecting the degree of distance in any given case: Attempts to raise ‘culinary art’ to the level of a Fine Art have failed in spite of all propaganda, as completely as the creation of scent or liquer ‘symphonies. This entry has no external idstance.


And here one may remark that not only do persons differ from each other in their habitual measure of distance, but that the same individual differs in his ability to maintain it in the face of different objects and of different arts.

The average individual, on the contrary, very rapidly reaches his limit of decreasing Distance, his ‘Distance-limit,’ i. This difference, so well known as to be almost trivial, is generally explained by reference to the knowledge that the characters and situations are ‘unreal,’ imaginary.

Usually, though not always, it amounts to the same thing to say that the Distance lies between our own self and such objects as are the sources or vehicles of such affections. Thus, in the fog, the transformation by Distance is produced in the first instance by putting the phenomenon, so to speak, out of gear with our practical, actual self; by allowing it to stand outside the context of our personal needs and ends – in short, by looking at it ‘objectively,’ as it has often been called, by permitting only such reactions on our part as emphasise the ‘objective’ features of the experience, and by interpreting even our ‘subjective’ affections not as modes of our being but rather as characteristics of the phenomenon.

The reversal of perspective is the consequence of the loss of Distance.

“Psychical Distance” (Edward Bullough)

Your comments, bulllugh, and suggestions are welcome: By mere force of generalisation, a general truth or a universal ideal is so far distanced from myself that I fail to realise it concretely at all, or, when I do so, I can realise it only as part of psyvhical practical actual beingi. No keywords specified fix it. As a rule, experiences constantly turn the same side towards us, namely, that which has the strongest practical force of appeal.