'If I understand that "simple aesthetic pleasure" is referring to BEAUTY, if I read correctly the suggestion that BEAUTY is less than 'thoughts, science, or criticism of issues'... then all of my artistic being objects. BEAUTY is the "vocation of the artist"- St. John Paul II. "Beauty will save the world."- Dostoevsky. "Beauty, Truth, and Goodness are the highest ends of mankind." "Beauty is the visible attribute of God, Himself." These are all thoughts from some of the greatest philosophers/THINKERS in history. What I know from my own experience - The beauty of a painting has the power to reach a person's deepest core. While arguments, criticism, issues, news, politics, so much commentary, and even our own thoughts often amount to little more than noise, BEAUTY can lift a person's soul.'
This was a comment I posted on a group discussion where an artist/professor had indicated "simple aesthetic pleasure", or beauty, to be a lower purpose for art than using it as a tool for social and political commentary. I remember this theme well from college (early '90s). Is it more prevalent in academia? The argument can also suggest that the news is so terribly important that the right half of our brain should stop trying to inform our art. This is a false dichotomy. I do believe beauty, alone, is the highest end of art. I believe this is where it can transcend worldly concerns. But I don't argue against making art that comments on world issues... so long as it's beautiful.