The relationship between ethics and art can be seen on various levels. On the one hand, there is the difference between the artistic and ethical orders on the part of the artist. Then there is the difference between ethical judgments and artistic judgments on the part of a spectator. What is of further interest is what the relationship between these two aspects of the human spirit reveals about human flourishing.
Using principles from the philosophy of art of French Catholic philosopher Étienne Gilson, this summary article will first distinguish the orders of ethics and art on the part of the artist, showing that they have different and heterogeneous first principles. This will be followed by Gilson’s presentation of artistic judgments, and how they are different from moral judgments. Finally an integral consideration of both the artistic and moral impulses from the point of view of the human person will reveal a dynamic tendency towards organic harmony and spiritual beauty.