In Marc Greenlee, Rainer Hammwöhner, Bernd Köber, Christoph Wagner & Christian Wolff (eds.), Bilder sehen. Perspektiven der Bildwissenschaft. Schnell + Steiner. pp. 41-67 (2013)

Christoph Baumberger
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Aesthetic cognitivism is best thought of as a conjunction of an epistemic and an aesthetic claim. The epistemic thesis is that artworks have cognitive functions, the aesthetic thesis that cognitive functions of artworks partly determine their artistic value. In this article, my first aim is to defend the epistemic thesis of aesthetic cognitivism. Since it seems undeniable that artworks have cognitive functions, yet less clear whether they have them as artworks, I will focus on cognitive functions that plausibly belong to the proper functions of artworks. My second aim is to sketch a suitable epistemological framework for aesthetic cognitivism. I will pursue my first aim by realizing my second aim and hence argue for the thesis that artworks have cognitive functions by sketching a suitable epistemological framework. In Section 1, I present reasons for conceiving of epistemology as a theory of understanding rather than a theory of knowledge. Art enters the stage only in Section 2, where I show that an epistemology of understanding can and should accommodate the cognitive functions aesthetic cognitivists claimed for artworks, hence providing a suitable epistemological framework. To argue in this way in favour of the claim that artworks have cognitive functions does not beg the question since my argument for an epistemology of understanding does not depend on my aim to defend the epistemic thesis of aesthetic cognitivism. In Section 3, I will answer some of the most pressing non-cognitivist objections within the proposed framework.
Keywords Understanding  Art  Aesthetic Cognitivism
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