How Statues Speak

The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 80 (4):444-452 (2022)
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We apply a familiar distinction from philosophy of language to a class of material artifacts that are sometimes said to “speak”: statues. By distinguishing how statues speak at the locutionary level versus at the illocutionary level, or what they say versus what they do, we obtain the resource for addressing two topics. First, we can explain what makes statues distinct from street art. Second, we can explain why it is mistaken to criticize—or to defend—the continuing presence of statues based only on what they represent. Both explanations are driven by the same core idea: the significance of statues arises primarily from what they do, and not what they say.

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Author Profiles

David Friedell
Union College
Shen-yi Liao
University of Puget Sound

References found in this work

How to do things with words.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press. Edited by Marina Sbisá & J. O. Urmson.
Oppressive Things.Shen-yi Liao & Bryce Huebner - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1):92-113.
Speech acts and unspeakable acts.Rae Langton - 1993 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (4):293-330.

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