For centuries, philosophers have identified beauty with what brings pleasure. Dominic McIver Lopes challenges this interpretation by offering an entirely new theory of beauty - that beauty engages us in action, in concert with others, in the context of social networks - and sheds light on why aesthetic engagement is crucial for quality of life.
There is not one but many ways to picture the world--Australian "x-ray" pictures, cubish collages, Amerindian split-style figures, and pictures in two-point perspective each draw attention to different features of what they represent. Understanding Pictures argues that this diversity is the central fact with which a theory of figurative pictures must reckon. Lopes advances the theory that identifying pictures' subjects is akin to recognizing objects whose appearances have changed over time. He develops a schema for categorizing the different ways pictures (...) represent--the different kinds of meaning they have--and argues that that depiction's epistemic value lies in its representational diversity. He also offers a novel account of the phenomenology of pictorial experience, comparing pictures to visual prostheses like mirrors and binoculars. (shrink)
Images have power - for good or ill. They may challenge us to see things anew and, in widening our experience, profoundly change who we are. The change can be ugly, as with propaganda, or enriching, as with many works of art. Sight and Sensibility explores the impact of images on what we know, how we see, and the moral assessments we make. Dominic Lopes shows how these are part of, not separate from, the aesthetic appeal of images. His book (...) will be essential reading for anyone working in aesthetics and art theory, and for all those intrigued by the power of images to affect our lives. '...tightly focused and carefully argued... an exceptionally interesting contribution to the philosophy of art: it contains subtle, concise, and convincing discussions of a number of difficult concepts and contentious doctrines... lucid and meticulous'. (shrink)
This book offers a bold new approach to the philosophy of art. General theories of art don't work: they can't deal with problem cases. Instead of trying to define art, we should accept that a work of art is nothing but a work in one of the arts. Lopes's buck passing theory works well for the avant garde, illuminating its radical provocations.
What is computer art? Do the concepts we usually employ to talk about art, such as ‘meaning’, ‘form’ or ‘expression’ apply to computer art? _A Philosophy of Computer Art_ is the first book to explore these questions. Dominic Lopes argues that computer art challenges some of the basic tenets of traditional ways of thinking about and making art and that to understand computer art we need to place particular emphasis on terms such as ‘interactivity’ and ‘user’. Drawing on a wealth (...) of examples he also explains how the roles of the computer artist and computer art user distinguishes them from makers and spectators of traditional art forms and argues that computer art allows us to understand better the role of technology as an art medium. (shrink)
Aesthetic hedonism is the view that to be aesthetically good is to please. For most aesthetic hedonists, aesthetic normativity is hedonic normativity. This paper argues that Kant's third critique contains resources for a non-hedonic account of aesthetic normativity as sourced in autonomy as self-legislation. A case is made that the account is also Kant's because it ties his aesthetics into a key theme of his larger philosophy.
Art works realize many values. According to tradition, not all of these values are characteristic of art: art works characteristically bear aesthetic value. Breaking with tradition, some now say that art works bear artistic value, as distinct from aesthetic value. I argue that there is no characteristic artistic value distinct from aesthetic value. The argument for this thesis suggests a new way to think about aesthetic value as it is characteristically realized by works of art.
Being for Beauty has two ambitions. It makes a case that the network theory of aesthetic value has enough going for it to be taken seriously in philosophical aesthetics, and in work on practical values and reasons more generally. In addition, by illustrating how much room we have to maneuver outside the bounds of aesthetic hedonism, the book invites work on alternative approaches. James Shelley, Julia Driver, and Samantha Matherne take up the invitation with such aplomb that one might declare (...) success on the second ambition and merely comment on how their proposals might be further developed. Nevertheless, since its explanatory power is precisely what gives us room to maneuver, what follows also sticks up for the network theory. (shrink)
Representational theories of mind cannot individuate the sense modalities in a principled manner. According to representationalism, the phenomenal character of experiences is determined by their contents. The usual objection is that inverted qualia are possible, so the phenomenal character of experiences may vary independently of their contents. But the objection is inconclusive. It raises difficult questions about the metaphysics of secondary qualities and it is difficult to see whether or not inverted qualia are possible. This paper proposes an alternative test (...) of representationalism. Do experiences in different sense modalities have the same phenomenal character when they share content? Psychological work on the perception of shape through vision and spatial hearing is discussed. This work shows that visual and auditory experiences differ in phenomenal character even in so far as they represent similar properties. This objection to representationalism does not invite questions about secondary qualities or depend on establishing metaphysical possibilities. (shrink)
If good taste is a virtue, then an account of good taste might be modelled on existing accounts of moral or epistemic virtue. One good reason to develop such an account is that it helps solve otherwise intractable problems in aesthetics. This paper proposes an alternative to neo-Aristotelian models of good taste. It then contrasts the neo-Aristotelian models with the proposed model, assessing them for their potential to contend with otherwise intractable problems in aesthetics.
A theory of aesthetic value should explain the performance of aesthetic experts, for aesthetic experts are agents who track aesthetic value. Aesthetic empiricism, the theory that an item's aesthetic value is its power to yield aesthetic pleasure, suggests that aesthetic experts are best at locating aesthetic pleasure, especially given aesthetic internalism, the view that aesthetic reasons always have motivating force. Problems with empiricism and internalism open the door to an alternative. Aesthetic experts perform a range of actions not aimed at (...) pleasure. Yet their reasons for acting are aesthetic. Since aesthetic values figure in aesthetic reasons, we can read a nonempiricist theory of aesthetic value off aesthetic experts’ reasons for acting. (shrink)
Aesthetic hedonists agree that an aesthetic value is a property of an item that stands in some constitutive relation to pleasure. Surprisingly, however, aesthetic hedonists need not reduce aesthetic normativity to hedonic normativity. They might demarcate aesthetic value as a species of hedonic value, but deny that the reason we have to appreciate an item is simply that it pleases. Such is the approach taken by an important strand of South Asian rasa theory that is represented with great clarity and (...) ingenuity in the work of K. C. Bhattacharyya. Bhattacharyya is an aesthetic hedonist who grounds aesthetic normativity in freedom. (shrink)
The question "what is art?" is often said to be venerable and vexing. In fact, the following answer to the question should be obvious: (R) item x is a work of art if and only if x is a work in practice P and P is one of the arts. Yet (R) has appeared so far from obvious that nobody has given it a moment's thought. The trouble is not that anyone might seriously deny the truth of (R), but rather (...) that they will find it uninformative. After all, the vexing question is pressed upon us by radical changes in art of the avant-garde, and (R) offers no resources to address these changes. With that in mind, here is the case for (R). The challenges posed by the avant-garde are real enough and they need to be addressed, but the vexing question is the wrong question to ask to address them. It does not follow that the question has no good answer. On the contrary, (R) is all the answer we need, if we do not need an answer that addresses the challenges posed by the avant-garde. Moreover, (R) points to a question that we do need answered. So, not only is it true but, in addition, (R) is as informative as we need. (shrink)
Empirical research on aesthetic response poses two challenges to philosophy. The more familiar challenge is that scientific explanations of aesthetic responses debunk what we take to be our reasons for those responses. One reaction to this challenge is an accommodation strategy that seeks to reconcile the scientific findings with an improved understanding of our normative reasons. This paper presents a more fundamental challenge: a well-established body of research in social psychology indicates that we routinely confabulate the reasons we give for (...) our aesthetic response. This challenges the accommodation strategy and suggests that philosophy should adopt a more radical naturalism about aesthetic response. (shrink)
When we look at photographs we literally see the objects that they are of. But seeing photographs as photographs engages aesthetic interests that are not engaged by seeing the objects that they are of. These claims appear incompatible. Sceptics about photography as an art form have endorsed the first claim in order to show that there is no photographic aesthetic. Proponents of photography as an art form have insisted that seeing things in photographs is quite unlike seeing things face-to-face. This (...) paper argues that the claims are compatible. While seeing things in photographs is quite unlike seeing things face-to-face, nevertheless seeing things in photographs is one way of seeing things. The differences between seeing things by means of photographs and by means of the naked eye provide the elements of an account of the aesthetic interests photographs engage. (shrink)
_Imagination, Philosophy and the Arts_ is the first comprehensive collection of papers by philosophers examining the nature of imagination and its role in understanding and making art. Imagination is a central concept in aesthetics with close ties to issues in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language, yet it has not received the kind of sustained, critical attention it deserves. This collection of seventeen brand new essays critically examines just how and in what form the notion of imagination (...) illuminates fundamental problems in the philosophy of art. (shrink)
Everybody assumes (1) that musical performances are sonic events and (2) that their expressive properties are sonic properties. This paper discusses recent findings in the psychology of music perception that show that visual information combines with auditory information in the perception of musical expression. The findings show at the very least that arguments are needed for (1) and (2). If music expresses what we think it does, then its expressive properties may be visual as well as sonic; and if its (...) expressive properties are purely sonic, then music expresses less than we think it does. And if the expressive properties of music are visual as well as sonic, then music is not what we think it is—it is not purely sonic. (shrink)
A study of culturally-embedded perceptual responses to aesthetic value indicates that learned perceptual capacities can secure compliance with social norms. We should therefore resist the temptation to draw a line between cognitive processes, such as perception, that can adapt to differences in physical environments, and cognitive processes, such as economic decision-making, that are shaped by social norms. Compliance with social norms is a result of perceptual learning when that same compliance modifies perceptible features of the physical environment.
The chief sources of aesthetic experience for most people around the world are now the mass broadcasting and recording technologies. Yet analytic aesthetics has had little to say about mass art. Recent accounts of art and the aesthetic, while accommodating the consensus concerning central cases, are largely propelled by problem cases drawn from the avant-garde, and one wonders what the effect will be of adding works of mass art to the equation. One also wonders whether making room for mass art (...) will put pressure on standard views about art and emotion, or the moral or political content of art. It’s time for a comprehensive and sensible philosophical examination of mass art, and this is what we have in Noël Carroll’s latest book. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that the art media can be individuated with reference to the sense modalities. Different art media are perceived by means of different sense modalities, and this tells us what properties of each medium are aesthetically relevant. The case of pictures appears to fit this principle well, for pictures are deemed purely and paradigmatically visual representations. However, recent psychological studies show that congenitally and early blind people have the ability to interpret and make raised‐line drawings through touch. (...) This shows that pictures are not essentially visual representations. The view that pictures are essentially visual follows from influential views of the nature of depiction and of the nature of vision that are mistaken. By rooting out the mistake, we learn something about pictures, something about vision, and something about the doctrine that art media are individuated by the sense modalities. (shrink)
Scientific images represent types or particulars. According to a standard history and epistemology of scientific images, drawings are fit to represent types and machine-made images are fit to represent particulars. The fact that archaeologists use drawings of particulars challenges this standard history and epistemology. It also suggests an account of the epistemic quality of archaeological drawings. This account stresses how images integrate non-conceptual and interepretive content.
Aesthetic values give agents reasons to perform not only acts of contemplation, but also acts like editing, collecting, and conserving. Moreover, aesthetic agents rarely operate solo: they conduct their business as integral members of networks of other aesthetic agents. The consensus theory of aesthetic value, namely that an item’s aesthetic value is its power to evoke a finally valuable experience in a suitable spectator, can explain neither the range of acts performed by aesthetic agents nor the social contexts in which (...) they operate. This paper proposes a new theory of aesthetic value specifically to explain facts about the sociality of aesthetic agents. (shrink)
This paper examines a form of pictorial realism that has epistemic import. Gombrich and Schier claim that some pictures are realistic because they convey accurate information. The difficulty is that judgments of realism vary across cultural and historical contexts. Goodman counters that pictures belong to different systems and realistic pictures belong to familiar systems. However, this does not explain the revelatory realism' of pictures in novel systems. I propose that two views can be combined: a realistic picture is one which (...) belongs to a system that conveys the kind of information that suits the needs of users in a context. (shrink)
Several recent books indicate that the philosophy of art has embarked upon a new alliance with cognitive science. One impetus for this is the move, beginning in the 70s and 80s, away from general aesthetics to a greater concern with the philosophies of the individual arts. Questions about the nature of art, expression, aesthetic experience and aesthetic properties as generic phenomena are still with us but many philosophers now approach them by means of specialized studies of music, literature, film, the (...) visual arts or the performing arts. Some claim that these questions can only be answered, or can best be answered, by studying the individual art forms. This has brought aesthetics into alignment with empirical research, which has always been concerned with individual art forms, for reasons having to do both with experimental design and with views of the mind as functionally differentiated. There is no psychological work on the perception of beauty, for example, but only on the perception of visual beauty, beauty in music and the like. Now that aesthetics is equally specialized, empirical research on the individual arts can be brought to bear upon familiar problems in aesthetics. (shrink)
Pictures are principally descriptive. Advertising images highlight features of potential purchases; cartoons open portals to scenes in fictional worlds; snapshots in the family photo album remind us of our past selves and landmark events in our personal histories; works of pictorial art express thoughts or feelings about depicted scenes. In addition, pictures serve a directive or action-guiding function that, though not taken into account by theorists, deserves no less attention than their descriptive one. Theories of depiction and the appreciation of (...) pictures stand to benefit by taking "directive pictures" into account, as do theories of representation in general and mental representation in particular. (shrink)
According to a core tenet of contemporary philosophy, aesthetic properties are primarily represented in experiences. Obviously, however, the tenet does not apply in any straightforward manner to many items that nevertheless seem to have aesthetic properties. Examples include literary works, mathematical objects, scientific ideas, and works of conceptual art. Aesthetic properties need not be represented in perceptual experiences, but what is an experience if not a perceptual state? This paper adapts Fred Dretske’s distinction between analogue and digital representation to develop (...) a broad conception of a kind of state that is an experience but need not be perceptual. Aesthetic properties are primarily represented in states so conceived. (shrink)
Some argue that there is no art in some non-Western cultures because members of those cultures have no concept of art. Others argue that members of some non-Western cultures have concepts of art because they have art. Both arguments assume that if there is art in a given culture, then some members of the culture have a concept of art. There are reasons to think that this assumption is false; and if it is false, there are lessons to learn for (...) cross-cultural studies of art both in anthropology and philosophy. (shrink)
What you see can shape how you feel, and the route from seeing to feeling sometimes involves empathy – as you might empathize with a woman you see grieving the death of her child. But empathy also comes from what you see in pictures. Bellini's Pieta? is one among many paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs that evoke empathy – and are designed to do so. Going further, it seems that episodes of empathy triggered by pictures can help build up a (...) person's capacity for empathic response. Indeed, they do so by fortifying the link between seeing and empathy in a distinctive way. To establish this thesis, we need a broad conception of empathic response and also the right conception of what we see in pictures. (shrink)
Instances of natural beauty are widely regarded as counterexamples to practice-based theories of aesthetic value. They are not. To see that they are not, we require the correct account of natural beauty and the correct account of social practices.
The third edition of the acclaimed _Routledge Companion to Aesthetics_ contains over sixty chapters written by leading international scholars covering all aspects of aesthetics. This companion opens with an historical overview of aesthetics including entries on Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno, Benjamin, Foucault, Goodman, and Wollheim. The second part covers the central concepts and theories of aesthetics, including the definitions of art, taste, the value of art, beauty, imagination, fiction, narrative, metaphor and pictorial representation. Part three is devoted to (...) issues and challenges in aesthetics, including art and ethics, art and religion, creativity, environmental aesthetics and feminist aesthetics. The final part addresses the individual arts, including music, photography, film, videogames, literature, theater, dance, architecture and design. With ten new entries, and revisions and updated suggestions for further reading throughout, _The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics_ is essential for anyone interested in aesthetics, art, literature, and visual studies. (shrink)
Philosophers have championed contextualist and relativist semantics for aesthetic discourse that attempt to explain faultless disagreement. However, both types of semantics do a good job explaining faultless disagreement. As a rule, more explananda assist in theory choice. This chapter proposes that three more facts need explaining. Aesthetic disputes revolve around objects, even as they express attitudes. They also extend into lengthy exchanges wherein reasons are offered and withdrawn. Finally, they play a role in the formation and regulation of aesthetic practices. (...) Different views about the point of aesthetic disputes interpret these three facts differently. One option has it that we use aesthetic disputes to align with peers who share the same preferences. This option is friendly to relativist semantics. The alternative states that we use aesthetic disputes to coordinate language and concepts to fit aesthetic genres. This option mandates contextualist semantics. The weight of evidence tilts towards contextualism. (shrink)
The representation of color by pictures raises worthwhile questions for philosophers and psychologists. Moreover, philosophers and psychologists interested in answering these questions will benefit by paying attention to each other's work. Failure to recognize the potential for interdisciplinary cooperation can be attributed to tacit acceptance of the resemblance theory of pictorial color. I argue that this theory is inadequate, so philosophers of art have work to do devising an alternative. At the same time, if the resemblance theory is false, then (...) color depiction has interesting implications for color science. Empirical researchers must rethink the widespread assumption that color recognition requires color constancy. I suggest that a neuropsychological account of color recognition will be instrumental to completing the philosophical task, but by the same token scientists might do well not to proceed without casting an eye to the work of philosophers of art. (shrink)
Theoretical work on aesthetic value has taken off in the past 5 or 10 years. Since work on artistic value dates at least as far back as the first debates about the interaction between artistic and other values, aesthetic value presumably differs from artistic value. Unlike artistic value, aesthetic value is found in art, but also in nature, design, and intellectual material, even philosophy (Lopes 2022a). Indeed, continued use of “aesthetic” as a synonym for “artistic” has held up work on (...) aesthetic value, as has the hegemony of aesthetic hedonism (Van der Berg 2020). Now a raft of new ideas are on offer, and each has something going for it. We should not be too quick to winnow: we can build a tent that is big enough to house them all. (shrink)
Hypotheses in aesthetics should explain appreciative failure as well as appreciative success. They should state the general conditions under which people fail to understand and value works as works of art. This stricture is all the more important when the typical response to conceptual art is one of resistance. Some philosophers explain this by claiming that conceptual art violates traditional theories of art. Others say that it violates folk ontologies of art. In fact, the appreciative failure to which conceptual art (...) is prone is a consequence of the fact that it is not visual art, as it appears to be; rather it is an entirely new art form. Works in new art forms pose special challenges to appreciation. Identifying these challenges enriches theorizing about art. (shrink)
Dominic McIver Lopes’ Four Arts of Photography and Diarmuid Costello’s On Photography: A Philosophical Inquiry examine the state of the art in analytic philosophy of photography and present a new approach to the study of the medium. As opposed to the orthodox and prevalent view, which emphasizes its epistemic capacities, the new theory reconsiders the nature of photography, and redirects focus towards the aesthetic potential of the medium. This symposium comprises two papers that critically examine central questions addressed in the (...) two books, with responses by the two authors in defence of their respective positions. (shrink)
Japan's Ise Jingu shrine has been taken down and rebuilt every twenty years for more than a millenium - a practice called "shikinen sengu." A standard ontology of architecture, according to which buildings are material particulars, implies that Ise Jingu is no more than twenty years old. However, a correct ontology of architecture is implicit in practices of architecture appreciation. The Japanese appreciation of Ise Jingu and other buildings in its architectural tradition implies both that it is no more than (...) twenty years old and that it is more than a thousand years old. Two ontologies are considered that reconcile this paradox. A general lesson is also drawn, that ontology of art can profit from cross-cultural studies. (shrink)
Neo-picturesque landscapes are former industrial sites redeveloped as parks in a way that preserves, maintains, and shapes memory of the materials, mechanics, and scale of the industrial age. This paper presents case studies of Duisburg Nord, the High Line, and Evergreen Brick Works. It distinguishes neo-picturesque ruins from archaeological ruins on the one hand and mere redevelopment projects on the other hand; traces a continuity between the eighteenth-century picturesque and the neo-picturesque; pinpoints the distinctive form of memory that the neo-picturesque (...) engages; and defends the importance of the neo-picturesque in contemporary life. (shrink)