With this third edition of Nelson Goodman's The Structure of Appear ance, we are pleased to make available once more one of the most in fluential and important works in the philosophy of our times. Professor Geoffrey Hellman's introduction gives a sustained analysis and appreciation of the major themes and the thrust of the book, as well as an account of the ways in which many of Goodman's problems and projects have been picked up and developed by others. Hellman also (...) suggests how The Structure of Appearance introduces issues which Goodman later continues in his essays and in the Languages of Art. There remains the task of understanding Good man's project as a whole; to see the deep continuities of his thought, as it ranges from logic to epistemology, to science and art; to see it therefore as a complex yet coherent theory of human cognition and practice. What we can only hope to suggest, in this note, is the b. road Significance of Goodman's apparently technical work for philosophers, scientists and humanists. One may say of Nelson Goodman that his bite is worse than his bark. Behind what appears as a cool and methodical analysis of the conditions of the construction of systems, there lurks a radical and disturbing thesis: that the world is, in itself, no more one way than another, nor are we. It depends on the ways in which we take it, and on what we do. (shrink)
Obviously enough the tongue, the spelling, the typography, the verbosity of a description reflect no parallel features in the world. Coherence is a characteristic of descriptions, not of the world: the significant question is not whether the world is coherent, but whether our account of it is. And what we call the simplicity of the world is merely the simplicity we are able to achieve in describing it.
Arthur Schopenhauer ranked the several arts in a hierarchy, with literary and dramatic arts at the top, music soaring in a separate even higher heaven, and architecture sinking to the ground under the weight of beams and bricks and mortar.1 The governing principle seems to be some measure of spirituality, with architecture ranking lowest by vice of being grossly material.Nowadays such rankings are taken less seriously. Traditional ideologies and mythologies of the arts are undergoing deconstruction and disvaluation, making way for (...) a neutral comparative study that can reveal a good deal not only about relations among the several arts2 but also about the kinships and contrasts between the arts, the sciences, and other ways that symbols of various kinds participate in the advancement of the understanding.In comparing architecture with the other arts, what may first strike us, despite Schopenhauer, is a close affinity with music: architectural and musical works, unlike paintings or plays or novels, are seldom descriptive or representational. With some interesting exceptions, architectural works do not denote—that is, do not describe, recount, depict, or portray. They mean, if at all, in other ways.On the other hand, and architectural work contrasts with other works of art in scale. A building or park or city3 is not only bigger spatially and temporally than a musical performance or painting—it is bigger even than we are. We cannot take it all in from a single point of view; we must move around and within it to grasp the whole. Moreover, the architectural work is normally fixed in place. Unlike a painting that may be reframed and rehung or a concerto that may be heard in different halls, the architectural work is firmly set in physical and cultural environment that alters slowly. 1. See Bryan Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer , pp. 176-78. Nelson Goodman, emeritus professor of philosophy at Harvard University, is the author of, among other works, The Structure of Appearance, Languages of Art, Ways of Worldmaking, and Of Mind and Other Matters. His previous contributions to Critical Inquiry are “The Status of Style” , “Metaphor as Moonlighting” , “Twisted Tales; or, Story, Study, and Symphony” , “The Telling and the Told” , and “Routes of Reference) Autumn 1981). (shrink)
When the evidence leaves us with a choice among hypotheses of unequal strength, how is the choice to be made?Caution would counsel us to choose the weakest, the hypothesis that asserts the least, since it is the least likely to fail us later. But the principle of maximum safety quickly reduces to absurdity; for it always dictates the choice of a hypothesis that does not go beyond the evidence at all.
Obviously, subject is what is said, style is how. A little less obviously, that formula is full of faults. Architecture and nonobjective painting and most of music have no subject. Their style cannot be a matter of how they say something, for they do not literally say anything; they do other things, they mean in other ways. Although most literary works say something, they usually do other things, too; and some of the ways they do some of these things are (...) aspects of style. Moreover, the what of one sort of doing may be part of the how of another. Indeed, even where the only function in question is saying, we shall have to recognize that some notable features of style are features of the matter rather than the manner of the saying. In more ways than one, subject is involved in style. For this and other reasons, I cannot subscribe to the received opinion that style depends upon an artist's conscious choice among alternatives. And I think we shall also have to recognize that not all differences in ways of writing or painting or composing or performing are differences in style. Nelson Goodman, professor of philosophy at Harvard University, has written The Structure of Appearance; Fact, Fiction and Forecast; Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols; Problems and Projects; and numerous articles. Logic and Art: Essays in Honor of Nelson Goodman was published in 1972. His contributions to Critical Inquiry include "Metaphor as Moonlighting" , "Twisted Tales; or, Story, Study, and Symphony" , and "The Telling and the Told". (shrink)
How Classification Works attempts to bridge the gap between philosophy and the social sciences using as a focus some of the work of Nelson Goodman. Throughout his long career Goodman has addressed the question: are some ways of conceptualizing more natural than others? This book looks at the rightness of categories, assessing Goodman's role in modern philosophy and explaining some of his ideas on the relation between aesthetics and cognitive theory. Two papers by Nelson Goodman are included in the collection (...) and there are analyses of his work by seven leading academics in anthropology, philosophy, sociology and musicology. (shrink)
The acknowledged difficulty and even impossibility of finding a literal paraphrase for most metaphors is offered by [Donald] Davidson1 as evidence that there is nothing to be paraphrased - that a sentence says nothing metaphorically that it does not say literally, but rather functions differently, inviting comparisons and stimulating thought. But paraphrase of many literal sentences also is exceedingly difficult, and indeed we may seriously question whether any sentence can be translated exactly into other words in the same or any (...) other language. Let's agree, though, that literal paraphrase of metaphor is on the whole especially hard. That is easily understood since the metaphorical application of terms has the effect, and usually the purpose, of drawing significant boundaries that cut across ruts worn by habit, of picking out new relevant kinds for which we have no simple and familiar literal descriptions. We must note in passing, though, that the metaphorical application may nevertheless be quite clear. For just as inability to define "desk" is compatible with knowing which articles are desks, so inability to paraphrase a metaphorical term is compatible with knowing what it applies to, And as I have remarked elsewhere,2 whether a man is metaphorically a Don Quixote or a Don Juan is perhaps easier to decide than whether he is literally a schizoid or a paranoiac. · 1. In "What Metaphors Mean," Critical Inquiry 5 : 31-47.· 2. In "Stories upon Stories; or, Reality on Tiers," delivered at the conference Levels of Reality, in Florence, Italy, September 1978. Nelson Goodman, emeritus professor of philosophy at Harvard, has written The Structure of Appearance; Fact, Fiction, and Forecast; Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols; Problems and Projects; and, most recently, Ways of Worldmaking. His contributions to Critical Inquiry include "The Status of Style" , "Twisted Tales; or, Story, Study, and Symphony" , and "The Telling and the Told". (shrink)