Imagining art

British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (1):29-45 (2007)
Abstract
Aesthetic discourse is highly metaphorical, and many art-critical metaphors seem to be genuinely informative. Aesthetic property realism holds that the characteristic terms of aesthetic discourse pick out mind-independent properties. The prevalence of metaphor is a problem for realism, then, because most art-critical metaphors are true only when artworks are imagined in a certain way. Realist attempts to consign metaphor to the roles of filling lexical gaps or picking out mind-independent but ineffable properties fail. I argue that a cognitivist aesthetic anti-realism is a better fit with a reflective understanding of our art-related practices. Metaphorical assertions about artworks can be truth-apt, but their truth depends essentially on our mental activity.
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