Four Theories of Inversion in Art and Music

Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):1-19 (2002)
Issues about the nature and ontology of works of art play a central part in contemporary aesthetics. But such issues are complicated by the fact that there seem to be two fundamentally different kinds of artworks. First, a visual artwork such as a picture or drawing seems to be closely identified with a particular physical object, in that even an exact copy of it does not count as being genuinely the same work of art. Nelson Goodman describes such works as being “autographic.” Second, other artworks such as musical or literary works seem to be copyable without any such limitations: for example, two identical copies of a novel could each equally be a genuine instance of that novel; such works are “allographic,” in Goodman’s terminology. Nevertheless, it seems clear enough that a deeper understanding of both kinds of artworks requires the pursuit of analogies or similarities between them, in spite of their differences. Any such analogies that may be found will provide critical tests for more general theories about the nature of artworks. I show how to resolve such analogies for the orientational concept of inversion.
Keywords Inversion  Art  Music  Autographic versus Allographic art  Orientation
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DOI 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2002.tb01886.x
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