Art as cognitive: Beyond scientific realism

Philosophy of Science 38 (2):234-250 (1971)
Thesis: Art like science radically affects our perceiving and thinking, and the two are substantially alike in that together--along with an inherited "natural" language system with which they overlap--they enable us to articulate the world. Science has been advanced as the measure of all things: scientific realism. By implication, art pertains to beauty, science truth. Science effects conceptual break-throughs, changes our models of natural order. On the contrary (I argue), as a nonverbal symbol system art similarly affects paradigm-induced expectations. Substantively there is no difference in the way each enables us to articulate or measure the world: symbolic realism. The myth of resemblance as a criterion of representation--imitation as a one-one relation--has, at least since the time of Plato, obscured this truth. Once the distinction between representational and nonrepresentational art falls, the true nature of artist (like scientist) as maker is illumined. The artist, the scientist (disciplinarian), the cosmologist (those responsible for the formulation of so-called natural languages--in time all of us) make the world or, what practically amounts to the same thing, the known, perceived world. This is the claim of the symbolic realist. Is symbolic realism itself only a watershed? What implication does this critique have for assessing the role of the philosopher today?
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DOI 10.1086/288358
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