Function and normativity in Hutcheson's aesthetic epistemology

British Journal of Aesthetics 40 (4):441-451 (2000)
Abstract
This paper discusses what the function of the aesthetic sense is for Hutcheson, and how its function bears on a number of exegetical issues viz. Whether there is any possibility of objectivity within the scope of the theory and what the status of his analogy between secondary qualities and beauty actually amounts to. I argue that the aesthetic sense is analogous to a prevalent account of bodily sensations, which saw bodily sensation as having the function jointly signalling and eliciting motivational dispositions toward features that are harmful or beneficial to the body. The aesthetic sense is supposed to motivate us toward gaining knowledge of the world, and allows for a standard of taste relative to its function. The paper is a complement to my 'Hutcheson's Moral Sense', History of Philosophy Quarterly (forthcoming 2001).
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