The Limits of Conceptual Analysis in Aesthetics

Abstract
In order to understand why analytic aesthetics has lost a lot of its former intellectual stature it is necessary to combine historical reconstruction with systematic consideration. In the middle of the twentieth century analytic philosophers came to the conclusion that essentialist theories of the “nature” of art are no longer tenable. As a consequence they felt compelled to move to the meta-level of conceptual analysis. Then they tried to show how a purely classificatory concept of art is used. The presupposition, however, that there actually is such a concept can only appear plausible at first sight. Upon closer inspection it turns out to be utterly misguided
Keywords Analytic aesthetics, theories of art, conceptual analysis
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