Reply to Nathan on Art
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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I very much appreciate Daniel Nathan’s thoughtful commentary on Aesthe- tic Creation. He describes my view accurately, with a full understanding of what is moving me, and with some sympathy for my methodological concerns, even if he thinks that I over emphasize some desiderata and even if he cannot endorse the particular aesthetic theory that I argue emerges from the methodological reflections. He makes a number of interesting criticisms. (A) Nathan worries about doodles being classified as art according the aesthetic creation theory. Nathan says that this violates certain intuitions about the nature of art. I query this appeal to intuition. Whose concepts? Which intuitions? Why do such intuitions have evidential weight? We have intuitions abut the physical world: that the earth is flat not round. More to the point we have intuitions about kinds. For example, it is intuitive that a whale is a fish. But such intuitions may be mistaken. Similarly with intuitions about what is art and what is not art. With intuitions I say at least that there is, or should be, a question mark standing over them. We are interested in the world, not in our concepts or intuitions. The question is: what are these things? And the question about concepts is: which do we need to understand the things? Which concepts should we have? Not: which do we have? As Nathan notes, for me, explanation trumps extension if there is a conflict. Or perhaps rather, for me, extension is subsumed under explanation. It is true that there are avant garde works that I exclude that other theories include. And there also are doodles that I include and they exclude. The question is where we go from there. (B) Nathan worries about the success condition. I required that to some extent artists are right about aesthetic/nonaesthetic dependencies. Actually, I would not kill for the success condition. Perhaps aesthetic intent is enough1. A person might form an aesthetic intention but never get round to acting on it, in which case we do not have a work of art..
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