Dissanayake argues that art behaviors – which she characterizes first as patterns or syndromes of creation and response and later as rhythms and modes of mutuality – are universal, innate, old, and a source of intrinsic pleasure, these being hallmarks of biological adaptation. Art behaviors proved to enhance survival by reinforcing cooperation, interdependence, and community, and, hence, became selected for at the genetic level. Indeed, she claims that art is essential to the fullest realization of our human nature. I make (...) three criticisms: Dissanayake’s theory cannot account adequately for differences in the aesthetic value of artworks; the connections drawn between art and reproductive success are too stretched to account for art's production, nature, and reception; indeed, art enters the picture only because it is so thinly characterized that it remains in doubt that her topic is art as we understand it. (shrink)
Representing StephenDavies's best shorter writings, these essays outline developments within the philosophy of music over the last two decades, and summarize the state of play at the beginning of a new century. Including two new and previously unpublished pieces, they address both perennial questions and contemporary controversies, such as that over the 'authentic performance' movement, and the impact of modern technology on the presentation and reception of musical works. Rather than attempting to reduce musical works to a (...) single type, Davies recognizes a great variety of kinds, and a complementary range of possibilities for their rendition. (shrink)
In a recent essay, Jerrold Levinson defends his version of hypothetical intentionalism (HI), which is a theory of literary interpretation, from two criticisms. The first, argued by StephenDavies, is that it is equivalent to the value-maximizing view. The second, argued by Robert Stecker, is that there are straightforward counterexamples to HI. We will argue that Levinson does not successfully fend off either criticism, and further, that in the process of attempting to do so, creates another dilemma for (...) his view. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Philosophical Perspectives on Art presents a series of essays devoted to two of the most fundamental topics in the philosophy of art: the distinctive character of artworks and what is involved in understanding them as art. In Part I, StephenDavies considers a wide range of questions about the nature and definition of art. Can art be defined, and if so, which definitions are the most plausible? Do we make and consume art because there are evolutionary advantages to (...) doing so? Has art completed the mission that guided its earlier historical development, and if so, what is to become of it now? Should architecture be classified as an art form? -/- Part II turns to the interpretation and appreciation of art. What is the target and purpose of the critic's interpretation? Is interpretation primarily directed at uncovering artists' intended meanings? Can apparently contradictory interpretations of a given piece both be true? Are interpretative evaluations entailed by descriptions of a work's aesthetic and artistic characteristics? In addition to providing fresh answers to these and other central questions in aesthetics, Davies considers the nature and content of metaphor, and the relation between the expressive qualities of a work of art and the emotions of its creator. (shrink)
In the last 20 years postmodernism has had a powerful effect on the discipline of history and is now forcing empiricist historians to articulate their methods, and to defend them as both possible and virtuous. In this concise introduction, StephenDavies explains what historians mean by empiricism, examines the origins, growth and persistence of empirical methods, and shows how students can apply these methods to their own work.
In a recent essay, Jerrold Levinson defends his version of hypothetical intentionalism (HI), which is a theory of literary interpretation, from two criticisms. The first, argued by StephenDavies, is that it is equivalent to the value-maximizing view. The second, argued by Robert Stecker, is that there are straightforward counterexamples to HI. We will argue that Levinson does not successfully fend off either criticism, and further, that in the process of attempting to do so, creates another dilemma for (...) his view. (shrink)
The Genre Legong is a secular (balih-balihan) Balinese dance genre (Anon. 1971). Though originally associated with the palace, legong has long been performed in villages, especially at temple ceremonies, as well as at Balinese festivals of the arts. Since the 1920s, abridged versions of legong dances have featured in concerts organized for tourists and in overseas tours by Balinese orchestras. Indeed, the dance has become culturally emblematic, and its image is used to advertise Bali to the world. Traditionally, the dancers (...) are three young girls; the servant (condong), who dances a prelude, and two legong. All wear elaborate costumes of gilded cloth with ornate accessories and frangipani-crowned headdresses. The core repertoire consists of about fifteen dances (some of which are now lost), ranging in their longest versions from thirty to sixty minutes. Some of these are narrative, while others are abstract or general representations of nature, birds, insects, or plants. Those that involve narratives are, nevertheless, highly stylized, and the presentation of the drama is always secondary to the beauty of the dance. The genre is regarded as a treasury of the movements for Balinese women’s dance, and no dancer’s training is complete if she lacks a solid grounding in legong. The dance is accompanied by a gamelan of twenty-five or more players. Though the legong dance remains popular in areas of traditional strength, and despite efforts to revive it, it is generally in decline (Davies 2006). (shrink)
We consider the implications of a model for long-duration gamma-ray bursts in which the progenitor is spun up in a close binary by tidal interactions with a massive black-hole companion. We investigate a sample of such binaries produced by a binary population synthesis, and show that the model predicts several common features in the accretion on to the newly formed black hole. In all cases, the accretion rate declines as approximately t−5/3 until a break at a time of order 104 (...) s. The accretion rate declines steeply thereafter. Subsequently, there is flaring activity, with the flare peaking between 104 and 105 s, the peak time being correlated with the flare energy. We show that these times are set by the semi-major axis of the binary, and hence the process of tidal spin-up; furthermore, they are consistent with flares seen in the X-ray light curves of some long gamma-ray bursts. (shrink)
I discuss three theories regarding the interpretation of fictional literature: actual intentionalism (author's intentions constrain how their works are to be interpreted), hypothetical intentionalism (interpretations are justified as those most likely intended by a postulated author), and the value-maximizing theory (interpretations presenting the work in the most favourable light are to be preferred). I claim that actual intentionalism cannot account for the appropriateness or legitimacy of some interpretations, or alternatively that it must be weakened to the point that the considerations (...) raised by hypothetical intentionalists and value maximizers come into play. And I argue that hypothetical intentionalism either reduces to the value-maximizing theory, which provides a more accurate and clearer expression of the position than does hypothetical intentionalism, or it mistakenly attributes to hypothesized intentions the kind of force that attaches only to actual intentions. (shrink)
Berys Gaut has recently defended a cluster account of art. He proposes it as superior to other anti-essentialist positions. I argue that his defence of this claim is unconvincing. Not only is the cluster theory consistent with the current crop of disjunctive definitions, it is at its most plausible when seen in such terms.
I have long been interested in the expression of emotion in music and in the response this calls forth from the listener. One such response is a mirroring or echoing one; sad music tends to make (some) listeners feel sad and happy music to make them happy. This mirroring reaction is brought about by what I have called emotional contagion. We tend to resonate with the emotional tenor of the music, much as we catch the emotional ambience emanating from other (...) people. Reflecting on the musical case not only enhances understanding of the listener’s response, it provides a novel objection to the cognitive theory of the emotions favored by many philosophers and invites critical consideration of the models for human-to-human emotional contagion proposed by psychologists. As I try to show, the most common accounts of emotional contagion should be developed and refined in light of analysis of emotional contagion in the musical case, which recommends, for example, that we distinguish attention from non-attentional modes of emotional transmission and, in general, avoid defining the phenomenon reductively in terms of the routes and mechanisms of communication. (shrink)
It is widely held that there is a paradox in the fact that we respond emotionally to characters, situations, or events that we know to be fictional, or in other words, when they do not exist. To take a familiar example.
What are musical works? Are they discovered or created? Can recordings substitute faithfully for live performances? This book considers these and other intriguing questions. It first outlines the nature of musical works, their relation to performances, and their notational specification; it then considers authenticity in performance, musical traditions, and recordings. Comprehensive and original, the volume discusses many kinds of music, applying its conclusions to issues as diverse as the authentic performance movement, the cultural integrity of ethnic music, and the implications (...) of the dominance of recorded over live music. (shrink)
In Functional Beauty, Glenn Parsons and Allen Carlson defend the importance of Functional Beauty—that is, the view that an item's fitness (or otherwise) for its proper function is a source of positive (or negative) aesthetic value—within a unified comprehensive aesthetic theory that encompasses art, the everyday, animals and organic nature, natural environments and inorganic nature, and artifacts. In the following section, I outline the main lines of argument presented in the book. I then criticize some of these arguments. I do (...) so, however, from the perspective of someone who shares the authors' commitment to the importance of Functional Beauty and their dismay at its neglect in contemporary aesthetic theory. .. (shrink)
According to the Balinese expert, Dr. Anak Agung Mad ´e Djelantik, “no writings about aesthetics specifically as a discipline exist in Bali.”1 The arts are discussed in ancient palm leaf texts, but mainly in connection with religion, spirituality, ceremony, and the like. However, there are famous accounts by expatriate Westerners and anthropologists.2 There have also been collaborations between Balinese and Western scholars.3 In addition, there is a significant literature written in Indonesian by Balinese experts, beginning in the 1970s.4 Considerable experience (...) of the culture is necessary to appreciate the full detail of these analyses and to be able to understand the arts from a Balinese perspective. I attempt neither task in this paper. What I have written is addressed more to the cultural tourist than the anthropologist. Tourists are often captivated by the colorful opulence of Balinese culture and the centrality of art to the daily lives of ordinary Balinese. At the same time, all but the most indifferent or obtuse cannot fail to notice that the Balinese attitude to the arts is sometimes strangely different from our own Western culture. In following sections, I outline what is likely to strike non-Balinese as puzzling or unique in the Balinese attitude to and treatment of the arts. I focus on four areas: the relation between art and religion and between art and community, the competitive aspect of the arts, and the high value placed on novelty, innovation, and adaptation. I begin, though, by discussing notions that are foundational in Balinese aesthetics. (shrink)
In its narrative, dramatic, and representational genres, art regularly depicts contexts for human emotions and their expressions. It is not surprising, then, that these artforms are often about emotional experiences and displays, and that they are also concerned with the expression of emotion. What is more interesting is that abstract art genres may also include examples that are highly expressive of human emotion. Pure music – that is, stand-alone music played on musical instruments excluding the human voice, and without words, (...) literary titles, or associated texts connected to it by its composer – is often characterized as the expressive art par excellence. Yet how could that be possible, given that such music lacks semantic or representational content? Pure music presents the hardest and most vivid philosophical challenge to any account of expressiveness in the arts, which is why it is crucial to consider the musical case for the light it sheds on the underlying principles and issues. In this chapter I consider two accounts of expressiveness in pure music. Both regard expressiveness as an objective property of such music. I argue for the position I call appearance emotionalism and against the alternative, which I label hypothetical emo- tionalism. But before I get to that, there is a different mode of musical expression to be acknowledged. Even instrumental music comes charged with associations. Some of these are private to the listener, but many are widely shared. The latter may be included in a piece by accident but are, more often, deliberately placed for their effects. For instance, when a song is quoted in an instrumental work, its title or words may be brought to mind. Certain melodies (e.g., “Ode to Joy”), styles (e.g., tarantella), idioms (e.g., fanfares), forms (e.g., minuet), modalities (e.g., church modes), and instruments (e.g., fifes and snare drums) recall particular social events, geocultural regions, historical periods, ideas, and sensibilities, and in this way can hook up with affective life-experiences. Though it is music’s associative ties that are likely to be referred to when most people are asked about music’s significance, philosophers say little about them.. (shrink)
In sections I-VII of this chapter I outline the theoretical background for a research programme considering whether the expressiveness of a culture’s music can be recognised by people from different musical cultures, that is, by people whose music is syntactically and structurally distinct from that of the target culture. In sections VIII-IX, I examine and assess the cross-cultural studies that have been undertaken by psychologists. Most of these studies are compromised by methodological inadequacies.
I offer an analysis of the role played by consideration of an item's functions when it is judged aesthetically. The account applies also to artworks, of which some serve extrinsic functions (such as the glorification of God and the communication of religious lore) and others have the function of being contemplated for their own sake alone. Along the way, I deny that aesthetic judgements fit the model of judgements either of free beauty or of dependent beauty, given how these two (...) came to be described in the early twentieth century. (shrink)
Written with clarity, wit, and rigor, The Philosophy of Art provides an incisive account of the core topics in the field. The first volume in the new Foundations of the Philosophy of the Arts series, designed to provide crisp introductions to the fundamental general questions about art, as well as to questions about the several arts (such as literature, music or painting). Presents a clear and insightful introduction to central topics and on-going debates in the philosophy of art. Eight sections (...) cover a wide spectrum of topics such as the interpretation of art, the relation between art and moral values, and the expression and arousal of emotion through art. Pedagogical features include full-color illustrations, vibrant examples, thought-provoking discussion questions and helpful suggested readings. (shrink)
In this chapter, I discuss the kinds of understanding expected of and evinced by skilled listeners, performers, analysts, and composers. I confine the discussion to Western, purely instrumental music, mainly with the classical tradition in mind. And I refer primarily to the Anglophone literature of "analytic" philosophy of music. As will become apparent, my concern is with an analysis that maps what are meant to be familiar aspects of musical experience. I investigate the various understandings expected of an accomplished listener, (...) the performer, the music analyst, and the composer. (shrink)
In its narrative, dramatic, and representational genres, art regularly depicts contexts for human emotions and their expressions. It is not surprising, then, that these artforms are often about emotional experiences and displays, and that they are also concerned with the expression of emotion. What is more interesting is that abstract art genres may also include examples that are highly expressive of human emotion. Pure music – that is, stand-alone music played on musical instruments excluding the human voice, and without words, (...) literary titles, or associated texts connected to it by its composer – is often characterized as the expressive art par excellence. Yet how could that be possible, given that such music lacks semantic or representational content? Pure music presents the hardest and most vivid philosophical challenge to any account of expressiveness in the arts, which is why it is crucial to consider the musical case for the light it sheds on the underlying principles and issues. (shrink)
Self-executing treaties like the Salvage Convention 1989 automatically become "the supreme law of the land" in the United States under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.They require no legislation to make them operative but they have the same force and effect as an Article I legislative enactment.The fact that no implementing legislation is needed often leads to the paradoxical result that a self-executing treaty is more easily forgotten, perhaps for the simple reason that such treaties do not always appear (...) in the U.S. Code and so are not always easy to find. Perhaps that is the explanation of the curious fate of the Salvage Convention 1989, which does not appear anywhere in the U.S. Code. There can be no doubt, however, that when the provisions of a treaty prescribe a rule by which private rights may be determined, as the Salvage Convention 1989 does, a court must resort to the treaty for rules of decision, just as it would to a statute. A court may only refer to the law that would govern in the absence of the treaty - in the present context, general maritime law - when the treaty leaves an issue unresolved. In short, it is not acceptable for courts to continue to apply the general maritime law of salvage simply because it is broadly equivalent to the Salvage Convention 1989. Even when the general maritime law and the Salvage Convention 1989 would produce identical results, courts should apply the Salvage Convention 1989 and not the general maritime law. When the general maritime law and the Salvage Convention 1989 would (or even might) produce different results, which may occur quite often, there is no justification for applying the general maritime law. (shrink)
Arthur C. Danto taught that an artwork’s identity and content depend on "an atmosphere of theory the eye cannot de[s]cry" (1964:580). By "theory", he did not mean the ideas developed by philosophers of art. His point was that an artwork can be properly recognized and appreciated only when seen in relation to the heritage of works, writings, practices, genres, and conventions that form the ground on which it stands out as subject. In brief, the work must be seen against the (...) backdrop of what he dubbed (1964) the art world. (shrink)
known as timbral sonicism, accepts that a musical work's orchestral colour is a factor in its identity, but denies that the use of the specified instruments is required for an authentic rendition of the work provided that sounds as of those instruments are achieved. This position has been defended by Julian Dodd. In arguing against his view, I appeal to empirical work showing that composers, musicians, and listeners typically hear through music to the actions that go into its production. In (...) this respect, musical listening reflects the standard account of ‘ecological hearing’; we appreciate sounds as providing information about their sources rather than for their intrinsic qualities. On this basis, I suggest that musical instruments are not merely means to the production of the sounds of performances. Their use is mandated if such performances are to be properly formed. More specifically, when composers are able to make the instrumentation of their compositions central to the identity of those compositions, accurate performances must involve the appropriate use of the specified instruments. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
According to Peter Kivy, to be profound, music would have to be about a profound subject that is treated in an exemplary way. Instrumental music does not satisfy this definition; usually it is not about anything humanly important, and when it is, it can convey no more than banalities. Like others, I argue against the propositional character of Kivy's ‘aboutness’ criterion; profundity can be revealed or displayed other than via statements and descriptions. I am less inclined than some of Kivy's (...) critics to argue that music conveys profound insights into the emotions or abstract metaphysical ideas, such as unity and identity. Instead, I draw a parallel with great chess, which illustrates the fecundity, flexibility, insight, vitality, subtlety, complexity, and analytical far-reachingness of which the human mind is capable. That demonstration is of deep significance, given the wider importance of an appreciation of our intellectual and imaginative powers, even if chess says nothing about the skills to which it draws attention. My thesis is that some instrumental music is profound in a similar way; namely, for what it exemplifies and thereby reveals about the capacities of the human mind. (shrink)