Psychologism and Completeness in the Arts

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75 (2):131-141 (2017)
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Abstract

When is an artwork complete? Most hold that the correct answer to this question is psychological in nature. A work is said to be complete just in case the artist regards it as complete or is appropriately disposed to act as if he or she did. Even though this view seems strongly supported by metaphysical, epistemological, and normative considerations, this article argues that such psychologism about completeness is mistaken, fundamentally, because it cannot make sense of the artist's own perspective on his or her work. For the artist, the question is not about his or her own psychology, but about the character of the work and the context in which he or she works. A nonpsychological account of completeness, on which completeness is a question of whether the work satisfies the conditions implicit in the artist's plan, avoids this problem and is equally or better able to explain the metaphysical, epistemic, and normative phenomena which appeared to support psychologism.

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Guy Rohrbaugh
Auburn University

Citations of this work

A Return to Musical Idealism.Wesley D. Cray & Carl Matheson - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):702-715.
The Heart of Classical Work-Performance.Andrew Kania - 2022 - British Journal of Aesthetics 62 (1):125-141.
Complete Artworks without Authors.Kelly Trogdon - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy.
How to Understand the Completion of Art.Patrick Grafton-Cardwell - 2020 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (2):197-208.
Psychologism about Artistic Plans: Reply to Cray.Guy Rohrbaugh - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (1):105-107.

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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans & John Mcdowell - 1986 - Philosophy 61 (238):534-538.
Aesthetic Concepts.Frank Sibley - 1959 - Philosophical Review 68 (4):421-450.

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