Expressiveness, Ineffability, and Nonconceptuality

In much of the discussion of expressive qualities in the 19th and 20th Centuries, music and artworks were viewed as capable of expressing emotions too fine-grained to be captured by language or concepts, and this ineffability and nonconceptuality was seen as a primary source of the value of music and the arts. In recent debates about expressive qualities, however, there has been a good deal of skepticism about both the ineffability claim and the claim about value. This essay argues for a moderate position on both of these claims. I argue that while many expressive qualities are indeed fine-grained, they are ultimately neither nonconceptual nor ineffable, since they can be adequately captured by demonstrative concepts of the form THAT MELANCHOLY EXPRESSIVE QUALITY, and hence by corresponding demonstrative language. But there is nonetheless a good deal of truth in the traditional ineffability claim, in that many expressive qualities are descriptively ineffable – they cannot be captured by non-demonstrative descriptive expressions. I also suggest, more briefly, that the descriptive ineffability of expressive qualities represents a significant source of the value of many works.
Keywords Expressiveness  Ineffability  Nonconceptualism  Conceptualism  Expressive Qualities  Demonstrative concepts
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,422
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

16 ( #281,308 of 1,924,768 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #417,923 of 1,924,768 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.