Remember the Medium! Film, Medium Specificity, and Response-Dependence

Dissertation, University of St. Andrews (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Medium specificity is a theory, or rather a cluster of arguments, in aesthetics that rests on the idea that media are the physical material that makes up artworks, and that this material contains specific and unique features capable of 1) differentiating media from one another, and 2) determining the aesthetic potential and goals of each medium. As such, medium specificity is essential for aestheticians interested in matters of aesthetic ontology and value. However, as Noël Carroll has vehemently and convincingly argued, the theory of medium specificity is inherently flawed and its many applications in art history ill-motivated. Famously, he concluded that we should ‘forget the medium’ entirely. In this thesis, I reject his conclusion and argue that reconstructing a theory of medium specificity, while taking Carroll’s objections into account, is possible. To do so, I offer a reconceptualization of the main theoretical components of medium specificity and ground this new theory in empirical research. I first redefine the medium not as the physical material that makes up artworks but as sets of practices – not the material itself but how one uses the material. I then show that what makes media specific and unique is not certain physical features, but the human responses, which can be empirically investigated, to the combination of practices that constitute media. This relation is one of response-dependence, albeit of a novel kind, which I develop by appealing to social metaphysics. The resulting theory is more complex but also much more flexible and fine-grained than the original and provides insight into a variety of current aesthetic theories.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Medium Specificity.Noël Carroll - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 29-47.
Cinematic.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 23 (46):78-95.
Some Philosophical Issues of Film Theory.Noel Edward Carroll - 1983 - Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
How Movies Think: Cavell on Film as a Medium of Art.Richard Eldridge - 2014 - Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 51 (1):3-20.
Artistic Medium.Wack Daniel - 2017 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Artistic Medium.Daniel Wack - 2017 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Cinema: Display, Medium, Work.Trevor Ponech - 2013 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 69 (3-4):543-564.
Can Film Be A Philosophical Medium?David Davies - 2008 - Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 5 (2):1-20.
A new look at aesthetic distance.H. Gene Blocker - 1977 - British Journal of Aesthetics 17 (3):219-229.
The Television Medium.Ted Nannicelli - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 949-970.


Added to PP

539 (#31,787)

6 months
268 (#7,744)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Clotilde Torregrossa
University of St. Andrews

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Epistemology Naturalized.W. V. Quine - 1969 - In Willard van Orman Quine (ed.), Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. Columbia University Press.
Categories of Art.Kendall L. Walton - 1970 - Philosophical Review 79 (3):334-367.
Dissecting explanatory power.Petri Ylikoski & Jaakko Kuorikoski - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (2):201–219.
Objectivity refigured: Pragmatism without verificationism.Mark Johnston - 1993 - In John Haldane & Crispin Wright (eds.), Reality, Representation, and Projection. Oxford University Press. pp. 85--130.
Aesthetic attention.Bence Nanay - 2014 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (5-6):96-118.

View all 30 references / Add more references