The Motivational Structure of Appreciation

Philosophical Quarterly 69 (276):445-466 (2019)
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On a widely held view in aesthetics, appreciation requires disinterested attention. George Dickie famously criticized a version of this view championed by the aesthetic attitude theorists. I revisit his criticisms and extract an overlooked challenge for accounts that seek to characterize appreciative engagement in terms of distinctive motivation: at minimum, the motivational profile such accounts propose must make a difference to how appreciative episodes unfold over time. I then develop a proposal to meet this challenge by drawing an analogy between how attention is guided in appreciation and how practical action is guided in ‘striving play’—a mode of game play recently foregrounded in the philosophy of games. On the resulting account, appreciation involves an ‘inverted’ motivational structure: the appreciating agent's attention is guided by cognitive goals taken up instrumentally, for the sake of the cognitive activity that results from attending under the guidance of those goals.

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Servaas van der Berg
University of British Columbia (PhD)

Citations of this work

Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1127-1156.
Attention.Christopher Mole - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Normativity, Agency, and Value: A View from Aesthetics.Dominic McIver Lopes - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (1):232-242.
The Aesthetic Engagement Theory of Art.Patrick Grafton-Cardwell - 2021 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8:243-268.
Aesthetic Experience as Interaction.Bence Nanay - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-13.

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References found in this work

Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Games: Agency as Art.C. Thi Nguyen - 2020 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception.Bence Nanay - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press UK.
Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value.Dominic Lopes - 2018 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

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