The article presents the conceptual groundwork for an understanding of the essentially improvisational dimension of human rationality. It aims to clarify how we should think about important concepts pertinent to central aspects of human practices, namely, the concepts of improvisation, normativity, habit, and freedom. In order to understand the sense in which human practices are essentially improvisational, it is first necessary to criticize misconceptions about improvisation as lack of preparation and creatio ex nihilo. Second, it is necessary to solve the (...) theoretical problems that derive from misunderstandings concerning the notions of normativity, habit, and freedom – misunderstandings that revolve around the idea that rationality is a form that is developed out of itself and thus works in a way similar to algorithms. One can only make sense of normativity, habit, and freedom if one understands that they all involve conflictual relationships with the world and with others, which in turn enables one to adequately take into account their constitutive connection to improvisation, properly understood. In outlining these conceptual connections, we want to prepare the foundations for an explanation of rational practices as improvisational practices. The article concludes by stating that human rational life is improvisatory because the conditions of human practice arise out of practice itself. (shrink)
This paper explores the ontology of musical improvisation (MI). MI, as process in which creative and performing activities are one and the same generative occurrence, is contrasted with the most widespread conceptual resource used in inquiries about music ontology of the Western tradition: the type/token duality (TtD). TtD, which is used for explaining the relationship between musical works (MWs) and performances, does not fit for MI. Nonetheless MI can be ontologically related to MWs. A MW can ensue from MI and (...) MI can be required for performing a MW faithfully. As performance on a MW, MI can offer versions of a MW, manifest a MW, and, especially, use it as one of its ‘ingredients’. Recordings of MI present special challenges and an unexpected ontological revival. (shrink)
A book review of Susanne Ravn, Simon Høffding, and James McGuirk, eds., _Philosophy of Improvisation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Theory and Practice_. London: Routledge, 2021, vii + 218 pp. ISBN 9780367540210.
Following suggestions by Joseph Margolis and Richard K. Sawyer, in this paper I apply the notion of emergence to the philosophy of art. I will argue that the interpretation of works of art cannot be reduced either to the perceptive experience of the manifest qualities of the art object, nor to the identification of the author’s intentions, nor to the understanding of the practices of the historic context of production. I suggest, instead, that the identity of a work of art (...) emerges, on the one hand, from the artist’s interactions with forms, materials and artistic genres and, on the other, from the relationships between the artwork and the changing contexts of its reception. Moreover, I maintain that artistic categories are formed through artistic practices and that, therefore, they cannot be assumed as undisputable criteria for the identification and evaluation of artworks. I will thus argue that the emerging normativity of improvisational interaction in the performing art provides a suitable model to account for the “dynamic” ontological identity of artistic phenomena. (shrink)
Seit den Anfängen der Philosophie in der Antike bis heute währt das Fragen um das Nichts. Dabei steht es in unterschiedlichen Kontexten: Theologie, Ontologie, Ethik, Erkenntnistheorie, Logik und Ästhetik. Trotz einer unleugbaren Kontinuität zur antiken und mittelalterlichen Beschäftigung mit dem Nichts bildet die europäische Moderne eine originäre und innovative Erkenntnis und Erfahrung des Nichts aus, die nicht zuletzt das Aufkommen des Nihilismus bescheinigt. Dieser Band versucht einen umfassenden Blick auf das Themenfeld «Nichts - Negation - Nihilismus» zu werfen und insbesondere (...) zu erörtern, worin die Kontinuität und Diskontinuität der europäischen Moderne zu Antike und Mittelalter bestehen. (shrink)
In this paper I aim at discussing the following questions: is improvisation an intentional action? If it is an intentional action, in what sense is improvisation intentional? Can improvisation contribute to the understanding of intentional action? I will argue that improvisation is not a bizarre case of action or a weakened action, but an intentional action in the proper sense. Moreover, improvisation exemplifies key features of intentional action as such.
I aim at explaining the sense in which the notion of improvisation is important for the ontology of art. In the first part, I criticize the widespread assumption of the repeatability of a musical work without transformation of its identity and defend Conversational Improvisational Emergentism (CIE) as the specific contribution of improvisation to musical ontology: in an improvisation, values and meanings of what has been played constrain what follows and are themselves retroactively (trans)formed by what follows; likewise, the performing interpretations (...) of musical works and traditions reinvent their meanings and evaluation criteria, responding to past interpretations and opening up (as well as binding) possibilities for future interpretations. In the second part, I extend the scope of my investigation to art more generally. By critiquing the principle of «no evaluation without identification» and referring to Peter Lamarque’s and Joseph Margolis’ views about art ontology, I propose a transformative theory of artworks, which is based on the thesis of the improvisational “nature” of artistic practices (a thesis that I conceive of as a particular form of CIE). Its core point is that evaluative and performative interpretations of artworks (re)shape creatively, and retroactively, the meanings and the flexible identities of artworks. Accordingly, the artworks’ meanings and identities emerge (and are (trans)formed) through the cultural improvisational interactions in which artworks participate. (shrink)
According to Gilbert Ryle, improvisation is a basic feature of ordinary action. In this paper, we take this idea seriously. Action is improvisation, in that it is situated: It is shaped by attentive responses to environmental circumstances. This is a crucial aspect of agency. However, it is neglected by causal theories of action (Bratman; Mele) and only partially addressed by Thompson’s process-oriented theory. By resorting to Kant’s theory of judgment, we argue for understanding action performance in terms of improvisational shaping (...) of action in situ. The focus on improvisation points to a situated kind of practical rationality entailing the reciprocal shaping of intention and action instead of the ordinary instrumental kind of rationality of action as unidirectionally determined by intention. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that we look to improvisation in order to understand artistic creativity. Indeed, instead of being anti-artistic in nature, due to its supposed unpreparedness, inaccuracy, and repetitive monotony, improvisation in art exemplifies and 'fuels' artistic creativity as such. I elucidate the relationship between improvisation and artistic creativity in four steps. I discuss the concept of creativity in general (I) and in reference to art (II). Then I focus on the properties and the phenomenology of improvisation (III). (...) Finally, I explain why improvisation can be understood as an exemplifying instance of art creativity (IV). (shrink)
In this contribution, I discuss the status of comics particularly through the exemplification of Disney’s Dante parodies, in light of some ideas I take in from aestheticological reflection on improvisational art practices. In particular, L’Inferno di Topolino, the first of the great Italian Disney parodies, is paradigmatic for understanding the character of comics as a metafinational hybrid transmedium, capable of appropriating the contents of literary classics, bringing them to life in relation to the contemporary situation.
Que contribuição a filosofia de Fichte pode dar à ontologia? Fichte posicionou-se claramente contra a ontologia enquanto descrição dos entes, isto é, contra a ontologia descritiva. A doutrina da ciência desenvolve pois uma ontologia prescritiva que pode ser entendida como um tipo de “ontologia performativa”.
The paper recognizes the failure of contemporary non-aesthetic theories of art and aims at recovering the phenomenological notion of derealization – which re-emerges in A. Dantoʼs idea of the ʻbracketting effectʼ of art –, in order to explain art and art-experience. The main point is that art makes us free from the ʻreal worldʼ through an act of derealization that leads to the establishment of possible or fictional worlds different from the one we live in. Artworks are primarly imaginary, unreal (...) objects, due to the fact that they interest us only for its appearance and as appearance. Therefore, art cannot be understood without the frame of a particular kind of experience that we can understand in terms of Kantʼs notion of disinterestedness. This notion is still productive to understand why art has a certain power to free us from the needs of reality, although through art we do have profound views of certain aspects of reality and our life. Some objections against Kantʼs theory of aesthetic disinterestedness are discussed and refused, in order to understand the transcendental significance of the aesthetic theory of art. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that proper artistic failure may turn out to be artistically appreciated and even considered as artistically successful. A set of arguments is provided in order to overcome intentionalism, the widely accepted view according to which an artist’s intentions fix the artwork’s meaning. Instead, we propose and elaborate an alternative model: emergentism of artistic meaning and value. Emergentism explains how artistic failure can turn out to be artistically successful. That is, artworks may succeed (...) despite the failure of the realization of artistic intentions. It is argued that such a rehabilitation of artistic failures, perceiving them as not necessarily doomed, paves the path for experiencing failures as not merely failures. The paper suggests that under defined circum- stances it is possible to receive aesthetic satisfaction from failures. Moreover, the possibility of treating failures as valuable, yet risky, artistic strategy is suggested. (shrink)
Die Hauptfrage, die ich in diesem Aufsatz diskutieren will, ist die folgende: Welche sind die ästhetisch-normativen Voraussetzungen für das richtige Verständnis und die richtige Evaluation von Jazz? Meine These lautet: Die Jazzästhetik ist eine Ästhetik der gelungenen Performanz. Sie ist nicht eine Ästhetik der Unvollkommenheit. Ich werde meine Argumentation in die folgenden Abschnitte gliedern. Nach der Einleitung (I.) wird in Abschnitt II. die ›These der Unvollkommenheit‹ dargestellt und in III. werden anschließend einige Argumente dagegen diskutiert. In den Abschnitten IV. und (...) V. werden die für die Jazzästhetik wichtige Frage nach dem »Fehler« und das entscheidende Thema der Normativität untersucht. Dazu werde ich geltend machen, dass die ›These der Unvollkommenheit‹ insbesondere deswegen unbefriedigend ist, weil sie die spezifische Normativität von Jazz als Improvisationskunst missversteht. In Abschnitt VI. wird schließlich erklärt, in welchem Sinne von einer Normativität der gelungenen Performanz die Rede sein kann und warum dies für unser Verständnis von Jazz bedeutend ist. Abschließend (VII.) wird diese Idee gegen mögliche Einwände verteidigt. In this paper I aim at discussing the aesthetic-normative conditions for the right understanding and the right evaluation of jazz. My main point is this: The aesthetics of jazz is an aesthetics of the successful performance, rather than an aesthetics of imperfection. The paper will be structured as follows. SectionI introduces the topic. SectionII presents the ›imperfection thesis‹, while III discusses some arguments against it. Sections IV and V investigate two related questions: the first is about the role of the »mistake« in jazz; the second concerns the crucial topic of normativity. At this regard I will maintain that the ›imperfection thesis‹ does not work, especially because it misunderstands the specific normativity of jazz as improvisational art. Section VI is devoted to clarifying both in which sense the idea of a normativity of the successful performance is sound and why this idea is important for understanding jazz. Finally (VII) I defend this view against possible objections. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate the developments of the notion of “transcendental apperception” in Fichte’s writings of the period 1811-1813. I pay particular attention at the second lessons on transcendental Logic, as well as at the lessons on the WL 1812 and 1813 and at the diarium 1813. I follow and closely examine the philosophical work Fichte does regarding the concept of apperception, which is at the core of Kant’s transcendental deduction in the Critique of pure reason. Claiming that Kant’s (...) notion of apperception was a mere factual one, Fichte aims at providing the genetic foundation of apperception, in order to avoid Kant’s shortcomings. I argue that Fichte submits therefore the concept of apperception to a double revision and that this entails the re-organization of his own transcendental-philosophical project. On the one hand, he carries out an epistemological revision of Kant’s thinking on apperception, by means of establishing the priority of the analytic unity over the synthetic unity and changing the formulation notoriously used by Kant for the explanation of apperception. On the other hand, Fichte’s work consists in grounding apperception ontologically. The issue I will focus on regarding this ontological foundation is the relation between apperception and life, which on my view proves to be key for the last exposition of Fichte’s transcendental-philosophical thought, despite the fact that Fichte could not complete and organize his reflection on this point, due to his death occurred in 1814. In the course of the paper I insist on the systematic link between Fichte’s epistemological and ontological re-elaboration of apperception and the self-reflection of transcendental philosophy. (shrink)
Over the last few decades, the notion of improvisation has enriched and dynamized research on traditional philosophies of music, theatre, dance, poetry, and even visual art. This Handbook offers readers an authoritative collection of accessible articles on the philosophy of improvisation, synthesizing and explaining various subjects and issues from the growing wave of journal articles and monographs in the field. Its 48 chapters, written specifically for this volume by an international team of scholars, are accessible for students and researchers alike. (...) The volume is organized into four main sections: I. Art and Improvisation: Theoretical Perspectives II. Art and Improvisation: Aesthetic, Ethical, and Political Perspectives III. Improvisation in Musical Practices IV. Improvisation in the Visual, Narrative, Dramatic, and Interactive Arts Key Features: Treats improvisation not only as a stylistic feature, but also as an aesthetic property of artworks and performances as well as a core element of artistic creativity. Spells out multiple aspects of the concept of improvisation, emphasizing its relevance in understanding the nature of art. Covers improvisation in a wide spectrum of artistic domains, including unexpected ones such as literature, visual arts, games, and cooking. Addresses key questions, like: - How can improvisation be defined and what is its role in different art forms? - Can improvisation be perceived as such, and how can it be aesthetically evaluated? - What is the relationship between improvisation and notions such as action, composition, expressivity, and authenticity? - What is the ethical and political significance of improvisation? (shrink)
In this article I discuss different ways in which chance can intervene in artistic practices. The thesis I propose is twofold. I. If the intervention of alea in art is taken to its extreme consequences, it may be hard to understand whether and in what terms there is still an artistic practice at stake; and if there is actually an artistic practice at stake, then the contribution of alea is organized, and therefore, in a sense, culturally tamed. II. For the (...) purposes of developing a philosophy of art, the improvisation approach to chance is the most sustainable, fruitful and convincing one in order to show the ability of art to shape disorder by interacting with contingency. III. In improvisation this interaction with chance is articulated in an artistic “grammar of contingency” and can be understood in two different, complementary ways: in an emphatic sense, it is an interaction with an unexpected emergency; in a more minimal sense, it is the interaction with the specific situation in which the improvisation takes place. (shrink)
Why "System and Freedom"? Why "Rationality and Improvisation"? These are the two questions that are at the origin of the conference "System and freedom. Rationality and improvisation between philosophy, art and human practices". The conference, held on 28-31 January 2015 in the premises of the University of Turin and organized by the Center for Philosophical-religious Studies Luigi Pareyson, thanks to funding from the Piedmont Region, and with the sponsorship of the Interuniversity Center of Morphology Francesco Moiso, had a large audience (...) participation. There have been many reasons and reflections reported in this article, on the theme of improvisation and freedom, analyzed from a philosophical point of view. The very high quality of the speeches from the invited speakers and of all the speakers, the wide and lively public participation and certainly the intensity of the discussions contributed to the success of this long meeting. (shrink)