By demonstrating the uniformity and universality of the principles of valid interpretation of verbal texts of any sort, this closely reasoned examination provides a theoretical foundation for a discipline that is fundamental to virtually all humanistic studies. It defines the grounds on which textual interpretation can claim to establish objective knowledge, defends that claim against such skeptical attitudes as historicism and psychologism, and shows that many confusions can be avoided if the distinctions between meaning and significance, interpretation and criticism are (...) correctly understood. It provides perhaps the first genuinely comprehensive account of hermeneutic theory to appear in English and the first systematic presentation of the principles of valid interpretation in any language. Mr. Hirsch, associate professor of English at the University of Virginia, is the author of _Wordsworth and Schelling _and _Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to Blake._ “Here is a book that brings logic to the most unruly of disciplines, literary interpretation. Viewing this subject within the tradition of hermeneutics, Mr. Hirsch is able to trace its origins and development with brilliant insight. The result is a lucidly systemic and authoritative account of the premises and procedures applicable to the interpretation of a literary text. Mr. Hirsch has performed a monumental service thereby that of reinstating the credentials of objectivism and defining the limits of the aesthetics of truth. This study is a necessary took for anyone who wants to talk sense about literature.”—_Virginia Quarterly Review_ “Professor Hirsch demonstrates convincingly that objectivity is attainable in humane studies, and that it is not identified with the subject but with the evidence. A valid interpretation is not necessarily a correct one, but one which is more probably than any other on the basis of existing evidence. He makes a subtle and important distinction between a text’s ‘meaning’ and its ‘significance’, and brilliantly relates meaning to understanding and interpretation to explanation…” In short, this is a work which future students of literary theory cannot afford to neglect.”—_Notes and Queries_ E.D. Hirsch, Jr., is professor of English at the University of Virginia. (shrink)
This book is an introduction to aesthetics, from the perspective of analytic philosophy. It traces aesthetics from its ancient beginnings through the changes it underwent in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and the first half of the twentieth century. The responses in the 1960s of the cultural theories to these earlier developments are discussed in detail. Five traditional art evaluational theories, Beardsley's and Goodman's evaluational theories, and the author's own evaluational theory are presented. Four miscellaneous topics are discussed - internationalist criticism, symbolism, (...) metaphor, and expression. (shrink)
The question at issue is whether moral defects of artworks can be aesthetic defects. Noël Carroll claims they can be, Berys Gaut claims they are, and James Anderson and Jeffrey Dean claim they are not. I side with Anderson and Dean and produce additional arguments against Carroll and Gaut. Triumph of the Will serves as an example that all five of us agree is a morally flawed artwork. I argue and conclude that its horrible moral defects are not aesthetic ones. (...) Its triumph is the sum total of its aesthetic merits. (shrink)
The Century of Taste offers an exposition and critical account of the central figures in the early development of the modern philosophy of art. Dickie traces the modern theory of taste from its first formulation by Francis Hutcheson, to blind alleys followed by Alexander Gerard and Archibald Allison, its refinement and complete expression by Hume, and finally to its decline in the hands of Kant. In a clear and straightforward style, Dickie offers sympathetic discussions of the theoretical aims of these (...) philosophers, but does not shy from controversy--pointing out, for instance, the obscurities and inconsistencies in Kant's aesthetic writings, and arguing that they have been overrated. (shrink)
This paper is a continuation of a debate between Noël Carroll, who defends intentionalism, and Kent Wilson and myself, who argue that the intentions of artists are not relevant to the interpretation of works of art.
Haydar claim that Frank Sibley offers a criterion for distinguishing aesthetically valenced from non-aesthetically valenced properties. I argue that they have misunderstood what Sibley was doing and that he never even intended to offer any such criterion. They also argue that Sibley was wrong to claim that inherently aesthetic merits are reversible. They claim that aesthetic merits—for example, elegance—are irreversible and offer some arguments for their view. I produce a counterexample to their claim about elegance and suggest that such counterexamples (...) involving aesthetic merits are not difficult to come by. (shrink)
_ _ _Art and Value_ focuses on the questions of history, methods, and nature of art theories, and on the value and evaluation of art. It serves as a valuable primer to aesthetics, as well as a summary and extension of Dickie's contribution to the field.
James Shelley claims that Hume's principles of taste have value-neutral subjects rather than value-laden ones that, for example, refer to aesthetic properties. I try to rebut his claim. I argue that Hume's essay on taste contains the conceptual means for recognizing the problem of the interaction of aesthetic properties with other properties in artworks, even if he does not explicitly make this point. I also deny Shelley's contention that I claim that principles are used as part of a temporal process (...) to infer evaluational conclusions. Against Shelly's attack, I defend my use of the isolation clause in formulating evaluational principles. Finally, I show a way to formulate evaluational principles without the isolation clause by substituting an interaction clause. (shrink)
George Dickie's The Century of Taste is a readable and informative guide to the family of eighteenth-century aesthetic theories that sought to explain our judgments of taste. Dickie treats the five theories he discusses out of chronological order so that he can give pride of place to his favorite view, that of David Hume. Dickie's grand narrative claims Hume "all but perfected" the theory of taste, while the associationists, on the one hand, and Kant, on the other, led it down (...) a pair of blind alleys. (shrink)
During the past few years, Smart has published a series of provocative articles in which he has argued for a "tough-Minded" scientific materialism. In this book, Which makes use of the articles and combines them with new material, He boldly defends the possibility of a synthetic philosophy which attempts to think clearly and comprehensively about the nature of the universe and the principles of conduct. Starting with a critique of phenomenalism, He argues that the physicist's picture of the world is (...) truer than that of the language of ordinary common sense. Continuing with a discussion of biology, Secondary qualities, And consciousness, He stoutly maintains that man can be understood as a physical mechanism in a nonanthropocentric space-Time world. (rm). (shrink)