In the beginning—or more exactly, the seventies, when I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan—was the void, and darkness was upon the face of the waters. Philosophical reflection on the experience, meaning, and powers of music by analytic philosophers was almost non-existent. And then, as the 1980s dawned, came Peter Kivy. Suddenly there was light, and analytic philosophy of music was born. In this piece I summarize the substance of the successive instalments in the astounding series of (...) books on the philosophy of music that Peter published between 1980 and 2002, allowing myself some critical reflections in a few cases. (shrink)
This is a long-awaited reissue of Jerrold Levinson's 1990 book which gathers together the writings that made him a leading figure in contemporary aesthetics. These highly influential essays are essential reading for debates on the definition of art, the ontology of art, emotional response to art, expression in art, and the nature of art forms.
Contemplating Art is a compendium of writings from the last ten years by one of the leading figures in aesthetics, Jerrold Levinson. The twenty-four essays range over issues in general aesthetics and those relating to specific arts--in particular music, film, and literature. It will appeal not only to philosophers but also to musicologists, literary theorists, art critics, and reflective lovers of the arts.
This major collection of essays stands at the border of aesthetics and ethics and deals with charged issues of practical import: art and morality, the ethics of taste, and censorship. As such its potential interest is by no means confined to professional philosophers; it should also appeal to art historians and critics, literary theorists, and students of film. Prominent philosophers in both aesthetics and ethics tackle a wide array of issues. Some of the questions explored in the volume include: Can (...) art be morally enlightening and, if so, how? If a work of art is morally better does that make it better as art? Is morally deficient art to be shunned, or even censored? Do subjects of artworks have rights as to how they are represented? Do artists have duties as artists and duties as human beings, and if so, to whom? How much tension is there between the demands of art and the demands of life? (shrink)
Exploring key topics in contemporary aesthetics, this work analyzes the issues that arise from the unique works of Frank Sibley (1923-1996), who developed a distinctive aesthetic theory through a number of papers published between 1955 and 1995. Here, thirteen philosophical aestheticians bring Sibley's insight into a contemporary framework, exploring the ways his ideas foster important new discussion about issues in aesthetics. This collection will interest anyone interested in philosophy, art theory, and art criticism.
The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics brings the authority, liveliness, and multi-disciplinary scope of the Handbook series to a fascinating theme in philosophy and the arts. Jerrold Levinson has assembled a hugely impressive range of talent to contribute 48 brand-new essays, making this the most comprehensive guide available to the theory, application, history, and future of the field. This Handbook will be invaluable to academics and students across philosophy and all branches of the arts, both as the reference work of choice (...) and as a stimulus to new research and creativity. (shrink)
This essay explores some aspects of the relation between philosophy and music. First, how music can inspire philosophy; second, how philosophy can inspire music. Mathematics as a middle term between music and philosophy, the idea of wholeness in a musical composition or a philosophical text, music as a mode of thought displaying traits such as logic, coherence, and sense—these are some ways in which music and philosophy may be seen to be connected. Also, composers sometimes have explicit recourse to philosophical (...) ideas in advancing their music, there being prominent examples of this in the twentieth century. Lastly, given there is such a thing as the philosophy of music, might there also be the music of philosophy? (shrink)
This paper effectively inverts the argument of an earlier paper of mine, “The Particularisation of Attributes”, to argue that there are no necessarily particularised and unshareable attributes of the sort that contemporary metaphysics calls tropes. In that earlier paper I distinguished two kinds of attributes, namely, properties and qualities, and argued that if there were tropes they could only be particularised qualities, i.e. particularisations of, say, redness, rather than particularisations of, say, being red. While continuing to hold that there cannot (...) be particularised properties—that the very notion is oxymoronic—I now hold, further, that the supposition of qualities in addition to properties is both ontologically extravagant and conceptually outlandish. Hence there are no qualities, and thus no tropes either. (shrink)
Expressive music, almost everyone agrees, evokes an emotional response of some kind in receptive listeners, at least some of the time, in at least some conditions of listening. But is such an emotional response distinctive of or unique to the music that evokes it? In other words, is there such a thing as music-specific emotion? This essay is devoted to an exploration of that question and others related to it. In the main part of the essay a sixpart component model (...) of a standard emotion is set out, and a case is made for the music-specificity of an emotional response to music of a mirroring sort, with respect to four of the six components of such emotion. In the latter part of the essay aspects of the phenomenology of the music-listening experience, and especially that of the inner sounding of music being heard, are explored further, and issues of the value, communicability, and degree of singularity of the emotional response to expressive music are addressed. (shrink)
Art and Pornography presents a series of essays which investigate the artistic status and aesthetic dimension of pornographic pictures, films, and literature, and explores the distinction, if there is any, between pornography and erotic art. Is there any overlap between art and pornography, or are the two mutually exclusive? If they are, why is that? If they are not, how might we characterize pornographic art or artistic pornography, and how might pornographic art be distinguished, if at all, from erotic art? (...) Can there be aesthetic experience of pornography? What are some of the psychological, social, and political consequences of the creation and appreciation of erotic art or artistic pornography? Leading scholars from around the world address these questions, and more, and bring together different aesthetic perspectives and approaches to this widely consumed, increasingly visible, yet aesthetically underexplored cultural domain. The book, the first of its kind in philosophical aesthetics, will contribute to a more accurate and subtle understanding of the many representations that incorporate explicit sexual imagery and themes, in both high art and demotic culture, in Western and non-Western contexts. It is sure to stir debate, and healthy controversy. (shrink)
I here defend hypothetical intentionalism, the view of literary and cinematic interpretation that I endorse, from some recent criticisms, and then illustrate the appeal of the view in connection with a recent film of enigmatic cast.
We identify a strategy for getting beliefs from fiction via three assumptions: a certain causal generality holds in the fiction and does so because causal generalities in fiction are carried over from what the author takes to be fact; the author is reliable on this topic, so what the author takes to be fact is fact. We do not question. While will, in particular cases, be doubtful, the strategy is vulnerable more generally to the worry that what looks like a (...) causal generality may be instead an authorial intervention of a kind from which no causal connection can be inferred; in such cases turns out to be false though it may seem at first sight to be true. In consequence we have extra reason for being careful in forming beliefs based on fictions. (shrink)
[Derek Matravers] Jerrold Levinson maintains that he is a realist about aesthetic properties. This paper considers his positive arguments for such a view. An argument from Roger Scruton, that aesthetic realism would entail the absurd claim that many aesthetic predicates were ambiguous, is also considered and it is argued that Levinson is in no worse position with respect to this argument than anyone else. However, Levinson cannot account for the phenomenon of aesthetic autonomy: namely, that we cannot be put in (...) a position to make an aesthetic judgement by testimony alone. Finally, Levinson's views on the ontology of aesthetic properties are considered and found wanting. /// [Jerrold Levinson] Being an aesthetic realist is hard work. Derek Matravers has raised a number of concerns for the brand of aesthetic realism that I have defended in the past, and that I continue to defend, albeit with modification. Much turns on the nature of aesthetic properties, and on the reasons for acknowledging their existence. I here try to provide further illumination on both scores, suggesting in particular that many aesthetic properties can be viewed as manifest higher-order ways of appearing. Toward the end of my discussion the question of whether or not aesthetic properties are response-dependent is addressed, and I offer the tentative conclusion that some are, and some are not. (shrink)
In this paper I address the issue of narrativity in music. The central question is the extent to which pure instrumental music in the classical tradition can or should be understood as narrative, that is, as narrating a story of some kind. I am interested in the varying potential and aptness for narrative construal of different sorts of instrumental music, and in what the content of such narratives might plausibly be thought to be. But ultimately I explore, at greater length, (...) an alternative way of construing musical process, namely, as dramatic rather than narrative in nature, following the lead of two musicologists, Anthony Newcomb and Fred Maus. After a comparison of the respective merits of narrative and dramatic construals of music, the paper concludes with an illustrative reading, in dramatic mode, of part of the opening movement of Schubert's Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845. (shrink)