A Gricean preamble concludes that though utterances have unintended meanings, those cannot be considered apart from their intended meanings. Intention distinguishes artworks from natural phenomena. To allocate an artwork to a genre, to accept its normal authorial boundaries and that its content is not random but chosen, is to concede intention's centrality. Wimsatt and Beardsley were right that meaning is public. But they think 'intention' is 'private' or 'unavailable'. However, it too is public, in the work. Fictions are utterances of (...) a curious kind. They may mimic, but are not meant to be taken for, veridical reports. Neither are they 'pseudo-statements' nor 'pretended illocutionary acts'. Their logical form is actually this: 'I [author] invite you [reader] to imagine that S [content].' This prescribes no response, nor claims to describe the 'real' world, even though it may elicit a response appropriate to real-life events. One reason for imagining fictional situations may be to strengthen the perceptions necessary for real life. (shrink)
Throughout its ten related essays, Imagining the Real contrasts our abstract imaginings about the human world with the imaginative insights provided by art and experience. It questions, variously, the relevance of game theory and sociobiology to politics the supposed intrinsic values of liberal freedom, cultural change, and democratic action and the claims of Marxism, deconstruction and "Theory" generally to be non-ideological. More positively, it reinterprets fiction as a specific invitation to imagine, and celebrates Shakespeare, L.H. Myers and Beckett as truly (...) critical, because truly imaginative, exponents of ideas. (shrink)
My theme at its most general is the relation between culture and power; at its most specific, the relation between a particular type of culture, so-called high culture, and two types of power, namely governmental power, and the related but more diffuse power prevailing in society at large.
Roger Scruton's 530-page blockbuster The Aesthetics of Music was published by Oxford University Press in 1997. A paperback edition followed two years later. Neither received more than a handful of notices, a few appreciative, but some grudging and some actually hostile. As its quality has come to be recognized, and as the resentments it provoked have either died down or found newer targets, the book has gradually achieved a certain canonical, even classic, status. Students of the subject now seem to (...) feel that, however unpalatable some of its conclusions may have been, it can no longer safely be ignored. The questions, it appears, are the right ones, even if we don't care for Scruton's answers. (shrink)
Don't look for the meaning; look for the use. A few years back the Yale deconstructionist Paul de Man wasposthumously discovered to have written repeatedly for a Belgiancollaborationist journal during the Nazi occupation. So far as I amaware, de Man in his American period espoused no particular politics. Indeed, the Left frequently regarded this as a cause for complaint, since most of them thought of de Man and deconstruction as being their natural allies.
The activities analysed by Spinosa et al., viz entrepreneurship, citizen action, and cultural leadership, are all central to the American experience. They have a common phenomenological structure and a common purpose, which is to ?disclose new worlds?, i.e. so to reconfigure the collective perceptions as to bring about ?large?scale cultural and historical changes?. Each, more or less unselfconsciously, is an exercise of skill, an expression of freedom, and a building of solidarity through the recovery or discovery of human meanings. I (...) argue that unless we know the ends to which skill and freedom tend, and in which meaning is found, all three (which the authors treat rather as ends in themselves) are underdescribed, and impossible to see as possessing or conferring value simply per se. The same goes for the original three activities. Cultural leadership, citizen action, and entrepreneurship can work as easily towards bad ends as good. To see them as virtual ends in themselves, then, is premature, and a kind of formalism. (shrink)
Morals and politics occupy themselves, if not exclusively, then at any rate centrally, with questions of value. Politicians and moralists deplore the alleged decline of values while pressing supposedly new ones upon us. The fiercest sympathies and antipathies, whether between individuals or between societies, are those which stem either from a community or from a divergence of values. ‘So natural to mankind,’ said Mill, ‘is intolerance in whatever they really care about.’.