Contemplating Art: Essays in Aesthetics
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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.
of his proposal to existing competitors, those which analyze artifact concepts in terms of necessary and sufﬁcient conditions, family resemblances, characteristic functions, or prototypes. But if Bloom is right, then what remains of the special historicality of the concept of art as opposed, say, to those of chair, pencil, or house? Two things, it seems. First, it should be observed that on Bloom’s analysis something is a K in virtue of being intentionally related in the right way to preceding
psychology, has in the past thirty years or so revolved around an opposition between feeling (or sensation) based, and thought (or cognition) based, approaches. The former holds that at the core of an emotion is an internal feeling or set of sensations, while the latter holds that at its core an emotion is a particular kind of thought, judgment, or evaluation. While the feeling approach has trouble accommodating the intentionality (or objectdirectedness) and amenability to reason of many
Cornell University Press, 1996). Emotion in Response to Art 49 truth, for perhaps we are, at least at moments of maximum involvement, in the incoherent states of mind it postulates as ours throughout. III EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO ABSTRACT ART: MUSIC AND FEELING Emotional response to abstract art is puzzling, principally, because the strategies that provide obvious explanations of both why we respond emotionally, and what we are responding to, in the case of representational art, here seem not to
argument to that conclusion, in summary form, is this: appreciation of traditional instrumental music requires grasp of musical expression; musical expression of emotion presupposes the notion of personal expression of emotion and rests on the emergence of musical gestures; personal expression of emotion, on the one hand, is fundamentally behavioral and so necessarily manifested in space, while musical gesture, on the other hand, is a function of both performing gestures understood as the sources
from the shadows of the merely possible. Why, then, are there no successful analogs to pure music in other sensory realms, no enthralling temporal patterns of colors, smells, feels, tastes?¹² Why, in particular, isn’t the art of abstract color ﬁlm—at least in any manifestation known to me—comparable to music in interest and value? Why don’t pure patterns of colors in time—temporal successions of hues—grab us as do temporal patterns of pitched sound? Why don’t they transﬁgure us the way great