Browsing Philosophy by Subject "Aesthetics"
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- ItemEnvironmental Human Rights, Natural Law Theory, and Nature's Aesthetic Value(2011) Stevens, Christopher William; Levinson, Jerrold; Morris, Christopher; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)I argue that nature ought to be preserved because its existence is required for a particularly significant constituent of human well-being, a constituent so significant that the means to it -- provision of and ready access to indigenous and ecologically sound nature -- are worthy of being secured by legal right. The constituent is a complex cognitively-grounded and perceptually-induced emotive experience best characterized as an aesthetic one. In the current policy and social climate this characterization will to most policymakers and concerned citizens hardly convey its significance for either well-being or the preservationist cause. Hence the need for its presentation and defense. This view of the justification of environmental preservation is different from those common in the environmental ethics literature and in environmental policy. It includes neither an appeal to nature's purported intrinsic value nor an appeal to provisioning, regulating, or supporting ecosystem services such as clean air and water, climate control, and biomass production, though these are secured secondarily if indigenous and ecologically sound nature is primarily secured as a means to the experience. The dissertation consists of eight self-contained but interrelated chapters in which I argue for the following: interest/instrumental theory of rights; neo-sentimentalist buck-passing account of nature's value; merging of the scientific-cognitivist conception of the appropriate aesthetic experience of nature with a wonder-based account; the consistency of J. S. Mill's harm principle with the principle of utility in the context of Mill's qualitative hedonism; expansion of the philosophical aesthetician's self-understanding of his task to include the public policy-relevant aspects of his discipline in terms of the contribution that appropriate, merited aesthetic experience can make to well-being; neo-sentimentalist buck-passing account of aesthetic experience and aesthetic value.
- ItemThe Experience of Fiction(2013) Picciuto, Elizabeth Rose; Carruthers, Peter; Levinson, Jerrold; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation focuses on some of the philosophical puzzles that are associated with the experience of engaging in fictions. Some of these puzzles are longstanding in the philosophical tradition, viz., the paradox of fiction, the paradox of tragedy, and the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. Another has received surprisingly little philosophical attention: the puzzle of why we engage with fictions at all. I argue against what I will call the Simple Story of fictional engagement. Previous discussions have (to greater or lesser degrees) described engaging in fictions as a matter of entertaining the events described at a fictional world. In the Simple Story, the content of the fiction is decisively determinative of our motivations to engage in fiction and responses to fictions. That is not, however, our experience of fiction. I de-emphasize the role of the content of the fiction in our motivations and responses to fictions. Too little attention has been paid to the role of factors extrinsic to the fiction in explaining the nature of our experiences of and responses to fictions. In general, I stress that the role of the content of the fiction as determinative of our responses is far less important than has been assumed. Some aestheticians have long been interested in psychological data and I am, too. Many, however, are wary of in evolutionary psychology. They are rightfully worried that to explain the beauty of Anna Karenina in terms of hunting on the savannah would be to miss something deep. There is, however, a useful role for evolutionary psychology to play in explaining why we might have motivations and emotional responses to fictions. I explore this idea.
- ItemAn Investigation into Popular Art(2006-06-01) Derksen, Craig; Levinson, Jerrold; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)While Popular Art surrounds us, there have been few scholarly investigations of it. One reason for this is that accounts of Popular Art have not facilitated such investigations into Popular Art. I characterize a work as Popular Art based on the relationships that it bears to the influences that make up Popular Culture and other things that are associated with Popular Culture. By classifying the work according to the relationships that it bears to Popular Culture, my account provides us with a context of interpretation for the work. In doing so, I follow David Novitz and his traditional account of Popular Art whereby Popular Art is defined by its association with a certain tradition, namely the tradition of Popular Culture, but I do not follow his rejection of the role of formal traits since the fact that a distinction has a social source does not entail that the distinction has a social criterion as Novitz argues. I also follow Noel Carroll in attributing a central role to the accessibility of the work, but I associate that accessibility with a particular audience rather than general accessibility since the constitution of the audience is more important that the size of the audience. I do not follow Carroll in his attempt to treat accessibility as a necessary and sufficient condition for such a classification since it is important for the classification of a work as Popular Art to follow changes in Popular Culture and a Culture must be defined in terms of connection to the previous stages of the culture.
- ItemNovels and Their Instances: A Metaphysical Exploration(2017) Aliev, Alexey; Levinson, Jerrold; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)What is the ontological status of novels? Are they inscriptions (i.e., concrete texts typically written or printed on something or displayed on the screen of some electronic device)? Sets of inscriptions? Mental representations of some semantic content? Structures of meanings? Syntactic sequences? Or something else? Furthermore, what is the ontological status of instances of a novel (i.e., entities that manifest all the primary properties that must be experienced to fully appreciate this novel)? Are they readings (i.e., sequences of sounds generated as a result of reading aloud)? Inscriptions? Both readings and inscriptions? Or some other entities? My goal in this dissertation is to answer these questions. The dissertation is structured as follows. In Part 1, I provide some terminological clarifications that must be made before addressing the issues concerning the ontological status of novels and their instances. In particular, in Chapter 1 ("Defining 'a Novel'"), I define "a novel," and in Chapter 2 ("Defining 'an Instance of an Artwork'"), I define "an instance of an artwork." Part 2 is aimed at clarifying the ontological status of instances of novels. I begin, in Chapter 3 ("Against Inscriptions as Instances of Novels"), by arguing against the most widely endorsed ontology of instances of novels–the ontology according to which the paradigmatic, or most typical, entities that serve as such instances are inscriptions. Next, in Chapter 4 ("An Ontology of Instances of Novels"), I put forward and defend an alternative ontology–the one according to which instances of novels are readings and mereological sums of readings and graphic elements. Finally, in Chapter 5 ("The Novel as a Performing Art"), I examine a peculiar consequence of the foregoing ontology–that the novel is a performing art. The purpose of Part 3 is to clarify the ontological status of novels. I begin, in Chapter 6 ("What a Novel Is Not"), with a critical overview of the most promising existing ontologies of novels, arguing that none of these ontologies stands up completely to criticism. Then, in Chapter 7 ("An Ontology of Novels"), I expound and defend a new ontology of novels. According to this ontology, novels are a peculiar kind of concreta–namely, concrete types composed of certain sonic, semantic, syntactic, contextualist, and visual elements.
- ItemWhy Fiction Matters(2015) Holliday, John-Gregory Bass; Levinson, Jerrold; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)I explore five features that bear upon literary value and what is involved in appreciating those features. In the introduction, I motivate the project, examine the notion of literary value itself, and sketch the major arguments of the dissertation. In chapter one, I argue that the sonic qualities of a work of fictional literature are always relevant to the literary value of the work. In chapter two, I develop a working account of rhythm in literature and argue that sufficiently appreciating rhythm when reading a work of literature requires performative interpretation. In chapter three, I argue that truth is sometimes relevant to the literary value of fiction. In chapter four, I argue that literature has the capacity to cultivate moral expertise in the intuitive judgment of particular moral cases and that such capacity contributes to literary value. Finally, in chapter five, I argue that fictional literature can provide a reader with the resources for an intimate emotional connection with the author and that a work’s ability to afford such an experience is a literary merit. The larger goal of the dissertation is to make a positive contribution to the discussion of literature’s value, particularly as it concerns prose fiction.