Analytic Aesthetics and the Dilemma of Timelessness


The paper highlights analytic aesthetics’ unacknowledged assumption that art is timeless, a view it inherited from Enlightenment thinkers such as Hume and Kant, who in turn inherited it from the Renaissance. This view, I contend, is no longer tenable because it is at odds with our experience of the art of the past. Analytic aesthetics bypasses this dilemma because it confines its attention to topics such as the nature of aesthetic pleasure, whether the appreciation of art should be disinterested and so on, which it partitions off from historical change and encases in a world where time stands still and where, by consequence, the temporal nature of art, including art’s capacity to transcend time, can be ignored.

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Derek Allan
Australian National University


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