Aesthetic concepts, perceptual learning, and linguistic enculturation: Considerations from Wittgenstein, language, and music

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Abstract
Aesthetic non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express genuinely aesthetic beliefs and instead hold that they work primarily to express something non-cognitive, such as attitudes of approval or disapproval, or desire. Non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express aesthetic beliefs because they deny that there are aesthetic features in the world for aesthetic beliefs to represent. Their assumption, shared by scientists and theorists of mind alike, was that language-users possess cognitive mechanisms with which to objectively grasp abstract rules fixed independently of human responses, and that cognizers are thereby capable of grasping rules for the correct application of aesthetic concepts without relying on evaluation or enculturation. However, in this article I use Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations to argue that psychological theories grounded upon this so-called objective model of rule-following fail to adequately account for concept acquisition and mastery. I argue that this is because linguistic enculturation, and the perceptual learning that’s often involved, influences and enables the mastery of aesthetic concepts. I argue that part of what’s involved in speaking aesthetically is to belong to a cultural practice of making sense of things aesthetically, and that it’s within a socio-linguistic community, and that community’s practices, that such aesthetic sense can be made intelligible.
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Archival date: 2013-05-05
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