The authority of pleasure

Noûs 55 (1):199-220 (2019)
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The aim of the paper is to reassess the prospects of a widely neglected affective conception of the aesthetic evaluation and appreciation of art. On the proposed picture, the aesthetic evaluation and appreciation of art are non-contingently constituted by a particular kind of pleasure. Artworks that are valuable qua artworks merit, deserve, and call for a certain pleasure, the same pleasure that reveals (or at least purports to reveal) them to be valuable in the way that they are, and constitutes their aesthetic evaluation and appreciation. This is why and how art is non-contingently related to pleasure. Call this, the Affective View. While I don’t advance conclusive arguments for the Affective View in this paper, I aim to reassess its prospects by (1) undermining central objections against it, (2) dissociating it from hedonism about the value of artworks (the view that this value is grounded in, and explained by, its possessors’ power to please), and (3) introducing some observations on the practice of art in support of it. Given that the objections I discuss miss their target, and given the observations in support of it, I conclude that the Affective View is worth serious reconsideration.
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First archival date: 2019-08-01
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