The Motivational Structure of Appreciation

Philosophical Quarterly 69 (276):445-466 (2019)
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On a widely held view in aesthetics, appreciation requires disinterested attention. George Dickie famously criticized a version of this view championed by the aesthetic attitude theorists. I revisit his criticisms and extract an overlooked challenge for accounts that seek to characterize appreciative engagement in terms of distinctive motivation: at minimum, the motivational profile such accounts propose must make a difference to how appreciative episodes unfold over time. I then develop a proposal to meet this challenge by drawing an analogy between how attention is guided in appreciation and how practical action is guided in ‘striving play’—a mode of game play recently foregrounded in the philosophy of games. On the resulting account, appreciation involves an ‘inverted’ motivational structure: the appreciating agent's attention is guided by cognitive goals taken up instrumentally, for the sake of the cognitive activity that results from attending under the guidance of those goals.
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The Problem of Action.Frankfurt, Harry G.
The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia.Suits, Bernard & Hurka, Thomas
The Pleasure of Art.Matthen, Mohan
Two Distinctions in Goodness.Korsgaard, Christine M.

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