Aesthetic Essentialism

Peter Lamarque

in Work and Object

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577460
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722998 | DOI:
Aesthetic Essentialism

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This chapter defends a key thesis: Some aesthetic properties are possessed essentially by some works of art. This thesis (individual- or I-essentialism) is distinguished from other essentialist claims in aesthetics (e.g., class- or C-essentialism). The supposed supervenience of aesthetic properties on sets of non-aesthetic properties is challenged or shown to be trivial when the breadth of the requisite base properties (including intentional properties) is revealed. Prominent among the essential aesthetic properties are expressive or representational properties. The relational aspect of aesthetic properties is defended with reference to the work of Frank Sibley, Philip Pettit and Roger Scruton. Only works, not their constitutive material, can have essential aesthetic properties such that, in worlds where an appropriate (or normative) aesthetic response to a work is not possible, that work cannot exist.

Keywords: essentialism; I-essentialism; C-essentialism; supervenience; aesthetic properties; Sibley; Pettit; Scruton

Chapter.  10638 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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