Artworld Metaphysics by Robert Kraut

By Robert Kraut

Artworld Metaphysics turns a serious eye upon points of the artworld, and articulates the various difficulties, ideas, and norms implicit within the real practices of creative construction, interpretation, assessment, and commodification. Aesthetic thought is taken care of as descriptive and explanatory, instead of normative: a idea that pertains to artworld realities as a semantic concept pertains to the fragments of traditional language it seeks to explain. Robert Kraut examines emotional expression, right interpretation and objectivity within the context of artworld perform, the relevance of jazz to aesthetic conception, and the ambitions of ontology (artworld and otherwise). He additionally considers the relation among artwork and language, the confusions of postmodern relativism, and the relation among artistic/critical perform and aesthetic idea.

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1. Stepping Out: Playback and Inversion 39 The more general issue concerns possible connections between discourse and the facts expressible within it: connections that might render externalist explanations impossible. ¹⁸ These are fascinating complexities, all of which highlight the need for caution in theorizing about a framework from an external vantage point. But it was acknowledged at the outset that our studio musician experiences things differently during performance than during playback, without thereby depriving playback of explanatory and/or epistemological validity.

A bewildered viewer of Duchamp’s Fountain or Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes might surmise that the objects are displayed not because they are art, but that they qualify as art because they are displayed. ¹⁹ The root idea is that art is a cultural rather than natural kind: thus we do not explain the artworld practice of designating an object as art by citing the fact that the object is art; rather, the object’s being art is explained by citing such practice. Here we have an inversion in the customary order of explanation.

Perhaps we cannot do without normativity, but Quine does not invite us to do so. ’’¹⁶ There can be no critics, social propriety, or outward standards unless there is normativity: that is what it is for there to be normativity. So Quine’s world is not without ought’s. But Quine’s stimulus–response view prompts some readers—especially devout Sellarsians such as Rosenberg—to read Quine as having turned away from real normativity and substituted a behavioristic ersatz. This is an interesting interpretive error, one that merits explanation.

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