The Emergence and Reduction of Aesthetic Properties: A Defense of Causal Efficacy in the Ontology of Art
Concepts of aesthetic properties are usually thought to be either emergent from the objects that possess them, or to reduce completely to the nonaesthetic features that make up the object. Frank Sibley's theory of aesthetic and nonaesthetic features has been used by several authors to support either emergence, or reduction via supervenience. This paper presents a theory proposed by Carl Gillett, introducing strong emergence as a compromise between reduction and emergence, and applies it as an aesthetic theory, allowing for a rational, 'mechanistic' or reductive explanation of art objects and their properties, while preserving art objects as ontological entities that are causally efficacious. The theories of identity reduction (along with the related theories of multiple realization, narrow identity, and supervenience), are objected to as unsatisfactory to account for the phenomenon of aesthetic properties as we experience them. Gillett's theory provides us with a model of minds that can cause and be caused upon as well as works of art that can do the same.
Keywords: Aesthetic, Properties, Emergence, Reduction, Ontology, Causal, Efficacy
Graduate Student, Dept. of Philosophy, Northern Illinois University