The Emergence and Reduction of Aesthetic Properties: A Defense of Causal Efficacy in the Ontology of Art

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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
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Brock Rough

Graduate Student, Dept. of Philosophy, Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois, USA

After having studied art as an undergraduate, I then interned under renowned oil portraitist Michael Shane Neal. Subsequent to this training I maintained a working studio in Nashville, TN, and took commissioned work from across the country. After several years of practice in the field, my focus shifted from the creation of art to the analysis of art. I am currently studying philosophy at Northern Illinois University in their terminal masters program. My current research interests include aesthetics and philosophy of art, as well as metaphysics of ontology and language.

Ref: A09P0474