Doing aesthetics with eyes shut : on thought experiments in aesthetics , acquaintance and quasi-oversvation

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Thought experiments in science and philosophy pose an epistemic puzzle: how can a merely imagined scenario yield knowledge? In the talk, I have a look at a special version of this puzzle that some thought experiments in aesthetics give rise to. Many thought experiments in aesthetics—e.g. Walton’s guernica-experiment, or Danto’s imagined eight-hour long film of the title page of Tolstoy’s War and Peace—involve making judgements regarding the aesthetic properties of merely imagined works of art. But according to a widely accepted principle in aesthetics, one has to be acquainted with a work—seen it, heard it, and so on—in order to be able to judge its aesthetic qualities. But no one has ever seen Danto’s merely imagined film of Tolstoy’s book. So how are we (if we are) in a position to judge its aesthetic properties?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2015
EventThe roots of Fiction : possibilities and imagination - University of Macau, Macau, Macao
Duration: 5 Dec 20156 Dec 2015


WorkshopThe roots of Fiction : possibilities and imagination
OtherTheoretical accounts of fiction, once confined to the field of aesthetics, are now widely considered as useful frameworks for philosophical investigation more generally. Fictionalist tendencies in various disciplinary fields regard possible worlds, scientific theories and models, numbers, propositional attitudes, mental entities, and the self as if they were fictional objects. In the context of fictionalist-oriented views, imagination has been given a special attention. The workshop will push forward the discussion of the advantages and limits of deploying the aesthetic notion of fiction outside of its original domain, with an emphasis on imagination’s role and nature.
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