Visiting Speakers

Prof. Anna Christina Ribeiro, Texas Tech University

Friday, Oct. 12, 4:00 p.m., 607 Dale Hall Tower. Everyone is welcome!

Aesthetic Attributions: The Case of Poetry

Abstract. It is widely agreed that some relationship exists between lower-level perceptual properties ('This is red.') and aesthetic attributions ('This is vibrant.'). The difficulty lies in ascertaining the nature of that relationship. In 'Aesthetic Concepts' (1955), Frank Sibley famously contended that ' there are no non-aesthetic features which serve in any circumstances as logically sufficient conditions for applying aesthetic terms'. In this paper I argue that some features of poetry call Sibley's thesis into doubt. The ancient origins and near universality of certain poetic forms and formal schemes (such as nursery rhymes and meter) point to a stronger correlation between poetic form (perceptual level) and poetic effect (aesthetic level) than Sibley would have. Even more recent, culture-specific conventional forms (such as the limerick) likewise suggest a positive connection between the perceptual and the aesthetic levels. The relationship between lower-level, perceptual properties and aesthetic attributions that I will defend is a variation of H.L.A. Hart's notion of 'defeasible terms'; in my view, the defeating conditions also produce predictable effects.

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