Analytical Philosophy and the Study of Art Author(s): Arnold Isenberg Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art

Criticism, Vol. 46, Analytic Aesthetics (1987), pp. 125-136 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The American Society for Aesthetics Stable URL: Accessed: 09/10/2010 18:20
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The formulationof programslike those which appearin the appendix to this reportcan be carriedto any degree of intensiveness. A second limitation which I accept is set by contemporary interests in the arts. the Principles of Criticism. The numberand range of problems which "ought" to be investigated and solved is boundless. though not (it seems to me) in a thriving condition at the moment. to those questions which I think can be treated successfully now. aesthetics.g." as it were. At the other extreme. we are not drawingup a mere list of desideratabut surveying topics which have some concrete promisein them. of course..ARNOLD ISENBERG Analytical and The Introduction THE QUESTION Philosophy Study of Art thus narroweddown. If I have been successful. like "What is the difference between Form and Content?" and give counsels of perfection for their investigation. there is that much less assurance of good results. The best thing that philosophy can do for the art studies is to bring some clarity to those issues with which modem criticism is rife-which have arisen "naturally. in brief compass. to be explored in this report1is whetherfruitfulrelationshipscan be established among three disciplines: analyticalphilosophy. A X 1987 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism . psychoTHELATE ARNOLD ISENBERG was professor of philosophy at Michigan State University. e. The dilemma has a real pertinence here because. and historico-criticalart study. Analytical Philosophy very much alive today in all branches of commentary. In short. the stated tasks should appear convincing as tasks without assuming any particularviews or conclusions. The Natureof the CreativeAct-important as these topics are and large as is the amountof work which remainsto be done on them. and is so full of unsolved but soluble Philosophicalanalysis is a method of clarifypredicaments. I proposeto confine myself. the battle is won. unquestionably has a vast futurebefore it. one might pose large and vague queries. the Verifiabilityof Aesthetic Judgments-is so I.For this reasonI avoid those ancient and well-trodden grounds of the aesthetician-The AestheticObject. Aesthetics. At one end of the scale. one might outline a project so fully as almost to have carried it out. It has something in common with every other attemptto study a thing by breakingit up into its parts. and at whatever point one stops short of complete execution.that we cannot well ignore it. about the work being done and the work that might be done in the various departmentsof art study. the critical analysis of a poem. This much at least is true: it takes hard work and thinking merely to frame questions in such a way that they can be investigated and answered. The Nature of the Aesthetic Experience. ing ideas by revealing their essential constituWhen the province of this report has been ents. analysis. with current methods and information. chemical analysis. first. I thereforetake the risk of generalizing. It is a trite saying among studentsof philosophy that when the right questions have been asked. out of recent aestheticpreoccupations. it is still too large to be treatedexhaustively. the best evidence for the value of any programof research would be the fact that it had already been done well. At every point in this paper I have tried to reach a compromise between sketchiness and outright exposition. Evaluation. Anothertraditionalchapterof aesthetics-variously titled the Problem of Taste. To make some selection from this medley.

A really successful analysis of any important concept would result in a whole theory or system of a subject. then. These men have had a strong influence on the practice of philosophy in recent times. existentialists. of analytical philosophy. These ideas are initially unclear. New lines of inquiry have been opened up and pursuedwith patience and care." of "probability. The most eminent of these groupsare the "Cambridgeschool" (Russell. Marxists. ethics. There exists something of a cleavage in philosophy between the practitionersof exact method and the students of humane subjects. that seem to be in need of clarification. but this is of less interest to us than the inherent potentialities of the analytic method. who resist some of the more comprehensiveclaims made by the logical analysts.and I know of no philosopher who will not admit that analysis is one of the necessary and legitimate methods of philosophy. Many rich and fruitful problems of psychology. I believe this to be an accident and a reparable one. that does not also sometimesemploy analysis. the complexity. we have had groups of philosophers much more consciously and exclusively devoted to analysis than any of their predecessors since the time of Hume. This point is made in orderto suggest both the grandscope and the difficulty. social and religious philosophy which are eminently susceptible of analytic treatmentare handledtoday by phenomenologists. morals. no matterhow firmly committed to a speculative. We may reasonably assume that those who believe in a certain method can be trusted. Broad) and the "Vienna Circle" (Schlick. And conservative philosophers.126 ISENBERG distinguishingfeature of philosophical analysis (though there are others) is that it analyzes concepts or ideas. people usually feel confused ratherthan ignorant:they are not looking for information so much as for an explication of meaning. There can be no doubt that the revival of analysis in this centuryhas had valuableeffects upon some of the main branchesof philosophy. Wittgenstein. Ideas have logical relations with other ideas. history. I do not know of any philosophy. so far as we know. But the truth is that one would find it hard to mention any concept of aesthetics or art criticism thatdoes not standin need of clarification. Moore. so that people ask questions about them beginning with "What": What is time? What is truth?What is freedom? What is art? What is education?When they ask these questions. Many problems in epistemology. It has always had great be awareof its possibilities. The analytic methodwas. we have only to discover ideas. or some other pursuit. to employ that method with skill and caution. . A good many analysts are known for the advocacy of certain theses. Against this record of accomplishmentmust be set the fact that analytic philosophers have often a restricted range of interests and apply themselves only to matterswhich have already a high technical status. however. For example. or transcendentalmethod.To illustratethis point. jurisprudence. I shall hereafter take the libertyof using the shortterm "analysis" when I mean philosophical analysis. have been forced to examine and restate their positions. Analysis. better than others. its obligations. and ethics have been treated with an almost unexampled rigor. is nowadays something of a "movement". a good analysis of "knowledge" should fit together with a good analysis of "truth. invented by Socrates. A good deal of light has been shed on some philosophical ideas that have been obscure for centuries. essential to the various art studies. There is nothing about the subject that makes it hostile to analytictreatment. Analysis is supposed to satisfy their queries by providing acceptable definitions. In the presentcentury. logic. among them the thesis that analysis is the only propermethodof philosophizing. empirical. It is the contribution that accomplished analysts can make to aestheticstudies thatI wish presentlyto consider. hence the analysis of one idea is apt to involve the analysis of others. and schools of theology. The ideas which are made the subjects of analysis are takenfrom common speech or from science. Carnap). Aesthetics (see next section) is one field which has so far not benefited by the contemporarydevelopment of analysis. it was practisedby Plato in most of his dialogues.More important thanthis or any other controversial doctrine of theirs is their persistentuse of analysis in their regularwork." and so on. there is much in the subject that demands analytic treatment. its risks and pitfalls.

that such-and-such is a good example of analytic procedure. methods. whereas a logician with the same confused ideas is incompetentin his field. We could draw a similar distinction between the practising moralist (Swift. I believe we may deny that the profitableanalysis of problems in philosophy waits upon a successful analysis of 127 analysis. An observer of the philosophic scene might conclude. were treacherousand confusing.that nobody has a clear idea of what an analysis is. in the sequel. Every feature of the method has become controversial.. they begin where older students of analysis left off. But this conclusion would be very superficial. or some combination of them. It is possible that the development of explicit criteria of analysis would help us to discriminate good analyses (say. In other words. is the right one. Russell's theory of number. the methods of the natural and the social sciences. in practice. and this presupposes that we can attain some degree of clarification without those instruments which are being forged in the process. but this does not mean that philosophers have no common sense of the characterof the analytic method. There are fundamental questions about the nature of analysis which have still to receive a definitive formulation." or "correctness": does an analysis terminate in the formulationof a "real definition"? Is it "convenience. In the second place. The amount of disagreement may be as great as ever. from the prevalanceof disagreement and dissatisfaction. in aesthetics. who may be a moralisttoo but is professionally concernedwith the clarificationof moral ideas. Hume's analysis of cause. and one is often surprisedat the blunderscommittedby eminent scientists when they discuss these topics. in the first place. What is it that we analyze ("words"? "thoughts"? "meanings"'? "sentences"? "judgments"? "propositions"?)? How can the analyzandum and the analyzans have the same meaning and yet be different (the "paradox of analysis")? What is the decisive criterion for the acceptability of an analysis'?Is it "truth. and aims of science as the average well-trainedinstructorin logic. There is a fair consensus of opinion aboutthe meritsof certainanalyses even among philosophers who have different views about analysis: I should think there was no analytical philosopher who would deny that certain passages in Plato. limits. that the merits of analyses can be judged by men practised in analysis and will not attempt to state abstractcriteria for telling the good analyses from the bad. were good (though not final) analyses of their respective topics.g. They occur at a much more advanced level of complexity and incorporatewithin themselves the fruits of previous enlightenments. Emerson) and the analytic moral philosopher. we reach criteriaof analysis by analyzing analysis. In fact.At their best. of course. a common mode of discussing analysis is to assume. One could not expect much.'"the watch-wordof nominalism?Is it "fruitfulness''-the pragmaticor heuristictest? Granted that one of these criteria.Analytical Philosophy and The Study of Art At the present moment and for some time past analysis has been the subject of spirited discussion in philosophy. Voltaire. It is probablytrue that few among even the most brilliantscientists have as good an understanding of the nature. We may conclude this section by observing that the analytic method has been applied with particularlygood effect to the study of other methods.2 . and circumspection. and to generalize from such examples. intensiveness. from the application of a method the definition of which was uncertain and the results of which. but the plane of disagreementis higher in the dimension of technicality. the analysis of scientific method belongs to philosophy ratherthan to science itself. But the essential point is ratherthis: that a physicist or a biologist who has confused ideas of what "science" and "scientific method" are is not the less competent in his own field for that. but to believe that we are helpless until we have such criteria is to be involved in hopeless difficulties. of aesthetic concepts) from bad ones. more. e. can we apply it to specific analyses in such a manneras to know with finality whether they are sound? The last question is obviously of some interest to anyone who wishes to judge the merits of philosophical approachesto the arts. For. on the basis of the ordinaryanalytic intelligence. For these reasons1 assume. that the analytic method itself is a sort of quagmire where it is impossible to reach solid ground. For. contemporaryarguments about analysis are no mere repetitionof ancient and insoluble disputes.

Few among those persons who are known for their abilities as analysts are at all interested in the problemsof aesthetics." "Art and Knowledge. This holds trueof older men of outstandingreputation. Nevertheless. Critics and art historians. Thus. Coleridge is regarded as an aesthetician when he gives a definition of poetry though not when he examines passages from Shakespeare. we may notice that philosophical works on aesthetics are themselves seldom purely analytical." "The Validation of Aesthetic Judgments. with finding empirical correlations among different factors in the creative or the appreciative process. and graduate students of literature. The study of aesthetics. Analytical aesthetics has a preliminary. can make an important we answer this question in the affirmative. anal- ysis. as I have suggested above.128 ISENBERG II. there will be a brief and generalized account of "poetic language" in a book concerned with the philosophy of language3or an account of aesthetic valuation in a book on knowledge and valuation.J. and the characterof their methods-of which they are themselves frequentlynot aware. the members of which are not concerned with anything that we would call analysis but. (It is astonishingto thinkthatnone of the leaders of the analytic movement. the class of people who have made clear-cut though modest analyses of special problems in aesthetics deserves attention. it is not to disparage traditional and current approaches. Hobbes. no doubt. The chief reasonfor an emphasis upon analytic methodin aesthetics is simply that every other system and method of philosophy has had its chance. by and large. few aestheticians practice any sort of strict analytic method. It is much less unusualto meet a philosopherwho is a good violinist or an amateurphotographer than to meet one who is familiar with critical terminology or the issues in the philosophy of art. Hume. "Aesthetics" is sometimes taken as a name for general art knowledge (Kunstwissenschaft). i. It is also curious to observe how many of those analysts who do occasionally write on aesthetic topics throw their analytic scruples and equipment to the winds as soon as they get into this strangeterritory. ii. they are mixtures of metaphysical speculation. Again. they are capable of larger contributionsthan those they have so far made.critical. but we have no comprehensive analysis of artor poetryof a distinctionequal to an older work like Ducasse's Philosophy of Art. I could take up many pages. in the proficient modem sense. There are six salient points to be made.If devotees. the meaning of their statements. for the most part. I may cite as an example a book like Dewey's Art as Experience.but one may also see the need for something else. In some cases. trying to explain and justify this definition. iii.) And it is true.with a few exceptions such as C. Among those who have broughtanalytic techniquesto bear upon aesthetic subjects there is a tendency to keep to limited or abstract problems which are closely connected with those they are studying in logic or epistemology. Again. The question that I consider worthseriousattentionis whethera more singleminded and rigorous applicationof analysis to aestheticproblems. One cannot help being grateful that it was written. the American Psychological Association has a Division of Aesthetics.has always been to some degree analytical.I. . Ducasse and C. Finally. in the hands of professional philosophers. for instance. such as Moore and Russell." We have had. grandiose nonanalytic treatments of aesthetic its conscious and avowed contribution. This book is a hodgepodge of conflicting methods and undisciplined speculations. have ventured into a field that was not shunned by Bacon. have something to learn from them. I may now describe the situation in contemporaryaesthetics. It is not intended to be restrictive. such as the psychology of art. in recent times. It concerns itself with the clarity of their premises. critical appreciation. Conversely. or Kant. it is sometimes identified with the higher and more theoretical types of art criticism. teachers. has not. of younger men now teaching in departments of philosophy. Locke. to no very good purpose. and so on.psychological theorizing. Aesthetics Philosophical aesthetics is an analysis of the concepts and principles of criticism and other aesthetic studies. Yet it is full of profound and stimulating suggestions. and reflective role in relationto these other activities.4and there are essays on "Poetry and Truth. Lewis.

textual criticism and the preparationof standard editions. that they do not agree. that what is really needed is not analyses but good analyses.The subject. psychoanalysis-every branch of knowledge has been made to contributeto the aesthetic disciplines. The Art Studies The range of currentwork dealing directly or indirectly with the arts is practically limitless. distinguishing among the various subjects and methods and showing their relationships. The most elementary distinctions among art studies-even those which are presupposedby the section headings of this report-sooner or later requirethe application of refined analytic methods. first. . is challenging and distinguished. defined as the formulationof general principles on the basis of which critical evaluations may be made. C.a comprehensivetechnic of bibliography. when students of come to feel that they must go far into literature logic and philosophy. v. and by differentiatingstudies of concrete works of art as either "literary criticism" or 'literary history. I would like to point out. chemistry. Naturally. . lest I appear to be making exaggeratedclaims for analysis. there will be some prospect of advances in aesthetics. bibliographicaldata and theories. . periods. this raises the difficult question of estimation. biology. linguistic. if it is done at all.the formulation.third. it does not fall within any of these domains. biographical. III. remains largely to be created. phrases.and from the companion of literary criticism. of general knowledge of the nature of literature. of types of study dealing with literaturealone: . Some analysts of great ability who have not writtenupon aesthetics may neverthelessbe valuable as critics and consultants. that we began with a fairly acceptable distinction . the latterdefined as the evaluationand in this sense the interpretation of works of literature. The merits of an analysis depend upon its author's ability. One might urge that there has been no dearthof analysis in the field of aesthetics. These people will appear if and when graduate students become convinced that aesthetics is worth studying. I think it desirable to call this somewhat obvious point to the attentionof the Foundation. lexicographic. for instance. images. literary sources . vi. When they believe thatcriticism and art history also deserve their attention. . second. . Philosophers are constantly finding objections to each other's analyses. thatthey are one and all concerned with the subject matterand methods of other disciplines.6 Multifarious activities like these make up a total picture which is somewhat bewildering. Analytically minded students of philosophy nowadays try to learn something about sciences such as mathematics or psychology. The line of inquiry is "metalinguistic": it is about criticism or art historyor stylistics.rhetoricalstudies. that they overlap. . motifs. . analytical aesthetics. the theory of criticism. It is not surprising.7 Wellek and Warren prefer a different arrangement: It seems best to draw attention to these distinctions by describing as 'literary theory" the study of the principlesof literature. which includes a factorof talent and originality: nothing is guaranteedby the use of the analytic method as such.. of dates. It belongs in fact to philosophy. semasiological. by young and unknown people.5 129 Mathematics. There is nothing fool-proof about analytic method. though small in amount. The term "theory of literature"might well include-as this book doesthe necessary '"theoryof literarycriticism" and '"theory of literaryhistory. . Such a catalysis can be broughtabout only by the appearanceof work which. forms.Analytical Philosophy and The Study of Art iv. As distinct from these the theory of literatureis ."8 One could mentionother systems and distinctions which have been proposed by various writers. Let us suppose.. statistics. objectively and with regard for problems of value. grammatical.. Thus we have the classification of literary studies advocated by T..then. Finally. The following is a list. .. but nothing is to be gained by avoiding a recognition of that difficulty.discovery and verificationof authorship." . and so forth. admittedlyincomplete. that some students have felt the need for a methodicalsurvey. Literarytheory should be distinguishedfrom literary criticism. localities of origin and migrationof themes. We need not discuss the comparativemerits of these classificatory schemes.objective" digest of historical. Pollock. an attempt to organize the whole field. physics. factual commentaries offering a neutral . I believe we may say thatthe best work in the field is to be done.

to express an opinion as to its encompassing limitations-without taking all the space that would be needed to substantiatemy opinion. (At that. as analysts. historians. who again have quarrelswithin their own family. These writers are engaged in philoreason sophical analysis. As for the criticism. accordingto the authorand the chapter or page that we happento examine. the relations between history and criticism.and informal. and in most primaryworks of scholarshipwe find eithera separateessay or a passing opinion about "the sociological approach to literature. we have many articlesand volumes on Methods of TextualCriticism." and so on) that studies those methods. however. Principlesof Emendation." "methods of art interpretation.Manyvolumes devoted wholly to questions of method appear each year. There is. casual. that the most interesting work of the type we are considering has been done by art historians or critics ratherthan by professionalphilosophers. Some of the narrower specialities have. Books about "the principlesof criticism" have been a wellestablishedgenre since the eighteenthcentury.130 between art history and art criticism. etymology. I have. or literarymen. Our arts departmentsare governed very largely by technical historians. yet the first can usually be determinedwith accuracy. Critics.9 This body of writingcontainsevery degree of thoughtfulness." and similar topics. Language associations have devoted whole meetings and whole issues of their proceedings to debatesover method. But.editors. At certain stages in the developmentof any subject.These two questions are theoreticallyof the same type. that history is an essential ingredient (or "moment") within the critical process and that historicalresearchcannot be conducted without evaluation-just as (so we are told) there is a critical phase in the composition of the work of art and a creative aspect to criticism. for instance.critics. Meanwhile. "The science of bibliography" is relatively well defined. . etc. There is no particular why philosophizing should not be done. a first question as to the methods of the art studies and the subject (called "methodology." "theoryof artcriticism. insight. while the second commonly leads to ontological and epistemologicalentanglements(see below). to be sure. then. more than that. We have." "theory of literature. Yet these men. These specialists are challenged by social and cultural historians. amatuerish. There are excellent reasons why they should do so. For these and other reasons. attained a stable footing. and cognate questions is fostered incessantlyby these controversiesover educationalpolicy. there are others which are provided by conflicts of teaching method and teaching aim. are unawareof the responsibilities of analysis and tend. trainedin responsibilityto their own primarycrafts. in fact. the very premises of the historicalapproachare questionedby moralisticcritics or by the advocates of a "pure" criticism.adequacy.and we find. we should find authors insisting. who draw up requirementswhich do not agree very well with the intellectual proclivities of students. teachersnormally absorbedin the primaryproblemsof interpretation frequentlyturnaside and write or lectureon the tools of their trades. Scholars usually believe in the importance of their own lines of work and advocate their diffusion through the curricu- ISENBERG lum-or the nation. and done well. problems of method become compelling. to be slack. not a month or a week passes without articles on "The Role of the Critic" or "The Functionof Criticism" written by scholars. Besides these internalincentives for the discussion of method. with good reason. It would quickly appearthat most books about art contain elements of both: most histories of art are critical. iconology. An interest in the methods of criticism." "the importanceof the history of ideas for the appreciationof literature. most critics use historical information. a difof an obsoference between the interpretation lete word in Shakespeareand the interpretation of a characterin Shakespeare. and suggestiveness. a secondary literature dealing with the problemsof the artstudies has arisen and grown to enormous proportions. certainpartsof musicology are channels in which scholarship can move ahead without much self-questioning. But this is bound to complicate the original definitions. by people who have not taken their degrees in philosophy. The discrimination of the art studies on the basis of the methods they employ is itself one of the most valuable and necessary projects that this report can envisage.) But the status of the larger questions remains obscure.

is the verification. we shall be better able to recognize it than by investigating minutely what Hamlet was before the events related in the play.11 In other words. the distinguished German scholar. which Schucking does not mention. as Schucking says. the same critic declares that Macbeth's speech (act the eighteenth century. Bradley. Hence it is amazing that even a great and serious critic like Dowden should think it worth while to reflect on the probabilityof Hamlet's having been influenced by the fact that during the reign of the strong-willedelder Hamlet his introspectiveson was not compelled to take an active part in affairs. " though it contains no mention of Duncan. also. Only what has been present in the poet's consciousness can be adducedfor the purposeof explaining artisticcreations. but it is comical if we are dealing with a fictitious character.g.. interrogationof witnesses.. we are talking about a fictitious past and a fictitious future. e. must be regardedas quite erroneous if only for the reason that it always comes perilously near confounding art and reality. In another place. The point of view expressed by Schucking has become a fashionable critical cliche. which is taken. which may be more or less directly suggested by the text. by Kuno Fischer. Kittredge explains an apparent inconsistency in the play by invoking an assumed event that is not in the play. etc. even brilliantexample of its kind." It has not been my purpose to refute Schticking's ideas but to show that his attitude towardsthe question of method that he raises in passing is somewhatcavalier.g. brashly advancedthe thesis that "in Dramaticcomposition. no better understood today thanwhen MauriceMorgann..and Schiicking's passage is cited as a good. they may be betterjustified.12 Kittredge's interpolations and extrapolations are less speculative. enunciates the following principle: If we fix our attention on the manifestation of his characterfrom the very beginning of the play. etc. This point of view. Of course. is not interpreting Shakespearebut statinga rule of methodfor the interpretation of Shakespeare. that this rule of method is philosophical. To attempt itisi reconstructionfrom the given facts is ridiculous. It is no clearer. we could point out that such inferences do not rest upon any "confusion between art and reality. . As well might we look underthe frameof the picture for a continuation of the scene representedon the canvas. memories. a principle of aesthetic relevance. but there must be other principles. on the textual evidence. and one could make out a case against any class of scholars by confining one's attentionto the more muddled specimensof the class. What is precluded.Analytical Philosophy and The Study of Art We may first consider an example. who goes all the way back to Hamlet's infancy. these reconstructionsare of unequalmerit. Schticking.. The latteris what interestsus throughout this report. "I have lived long enough." For when we reconstructthe past or the future of a fictitious figure. But I do not know of any really careful examination of the issue. In the context of an interpretationof Shakespeare's characters. implicitly alludes to Duncan. My way of life . since it involves a distinction between art and reality. e. Yet this attitude This passage would not serve our purpose if it were chosen as an example of poor thinking on its particular subject. the Impression is the Fact. in this passage. less extensive than those of a psychoanalytic critic like ErnestJones. 131 he seems to know about his approachingtrip to England in the thirdact althoughthe King does not announce it to him until the fourth. . but they are similar to Jones's in attempting to reconstruct the absent phases of an "imagined figure. by which we discriminate among them-for instance. in the case of the literary work. scene iii). of Hamlet's past by documents. than Jones's.. It is obvious that Schficking. But thereis an important difference between the unclearideas of individuals and the unclarified status of certain concepts. There is always a degree of confusion prevalent among the general run in any profession. not the imaginary existence of such a past. How seriously is the authorcommitted to the implications of his rule of method? A close textual critic like Kittredgecan infer that Hamlet must have been speaking with some of his "friends among the King's counsellors"thoughthe fact is not statedin the text-because ." Does Schucking mean to say that all such attemptsare necessarily ridiculous? If so. plausible.some are indeed absurd. A similar attitude towardsthe substantivequestion of characteror plot in Hamlet would be regardedby him and his colleagues as disgraceful. This would be an ingenious inference in the case of a real person. whose naturecan obviously not be determinedby such reflections . In the case of an imaginedfigure we cannot speak of its past unless the poet himself does so..

v) science and religion. Pollock. could be treatedwith unexampledclarity and rigor. or may be merely implicit. They contain a mixture of considerations of different type or level. which discusses (for instance) the admissibilityof certain types of testimony.a few intelligent suggestions as to paths of thought that deserve to be opened up. a few objections to prevailing practices among contemporaries. ii) how to set up laboratory apparatus. We must now ask whether a good analysis of this type would have useful implications for the actual conduct of those disciplines. and so on. But those methods which have led to the best resultsin one part of the field may be unrecognized. An explicit formulationof method. for it is the art studies themselves which must ultimately increase our understandingof the human imaginationand its works. like that of Richards. His reflections upon methodare struckoff as by-productsof his daily occupation. then. iv) why ESP has not been proved scientifically. Broad remarks about the fundamental purpose of criticism. which is a branch of the theory of knowledge. on i) deduction and induction. Withoutbelittling any of these questions. and we can attempt only a summary treatmentof it. within a single chapter. in the hands of persons trainedin logical analysis. it should be obvious to us that. Stevenson has made a similar point with respect to the bearing of "ethical analysis" upon the practicalwork of the moralist. Yet such confusions are customaryin the theory of art study. it can eliminate waste activity. This is really a philosophicalquestion of the first magnitude. It can be plausibly maintained that the "philosophy of science" does nothing and can do nothing to promote actual progress in the sciences. none of them could be followed out very far. Every idea of method must come from the study of methods already employed in the field. Nor can we maintain with confidence that it provides the working scientist with standardsfor judging his evidence that he does not already possess. some inconclusive examples (often minutely analyzed) which are supposed to prove general principlesaboutthe distinctionbetween creativity and criticism or the relation of art and knowledge or the bearingof historicalerudition upon criticaljudgment-all these are scrambled together with a fine disregardfor logical order and coherence. For logical analysts. The shop talk of the craftsmanis confused with the theory of the craft. typical of the critic or scholar turned philosopher. leading to an excessive abstractness. iii) whether fruitful hypotheses are apt to occur in dreams. A thorough acquaintance with the rich though incoherent reflections of men working in the mines are the corrective to this philosophicalremoteness. or may be mixed up with barren methods. some ideas of theses that belong in the field ratherthan in an essay about it. it merely analyzes those techniques. Surely. Such an influence of philosophy upon science is perhaps . It is as if a treatiseon scientific method should have something to say. in the rest of the field. in my judgment. Even today there are some good ideas in theoreticalaesthetics which are ignored by critics and historians because of their forbidding dryness. The same topics. The Significance of Method We have so far considered only the type of work which. the analysis of the notion of "evidence" in the theory of probabilityand induction does not contributeany evidence towards the solution of any scientific controversy. clarifies those ideas. it can increase the general efficiency of research. the danger lies in lack of and familiaritywith the concrete subject-matter its problems. Wellek. narrow rules of thumb which have been useful to the authorin his work.132 ISENBERG is. can lead to a greaterawareness of direction and aim.'3 Now it is certainlytrue that no philosophical analysis can devise methods which it imposes on a science from the outside.sets itself to interpretthe concepts and methods of the aesthetic disciplines. should identify itself with the "theory of evidence" which is another name for logic. mingled in this fashion. It seldom happens that a course on evidence in law school. It has no implications for the procedureof scientists. or that a book on "methods of historical research" should mix up questions about the authenticityof documents with questions about the natureof historical knowledge. which are already current in a given field. their apparent lack of relevance to practical pursuits. however. IV. and Warren.

and by explaining their tendency. A Grammar of Motives. A considerableemphasis upon method may be a symptom of distress and stagnation. We can at once draw a conclusion for the theory and practiceof criticism. at least makes progress towards a third. handle any question that will ever occur to him. A studentwho is to occupy himself with tracingthe source of certain spellings in a groupof old manuscripts can. general ideas like these would quickly find a place in a continuous movement of research. nothing solid remains: there is no real advance towards truth. applied to new and related subjects. when the very idea of science was in a state of confusion. Chard Powers Smith. and Kenneth Burke. Archetypal Patterns in Poetry. But over and above its collection of facts and insights. more or less novel: Miss Tuve. Each of these works displays powes of critical appreciation. We have already remarked thatthe more strictlypedantictypes of historical need of methscholarshipstand in no particular odological scrutiny. They would be taken up by later writersand. Most of them also contain historical information. for the simple reason that a highly efficient "hypotheticodeductive-experimental" method has become institutionalized in the natural sciences: it is engrained in the working habits even of those scientists who have never taken a course in logic. A good theory of criticism should not and could not reform critical practice from the ground up. a hypothesis. if found to have any merit. and psychoanalytic schools-which are really philosophical theses of a vague and primitivetypeare clearly bound up with the kinds of work that are being done. which are of much greateramountto the human race. are another matter: it is these that present the picture of confusion. They would attachthemselves to earlier ideas as corollaries. The Language of Tragedy. indeed.behaviorist. All the authorscriticize some of their predecessorsand express indebtednessto others. A careless reader of literaryjournals might imagine that the present works have a similar role within a frameworkof their own.Moody E. Now. W. But when the smoke blows away. But if we were living in the time of Bacon and Descartes. it can encourage harderand sharper attacks in the same directions. a general idea.Analytical Philosophy and The Study of Art imperceptibleat the presenttime. generalizations. retested. the more significant becomes the question of method. M. I may illustrate by discussing a group of contemporaryworks which have certain qualities in common. Poetry Direct and Oblique. Their own ideas are minutely examined in the reviews and subsequentlyreferredto in doctoraltheses. more or less general. Prior. Tillyard. Elizabethanand MetaphysicalImagery. revisions. by any reasonable standard. in anothera conception of varieties of multiple meaning. for example. And in the science of psychology today. E. Maud 133 Bodkin.but literary . Factual study. as the reader can tell by noticing what happens to his own reading of poetry undertheir influence. In one case." connected with the tragic structureand idea. Seven Types of Ambiguity. There are flurries of discussion which resemble the explicit work of evaluation that goes on in the sciences. in art history. Gestalt. Critical and historical ideas about literatureand the arts. But by separatingout. each work is built around a theory. or refutations. Comparableworks by studentsof music and the plastic arts could be mentioned. The greater the degree of disorder in any subject-matter. Pattern and Variationin Poetry. One writer acts upon another as a stimulant or a provocation. such a question as whetherscience concerns itself with efficient or final causes would be rathermomentousfor the future of science. There is. William Empson. the thesis that the diction of tragic drama is. those lines of thoughtwhich have proved fruitful. afterone course in card catalogues. from the welter of reactionsthat pass for criticism. would be built upon-explored. the humane sciences are today in a state of disorder. demonstrates the influence of Ramus's logic on the poetry of the seventeenth century. I am thinkingof books like RosamundTuve. it is a distinction between "intellectual" and "sensuous" imagery. an appearanceof continuity and progress. the methodologicalprinciplesof the structuralist.but it may also very well be the only possible cure. Now in even the most backward of the sciences. I have classed these works together because of the presence in each of this theoretical element together with the commoner critical and historical motives. " 'essentially" and not "superficially.

134 ISENBERG theory makes no progress towards greater objectivity. One may even admit. that the arts themselves can have only a limited role in the outlook and life of the professional. to periods when the sciences themselves seem to proceed by a succession of fashions and emphases. they exemplify a general unclarity as to the requirementsof any method. with Howard Mumford Jones. perhaps. the answer is fairly simple. deplore an excessive emphasis upon the study of art at the expense of those values of enjoyment which are sought by the average cultured person. But no such theoretical apparatuswas required for that purpose. fall into a miscellaneous "tradition" where they affect each other by invisible shoves and electric shocks. retains all its value as a critical study. Tillyard's categories. whither the authorsare by no means concerned to follow them. generality. Now if we ask why interesting and important projects like these have accomplishedso little. A humandling several departments ist is. precision. one who seeks balanceand a roundedview and is not interested in intensive inquiry leading to definite "results". there is no reason for a theory like Empson's unless it is meant to be taken seriously as a theory.14 They subsist at . instead of being incorporated within a persistent intellectual effort where other ideas can be mountedupon them. It is quite sufficiently clear for her various nontheoreticalpurposes. who set up their theoreticalobjectives: if we were talking about straight biography.instead of infusing one discipline with the explicit principles of another. the status of whose problems is dubious indeed.all of the presentstrictures would be beside the point. Their thinking. No work has had a createrinfluence on recent aesthetic thinking than Empson's Seven Types.The themes and issues of the authors namedabove (andof manyothers like them) are the really exciting matterof the humanities. going beyond Mr. One might point to a few areas in which arttheoryseems to be moving aheadand. in spite of reciprocal influences. Any of the strands interwoven in their work would. if followed out. Ideas. To set up the positivist ideal of "getting somewhere" for the criticismof artis to impose an aim foreign to its nature-though." make no sense whatever to a student of symbolism. Empson's book. stradof thought. has no benefit of psychological analysis and would be completely obscure to any student of psychology. It would clearly be wrong to attemptto discourage the appearanceof books like those mentioned above-rich works with manifold values. Thus. These writers. One may go further and. let us make it clear that the specifically critical effort is probably not to be judged by any canons of scientific progress. appreciation. And. They do not make it less regrettablethat scholarshipshould be divided between pedantrywhich is exact and objective and theory which is nebulous and transient. But it is even more importantto understandthe point of view from which this criticism is being made. we must add. Yet among all its fervent admirers I doubtthatone personcould be found who could say what the seven types are. with no lack either of brilliance or of care. business. is strictly individual. incidentally. though it belongs to psychology. but it cannot be of any use for a theory of imagery. "direct" and "oblique. One might also find it strangethatthe foregoing criticism shouldcome from the camp of philosophy. Miss Tuve's distinction between "intellectual" and "sensuous" images. Jones. Certain qualifications should. as a final concession to those who may object to the argument of this section. in fact.It is these authorsthemselves. an aim which many critics seem to accept when they talk about each other's works. lead over into psychology or general linguistics or aesthetics or logic. almost by definition. though they serve well enough to convey the particularcritical opinions of the author. or working man: arts and letters are "specialities" when compared with experience in general. on the other hand. or how these "types of ambiguity" are related to the study of mental processes or the theory of ambiguity in logic. are irresponsible because there is no clear-cutsubject or method to which they can be responsible. or historicalreconstruction. be allowed. and many humanisticworks of the past exhibit a play of intelligence upon many topics without systematicallycultivatingany one. Mr. and comprehensiveness. The hybridityof these works is at the very opposite pole from a genuine synthesis of methods or subject matters. Yet none of these points impeaches the desirability of intellectual progress. historical and critical.why there arejust seven types. to be sure. how one type is differentfrom another.

in innumerable works. might not of itself generate brilliantnew attacks upon the old problems. the prime requisitefor such tasks as we consider in this report. Qualifications An ideal equipment for the philosophical analyst of aesthetic problems would be a combination of backgroundsand abilities such as perhaps no living person has. Yet there are othercases-certain works on aesthetics by Americanphilosophers-where one cannot help feeling that the anlaysis has been . historian. The analyst must be the leading partnerin any collaborativeattackupon them. V. The path of literaryand art theory is clogged by an unconscious competition of purposes. What are the nonanalytic qualifications of the analyst? What. history. each maiming or hinderingthe others."does the Aesthetik of every German philosopher seem to the artist an abomination of desolation?" We here touch upon another difficult question. many an Aesthetik of the sort that William James had in mind is philosophically inept to begin with: apart from annoying the artist. James forgot to ask whether his "artist. clearly. philosophers and psychologists have been blamed for evincing bad taste in their critical reactions and choice of examples. in many quarters. the theory of art may tomorrowtake an immense stride through the efforts of some brilliant person." rather than his "German philosopher.) If we were recommending projects in empirical psychology. producingan awarenessof the commitmentsof each. would result in something that could be called fish or flesh or good red herring. or be able to acquire.'s which successfully pursue the clarification of some aesthetic concept. should be his degree of competence as a critic? How good a judge of art must he be if he is to have a good philosophy of art? There could be numerous answers. the modishness of his tastes and tone. but it does not seem reasonable to charge aesthetics with the responsibility of being beautiful. Analytical trainingand ability is. it can therefore hardlyserve as evidence for the mutualhostility of art and philosophy. Critically distinguished and fascinating books by Malraux. really demandingprolongedanalysis. for instance. In a more moderate conception of a qualified person we need to consider the relative importanceof different sorts of talent or attainment. Thus we see that many different things-his literarystyle.Analytical Philosophy and The Study of Art fetal stage of inquiry. The qualifications of the analyst can be judged from the work he has already done or from the recommendationsof persons who are themselves qualified analysts. There is no point to the continuationof these studies unless they are done better than they have been done before. I believe we can answer it in the affirmative. though it is not shown that this deficiency really impairstheir analyses. or critic than they should learn how to handle analytic procedure. and for all I know. the adequacy of his analysis-might be meant by the "competence" of the philosopher. or criticism.but they ignore it to their own loss." asked William James-and many people have repeated the query. In an unfortunate situation we can always prescribe genius as a remedy. it botches its own program and offends against sound criteria of analysis. there would of course be a different conclusion to be drawn.D. But there has long existed. has been ignoredby men of letters (except for Schiller and Coleridge). abounding in profound implicationsfor the understanding of the arts. if encouraged. but it is a sine qua non. A work of intellectual genius like Kant's Critique of AestheticJudgment. Ortega y Gasset. Sartre." might not be at fault. Again. A critique of methods. where an undifferentiated any of numerous tendencies. a familiaritywith the problems of the art psychologist. Returningnow to the questionthat was asked at the beginningof this section. "Why. (Let us remindourselves that such results as the amateurphilosophercan producewith the sharpbut undisciplinedanalytic faculties of the gifted man we have already. But if we are looking for a humbler practical recipe. Again. we must return to our diagnosis. It seems less unlikely that he should have. each presupposingits own conception of the relationsamong the art studies. seem to me to throw no particle of light on any aesthetic problem. 135 a fairly well justified feeling about the ineptness of philosophers who tread upon the aesthetic domain. full of startling intuitions and tasteful examples.while there are stuffy monographsby obscure Ph. An artist might dislike a system of aesthetics simply because it is not a work of art.

Empsomknows how to go about criticizing a poem. Aesthetics and the Theory of Criticism: Selected Essays of Arnold Isenberg (University of Chicago Press. 1953). 1948). 1946). ed. But if. An analysis is usually tested against the "denotation" of the concept that is being analyzed. Theory of Literature (New York. The Sublime (New York. see Chapter17. Now among the important concepts of the art studies are some which have arisen in the process of critical evaluation and which thereforedenote values as well as facts. eds.E.Paul Arthur Schilpp. is certainly not fit to philosophize about the knowledge embodied therein. The full paper is 48 pages (the last 15 of which constitute an 'Appendix of Simple Problems"). p. Joseph Schillinger'sMathematical Basis of the Arts (Da Capo Publishers. p.. 1949). 1923). 1973). There is. Monk. 1950. Character Problems in Shakespeare'sPlays (New York. Schficking. p. is the right man to go to for confirmationor criticism. and 43-46 have been printed in W. its nature. p. etc. 1935). 6 For example. 1938). 30. L. eds. He should know. as often happens. 1946). 247. Langford. 1947). in the case of certain poems. An Analysis of Knowledgeand Valuation (La Salle. A similar point could be made about the analysis of the problemsof arthistory." in Bronstein. 7 Herbert E.g. Moore (NorthwesternUniversity Press. H. and problems-ed. Birkhoff'sAestheticMeasure (Harvard UniversityPress. IL.. for he is concerned with descriptive studies of aesthetic reactions. Abrams. Read. e. see ChaptersXIV and XV. et al. 10 Levin L. The specialist. 13 Charles Stevenson.Communication (New York. see article by C.136 spoiled by sheer lack of critical sophistication or of genuine responsiveness to art. Lewis. M. . for example. Ethics and Language (AMS Press. 4 C. Excerpts from pages 5-6. 14-28.. An analyst should therefore be a sensitive and well-informedperson. no degree of understanding or clarity of interpretation so perfect that it cannot be questioned or improved. that Tennyson is considered a skillful manipulator of verse rhythmsand phoneticharmonies." If he studies the methods employed by psychologists to determine the taste of the average American movie fan. period. it is doubtful whether the analyst needs to have all the sensitivity and of the practicingcritic or delicate discrimination all the information of the historian. 1942). school. 1939). 1 (1950). ' Martin Schutze." Philosophical Studies 1 no. he tries to explain what is meant by "good color" in the criticism of painting by means of examples drawn from the worst col- ISENBERG orists. Krikorian. Miss Tuve understandsthe requirements of historicalresearch.]: C. Academic Illusions (University of Chicago. who gives his whole time to questions of that order. Scientific Thought (New York. Hamlet (Ginn and Company. methods." April 1. p. Basic Problems of Philosophy (New York. " G. 14 Always excepting the more concrete and nontheoreticalobjectives. What is more likely is that in the course of his work he ' This paper represents. ed. 9 And books about books about the principles of criticism. 238. Moritz Schlick. Kittredge.Mr.." It follows that the analyst must be at least aware of the chief specific values that are denoted by the term or idea he is analyzing. Callaghan. At the same time. then (at the very least) he confuses his treatment of a normative concept by raising distractingcontroversiesat the primarylevel. 1944). for example. it may not be necessary for him. One who is unfamiliarwith common distinctionsof style. 2 [Isenbergends this section with the following bibliographicallist on which he has apparentlybased his discussion of contemporaryanalysis. 3 Karl Britton. 8 Rene Wellek and Austin Warren. The analyst should know these values. 1933). Bate. either to share these tastes or to reject them..H.H. see Chapter 10.and why he is so considered-if he wishes to clarify the critical use of the term "technique. see Introduction.Wiener. 1933). and Alan Burrough'sArt Criticismfrom a Laboratory (Boston. D. Thus. The Philosophy of G. 1928). The Nature of Literature (Ayer Company. the analyst. 1939). a good analysis of the concept "justice" should not result in a definition which excluded from the meaning of the term flagrant cases of what people would call "justice" and included flagrant cases of "injustice. 1938). Broad. 158. 1933). The one positive suggestion which I think may be of some use here is the following. From Classic to Romantic (New York. Walter J. with only a few short omissions. 1. 1948). pages 1-28 of Isenberg's "Analytical Philosophyand the Study of Art:A Reportto the RockefellerFoundation. I. Elements of Analytic Philosophy (New York. John Redfield's Music: A Science and an Art (New York. p.. xviii. The Mirror and the Lamp (Oxford University Press. S. These remarksserve to show merely that the question of the general competence of the philosopher is not a simple one. MorrisWeitz "Analysis and Real Definition. HenryLanz's Physical Basis of Rime (HarvardUniversity Press. Arthur Pap. 12 Ibid. 1949). "The Futureof Philosophy. should reach particular junctures where his present taste or knowledge needs to be either checked or extended.

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