Art and Intention: A Philosophical Study

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Clarendon Press, 2005 - Philosophy - 251 pages
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Do the artist's intentions have anything to do with the making and appreciation of works of art? In Art and Intention Paisley Livingston develops a broad and balanced perspective on perennial disputes between intentionalists and anti-intentionalists in philosophical aesthetics and critical theory. He surveys and assesses a wide range of rival assumptions about the nature of intentions and the status of intentionalist psychology. With detailed reference to examples from diverse media, art forms, and traditions, he demonstrates that insights into the multiple functions of intentions have important implications for our understanding of artistic creation and authorship, the ontology of art, conceptions of texts, works, and versions, basic issues pertaining to the nature of fiction and fictional truth, and the theory of art interpretation and appreciation.

Livingston argues that neither the inspirationist nor rationalistic conceptions can capture the blending of deliberate and intentional, spontaneous and unintentional processes in the creation of art. Texts, works, and artistic structures and performances cannot be adequately individuated in the absence of a recognition of the relevant makers intentions. The distinction between complete and incomplete works receives an action-theoretic analysis that makes possible an elucidation of several different senses of "fragment" in critical discourse. Livingston develops an account of authorship, contending that the recognition of intentions is in fact crucial to our understanding of diverse forms of collective art-making. An artist's short-term intentions and long-term plans and policies interact in complex ways in the emergence of an artistic oeuvre, and our uptake of such attitudes makes an important difference to our appreciation of the relations between items belonging to a single life-work.

The intentionalism Livingston advocates is, however, a partial one, and accomodates a number of important anti-intentionalist contentions. Intentions are fallible, and works of art, like other artefacts, can be put to a bewildering diversity of uses. Yet some important aspects of art s meaning and value are linked to the artist s aims and activities.

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Incredibly helpful for anyone working with analytic philosophy. It is clear, exhaustive, and insightful.

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References to this book

Fiction and the Weave of Life
John Gibson
No preview available - 2007

About the author (2005)

Paisley Livingston has a B.A. in Philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University. He is Chair Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. He has held teaching and research positions at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, McGill University, l'Ecole Polytechnique (Paris), Siegen University, The University of Aarhus, Roskilde University Center, The University of Copenhagen, and Zinbin (Kyoto). His books are Ingmar Bergman and the Rituals of Art (Cornell), Literary Knowledge (Cornell) Literature and Rationality (Cambridge), Models of Desire (Johns Hopkins). He co-edited The Creation of Art (Cambridge) with Berys Gaut and The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film with Carl Plantinga.

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