Josh Kortbein
Phil 4501
September 28

Frank Sibley, "Aesthetic Concepts"


Taste, or aesthetic, concepts (words like "unified", "balanced", "pretty", "dynamic", "tragic", and so forth) are not and cannot be condition- or rule-governed. Why?


Given that this is the case, how is it that critics, by talking about nonaesthetic or aesthetic features of a work, support their aesthetic judgments (and convincingly so!) despite the fact that these features are able to be seen by most any capable viewer, one possibly lacking "good taste"?

Sibley's response: this is how aesthetic concepts work. Confusion about how critics are able to do this results from misguided or incorrect attempts to understand aesthetic concepts in terms of models for other concepts. The ways we justify and make aesthetic judgments are natural because this is how we learn the concepts in the first place.