Josh Kortbein
Phil 4501
October 1

Kendall Walton, "Categories of Art"

How far can critical questions about works of art be separated from questions about their histories? A work's aesthetic properties depend not only on its nonaesthetic ones, but also on which of its nonaesthetic properties are "standard," "variable," and "contra-standard." Why? Because what aesthetic properties a work seems to us to have depends not only on what nonaesthetic features we perceive in it, but also on which of them are standard, which variable, and which contra-standard for us.

Standard: among those in virtue of which works in that category belong to that category (lack of the feature would disqualify, or tend to, a work)

Variable: has nothing to do with works' belonging to that category

Contra-standard: absence of a standard feature, or, presence of a feature which tends to disqualify works as members of the category

What aesthetic properties a thing seems to have may depend on what categories it is perceived in. It is, at least in some cases, correct to perceive a work in certain categories, and incorrect to perceive it in certain others.

Circumstances counting toward correctness: