Re: [peirce-l] Aesthetics, Axiology, and Artistic Truth

2012-03-29 Thread Catherine Legg
Thank you for posting your thoughts on this, Michael!

How does the concept of style which you elaborate below relate to Peirce's
distinction of 'tone' from 'token' and 'type'?

Cheers, Cathy

-Original Message-
From: C S Peirce discussion list [mailto:PEIRCE-L@LISTSERV.IUPUI.EDU] On
Behalf Of Michael Shapiro
Sent: Tuesday, 27 March 2012 9:59 a.m.
To: PEIRCE-L@LISTSERV.IUPUI.EDU
Subject: Aesthetics, Axiology, and Artistic Truth

Dear Peirce Listers,

Apropos of the recent messages regarding the Peirce
Society meeting at SAAP earlier this month in New York, yes, I was there too
and
heard Tom Short's responses after his paper (unsatisfactory, in my
estimation;
but he told me that he hadn't slept the night before) with regard to
aesthetics.
One shouldn't forget that Peirce himself is completely unsatisfactory when
it
comes to aesthetics (as he is on ethics).

Whenever I teach my course on Peirce's theory of
interpretation, I tell my students (only half in jest) that my definition of
a
philosopher is someone who only solves problems of their own devising. By
contrast, someone who is confronted with the problem of having to explain
the
facts of language or literature or music is in a rather different position
vis-à-vis the data. My long experience with the analysis of aesthetic
objects
(mostly poetry and prose) convinces me that ultimately one has to deal with
them
axiologically, so to speak, by acknowledging the necessity of seeing them as
repositories of values. In that light, the question as to why the Mona Lisa
is
admirable always comes under the concept of STYLE and its
HISTORY. It is, moreover, on the grounds of style that one
can begin to approach the problem of artistic truth in the spirit of
pragmaticism.

In case this line of thought is of interest, here are
some further observations on the specific role of style. (Comments always
welcome.)

Style suffuses so much of what it means to be human, and
has been the subject of so much analysis, that in order to move it away from
problems of introspection and self-awareness one needs to redirect the
age-old
discussion into a more public arena where the contrast with custom allows
insight into the ontology of human activity in general. This can be
accomplished
when style as a phenomenon that cuts across disciplinary boundaries is
viewed
TROPOLOGICALLY as a fundamentally COGNITIVE category. A global theory of
style entails arguing more
closely for the concept of STYLE AS A TROPE OF
MEANING; and demonstrating how stylistic analysis can reveal itself
not just as a compendium of traditionally taxonomized information but as the
means whereby individual manifestations of style, their structural
coherences,
and their mirroring of signification can be identified and evaluated.


I. Form and content. Insofar as the
distinction can be clear at all, it does not actually coincide with but cuts
across the boundary between what is style and what is not. Style then
comprises
characteristic features both of what is said or performed or made and of how
it
is said/performed/made. If it is obvious that style is the regard that what
pays to how the faults of this formula are equally obvious. Architecture,
nonobjective painting, and most music have no subject, nor do they literally
say
anything. So the what of one activity may be part of the how of another.
No
rule based on linguistic form alone could determine, for instance, whether
or
not a discursive meaning is ironic. In considering linguistic style at
least,
and perhaps even style generally, it soon emerges that the relation between
form
and content must in part be described metaphorically.
II. Content and expression. One famous theory of
style, that of the French scholar Charles Bally, identifies linguistic style
with the affective value of the features of organized language and the
reciprocal action of the expressive features that together form the system
of
the means of expression of a language. From this Roman Jakobson fashioned a
definition of style as a marked––emotive or poetic––annex to the neutral,
purely cognitive information. Aside from the impossibility of consistently
separating cognitive from affective information without remainder, it is
equally
transparent that definitions of style that trade in feelings, emotions, or
affects go awry by overlooking not only structural features that are neither
feelings nor expressed but also features that though not feelings ARE
expressed.
III. Difference between stylistic and
nonstylistic. A feature of style may be a feature of what is said, of what
is exemplified, or of what is expressed. But not all such features are
necessarily stylistic. Similarly, features that are clearly stylistic in one
work may have no stylistic bearing in another locus. Nelson Goodman writes:
A
property––whether of statement made, structure displayed, or feeling
conveyed––counts as stylistic only when it associates a work with one rather
than another artist, 

[peirce-l] Aesthetics, Axiology, and Artistic Truth

2012-03-26 Thread Michael Shapiro
Dear Peirce Listers,
 
Apropos of the recent messages regarding the Peirce 
Society meeting at SAAP earlier this month in New York, yes, I was there too 
and 
heard Tom Short's responses after his paper (unsatisfactory, in my estimation; 
but he told me that he hadn't slept the night before) with regard to 
aesthetics. 
One shouldn't forget that Peirce himself is completely unsatisfactory when it 
comes to aesthetics (as he is on ethics).
 
Whenever I teach my course on Peirce's theory of 
interpretation, I tell my students (only half in jest) that my definition of a 
philosopher is someone who only solves problems of their own devising. By 
contrast, someone who is confronted with the problem of having to explain the 
facts of language or literature or music is in a rather different position 
vis-à-vis the data. My long experience with the analysis of aesthetic objects 
(mostly poetry and prose) convinces me that ultimately one has to deal with 
them 
axiologically, so to speak, by acknowledging the necessity of seeing them as 
repositories of values. In that light, the question as to why the Mona Lisa is 
admirable always comes under the concept of STYLE and its 
HISTORY. It is, moreover, on the grounds of style that one 
can begin to approach the problem of artistic truth in the spirit of 
pragmaticism.
 
In case this line of thought is of interest, here are 
some further observations on the specific role of style. (Comments always 
welcome.)
 
Style suffuses so much of what it means to be human, and 
has been the subject of so much analysis, that in order to move it away from 
problems of introspection and self-awareness one needs to redirect the age-old 
discussion into a more public arena where the contrast with custom allows 
insight into the ontology of human activity in general. This can be 
accomplished 
when style as a phenomenon that cuts across disciplinary boundaries is viewed 
TROPOLOGICALLY as a fundamentally COGNITIVE category. A global theory of style 
entails arguing more 
closely for the concept of STYLE AS A TROPE OF 
MEANING; and demonstrating how stylistic analysis can reveal itself 
not just as a compendium of traditionally taxonomized information but as the 
means whereby individual manifestations of style, their structural coherences, 
and their mirroring of signification can be identified and evaluated. 

 
I. Form and content. Insofar as the 
distinction can be clear at all, it does not actually coincide with but cuts 
across the boundary between what is style and what is not. Style then comprises 
characteristic features both of what is said or performed or made and of how it 
is said/performed/made. If it is obvious that style is the regard that what 
pays to how the faults of this formula are equally obvious. Architecture, 
nonobjective painting, and most music have no subject, nor do they literally 
say 
anything. So the what of one activity may be part of the how of another. No 
rule based on linguistic form alone could determine, for instance, whether or 
not a discursive meaning is ironic. In considering linguistic style at least, 
and perhaps even style generally, it soon emerges that the relation between 
form 
and content must in part be described metaphorically.
II. Content and expression. One famous theory of 
style, that of the French scholar Charles Bally, identifies linguistic style 
with the affective value of the features of organized language and the 
reciprocal action of the expressive features that together form the system of 
the means of expression of a language. From this Roman Jakobson fashioned a 
definition of style as a marked––emotive or poetic––annex to the neutral, 
purely cognitive information. Aside from the impossibility of consistently 
separating cognitive from affective information without remainder, it is 
equally 
transparent that definitions of style that trade in feelings, emotions, or 
affects go awry by overlooking not only structural features that are neither 
feelings nor expressed but also features that though not feelings ARE 
expressed.
III. Difference between stylistic and 
nonstylistic. A feature of style may be a feature of what is said, of what 
is exemplified, or of what is expressed. But not all such features are 
necessarily stylistic. Similarly, features that are clearly stylistic in one 
work may have no stylistic bearing in another locus. Nelson Goodman writes: A 
property––whether of statement made, structure displayed, or feeling 
conveyed––counts as stylistic only when it associates a work with one rather 
than another artist, period, region, school, etc. But there is no discovery 
procedure for the isolation of stylistic features, nor is there a fixed 
catalogue of stylistic properties or traits. Not every property that points in 
the direction of a certain author/performer/maker is necessarily stylistic in 
purport. 
IV. Perception and recognition of style. The 
registering and