Philosophy of the Arts


This is where I develop my philosophical arguments — about art, the mind, culture, perception. No need to be bored.

Theses Concerning Iconic Images

It is an instructive exercise to compare so-called iconic images (as in: photographs) to paintings that have become an icon. A clear example of the latter would be Picasso’s Guernica, of the former: Vietnam Napalm, photograph by Nick Ut, 1972. Iconic Photographs A photographer does not make an iconic image. She makes photographs and one…

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Two great writers, and Aristotelian Hamartia

I think that, by now, I have read almost all the books these two crime writers have written. Jim Thompson will hand his readers the life of a man making decisions that form, from the very beginning—as well as from the very thoughts that motivate the man—the make-up of a looser. The man may believe…

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Vision and Justice

People who lack a vision are bound to mistake politics for content, someone’s self-assured utterances for his understanding of things. We find such people all over the globe. Yet, some people have a vision, but it is the wrong one. What should we do about them? I guess I am finally waking up to real-life.

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The history of philosophy, in a nut-shell

Kant’s Copernican Revolution is a point well taken: “the” world is a human world: we get from it what we recognise. Yet, his analysis of this, in terms of two forms of intuition and 12 categories of understanding, is a capitulation to logic—reminding one of Plato’s. Plato, among other things, messed up a beautiful myth…

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What it is like to be a bird

It is said that, on account of climate changes due to the greenhouse effect, birds migrate to areas in the world where, before, they could not, normally, be spotted. …Birds are always athome… There is an obvious sense to a bird’s ignorance of country borders, of course, but, I think, from the bird’s point of…

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Lanzmann and Lang

Claude Lanzmann argued (a.o.) that the Shoah cannot be represented (photographically, I would want to add). He states this clearly in explaining what he would do had he found documentary footage. Now if something cannot be represented, then surely it can be misrepresented. (Rather, every representation of it would be a misrepresentation.) This leads to…

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How does music mean?

A Kind of Depiction? Would one recognise exactly what is depicted by some piece of music? Try this experiment: Perform a piece of music notable for its pictorial nature, hand out a piece of paper to everyone in the audience, and have them sketch the scene depicted. A translation Perhaps it is a viable thought…

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Machine Art as Performance?

Denis Dutton argued that all art is performance. (It is the achievement in the performance that is being forged in a forgery). I have argued elsewhere how this postition fits Wollheim’s analysis of individual style. Yet, now I found an approach that is compatible with Dutton’s thesis as well, but it argues for art status…

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Killing our Species by Science. Eliminative Materialism as a Pseudo Science

The central claim Yesterday, I explained an argument to my class, and one of the students stared at me in disbelieve. Then, after taking my explanation into consideration, he smiled—some sort of smile of defeat. Eliminative Materialism claims that that smile is all and only physiology—muscle contractions and neurophysiology. In a sense, that is indisputably…

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