By Gregory Currie (auth.)
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This generalisation may well be true for the uninteresting reason that there happen not to be any pictures that share exactly the same pictorial properties; the thesis would then be 'vacuously true'. 7 If S is to be of philosophical interest it must, like the statement of a natural law, 'sustain counterfactuals'; it must enable us to infer that if any pictures did have the same pictorial properties then they would have the same aesthetic properties. S must be construed as involving some necessitation relation between pictorial and aesthetic properties.
The pictorial properties of a work concern how it looks, and works with the same pictorial properties will look exactly the same. The overall appearance of a work will be referred to as its 'pattern'. ) But such a view as this is wildly at variance with our critical practice, because we often say that a work is good or valuable because it, or some part of it, exhibits, say, grace or dynamism. And in doing so we are doing more than merely citing the pictorial properties of the work. Further, there does not seem to be any way of translating statements about beauty, grace, dynamism or other paradigmatically aesthetic characteristics into statements about pictorial properties.
All one can say, given (52), is that two pictures in the same world that look exactly alike will have the same aesthetic properties in that world; and that falls far short of the empiricist claim that aesthetic properties depend only on pictorial properties. Just as it would be absurd to use the thesis of the determination of reference by sense to argue that we can find out what our words refer to without having to know any facts about the world, so it would be absurd to use (52) to defend the irrelevance of a work's history to aesthetic judgements about it.
An Ontology of Art by Gregory Currie (auth.)