Extracts from the General Introduction to the First Edition (2004) This anthology has a number of clearly statable aims: • to present in a single volume some of the key texts from the analytic tradition in aesthetics and philosophy of art; • to display the development of this tradition from its beginnings in the 1950s to the present day; • to illustrate the broad range of topics and problems addressed by analytic aestheticians, from general issues of a theoretical nature to more specific issues relating to particular art forms; • to provide a valuable reference resource for teaching and research purposes. In selecting articles for inclusion we have tried to strike a balance on many fronts: between “classic” contributions and more recent developments, between topics, between art forms, between the needs of undergraduate teaching and the needs of a scholarly archive, between the desire for comprehensive coverage and the constraints of manageability. We hope the volume will act as something of a showcase for the considerable achievements of analytic aesthetics over the past fifty years. But above all, we have sought to put together a selection which will be of practical usefulness for those working in the field, at all levels. Why “analytic”? This volume is a companion to Blackwell’s Continental Aesthetics: Romanticism to Postmodernism: An Anthology, edited by Richard Kearney and David Rasmussen, and, we believe, nicely complements it, in showing the distinctive treatment of sometimes not dissimilar topics by those working in the Anglophone tradition and from the perspective of analytic philosophy. Together the two volumes give an excellent overview of the full range of  philosophical thinking about the arts in the twentieth century. It has often been remarked how inappropriate are the designations “Continental” and “analytic” in marking different approaches to philosophy. For one thing, the former is a geographical indicator, the latter a methodological one, so they are already incommensurate. But more strikingly, many leading figures in analytic philosophy – Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Friedrich Waismann, Moritz Schlick, and other members of the Vienna Circle – came from Continental Europe, and currently in Germany, France, Spain, Scandinavia, and Italy there is extensive interest in analytical philosophical methods. However, these two volumes on aesthetics do show a pronounced difference in methodology and it is worth reflecting on the characteristics distinctive of the analytic tradition. Clearly the idea of “analysis” is central to analytic philosophy. But the aims and methods of analysis differ markedly in the various incarnations of the analytic school. In the early years of the twentieth century, under the direct influence of Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein (as author of Tractatus Logico‐Philosophicus), the logical analysis of propositions was paramount, with the aim of displaying their “logical form,” as distinct from their surface grammatical form. Russell’s Theory of Descriptions was held to be paradigmatic in this regard. Superficially his theory might seem like a mere paraphrasing of sentences containing definite descriptions into a logical notation; in fact it had profound repercussions for traditional problems in philosophy, notably the problem of nonexistence, the relations between meaning and truth, and the manner in which false propositions relate to the world. Analytic aestheticians were to draw heavily on Russell’s achievement in analyzing fictionality. The uncovering of logical forms developed into a more general program in philosophy: the use of logic to “regiment” language, in W.V.O. Quine’s terms, into a xiv extracts from the general introduction to the first edition “canonical notation,” with the aim of eliminating vagaries in common usage and delivering a streamlined vehicle for science. An even grander ambition lay behind this species of analysis, encouraged by early ideas in Russell and Wittgenstein, namely that logical analysis could reveal the vacuity of much traditional philosophy. The highpoint of this ambition came with the Logical Positivists’ sweeping denunciation of metaphysics as meaningless. But analytic philosophy did not restrict itself to the logical analysis of propositions. Specific, problematic, concepts were also subject to analysis. Sometimes this took the form of seeking definitions for troublesome terms: “knowledge,” “freedom,” “truth,” “good,” “existence,” and  –  later on  – “art.” Arguably this was an extension of an approach originating with Socrates, but the emphasis on “necessary and sufficient conditions” for the true application of a concept was a peculiarly modern  –  and “analytic”  – phenomenon. However, not all analytic philosophers took definition to be the aim of conceptual analysis. Some, the Ordinary Language Philosophers from Oxford in the 1940s and 1950s, preferred the analogy with geography, proposed by Gilbert Ryle, seeing their task as “mapping out” concepts or finding their “logical geography.” Ryle’s Concept of Mind (1949) was paradigmatic in this regard, owing much to the later work of Wittgenstein. By the late 1960s the optimistic thought that logical analysis or the study of ordinary usage could alone solve – or dissolve – the major issues in philosophy, sweeping away centuries of metaphysical confusion, was being questioned. The interest in language and logic became focused into a relatively new form of inquiry, also traceable to Frege, namely “philosophy of language,” which sought a clearer understanding of such concepts as meaning, truth, reference, and indeed language itself, but without any programmatic ambition toward solving all philosophical problems. By the 1970s few philosophers styled themselves as “linguistic philosophers” or “ordinary language philosophers,” yet significantly the term “analytic philosophy” grew in popularity. The Fregean tradition continued to inform philosophy of language but the original linguistic turn lost its “revolutionary” edge and settled down merely into a style of philosophizing. Analytic philosophy now became distinctive for its methodology and its theoretical presuppositions. Characteristic of the analytic methodology are: • the prominent application of logic and conceptual analysis; • the commitment to rational methods of argument; • the emphasis on objectivity and truth; • the predilection for spare, literal prose, eschewing overly rhetorical or figurative language; • the felt need to define terms and offer explicit formulation of theses; • the quasi‐scientific dialectical method of hypothesis / counter‐example / modification; • the tendency to tackle narrowly defined problems, often working within on‐going debates. Notable among presuppositions, although not universally held, are: • the treatment of scientific discourse as paradigmatic; • a tendency toward ontological “parsimony,” realism about science, and physicalism about mind; • the belief that philosophical problems are in some sense timeless or universal, at least not merely constructs of history and culture. It is perhaps the latter presupposition that distinguishes the analytic tradition most obviously from the “Continental.” Analytic philosophers tend not to historicize their debates; there is little reference to the historical development of problems or the history of ideas and a widespread skepticism about the value of historically contextualized study of earlier philosophers. A consequence is that analytic philosophers have little interest in the social, political, or ideological underpinnings of their work and tend to treat the problems they address as timeless, ahistorical, and solvable, if at all, by appeal to logic rather than to observations about external cultural factors. Analytic philosophy came relatively late to aesthetics. It was not until the 1940s and 1950s that philosophers trained in analytic methods turned their attention to issues in aesthetics and these were mostly philosophers who had established their reputations in different areas of the subject. Typical in this regard was the highly influential anthology, Aesthetics and Language, edited by William Elton in 1954, which collected papers published in the preceding decade from prestigious journals like Mind, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, and The Philosophical Quarterly, with contributors of the caliber of Gilbert Ryle, Stuart Hampshire, O.K. Bouwsma, John Passmore, and Arnold Isenberg. The editor was frank about the missionary purpose of the collection: “to diagnose and clarify some aesthetic confusions, which it holds to be mainly linguistic in origin” and “to provide philosophers and their students with extracts from the general introduction to the first edition xv a number of pieces that may serve as models of analytical procedures in aesthetics.” It had many targets associated with less enlightened times: “obfuscatory jargon,” the “pitfalls of generality,” the “predisposition to essentialism,” “misleading analogies” (e.g., between the aesthetic and the moral), and “irrefutable and non‐empirical” theories. […] Analytic contributions to aesthetics […] soon took off and Frank Sibley saw no need in his classic paper “Aesthetic Concepts” from 1959 to keep disparaging earlier efforts. In fact in 1958 the analytic school of aesthetics came of age with the publication of Monroe C. Beardsley’s Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism, which provided a sustained treatment of a wide range of problems illustrated by examples from an equally wide range of art forms. By the 1980s and 1990s the felt need to apologize for, or be defensive about, working in aesthetics had long subsided. Philosophers of the highest caliber  –  Nelson Goodman, Richard Wollheim, Arthur Danto, Kendall Walton, Martha Nussbaum, Roger Scruton – were not only writing in aesthetics but were introducing debates in the subject to philosophers from quite different areas. In fact to the extent that aesthetics has been integrated into the mainstream analytic tradition this is because of movement in two directions. The first is through the appearance of ostensibly aesthetic issues in debates on quite other kinds of topics, often by philosophers who have no deep concern with aesthetics for its own sake. Thus, for example, in recent times, John McDowell, Crispin Wright, and Philip Pettit, among others, have used aesthetic properties as a test case for realism; David Lewis has applied possible world semantics to fiction; Peter van Inwagen and Nathan Salmon have written on fictional objects and ontology; David Wiggins has defended subjectivism in relation to aesthetic judgement. Many similar examples could be given. Discussions of realism and anti‐realism, supervenience, ontology, secondary qualities, and relativism will not infrequently allude to the aesthetic realm. But these as it were incidental incursions into aesthetics are not the only measure of the standing of aesthetics in the analytic community. Of more central concern, moving in the opposite direction, is the recharacterization of traditional questions within aesthetics in an idiom drawn from other branches of philosophy. Treating aesthetics as a special case for metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, theory of meaning, value theory, and social or political philosophy has served, perhaps above all else, to entrench aesthetics – and aestheticians – in the analytic mainstream. Work of aestheticians has made an impact beyond aesthetics back to the very areas from where the original issues grew up. One thinks of Goodman on symbolism, Walton on make‐believe, Sibley on aesthetic concepts, Danto on indiscernibles, Levinson on ontology, Margolis on interpretation, Scruton on aesthetic culture, Currie on fiction. These are efforts which could never be deemed marginal in philosophy