Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

July 19, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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“…as Ornithology Is for the Birds”

What follows is a guest post by Donald Brook. Almost everyone takes Barnett Newman’s remark that ‘Aesthetics is for the artist as Ornithology is for the birds’ to be insightfully true. In spite of this the sense in which it is true is seldom clearly spelled out, and the sense in which it is not true is almost universally ignored despite the obvious ease with which it can be spelled out. The answer to the question whether Ornithology is influential on the behaviours of birds (including their imputed actions and their fancifully imputed beliefs) turns on a notional capacity to understand what ornithologists are saying to those very few communicating organisms who share with them a common language. In the case of birds we rate this notional capacity at zero, so their situation is quite different from that of the artists whose behaviours, actions and beliefs are generally supposed to … Continue reading