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    Categories of literature

    Friend, Stacie (2020) Categories of literature. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (1), pp. 70-74. ISSN 1540-6245.

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    Kendall Walton’s “Categories of Art” (1970) is one of the most important and influential papers in twentieth-century aesthetics. It is almost universally taken to refute traditional aesthetic formalism/empiricism, according to which all that matters aesthetically is what is manifest to perception. “Categories” thus played a key role in ushering in the ascendancy of contextualism in the philosophy of art, generating widespread agreement with Walton’s conclusion “that (some) facts about the origins of works of art have an essential role in criticism” (337). Although most commentators assume that Walton's argument encompasses works of literature, in fact it turns on features of sensory perception, specifically “perception in a category,” that are not easy to extend to the literary case. In this paper I consider two challenges in applying Walton’s argument to literature. First, what aspect of reading literature corresponds to perception in a category? Second, in what sense are literary categories “perceptually distinguishable”? Addressing either challenge requires identifying a psychological process that plays the role of sensory perception in reading literary texts.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the article, which has been published in final form at the link above. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Stacie Friend
    Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2019 11:39
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:54


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