Appreciating Appreciation


This essay constitutes one aspect of an overall project to spell out the implications for the literary arts of Wittgenstein’s systematic distinction between acts of description that carry truth values and acts of expression that display states of mind and feeling but do not describe them. My full case will require a book. That is good news for me but bad news for the present reader, since I feel I have to offer a painfully brief version of my overall theoretical position as a backdrop for what I will say about appreciation. Expressions elicit or solicit attunement rather than propose representations of what we find in our worlds. So I will argue that the more we flesh out the content of typical expressive acts, the fuller and more intense are the demands for something like attitudes of appreciation as models of response to works of art.

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