ArticlePDF Available

Aesthetic concepts, perceptual learning, and linguistic enculturation: Considerations from Wittgenstein, language, and music

Authors:

Abstract

Aesthetic non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express genuinely aesthetic beliefs and instead hold that they work primarily to express something non-cognitive, such as attitudes of approval or disapproval, or desire. Non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express aesthetic beliefs because they deny that there are aesthetic features in the world for aesthetic beliefs to represent. Their assumption, shared by scientists and theorists of mind alike, was that language-users possess cognitive mechanisms with which to objectively grasp abstract rules fixed independently of human responses, and that cognizers are thereby capable of grasping rules for the correct application of aesthetic concepts without relying on evaluation or enculturation. However, in this article I use Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations to argue that psychological theories grounded upon this so-called objective model of rule-following fail to adequately account for concept acquisition and mastery. I argue that this is because linguistic enculturation, and the perceptual learning that’s often involved, influences and enables the mastery of aesthetic concepts. I argue that part of what’s involved in speaking aesthetically is to belong to a cultural practice of making sense of things aesthetically, and that it’s within a socio-linguistic community, and that community’s practices, that such aesthetic sense can be made intelligible.
1 23





  !"#$%&
'(&)*





REGULAR ARTICLE
Aesthetic Concepts, Perceptual Learning, and Linguistic
Enculturation: Considerations from Wittgenstein,
Language, and Music
Adam M. Croom
Published online: 9 September 2011
#Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
Abstract Aesthetic non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express genuinely
aesthetic beliefs and instead hold that they work primarily to express something non-
cognitive, such as attitudes of approval or disapproval, or desire. Non-cognitivists
deny that aesthetic statements express aesthetic beliefs because they deny that there
are aesthetic features in the world for aesthetic beliefs to represent. Their
assumption, shared by scientists and theorists of mind alike, was that language-
users possess cognitive mechanisms with which to objectively grasp abstract rules
fixed independently of human responses, and that cognizers are thereby capable of
grasping rules for the correct application of aesthetic concepts without relying on
evaluation or enculturation. However, in this article I use Wittgensteinsrule-
following considerations to argue that psychological theories grounded upon this
so-called objective model of rule-following fail to adequately account for concept
acquisition and mastery. I argue that this is because linguistic enculturation, and the
perceptual learning thats often involved, influences and enables the mastery of
aesthetic concepts. I argue that part of whatsinvolvedinspeaking aesthetically is to
belong to a cultural practice of making sense of things aesthetically, and that its
within a socio-linguistic community, and that communitys practices, that such
aesthetic sense can be made intelligible.
Keywords Aesthetic Concepts .Perceptual Learning .Imagination .Music .
Wittgenstein
Cognitivist and Non-Cognitivist Accounts of Aesthetic Cognition
Cognitivism with respect to aesthetics is traditionally understood as the view that
aesthetic statements express aesthetic beliefs the propositional content of which are
Integr Psych Behav (2012) 46:90117
DOI 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
A. M. Croom (*)
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
e-mail: croom@sas.upenn.edu
Author's personal copy
Stevenson, C. (1937). The emotive meaning of ethical terms. Mind, New Series, 46,1431.
Stroud, B. (1965). Wittgenstein and logical necessity. The Philosophical Review, 74, 504518.
Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2005). Conceptual foundations of evolutionary psychology. In D. Buss (Ed.),
The handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 567). Hoboken: Wiley.
Weston, M. (2010). Forms of our life: Wittgenstein and the later Heidegger. Philosophical Investigations,
33, 245265.
Williams, B. (1985). Ethics and the limits of philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1953). In G. E. M. Anscombe & R. Rhees (Eds.), Philosophical investigations. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Wittgenstein, L. (1970). Zettle. G.E.M. Anscombe (Trans.). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1974). In R. Rhees (Ed.), Philosophical grammar. Berkeley: University of California
Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1978). Lectures in aesthetics. In L. Wittgenstein (Ed.), Lectures and conversations on
aesthetics, psychology and religious belief (pp. 140). Oxford: Blackwell. First published 1966.
Zhang, Y., Kuhl, P., Imada, T., Kotani, M., & Tohkura, Y. (2005). Effects of language experience: neural
commitment to language-specific auditory patterns. NeuroImage, 26, 703720.
Adam M. Croom received his undergraduate education in cognitive neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy,
and music at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently working on a graduate degree. He has
published in professional linguistics, philosophy, and psychology journals and has won numerous awards
and fellowships for his academic work, including the Phi Beta Kappa Elmaleh Prize for best essay in the
social sciences, the Elizabeth F. Flower Prize for best essay in philosophy, an Andrew Mellon Fellowship
from the University of Pennsylvanias Humanities Forum, and an Andrew Mellon Fellowship from the
University of Pennsylvanias Program in Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Citizenship. Adam has also
worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvanias Positive Psychology Center and as a
Research Assistant in the Auditory Research Lab at the University of Pennsylvanias Raymond and Ruth
Perelman School of Medicine. Adam plays the saxophone and is a native of Redondo Beach, California.
Integr Psych Behav (2012) 46:90117 117
Author's personal copy
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Aesthetic concepts, perceptual learning, and linguistic enculturation:
Considerations from Wittgenstein, language, and music
Adam M. Croom
University of Pennsylvania
© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012
Abstract: Aesthetic non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express genuinely aesthetic
beliefs and instead hold that they work primarily to express something non-cognitive, such as
attitudes of approval or disapproval, or desire. Non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements
express aesthetic beliefs because they deny that there are aesthetic features in the world for aesthetic
beliefs to represent. Their assumption, shared by scientists and theorists of mind alike, was that
language-users possess cognitive mechanisms with which to objectively grasp abstract rules fixed
independently of human responses, and that cognizers are thereby capable of grasping rules for the
correct application of aesthetic concepts without relying on evaluation or enculturation. However, in
this article I use Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations to argue that psychological theories
grounded upon this so-called objective model of rule-following fail to adequately account for
concept acquisition and mastery. I argue that this is because linguistic enculturation, and the
perceptual learning that’s often involved, influences and enables the mastery of aesthetic concepts. I
argue that part of what’s involved in speaking aesthetically is to belong to a cultural practice of making
sense of things aesthetically, and that it’s within a socio-linguistic community, and that community’s
practices, that such aesthetic sense can be made intelligible.
Keywords Aesthetic Concepts; Perceptual Learning; Imagination; Music; Wittgenstein
1. Cognitivist and non-cognitivist accounts of aesthetic cognition
Cognitivism with respect to aesthetics is traditionally understood as the view that aesthetic statements
express aesthetic beliefs the propositional content of which are [END PAGE 90] truth-evaluable.
This view, call it aesthetic cognitivism, claims that the aesthetic beliefs expressed in aesthetic statements
are genuine beliefs that are capable of being implemented in cognitive operations. So aesthetic
cognitivism asserts the authenticity of aesthetic cognitions. This view is most attractive to realists
who claim that aesthetic statements express truth-evaluable beliefs at least some of which are true by
virtue of representing aesthetic features or properties that can be said to genuinely obtain in the
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
world.1 In contrast, non-cognitivism with respect to aesthetics is traditionally understood as the view
that aesthetic statements do not express aesthetic beliefs, but rather work primarily to express
something non-cognitive, such as attitudes of approval or disapproval, or desire. This view, call it
aesthetic non-cognitivism, claims that there are no genuinely aesthetic beliefs and so none that could be
implemented in cognitive operations. To be clear, aesthetic non-cognitivists don’t deny that aesthetic
statements can cause cognitive effects in cognizers. Rather, they deny that aesthetic statements have
cognitive content. The aesthetic non-cognitivist holds of aesthetic statements in general, as Rorty
(1987) does about metaphor in particular, that they are like “poetry which send shivers down our
spine, non-sentential phrases which reverberate endlessly, chang[ing] our selves and our patterns of
action” (pp. 285) which, however, “do not (literally) tell us anything, but […] make us notice things
[…] They do not have cognitive content, but they are responsible for a lot of cognitions” (pp. 290).
Aesthetic non-cognitivists typically assume that there can be no genuinely aesthetic beliefs because
they assume that there are no aesthetic features that genuinely obtain in the world for such beliefs to
truth-aptly track. Accordingly, the non-cognitivist thinks that we should forego talk of aesthetic
statements expressing beliefs with aesthetic content and more accurately speak of the feelings and
cognitions that aesthetic statements are capable of causing.
2. Aesthetic concepts, and metaphysical conceptions of mind and world
Emotivism is an early non-cognitivist position that Ayer (1952) proposed in Language, Truth, and Logic.
Ayer’s emotivist account held that “in so far as statements of value […] are not scientific, they are
not in the literal sense significant, but are simply expressions of emotion which can be neither true or
false” (1952; pp. 102-103). Since Ayer held that only naturalistic scientific statements represent the
world as it genuinely is, and since he held that evaluative statements such as those of aesthetics are
not naturalistic scientific statements, Ayer concluded that such statements are not “significant
propositions” suitable for truth-value. It is because aesthetic non-cognitivists like Ayer assume that
there are no aesthetic features in the world that they deny that a belief can have as its content an
aesthetic proposition representing how the world genuinely is.
Aesthetic non-cognitivists are typically motivated by a metaphysics that takes for granted
what Williams calls the “absolute conception” of the world. Williams (1985) [END PAGE 91]
explains this conception of the world as “consisting of nonperspectival materials available to any
adequate investigator, of whatever constitution” which distinguishes “the world as it is independent
of our experience” from “the world as it seems to us” (pp. 139-140). The absolute conception is
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1 Aesthetic cognitivists are normally aesthetic realists, but they need not be. For instance, the error theorist
Mackie (1977) suggests that, although aesthetic statements may express truth-evaluable beliefs, aesthetic
statements would all be systematically false because the world as it genuinely is does not contain aesthetic
features. So Mackie is an aesthetic cognitivist yet an aesthetic anti-realist.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
typically considered to be an “objective” account of the world precisely because it factors out
features represented in terms of “the world as it seems to us” and leaves in its account only those
features that are considered fundamentally primary by virtue of describing the world as it is
independently of us. On this view, features represented in terms of “the world as it seems to us” do
not provide us with genuine representations of how the world is, since these features aren’t
represented as obtaining in the world as it is anyway, independently of us. Resultantly, the absolute
conception in its purest form denies the genuineness of evaluative features in general and aesthetic
features in particular; as Hume popularly asserted, “beauty is no quality in things themselves [but]
exists merely in the mind which contemplates them” (2007; pp. 234-235). On this view, accordingly,
if beliefs are to track genuine features, they are to track those features articulated in descriptive
naturalistic concepts, not aesthetic ones. And the acceptance of metaphysical commitments like this
absolute conception of the world often motivates theorists of mind to assume that there are no
aesthetic features in the world to be truth-conditionally represented as the content of aesthetic
beliefs.
As the absolute conception sharply distinguishes “the world as it is independent of our
experience” from “the world as it seems to us,” adherents of this view also typically draw a sharp
distinction between belief states with cognitive content from non-cognitive affective states. The
popular conception, which is again well stated by Hume, is that the mind is bifurcated into two
distinct faculties: “reason” on one side of the divide and “taste” or “sentiment” on the other. In An
Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, for instance, Hume articulates the distinction as follows:
The distinct boundaries and offices of reason and of taste are easily ascertained. The former
conveys the knowledge of truth and falsehood: The latter gives the sentiment of beauty and
deformity, vice and virtue. The one discovers objects, as they really stand in nature, without
addition or diminution: The other has a productive faculty, and gilding or staining all natural
objects with the colours, borrowed from internal sentiments, raises, in a manner, a new
creation. (1998a; appx. 1.21)
Hume further suggests that reason involves “judgment of truth and falsehood, [where] they should
be the same to every rational intelligent being” (1998a; pp. 74). In line with the absolute conception,
it is presumably because “reason discovers objects, as they really stand in nature” that reason involves
truth-evaluable judgments that “should be the same to every rational intelligent being.This
bifurcated conception of mind holds that the content of cognitive belief states are such that their
implementation in thought and chains of inferences are “available to any adequate investigator, of
whatever constitution,” and this conception is often relied upon to account for the fact that different
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
cognizers can hold beliefs with the same propositional content and can similarly operate over such
content in processes of reasoning about the world. In other words, the best explanation for the fact
that our judgments converge is that our judgments represent how things genuinely are (Williams,
1985). [END PAGE 92]
This bifurcated conception of mind further suggests that the faculty of reason is distinct
from the faculty of “sentiment,” which involves “the particular fabric and [sentimental] constitution
of the human species” (Hume, 1998a; pp. 74). Since this conception holds that truth-conditional
beliefs are operative within the domain of reason alone and that the faculty of reason is
fundamentally distinct from that of sentiment, this conception assumes that non-cognitive affective
states are not themselves capable of truth-aptly representing the world or disclosing its features
(Hume, 1998b). This conception assumes that affective or evaluative states are non-cognitive and so
are thereby devoid of a propositional content that could be implemented as the mental content of
different cognizers; non-cognitive states such as desire are assumed to merely present “the world as it
seems to us” and in some sense only accompany genuinely cognitive operations. Thus, this bifurcated
conception of mind rules out the possibility that our sentimental nature can itself “in some way [be]
percipient, or at least as [being capable of] expanding our sensitivity to how things [genuinely] are
(McDowell, 1981; p. 143). As Hume (2007) expresses the view in Of the Standard of Taste:
The difference, it is said, is very wide between [cognitive] judgment and [non-cognitive]
sentiment. All sentiment is right; because sentiment has a reference to nothing beyond itself,
and is always real, whenever a man is conscious of it. But all determinations of the
understanding are not right; because they have a reference to something beyond themselves,
to wit, real matter of fact; and are not always conformable to that standard. Among a
thousand different opinions which different men may entertain of the same subject, there is
one, and but one, that is just and true: and the only difficulty is to fix and ascertain it. On the
contrary, a thousand different sentiments, excited by the same object, are all right; because
no sentiment represents what is really in the object. (pp. 234)
However, as Ayer and other non-cognitivists have realized, the acceptance of such a view
results in the concession that genuine disagreement over aesthetic and other evaluative issues, such as
those of morality,2 are impossible.3 If aesthetic concepts are only “pseudo-concepts” as the non-
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2 For an analysis of moral terms (such as courage) that is consistent with the arguments presented in this article,
see Croom (2010).
3 The intimate connection between our aesthetic and moral nature as human beings has been stressed at least
since the time of Shaftesbury (1711), who wrote in Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times that “beauty and
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
cognitivist claims, then they have no genuine propositional content with which to contribute to a
thought. And if aesthetic statements do not express genuine truth-conditional, propositional
thoughts but mere emotive vocalizations, then they are thereby unsuitable to function as content
capable of implementation in chains of reasoning and other cognitive operations. They also make it
impossible for interlocutors to genuinely agree or disagree over propositions in which those “pseudo-
concepts” occur. [END PAGE 93]
Most scholars have been unwilling to accept the conclusion that it is impossible to reason
with evaluative concepts and genuinely disagree over the propositions in which they occur; as Kant
distinguished in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, an aesthetic judgment of what is “beautiful” differs
fundamentally from a report of what is only “agreeable (to me)” (2000; §7).4 Indeed, accounting for
the possibility of both legitimate disagreement over, and valid reasoning with, evaluative statements is
something we expect from a successful account of evaluative statements (Stevenson, 1937).
Resultantly, it has been popularly suggested that the content of evaluative concepts are not exclusively
emotive or evaluative. Rather, evaluative concepts such as those of aesthetics also contain sufficient
descriptive content such that we can reason with and genuinely disagree over the propositions in
which they occur. The suggestion is that aesthetic concepts must have enough descriptive content
must, at least to some extent, truth-conditionally represent how the world is such that they can be
implemented in inferences about the world and in thoughts that yield a truth-conditional
representation of how the world is. For instance, Hare (1970) argues that the term good is composed
of both an evaluative and descriptive meaning (pp. 118-119). Hare further argues that,although
with ‘good’ the evaluative meaning is primary, there are other words in which the evaluative meaning
is secondary to the descriptive. Such words are [for example] ‘tidy’ and ‘industrious’” (1970; pp. 121).
The concepts tidy and industrious, which Hare points out, are typically called thick concepts. Such
concepts are characterized as “hold[ing] together a property and an attitude […] or, as it is also
sometimes put, description and evaluation” (Dancy, 1996; p. 263). Typical examples that are
particularly prominent in aesthetic judgments might include: fat (Blackburn, 1992), shameful, lewd
(Gibbard, 1992), treacherous, honest (Blomberg, 2007), courageous, delicate, and many other aesthetic
concepts (Burton, 1992). For instance, the aesthetic concept delicate is typically conceived as including
both description and evaluation. Delicate is considered descriptive in that it is normally applied to the
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
good are still the same” (1999; p. 327, original emphasis). For an excellent discussion of the history of aesthetic
thought, including a discussion concerning the connection between art and morality, see Guyer (2005).
4 Even Hume seems to acknowledge this in Of the Standard of Taste when he writes that “certain terms in every
language which import […] praise; [are such that] all men that use the same tounge must agree in their
application of them” (pp. 231-232). Admittedly, Hume’s analysis is somewhat complex and is not the central
focus of this essay; for an informative analysis of Hume on aesthetics, see Guyer (2005), especially chapter 2.
Here I simply use Hume for the purposes of illustrating a line of thought in aesthetics, and thus it may be more
accurate to call the corresponding line presentated here a “Humean” one, rather than one endorsed
wholeheartedly and in detail by Hume himself.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
same types of descriptive items, e.g. to an object the characteristics of which “may involve small size,
pale colors, [and] fragility” (Burton, 1992; p. 30),5 and it is by virtue of this descriptive component
that aesthetic concepts are typically considered genuine concepts. Yet delicate is considered evaluative in
that it is normally indicative of an evaluative pro-attitude, and it is by virtue of this evaluative
component that aesthetic concepts are typically considered aesthetic concepts. That is, aesthetic non-
cognitivists typically suggest that if aesthetic concepts lacked description then we could not genuinely
disagree over the statements in which they occur, and if aesthetic concepts lacked [END PAGE 94]
evaluation then there would be no aesthetic statements over which to disagree. So the aesthetic
concept delicate presumably involves both description and evaluation, for example, a pro-attitude
towards objects that are small, pale, and fragile.6
3. Aesthetic concepts and the disentangling manoeuvre
In Non-Cognitivism and Rule Following, McDowell nicely articulates the non-cognitivist account of
aesthetic concepts. As McDowell writes:
when we ascribe value to something, what is actually happening can be disentangled into two
components. Competence with an evaluative concept involves, first, a sensitivity to an aspect
of the world as it really is […] and second, a propensity to a certain [non-cognitive] attitude
[…] from which items in the world seem to be endowed with the value in question [… so] in
making value judgments, [such as aesthetic judgments, an agent] register[s] the presence in
objects of some property they authentically have, but enrich their conception of this
property with the reflection of an [aesthetic] attitude. (1981; pp. 143-144)
Gibbard offers an example of how an evaluative concept might be applied, which will be helpful
here. Gibbard, in describing how a foreign tribe the Kumi apply their moral concept gopa,
explains their application procedure as consisting of two stages: [first] they observe an act they
know to be the killing of an outgroup member in the face of danger. They conclude ‘This act is
gopa’. Then they further conclude, ‘Let us glory in this act!’ (1992; p. 268). According to Gibbard,
the Kumi first cognitively track genuine descriptive features (the killing of an out-group member in
the face of danger) and then respond to these genuine features with an evaluation (a positive
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5 What is important here is the point that delicate is descriptive in that it normally applies to the same type of
descriptive items; the particular descriptive example chosen here is inessential to my general point and may be
substituted for another description that the reader finds more apt. But the point remains that delicate is
descriptive in that it normally applies to those same types of descriptive items.
6 Scholars have also pointed out that slurs (e.g., racial slurs such as chink and sexist slurs such as slut) typically
involve both description and evaluation as well (for instance, see Croom, 2011).
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
evaluation such as “how glorious!”). As this view suggests, the descriptive content of the Kumi’s
cognition is distinct from their evaluative non-cognitive pro-attitude since the latter is only a
response to the former. Aesthetic non-cognitivists claim that it is the descriptive content of the
aesthetic concept that determines its correct application, because it is by virtue of its description
alone that the aesthetic concept is applied to the same type of descriptive things. In other words,
aesthetic non-cognitivists claim that aesthetic concepts have descriptive shape in that the concept is
shaped by description. They further claim that the evaluative component is distinct from the
descriptive and so does not determine the aesthetic concept’s shape (Williams, 1985). So on this
view, one does not have genuinely aesthetic cognitions, but rather only genuinely descriptive
cognitions with so-called aesthetic or affective responses. Aesthetic non-cognitivists deny that
evaluation is itself “in some way percipient” or capable of “expanding our sensitivity to how things
are” (McDowell, 1981; pp. 143). Rather, in cases such as these the non-cognitivist thinks that the
evaluation accompanies the description to express a non-cognitive attitude towards the action or
object the speaker is applying the aesthetic concept to. [END PAGE 95]
McDowell, however, rightly questions this non-cognitivist view that aesthetic concepts can
be disentangled into distinct descriptive and evaluative components. Here is his central argument
against the “disentangling manoeuvre,” which I have modified to apply to aesthetic concepts in
particular:
If the disentangling manoeuvre is always possible, that implies that the extension of the
associated [aesthetic] term [delicate…] could be mastered independently of the special
concerns which, in the [aesthetic] community, would show themselves in [… affective
concernedness towards] actions seen as falling under the [aesthetic] concept [delicate]. That is:
one could know which actions the [aesthetic] term [delicate] would be applied to […] without
even embarking on an attempt to […] comprehend their perspective [from inside the
aesthetic community]; whereas, according to the [aesthetic non-cognitivist] position I am
considering, the genuine feature to which the [aesthetic] term is applied should be graspable
without benefit of understanding the special perspective [from inside. That is, it should be
graspable from the outside, independent of the aesthetic community’s special perspective].
(McDowell, 1981; pp. 144)
McDowell doubts that aesthetic concepts can be disentangled into distinct descriptive and evaluative
components because this “disentangling manoeuvre” would require that one could master the
extension of the aesthetic concept independently of understanding the concerns of individuals that
evaluate items as falling under the extensions that they do. That is, in order to master the aesthetic
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
concept delicate, the aesthetic non-cognitivist claims that one need not appreciate the concern with
aesthetic evaluation nor understand the practice of aesthetic evaluation at all. Rather, they claim that
it is sufficient to cognitively track purely descriptive features, for instance objects with the descriptive
properties of being small, pale, and fragile. Presumably, evaluations are simply post-cognitive
responses and do not contribute to the shape of the aesthetic concept, and so are not required for
one to have mastery over its extension.
But as McDowell has suggested, this view seems ill conceived. In order to understand an
aesthetic concept such as delicate and gain mastery over its extension, one must do more than
cognitively track purely descriptive features. As Burton (1992) rightfully points out, “not just any
small size, pale colors, and fragility will do the trick. Only some small, pale, fragile things are delicate;
the vast majority are merely bland” (p. 30). For instance, whereas it is typically apt to ascribe the
aesthetic concept delicate to fresh flowers or to a youthful lover, it would typically be considered inapt
to ascribe that same term to, for instance, a small piece of rotting flesh that is nonetheless small, pale,
and fragile. A small piece of rotting flesh that was nonetheless small, pale, and fragile surely wouldn’t
serve as an apt paradigm for the concept delicate, nor would providing it as an example be a useful
learning condition for those first acquiring that aesthetic concept. That is to say, only certain small,
pale, and fragile objects are aptly delicate, and mastery over the extension of an aesthetic concept
involves evaluating candidates for its extension and determining which ones are apt. “To learn to talk
about things is to learn to engage in conversation and discussion, and this means to learn what is of
interest, what matters” (Weston, 2010; pp. 250), so in order to learn to talk about and classify things
[END PAGE 96] aesthetically one must further be able to appreciate why certain objects, and not
others, are considered the ones apt for falling under the extension of particular aesthetic concepts.
To use language is to enact a linguistic performance, to demonstrate linguistic technique, and
to engage in a linguistic activity, and this involves being practically cognizant of what is of interest to
those sharing the perspective in which that activity takes place and from which that activity makes
sense. The notion of a “language game” is apt because it emphasizes this doing (or practical action) of
language and the perspectival orientation from which particular linguistic “doings” are practically
possible. I think Weston captures this point nicely when he says:
One of the attractions, no doubt, of the idea of a “language game” is to emphasize that the
intelligibility of what is said depends on what has gone on before and after, just as something
can only be “scoring a goal” in the context of a football game taking place and certain other
moves within the game occurring. The notion of a language game locates what is said within
the context of activity, and activity is part of human life. (2010; pp. 248)
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Further, I submit that to even understand a vocalization or a gesture as expressing a proposition at all first
requires evaluating it from a perspectival orientation, in particular, one from which some particular
linguistic action is practically possible, sensible, and appropriate. As Weston discusses the role
propositions in particular play in linguistic activity:
A “proposition” is the formulation of what someone says that can be assessed as “true” or
“false,” but in order for us to understand what is said as subject to such assessment, we have
to understand it as an assertion, a claim, as said by someone who is asserting or claiming. An
assertion, a “proposition,” is embedded in an enquiry, and so in relation to a question. But
this, of course, means that outside of that context, the conditions for asserting and so for
what is said as being a “proposition” are absent. (2010; pp. 248-249)
At this point, it should now be clear what is wrong with the aesthetic non-cognitivist’s position. The
non-cognitivist Blackburn (1992), for instance, has argued that “discussion, for instance of whether
Pavarotti is fat! [where fat is the description and ! is the tone expressing a con-attitude] is nothing
new from discussion of whether to feel repelled or not at his weight” (p. 297). That is, Blackburn
argues that the extension of aesthetic concepts such as fat are determined by descriptive features
alone (e.g. weight), and that an aesthetic/evaluative attitude (e.g. as carried by the tone) can be
disentangled from the description, and even removed, without alteration to that concept’s shape. But
as it has just been argued, an aesthetic perspective or outlook is still required in order to determine
the extension of an aesthetic concept, so even the aesthetic concept fat cannot be determined by
descriptive features alone. For instance, Jay Cutler is an IFBB professional bodybuilder 5 feet 9
inches tall with a competition weight of 274 pounds.7 But given the fact that he is the current (2011)
Mr. Olympia (a prestigious bodybuilding title that he has won 4 times) and is frequently featured in
fitness magazines, it would clearly be inapt to apply the aesthetic concept fat to him on the [END
PAGE 97] basis of his weight alone. Consider also the case of voluptuous glamour models. The
glamour model Nicole Austin, for instance, is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds.8 But as
evidenced by the fact that she was featured in Playboy (March 2008) and many popular glamour
magazines, it would clearly be inapt to apply the aesthetic concept fat to her despite the fact that she
is comparatively heavier than less voluptuous women of her height that could not make it as glamour
models. Surely one would be violating certain appropriateness conditions of linguistic convention if
one ascribed the term fat to paradigm bodybuilders and glamour models. And if a speaker continues
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7 Facts are taken from Jay Cutler’s personal website: http://www.jaycutler.com/bio.php.
8 Facts are taken from Nicole Austin’s personal website: http://www.cocosworld.com/index2.html.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
to misapply an aesthetic concept in this way, she might even provide warrant for her linguistic
community to identify her as incompetent or unworthy of engaging in sensible communication,
especially with respect to aesthetic issues.
In order to account for these points, the aesthetic non-cognitivist may suggest that we
should include into the very meaning of an aesthetic concept that it contain only an appropriate
amount of certain descriptive features. But, unfortunately, this suggestion cannot work because to
include into the meaning of an aesthetic concept that it contain only an appropriate amount of
certain descriptive features is simply to pack an evaluative requirement into the very definition of an
aesthetic concept. That is, an aesthetic perspective or outlook is still required in order to determine
what e.g. counts as an appropriate amount of smallness, paleness, and fragileness for an object to still
count as a delicate one. To suggest that we pack an evaluative requirement into the definition of an
aesthetic concept would be to allow evaluation to shape that aesthetic concept, and this is a
commitment that the aesthetic non-cognitivist strictly rejects. So such an argumentative manoeuvre
remains unavailable to the aesthetic non-cognitivist.
4. Perceptual learning: Learning to perceive and evaluate in language and music
It should now be clear that only certain descriptive features are apt for aesthetic concepts such as
delicate, and an appreciation of why certain objects and not others are apt involves more than simply
tracking some pre-evaluative set of descriptive features. In order to properly evaluate objects e.g. as
delicate requires the development of a certain sort of sensitivity and sensibility. First, it often requires
the development of certain sensitivities, and the fact that human sensitivities are indeed capable of
development and fine-tuning through experience has by now been well established. For instance,
many empirical studies have demonstrated the process of perceptual learning in both linguistic (Kuhl,
Stevens, Hayashi, Deguchi, Kiritani, & Iverson, 2006; Kuhl & Rivera-Gaxiola, 2008; Pons,
Lewkowicz, Soto-Faraco, & Sebastian-Galles, 2009) and musical (Hannon & Trehub, 2005; Monson,
2007; Curtis & Bharucha, 2009; Hyde, Lerch, Norton, Forgeard, Winner, Evans, & Schlaug, 2009;
Kraus, Skoe, Parbery-Clark, & Ashley, 2009; Schnupp, Nelken, & King, 2011) acquisition.9 As
Schnupp, Nelken, and King (2011) summarize several of these findings in Auditory Neuroscience:
Making Sense of Sound, the “maturation of the central auditory pathways is heavily influenced by
sensory experience” and so “perceptual abilities also change with experience” (p. 275, 278). [END
PAGE 98]
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
9 Perceptual learning has been demonstrated, not only in audition, but in vision as well, and has been shown to
enhance perceptual abilities and behavioral performance (Goldstone, 1998) through experience-induced
alteration to the routing and/or weighting of sensory inputs to decision circuitry in the brain (Gu, Liu, Fetsch,
Yang, Fok, Sunkara, DeAngelis, & Angelaki, 2011; see also Chowdhury & DeAngelis, 2008; Law & Gold, 2008,
2009).
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
In the case of language, for instance, empirical data has shown that performance on the /r-l/
phonetic contrast is equivalent for Japanese and American infants 6 to 8 months of age. However, by
the time infants are 10 to 12 months of age, the performance of American infants on the /r-l/
contrast begins to improve significantly whereas the performance of Japanese infants on the /r-l/
contrast begins to decline, which is explained by the fact that (a) infants from different cultures all
share the same biological capacity for perceptual learning, and (b) infants from different cultures
experience different linguistic input and so develop different sensitivities as a result of their
perceptual learning capacities (Kuhl, Stevens, Hayashi, Deguchi, Kiritani, & Iverson, 2006). The
difference in performance on the /r-l/ phonetic contrast between Japanese and Americans becomes
even stronger as these children develop into adulthood and accumulate more experience with the
particular phonetics of their linguistic culture (Zhang, Kuhl, Imada, Kotani, & Tohkura, 2005).
Recent work has shown similar results for music as well. For instance, a study by Hannon
and Trehub (2005) showed that, by 12 months of age, children develop a bias for the music of their
culture where they had previously not shown this bias at 6 months of age, which suggests that
children become perceptually sensitive to the music exposed to them through their culture. Further,
Schnupp, Nelken, and King (2011) point out that recent[n]euroimaging studies have shown that
musical training can produce structural and functional changes in the brain areas that are activated
during auditory processing or when playing an instrument, particularly if training begins in early
childhood” (p. 280). This acquired musical sensitivitythat is, “the education of one’s perception
that accompanies musical training and experience” (Monson, 2007; p. 58) might be transmitted in a
variety of ways: for instance, it might be transmitted vertically from musically talented parents to their
children, horizontally among fellow peers and band members, obliquely from music teachers and
professors to students, or by frequency dependent means such as through the imitation of the
majority or pop culture trends (see also Boyd & Richerson, 1985; Bharucha & Stoeckig, 1986;
Bharucha & Stoeckig, 1987; Justus & Bharucha, 2001; Laland, Odling-Smee, & Feldman, 2000). But
in all of the aforementioned cases, an individual’s acquired perceptual sensitivity is explained on
similar grounds. In particular, empirical work by Curtis and Bharucha (2009) suggests that “the
acquisition of musical regularities [occurs for the individual] by internalizing the statistical patterns in
the corpus of music to which they are exposed” (p. 367) and that this acquired “knowledge of a
modal system drives listener’s expectations for future musical events” (p. 365). Furthermore, since a
musician’s knowledge of a modal system drives their expectations in later musical situations, and
since “[e]xpectancy violations are a source of affective response to music,” this suggests that “a
native listener would have a unique set of affective responses evoked by culturally established
expectancy violations” (Curtis & Bharucha, 2009; p. 373-374). Thus, through musical training and
perceptual learning (Schnupp, Nelken, & King, 2011; p. 280; Hyde, Lerch, Norton, Forgeard,
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Winner, Evans, & Schlaug, 2009; Kraus, Skoe, Parbery-Clark, & Ashley, 2009) one incorporates
traditional musical techniques into one’s motor behavior and physiological repertoire for action,
thereby enriching one’s sensitivities to solicitations for action in musical situations (McDowell, 1998;
pp. 64; de Lima, 2007; §6.3; for similar ideas relating to dance, see Hahn, 2007). Such solicitations for
action are, from the perspectival orientation of the individual, experienced within a normative
dimension in that the individual employing the musical techniques of the tradition from which they
learned will experience their [END PAGE 99] musical actions as more or less correct or apt
(Wittgenstein, 1978; pp. 11; Rietveld, 2008; p. 978-979). That is, through the rigors of training and
physical-behavioral conditioning one becomes attuned to the norms of their musical tradition and
develops a feel for the musical situation such that their musical actions and expectations are
immediately and unreflectively appreciated along an evaluative dimension (see also Meyer, 1956;
Steinbeis, Koelsch, & Sloboda, 2006). Accordingly, the execution of such musical actions in
particular contexts is accompanied by feelings of satisfaction, improvement, or discontent
(Wittgenstein, 1978; pp. 7, 13; Monson, 2007; p. 57; Rietveld, 2008; p. 978-979).
Thus, apt aesthetic evaluations by individuals can also often require the development of a
certain sensibility; it often requires enculturation into a shared practice and perspective that views
actions as pro or con, as worthy of praise or worthy of contempt. Through our development and
enculturation into a social and linguistic practice of evaluating objects (auditory or otherwise) and
appreciating certain aspects or features in those objects as salient, we learn to collect certain objects
and features, but not others, together under the extension of particular aesthetic concepts. As one
grows into the aesthetic community and cultivates an aesthetically sensitive perspective, appreciation,
or outlook, one learns how to pick out what aptly belongs under the extension of an aesthetic
concept, and how to respond to the objects grouped together by this concept in certain ways.
Through a bodily, engaged directedness and normative orientation within a practice, one cultivates a
perspective,” or “an intuitive, holistic principle for organizing our thoughts about some topic”
(Camp, 2009; pp. 110-111). Indeed, having such a perspective, as Camp explains, is what enables us
to organize our thoughts about some topic by “imposing a complex structure of relative prominence
on them, so that some features stick out in our minds while others fade into the background,by
imposing “certain evaluative attitudes and emotional valences on its constituent features,” and “by
making some features especially central to explaining others” (2009; pp. 110-111). I think Camp
offers an illuminating analysis of what a perspective consists in, so it is worth quoting another one of
her passages concerning perspectives in the case of perception. As Camp explains:
In the perceptual case, when we shift between perspectives, different elements in the figure
are highlighted, and take on a different significance: for instance, [in the famous duck-rabbit
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
figure,] the duck’s bill becomes the rabbit’s ears. We are under no illusion that the figure
itself the arrangement of dots and lines has changed, but its constituent elements now
hang together in a different structure for us. Further, the difference in our perception is not
just a matter of apprehending a new proposition: we already knew that the figure could be
seen as a rabbit, and that those were supposed to be the ears, for instance. Rather, the
difference is experiential, intuitive, and holistic. (2008; pp. 2)
Camp further explains that the exercising of a perspective can even cause a modification of our
ongoing dispositions to notice, interpret, and respond to related situations as we encounter them in
reality” andcan produce [in us a] conceptual transfiguration,” that is, “get us to see the world “in a
new light,” shifting our sense of what is important, what sorts of people and possibilities are out
there, and how we ought to respond to them” (2009; pp. 117). Accordingly, development or [END
PAGE 100] enculturation into a perspective enables language users to cultivate the propensities and
responsive actions required to employ concepts in appropriate ways, or to develop “the receptive
propensities of a subject who possesses the relevant concepts” (McDowell, 1996; pp. 237).
By now I hope to have made clear that mastery over aesthetic concepts requires more than
cognitively picking out so-called natural descriptive features in the world. Rather, it requires an
aesthetically sensitive perspective, an aesthetic culture and education, and an aesthetic point or
purpose, and so a “person from another culture who failed to see the evaluative point of a thick
[aesthetic] concept would not be able to predict local use of it on the basis of descriptive similarities
alone” (Dancy, 1996; p. 263). Resultantly, one cannot master the extension of an aesthetic concept
independently of evaluation and the socio-linguistic practice in which that evaluation functions.
Description, considered by the aesthetic non-cognitivist as something distinct and divorceable from
evaluation, is insufficient for those outside the community of aesthetic evaluators to master the
extension of aesthetic concepts because aesthetic concepts have both descriptive and evaluative
shape (if one insists on maintaining that strict dichotomous characterization, as the aesthetic non-
cognitivist does). Therefore, evaluation is not something that can simply be “disentangled” away
from the aesthetic concept.
5. Rule following, and psychologically grasping independently fixed rules
I have up to this point criticized the position of the aesthetic non-cognitivist on the basis of their
flawed assumptions concerning the nature of mind, language, and world. However, at this point I
would now like to focus my criticism of the aesthetic non-cognitivist on the basis of their flawed
conception of how the mind works with respect to concept acquisition and application in particular.
Now, it is commonly understood that in order to correctly apply a concept, aesthetic or otherwise, to
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
the same types of things, one must use the concept in accord with the rule for its application. Or as it
is sometimes put, in order for “judgments or utterances to be intelligible as applications of a single
concept to different objects, [they] must belong to a practice of going on doing the same thing”
(McDowell, 1981; pp. 145). This “going on to do the same thing” is typically conceived by the
aesthetic non-cognitivist as fixed by rules that determines a concept’s correct application.10 Indeed,
this view is held not only by philosophers but by many contemporary psychologists and behavioral
scientists alike. For instance, Marcus, Vijayan, Rao, and Vishton (1999) have argued that children as
young as seven months old possess “learning mechanisms” that enable them to “extract algebra-like
rules that represent relationships between placeholders (variables), such as “the first item X is the
same as the third item Y,” or more generally, that “item I is the same as item J”” (p. 77-78). They
further claim that [END PAGE 101] “infants have the ability to extract those rules rapidly from
small amounts of input and to generalize those rules to novel instances” and that this provides the
infant with the means for “learning about the world and attacking the problem of learning language”
(Marcus, Vijayan, Rao, & Vishton, 1999; p. 79).
Such abstract rules are typically conceived as being fixed “objectively” in accord with the
absolute conception, that is, “independently of the responses and reactions a propensity to which
one acquires when one learns the practice [involving the rule] itself” (McDowell, 1981; pp. 146). This
is often assumed because, presumably, if rules themselves were not fixed independently of human
responses then we would be unable to account for the normativity of rules, i.e. that one’s responses
can be wrong. So many scholars have traditionally accounted for the fixedness or objectivity of rules
on the grounds that rules are fixed independently of human responses. As Gibbard says about the
idea that rules might be established on the basis of human responses, “I think I get the idea of a non-
objectivist model, where we see […] judgments as a cultural artifact. But where in this model is there
room for truth and falsehood? There is only a way of living(1992; p. 269).
However, an account of the fixedness of rules does not yet provide us with an account of
how we grasp and act in accord with rules. So corresponding to an account of the fixedness of rules,
an advocate of this so-called objective model of rule following must further provide an account of
how we grasp and act in accord with such rules. Unsurprisingly, many scholars explain our ability to
grasp and act in accord with rules by positing some “special psychic mechanism that ties discussion
to action” (Gibbard, 1992; p. 278). For instance, psychologists and behavioral scientists Hauser,
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
10 Two points should be made clear here. First, my own variety of anti-non-cognitivism (sometimes simply
called “cognitivism”) need not and does not subscribe to the non-cognitivist conception of rule following
outlined in this paper. This will be made especially clear in §6-7 below. Second, “cognitivists” of certain
varieties may still be vulnerable to my criticisms of the non-cognitivist position insofar as they subscribe to the
same fundamental conception of rule following outlined here (as the psychological grasping of an abstract and
independently fixed rule).
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Weiss, and Marcus (2002) report that, “Our view is that the ability to learn rules is a domain-general
mechanism [… one] able to participate in a wide variety of domain-specific and domain-general
computations. We suspect, in fact, that the ability to learn a rule depends on some particular (as yet
undiscovered) type of neural circuit that is quite common throughout the brain” (p. B21). So on this
view, it is presumably because we possess the appropriate (although admittedly “undiscovered”)
psychological machinery that we can grasp rules and act in accord with them. So we have here a two-
component account of rule following involving (1) the claim that there are rules fixed independently
of human responses, and (2) the claim that humans possess psychological machinery with which to
grasp these independently fixed rules and act in accord with them. If the objective model lacks (1),
then there are no rules for humans to psychologically grasp and act in accord with. If the objective
model lacks (2), then there are no means for human to grasp rules and act in accord with them.
So what scholars like Gibbard would call an objective model of rule following is successful
just in case (1) and (2) are both accounted for. McDowell’s criticism of this account of rule following
in Non-Cognitivism and Rule Following, then, is based upon using Wittgenstein’s rule following
considerations to discredit (2), thereby rendering (1) suspect. McDowell (1981) clearly suggests that
this is his strategy:
The [so called “objective”] picture [we are considering here] has two interlocking
components: the idea of the psychological mechanism correlates with the idea that the tracks
we follow are objectively there to be followed, in a way that transcends the reactions and
responses of participants in our practices. [END PAGE 102] If the first component is
suspect, the second component should be suspect too. And it is. (pp. 150)
One might conceive of an initial argument against (2) along the following lines. Imagine that a child,
Smith, has correctly solved a finite set of addition problems involving numbers < 57. After sampling
Smith’s finite success with such problems, we claim that, “Smith understands the plus rule.” To
account for the continuity of Smith’s behavior in these cases, we posit the rule plus as one that is
fixed independently of the responses of Smith and other problem solvers11 and we posit a
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
11 As Wittgenstein says, “Whence the idea that the beginning of a series is a visible section of rails invisibly laid
to infinity? Well, we might imagine rails instead of a rule. And infinitely long rails correspond to the unlimited
applications of a rule” (1953; §218). Things are no different for the algebraic case, for as Wittgenstein notes,
“Isn’t one thinking of the derivation of a series from its algebraic formula? Or at lest of something analogous?
But this is where we were before. We can indeed think of more than one application of an algebraic formula;
and while every mode of application can in turn be formulated algebraically, this, of course, does not get us any
further. The application is still a criterion of understanding” (1953; §146).
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
psychological mechanism in Smith by virtue of which this rule is grasped.12 But, as this argument
might go, how does positing a psychic grasp of the plus rule account for the continuity of Smith’s
behavior? For consider also the following rules:
(1) quus: denoted by “"” where x " y = x + y, if x, y < 57, but = 5 otherwise13
(2) guus: denoted by “"1” where x "1 y = x + y, if x, y < 57, but = 6 otherwise
(3) buus: denoted by “"2” where x "2 y = x + y, if x, y < 57, but = 7 otherwise
(4) tuus: denoted by “"3” where x "3 y = x + y, if x, y < 57, but = 8 otherwise
Since, by hypothesis, Smith has so far only solved problems involving numbers < 57, one might just
as legitimately posit Smith as grasping any one of these other rules, or infinitely many others, to “explain”
his finite behavior. Yet if any of an infinite number of rules can be used to explain his finite behavior
and human behavior, mind you, is finite then it becomes implausible that his behavior is
satisfyingly explained by positing his psychic grasp of the plus rule in particular. That is, positing such
a mediating mental state based on Smith’s previous behavior gets us no further in understanding how
Smith’s behavior will continue in the future. Or, imagine that in a new case Smith is given a problem
involving numbers > 57, for example “67 + 92.” He answers “7,” and insists that this is how the rule
he had learned was to continue (e.g. he says confidently, “I know it! Honestly, the rule continues like
this…”). Although Smith’s response here strikes us as odd, his response is still compatible with the
examples from which he learned to solve problems, which all involved numbers < 57. Again, this
suggests “that his behavior hitherto was not guided by the psychological conformation we were
picturing as guiding it” and that “the pictured [END PAGE 103] state, then, always transcends any
grounds there may be for postulating it” (McDowell, 1981; pp. 147). As a result, the “postulation of
the mediating state is an idle intervening step; it does nothing to underwrite the confidence of our
expectation” of an agent’s behavior (McDowell, 1981; pp. 148). So it seems that the positing of such
a psychic “grasp” does nothing to ground the continuity of Smith’s (or any human agent’s) behavior.
To see why the view that “grasping a rule” consists in coming to possess the right mediating
mental state fails, let us review a variety of ways that it might take shape. Account 1: when we grasp a
rule we acquire a mediating mental state the content of which encodes a descriptive procedure for how
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
12 ““It is as if we could grasp the whole use of the word at a stroke”” (1953; §191), Wittgenstein reports from
the position of his interlocutor. Wittgenstein characterizes his interlocutor by saying that, “your idea was that
this meaning the order [in “+1”] had in its own way already taken all those steps: that in meaning it, your mind, as
it were, flew ahead and took all the steps before you physically arrived at this or that one. So you were inclined
to use such expressions as “The steps are really already taken, even before I take them in writing or in speech or
in thought.” And it seemed as if they were in some unique way predetermined, anticipated in the way that only
meaning something could anticipate reality” (1953; §188).
13 Kripke, 1982; p. 9.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
we are to act in accord with the rule.14 Indeed, this conception of rule following is popular among
certain circles of empirical scientists and theorists of the mind. For instance, some proposing
ideomotor models of perception and action hold that “goal representations that are functional
anticipations of action effects play a crucial role in action control” (Hommel, Musseler, Aschersleben,
& Prinz, 2001; p. 857, my emphasis; see also Greenwald, 1970, 1972; James, 1981; Lotze, 1852; Prinz,
1987, 2002). Proponents of information-processing models also “consider the role of instructions
and intentions [as essential] for the formation and implementation of task-specific cognitive
dispositions, or task sets. [In other words,] What they try to explain is action planning […] on the
basis of rules” (Hommel, Musseler, Aschersleben, & Prinz, 2001; p. 859). But what exactly is
encoded as the content of what is grasped? One might suggest that the content consists in a
descriptive list of procedures. On this view, grasping the plus rule consists in grasping that “1 + 1 =
2,” “1 + 2 = 3,” “1 + 3 = 4,” and so on. But it is surely not the case that in grasping a rule, its entire
application somehow appears before the agent’s mind,15 because the entire application is potentially
infinite and includes cases the finite agent has never yet considered. So as it stands, this view is
implausible.
Maybe, then, one could adjust Account 1 to Account 2: when we grasp a rule we acquire a
mediating mental state the content of which encodes (a) an abbreviated list of procedures - e.g. “1 + 1
= 2,” “1 + 2 = 3” - and (b) the additional procedure, expressed by and so on, indicating that one is to
use the examples displayed in (a) as samples to continue on in the same way (Kripke, 1982; p. 10-16).
Yet to tell someone to “continue the same way” is just to tell them to “continue following the rule,”
so and so on is not helpful because the very question is what counts as continuing the same way. In other
words, if I do not already know how to follow the rule for plus then I will not know how to continue
from “1 + 2 = 3” in the same way in accord with the plus rule, and so to tell me to continue on with
the plus rule in the same way with the phrase and so on is of no help to me. Yet one might try to
adjust (b) of Account 2 to reformulate a new Account 3 in order to avoid the circular explanation
that an agent can only grasp a rule if she has already understood it in the [END PAGE 104] first
place. Account 3: the and so on in Account 2 does not simply mean “continue on in the same way,
but rather contains a further rule providing procedures for continuing on from the first rule (Kripke,
1982; p. 17). For example, this further rule might contain the procedure: and so on is to be continued
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
14 “What is the connection effected between the sense of the words “Let’s play a game of chess” and all the
rules of the game?” (1953; §197) Wittgenstein asks. “Or is it, rather, that all the rules are contained in my act of
intending?” (1953; §197). See also Kripke, 1982; p. 10-22.
15 “When someone says the word “cube” to me, for example, I know what it means. But can the whole use of
the word come before my mind when I understand it in this way? […] What really comes before our mind when
we understand a word? Isn’t it something like a picture?” (1953; §139) Wittgenstein asks. He responds, “The
picture of the cube did indeed suggest a certain use to us, but it was also possible for me to use it differently”
(1953; §139). See also Kripke, 1982; p. 22.!
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
as “1 + 3 = 4,” “1 + 4 = 5,and so on. But this move is also unhelpful, because it returns us right
back to the problems of Accounts 1 and 2: either (1) the entire application of this further rule is to
appear before the agent’s mind, or (2) this further rule contains an abbreviated portion of its
application along with the procedure, expressed by and so on, that one is to use these abbreviated
portions as samples to continue on in the same way. And we have already seen why these options are
inadequate.
Since accounts 1-3 failed, one might change their approach to Account 4: when we grasp a
rule we acquire a mediating mental state that causally disposes us to act in accord with a rule (Kripke,
1982; p. 22-37). On this view, the connection between grasping a rule and subsequently applying it is
a causal one, so there is no worry of interpreting what is encoded in the rule we grasp. Since our
grasp of a rule causes us to act in accord with it, the rule that “someone means is to be read off from
his dispositions” (Kripke, 1982; p. 29). This conception of rule following is also popular among
certain circles of empirical scientists and theorists of the mind. As Hommel, Musseler, Aschersleben,
and Prinz (2001) explain, all sensorimotor theorists of action conceive of actions, linguistic or
otherwise, as “responses triggered by stimuli. Strict versions of the approach (like classical
behaviorism) claim that such reduction to stimulus conditions is a necessary and at the same time
sufficient condition for a full account of action” (p. 855). But this account cannot work because if we
claim that our grasp of a rule causes us to act in accord with it, then there is no possibility of our
grasping a rule and failing to act in accord with it. Here we are either causally disposed to act in way A
and so act in accord with A, or we are causally disposed to act in way B and so act in accord with B.
But in either case, since the rule that “someone means is to be read off from his dispositions,” there is
no failing to act in accord with a rule, e.g. failing to act in accord with A. There is just acting in accord
with some other “rule,” e.g. acting in accord with B. So dispositional Account 4, as merely descriptive
of behavioral acts, fails to account for the normativity of rules, i.e. that one’s responses can be wrong.
Moreover, since Account 4 fails to provide normative criteria for correct applications of a rule that
are independent of an agent’s responses, it betrays the very reason most scholars appealed to the so-
called objective model of rule following in the first place; i.e. to maintain objectivity by avoiding rules
that are dependent upon agent’s responses.
I have now shown that four varieties of the so-called objective model of rule following fail.
In Account 4, the connection between grasping a rule and subsequently applying it was too strict.
Having rules causally determine our actions does not allow for an account of their normativity. In
Account 3 the connection between grasping a rule and subsequently applying it was too loose.
Encoding rules with further rules made fixing on an action impossible. And Accounts 1-2 required
that we understand a rule before we can grasp it, which puts the cart before the horse. The failure of
these accounts shows us that the connection between grasping a rule and subsequently applying it is
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
not plausibly established via the mediation of that rule somehow appearing before our minds.
Furthermore, even if a rule did appear before one’s mind, we can easily imagine that what appears
before the mind [END PAGE 105] of an agent that correctly applies a rule can also appear before
the mind of an agent that does not correctly apply it.16 So what comes before one’s mind is not what
grounds one’s grasp of a rule, even if what comes before one’s mind is often associated with it. Thus,
advocates of the so-called objective model of rule following have not adequately supported their
claim (2) that humans possess psychological machinery with which to grasp independently fixed rules
and to act in accord with them. And this in turn renders suspect their claim (1) that there are such
independently fixed rules, the following of which is to be explained by a psychic grasp of them. Such
a two-component view of rule following, by divorcing rules from the “responses and reactions a
propensity to which one acquires when one learns the practice” involving the rule itself, suggests a
fanciful picture of what a rule is and what it takes to act in accord with it. Upon closer inspection we
find that “there is no such thing here as, so to say, a wheel that he is to catch hold of, the right
machine which, once chosen, will carry him on automatically” (Wittgenstein, 1970; §304). Resultantly,
we see that this view of rule following not only fails to explain how we can grasp and act in accord
with rules, but also fails to suggest a realistic picture of how this is to be practically achieved by
everyday, human agents. For if we consider how students actually learn rules in concrete cases, we
see that what is involved is a certain normative training, education, or enculturation;17 that is, a form
of normative training into a socio-cultural practice where students learn to develop a knack, technical
skill, or ingrained sensibility to intelligibly act and react as others do within their practice. As
Wittgenstein notes in Lectures in Aesthetics, “Perhaps the most important thing in connection with
aesthetics is what may be called aesthetic reactions, e.g. discontent, disgust, discomfort” (1978; p. 13)
which, along with the acquisition and mastery of aesthetic concepts, are developed as proper
normative components of aesthetic enculturation.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
16 Wittgenstein says, “it is perfectly conceivable that the formula should occur to him and that he should
nevertheless not understand. “He understands” must have more to it than: the formula occurs to him. And
equally, more than any of those more or less characteristic concomitant processes or manifestations of
understanding” (1953; §152).
17 I quote Wittgenstein at length: ““But how can a rule teach me what I have to do at this point? After all,
whatever I do can, on some interpretation, be made compatible with the rule.” No, that’s not what one
should say. Rather, this: every interpretation hangs in the air together with what it interprets, and cannot give it
any support. Interpretations by themselves do not determine meaning.
“So is whatever I do compatible with the rule?” Let me ask this: what has the expression of a rule say a
signpost got to do with my actions? What sort of connection obtains here? Well, this one, for example: I
have been trained to react in a particular way to this sign, and now I do so react to it.
But with this you have pointed out only a causal connection; only explained how it has come about that we
now go by the signpost; not what this following-the-sign really consists in. Not so; I have further indicated that
a person goes by a signpost only in so far as there is an established usage, a custom” (1953; §198).!
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Additionally, we do not in real cases expect a student to acquire mastery of a rule “in a flash”
via a psychic grasp of all the possible instances of a rule. Rather, we expect students to progressively
become better at mastering the rule as their skill develops and as their involvement, in the practice
where that rule functions, is fine-tuned. Indeed, the apt contiguity of behavior exhibited by children,
which Marcus, Vijayan, Rao, and Vishton (1999) thought was best explained by assuming that these
children psychically grasp abstract and independently fixed rules, has been modeled by other
researchers utilizing methods that do not require the positing of agents cognitively grasping such
[END PAGE 106] abstract and independently fixed rules at all. For instance, Christiansen and
Curtin (1999) duplicated the findings of Marcus et al.’s original study through probabilistic models,
and Altmann and Dienes (1999) duplicated these same findings through neural network models. I
suggest that these models provide more realistic characterizations of how language users acquire both
a normative appreciation of aesthetic practices and the ability to master the aesthetic concepts that
are proper components of those aesthetic practices themselves. In other words, there are still various
explanatory options available to scholars that can be used to explain the learning abilities of children
that do not assume that these children possess mental mechanisms with which to psychically grasp
abstract rules that are fixed independently of human responses and practices. So-called objective
models of rule following which are inspired by the absolute conception insofar as they attempt to
account for the fixedness of rules by divorcing them from the “responses and reactions a propensity
to which one acquires when one learns the practice” involving the rule itself are therefore
problematic and offer unconvincing explanations of how language users come to master concepts in
general and aesthetic concepts in particular. As McDowell rightly asserts in Mind and World, “the
structure of the space of reasons is not constituted in splendid isolation from anything merely
human. The demands of reason are essentially such that a human upbringing can open a human
being’s eyes to them(1996a; p. 92).
6. Integrating rules, culture, and nature
We saw that aesthetic non-cognitivism is typically motivated by the absolute conception, a
conception of the world “consisting of nonperspectival materials available to any adequate
investigator, of whatever constitution” (Williams, 1985; pp. 139-140). This conception was meant to
distinguish “the world as it is independent of our experience” from “the world as it seems to us”
(Williams, 1985; pp. 139-140), and aesthetic non-cognitivists accepting this bifurcated conception of
the world have typically adopted a correlated bifurcated conception of the mind. That is, as the
aesthetic non-cognitivist sharply distinguished “the world as it is independent of our experience”
from “the world as it seems to us,” they likewise distinguish belief states with cognitive content from
non-cognitive affective states. Such a bifurcated conception of mind was implicitly assumed, for
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
instance, in Gibbard’s account of the Kumi who were thought to first cognitively track purely
descriptive features (the killing of an outgroup member in the face of danger) and then respond to
these features with an affect or evaluation (a positive evaluation such as “how glorious!”).
Likewise, the so-called objective conception of rules has widely appealed to aesthetic non-
cognitivists because they have traditionally assumed that it only makes sense to say that one correctly
acts in accord with a rule if there are independently fixed rules that one is capable of psychically
grasping. Accordingly, they have assumed that it only makes sense to say that one correctly applies a
concept, aesthetic or otherwise, if there are independently fixed rules for the application of that
concept that one is capable of psychically grasping. In other words, aesthetic non-cognitivists assume
an “objective” conception of rule following in an attempt to account for the normativity of concept
application; to explain how it is that an [END PAGE 107] application of a concept, aesthetic or
otherwise, can go wrong. The problem with “non-objective” accounts of rules, as Gibbard expressed
earlier, is that they seem unable to account for the fixedness, and so normativity, of rules. That is,
one might worry that by rejecting the objective conception of rules, the Wittgensteinian analysis has
led us to what Dummett has called “full-blooded conventionalism,” the view that a given statement’s
necessity and truth “consists always in our having expressly decided to treat that very statement as
unassailable” (1959; p. 329, 337, 348; See also McDowell, 1981; pp. 150-152). The worry is that
because there are no independently fixed rules for us to grasp, our treating any statement as true or
false must ultimately result from a decision of how to treat that statement. But if the truth-value of a
statement is a result of our decisions, then the truth-value of any statement is as flexible as our
decisions are, and in that case we can no longer account for how our decisions about the truth-value
of statements can be wrong. The general worry is that non-objective conceptions of rules must also be
non-normative ones.
One of Wittgenstein’s philosophical contributions was in showing that this worry is
misplaced. By bringing rules out of individual minds and into the public space of culture, he avoids
the worrisome claim that it is the decisions of individuals that determines the truth-value of
statements. Indeed, the very point of dismantling Accounts 1-4 in §5 was to show that our rule
following ability is not suitably grounded in the mind (and mutatis mutandis the decisions) of
individuals at all (Wittgenstein, 1974; II, §33, 70). As Wittgenstein argues in Philosophical Investigations,
‘obeying a rule’ is a practice. And to think one is obeying a rule is not to obey a rule. Hence it is not
possible to obey a rule ‘privately’: otherwise thinking one was obeying a rule would be the same thing
as obeying it(1953; §202).
Gibbard and other aesthetic non-cognitivists that worry that non-objective conceptions of
rules must also be non-normative ones have, apparently, missed this point. Rules are not “in the
mind” at all, but are rather diachronically stable patterns of activity that have been shaped by the
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
shared sensitivities and responsive actions of the agent’s involved in the communal practice in which
that rule has the particular function that it does. Nor is the substance of a proposition generated
purely from within a psychological engine, but rather “a “proposition” requires the context of a lived
linguistic practice, where what counts as engaging in that practice determines what counts as a
“question,” what counts as removing it, and so what counts as an “assertion” and as the
determination of “truth”” (Weston, 2010; pp. 249). Like a well-trodden path through the wilderness,
a rule (for concept application, assertion, or otherwise) receives its significance in part by the history
of its use, the constitution of its users, and the purpose for which they used it, while further hinting
at the direction for how it should continue. A rule is a constituent path within a community-wide
practice, and because of its public nature, what constitutes following in accord with a rule is not some
individual’s decision. So, on the one hand, insofar as rules are not already “out there” independently
fixed from human response, our “going on in the same way” in accord with a rule is in fact
contingent in that it depends upon facts regarding our natural and socio-cultural constitution and
tendencies. As Weston suggests:
Whether he can see a point in playing the game will depend, not on it, but on whether “he is
able to see any unity in his multifarious interests, activities, and relations with other men;
what sort of sense he sees in his life will depend on [END PAGE 108] the nature of this
unity.” And his ability to make such sense depends not merely on him but “on the
possibilities for making such sense which the culture in which he lives does, or does not,
provide.” (2010; pp. 253)
But it would be confused to think that this entails that our “going on in the same way” in accord with
a rule is decidedly arbitrary. I suggest that it is just a contingent fact that we human beings are born
into a world equipped with needs (e.g. to eat and mate, etc.), purposes to achieve (e.g. to acquire food
and mates, etc.), and instinctive sensitivities (e.g. to see things as edible or mate-able, etc.) and for,
presumably evolutionary (e.g., see Tooby & Cosmides, 2005), reasons, nature has it that those of us
who are alive today share in our basic needs, purposes, and sentient architecture such that we can
work to attain these together. It is this common rootedness in nature, need, and purpose that brings
our sensitivities and responsive actions together to form the practices that we have, and we do not
decide to accept the procedures of our practices anymore than we decide to accept these practices
themselves: We do not decide to accept them or reject them at all, any more than we decide to be
human beings as opposed to trees. To ask whether our human practices or forms of life themselves
are “correct” or “justified” is to ask whether we are “correct” or “justified” in being the sorts of
things we are” (Stroud, 1965; p. 518).
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Furthermore, insofar as we are to achieve the ends of our practices, the steps we take are not
arbitrary. “[T]he rules aren’t arbitrary if the purpose of the game is to be achieved,” as Wittgenstein
says (1974; §140; See also Stroud, 1965; p. 515). And given the fact that we share in our ways of
living it is also evident that we share in the rules for living those ways. So to ask if an agent is
following in accord with a rule, then, only makes sense when that agent is considered within the
wider context of her community of fellow practitioners. Indeed, it is with respect to these wider
communal practices that an individual’s actions are to be considered as correct or incorrect. A
“person goes by [an expression of a rule, such as] a signpost only insofar as there is an established
usage, a custom” (Wittgenstein, 1953; §198). That is why it is not sensible to ask how an agent,
divorced from the context of practice, can follow in accord with a rule that derives its sense from
within that very practice itself.
For instance, we can justify the actions we take in football and chess by appealing to the
rules of football and chess, but there is no justification for the rules of football and chess themselves:
these rules just are what we call “football” or “chess.” Even in cases where one is justifying
something as academic and prototypically intellectual as mathematical calculations, at some point the
procedures for justifying come to an end and we must acknowledge that these practical procedures
that we have carried out just are what we call “justifying a mathematical calculation.” That is to say, it
is precisely these background procedures and activities that provide the appropriate context for the
justification of particular mathematical calculations to be possible. In fact, what is taken as settled
under certain circumstances is partly what makes an inquiry one of a particular sort (Weston, 2010).
Likewise, we can justify aesthetic judgments in particular ways, but that these ways count as justifying
aesthetic judgments cannot be “justified,because this is simply part of what we callmaking
aesthetic judgments.” In other words, we would only understand what is being done as “making an
aesthetic judgment” if under certain circumstances some things, such as particular procedures and
activities, are presumed to be settled, because it is precisely these background [END PAGE 109]
procedures and activities that provide the appropriate context within which aesthetic questions can
be raised and aesthetic judgments can be issued and resolved.
7. Wittgensteinian implications for non-cognitivist accounts of aesthetic cognition
Let us now review how our Wittgensteinian rule following analysis dismantles the aesthetic non-
cognitivist’s account of aesthetic concepts. First, the aesthetic non-cognitivist thought that in order to
apply a concept correctly, there must be some objective rule that is independent of human
sensitivities and responses that determines that concept’s correct application. Further, they claimed
that we can only act in accord with the rule for that concept’s correct application by cognitively
grasping it. In §5 we considered four different accounts of how this “grasping” might be achieved,
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
but we found them all to be inadequate. So thus far the aesthetic non-cognitivist has failed to provide
a convincing account of how it is that we can follow in accord with a rule for the correct application
of our concepts, aesthetic or otherwise. Moreover, it was precisely this failed assumption that rules
for the correct application of concepts are fixed “independently of the responses and reactions a
propensity to which one acquires when one learns the practice itself” (McDowell, 1981; pp. 146) that
motivated the aesthetic non-cognitivist to suppose that “any respectable evaluative concept must
correspond to a classification intelligible from outside the evaluative outlook within which the
concept functions” (McDowell, 1981; pp. 153). That is to say, it is because the aesthetic non-
cognitivist supposes that the correct use of concepts in general requires that one psychically grasp an
independently fixed rule for their correct application, that they also suppose that the correct use of
aesthetic concepts in particular requires that one psychically grasp an independently fixed rule for their
correct application (as the latter is a subset of the former). And it was this erroneous assumption that
led the aesthetic non-cognitivist to suppose that the extension of an aesthetic concept could be
mastered independently of an involved understanding of the practice of aesthetic evaluation itself.
However, as the Wittgensteinian analysis has shown, it is misguided to construe rules as fixed
independently of human responses. Resultantly, there need be no supposition that the correct use of
concepts in general requires that one grasp an independently fixed rule for their correct application,
and so there need be no supposition that the correct use of aesthetic concepts in particular requires
that one grasp an independently fixed rule for their correct application either. So the Wittgensteinian
analysis does not suppose that the extension of an aesthetic concept could be mastered
independently of an involved understanding of the practice of aesthetic evaluation itself. Indeed, it is
suggestive of the idea that it only makes sense to say of an agent that she can correctly apply an
aesthetic concept when that agent is considered within the wider context of her community of fellow
aesthetic evaluators. It is clear, therefore, that the Wittgensteinian analysis not only avoids the
problems that the aesthetic non-cognitivist faced with respect to mastery of aesthetic concepts in §3
and with respect to rule following in §5, but also explains how these problems in §3 and §5 are to be
corrected.
Since aesthetic concepts are not independent of evaluation, it also follows that aesthetic
concepts do not have purely descriptive shape. Resultantly, mastery over [END PAGE 110]
aesthetic concepts is also guided by an evaluative or affective sensitivity. But notice that this casts
doubt on the aesthetic non-cognitivist’s view that (a) cognitive states with descriptive content are
distinct from (b) non-cognitive affective or evaluative states, and that (b) are simply post-cognitive
responses that are incapable of disclosing features of the world (Williams, 1985; pp. 141). Indeed,
since mastery over aesthetic concepts requires utilizing evaluative and descriptive sensitivity in order
to pick out those features that aptly belong under that concept’s extension (see §3), we have reason
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
to be suspicious of the aesthetic non-cognitivist’s strict separation of (a) from (b) since it claimed that
only (a) is capable of determining a concept’s extension. In §3 we saw how this claim was
problematic. So our analysis not only renders suspect the aesthetic non-cognitivist account of
aesthetic concepts in particular, but their presupposed bifurcated conception of mind more generally
(McDowell, 1981; pp. 143, 154-156). I agree with McDowell that this conclusion need not pose a
threat to naturalism, because “we do not need to equate the very idea of nature or the natural with
the idea of instantiations of concepts whose primary home is the logical space in which natural-
scientific intelligibility emerges” (McDowell, 1996; pp. 236). That our conception of what is natural
must be restricted in such a way would require substantive metaphysical argumentation and cannot
simply be assumed.
Notice also that the non-cognitivist’s conception of rules as fixed objectively and
“independently of the responses and reactions a propensity to which one acquires when one learns
the practice itself” (McDowell, 1981; pp. 146) was not only unable to account for the vast range of
aesthetic concepts we actually use in articulating features of objects and the world as conceived by us
(see §2) but also rendered suspect how one “grasps” and applies the concepts of any features of the
world at all. By imposing the restriction that what is “objective” must be fundamentally divorced
from our responses, this conception made it impossible for the world to be something graspable by
us at all. The purity it sought was otherworldly, and so it is not unreasonable to suppose that we
“should accept sometimes that there may be nothing better to do than explicitly appeal to a hoped-
for community of human response” in actions and judgments (McDowell, 1981; pp. 153). Rather
than supposing that our conceptualization of the world requires epistemic access provided by
psychological mechanisms located internal to the mind, “The issue of “world” is that of the way
language games [that is to say, the linguistic activities that are constituent parts of our daily, practical
lives] can be said to “fit” together, to form some overall “field” of intelligibility in terms of which life
can have sense” (Weston, 2010; pp. 258).
8. Aesthetic cognition and imaginative identification
One counterargument proposed by aesthetic non-cognitivists that I will discuss here is what can be
called the sufficiency of imaginative identification challenge. Altham (1986) posed this type of challenge in
the following way:
it does not seem that, in order to grasp the extension of the [aesthetic] term, one must
actually share the evaluative perspective of those who use it. It would be enough to have a
merely imaginative identification with their perspective [… moreover,] if a merely
imaginative identification suffices, then the thought [END PAGE 111] arises that once it
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
has been achieved, and the [aesthetic] term grasped, a neutral equivalent can be introduced.
(pp. 278-279)
Blomberg (2007) also writes:
it is not clear what the difference is between (a) accepting the evaluation embedded in a thick
[aesthetic] concept (“sharing values”), and (b) grasping the thick [aesthetic] concept’s
“evaluative point” imaginatively without accepting it, where (b) cannot amount to acquiring
a purely descriptive equivalent of the [aesthetic] concept. Hare’s attribution [that one must
accept the evaluation embedded in the community where the aesthetic concept functions in
order to master that concept’s extension] is not entirely unwarranted until Entanglers
[McDowellians/Wittgensteinians] provide a clear account of this difference. (p. 72-73)
First, we should not get carried away with the idea of “imaginative” identification. It is still to be
identification nonetheless. And we already saw in §3 that e.g. only certain objects that are small, pale,
and fragile are aptly delicate, and that how these certain objects are to be picked out involves more
than simply tracking some pre-evaluative set of descriptive features. If Smith is to master the
extension of the aesthetic concept delicate through an “imaginative identification” with the perspective
from which those objects are appropriately collected together, then the imaginings of Smith must be
appropriately constrained such that they are in line with the perspective that other aesthetic evaluators
hold non-imaginatively. That is, the imaginative case is parasitic on the genuine case and so not just any
imaginings will enable Smith to collect just those objects or features that are apt for the extension of
delicate. Only certain imaginative identifications will be appropriate, and as we saw in §3 and §5,
determining what counts as appropriate here is dependent upon an aesthetic perspective or outlook.
Furthermore, mastery over an aesthetic concept consists in “be[ing] able to predict applications and
withholdings of it in new cases” (McDowell, 1981; pp. 144) which requires that one is capable of
utilizing this aesthetic perspective or outlook in new cases in order to pick out e.g. just those objects
or features that are aptly delicate in some new case. So, on the one hand, it was by virtue of utilizing an
aesthetic perspective or outlook that one identified old instances of delicate objects, and on the other
hand, it is by virtue of utilizing an aesthetic perspective or outlook that one can pick out just those
objects that are aptly delicate in new cases too. Resultantly, insofar as identification of aesthetic
features in both old and new cases requires an aesthetic perspective or outlook, re-identification of
aesthetic features as the same aesthetic features requires an evaluative perspective or outlook too. So
even if I wanted to construct an “neutral equivalent” of an aesthetic term and apply it in new cases, it
is still required that I utilize an aesthetic perspective or outlook in order to identify those features in
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
the object to which I intend to apply the neutral term as possessing features that are aptly similar to
those of the aesthetic term which I am trying to replace. Without utilizing an aesthetic perspective or
outlook I may not be using the “neutral term” as an apt equivalent of the aesthetic term at all.
Therefore, it is unclear what this “imaginative identification” as characterized by scholars such as
Altham (1986) actually consists in, and how one in this imaginative state is to determine what actions
or objects [END PAGE 112] count as appropriate ones for the extension of an aesthetic concept
without already depending upon an aesthetic perspective or outlook to do this.
However, there is something right in raising the challenge of imaginative identification. Its
importance is that it brings out a question about what constitutes the difference “between (a)
accepting the evaluation embedded in a thick [aesthetic] concept […] and (b) grasping the thick
[aesthetic] concept’s “evaluative point” imaginatively without accepting it” (Blomberg, 2007; p. 72-
73). The difference between (a) and (b) will be best explicated by an example. Imagine Smith, a
young boy that, throughout some period during his upbringing, was taught to evaluate e.g. an object’s
features of smallness, paleness, and fragileness. Maybe he grew up in a tribe where such objects are
highly prized in his community. Or maybe he was born into city life where such features could be
useful in identifying potential mates, etc. Regardless, Smith’s training consists in being educated into
a social world that makes sense of evaluating objects on the basis of their being small, pale, and fragile.
It is likely that Smith was taught that such objects are worthy of praise and adoration, but it is
possible that he was taught otherwise. Either way, Smith’s aesthetic education is still such that he has
acquired a sensitivity and sensibility to see that an object’s features are such that some aesthetic evaluation
or other is called for. One could say, regardless of the evaluative direction Smith’s aesthetic attitude is
pointing (e.g. pro or con), it is first required that Smith has become sensitive to an evaluative or
aesthetic point (e.g. that an object’s features are such that some aesthetic evaluation or other is called
for). And as long as Smith acquires sensitivity to the aesthetic practice such that he can identify
certain relevant features of an object as salient (e.g. as being aptly small, pale, and fragile), and so
understand that some aesthetic attitude or other is called for by that object, Smith is now capable of
conceiving that one might evaluate these features with an attitude opposite of his. This is an option that,
although not likely to convince Smith, is at least intelligible to him. And so this is how (b) grasping
the aesthetic concept’s evaluative point imaginatively without accepting it, is to be distinguished from
(a) accepting the evaluation embedded in an aesthetic concept. In other words, the difference is that
in (b) one must simply acquire sensitivity to an aesthetic practice such that one can identify certain
relevant features of an object as salient (e.g. as being aptly small, pale, and fragile) and so understand
that an aesthetic attitude is called for by that object, while in (a) one has further fixed on which
direction their aesthetic evaluation points. And if one cannot make sense of some situation having an
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
aesthetic point at all, then that is all the same as saying that one cannot grasp the aesthetic concept’s
aesthetic/evaluative point imaginatively.
Although Smith is capable of conceiving of the possibility that one might evaluate features
with an aesthetic attitude opposite of his, Smith, having himself learned the evaluative point for
particular practical purposes, will of course find one evaluative direction most natural since this is the
evaluative direction in line with the purpose for which the evaluative point was taught. For example,
Smith might have been taught to evaluate an object’s being aptly small, pale, and fragile positively,
because such objects are those that serve a significant purpose in the kind of culture he happens to
be living in. Given Smith’s bio-cultural environment, and thus the sort of evaluative training he
received in order to productively engage in those environments, Smith will naturally find one
evaluative direction as his default. A “neutral” [END PAGE 113] evaluative direction (of which it is
hard, but maybe not impossible to find genuine cases) would be an exception case because to find no
evaluative direction as natural to hold would suggest that there was no strong initial motivation for
which the evaluative point was learned, and in that case, the relevant aesthetic concept would have
been without much purpose anyway. However, I doubt that there are genuine cases of “neutral”
evaluation that are still genuinely evaluative; they are more likely to be cases of multi-directional
evaluation of which the weighing of directions makes a single direction less conclusive or compelling.
9. Concluding remarks
In this article I have shown why aesthetic non-cognitivism, despite its popularity throughout
philosophy, psychology, and the behavioral sciences, remains a problematic position to hold
regarding aesthetic cognition. My argument towards this conclusion proceeded as follows: in §1 I
outlined the cognitivist and non-cognitivist accounts of aesthetic cognition. In §2 I explained some
factors motivating the aesthetic non-cognitivist’s account, including their metaphysical assumptions
about the mind, language, and world, and in §3 I discussed the aesthetic non-cognitivist’s claim that
aesthetic concepts have descriptive rather than evaluative shape and can thereby be mastered
independently of evaluation and the evaluative practices that form proper parts of linguistic
enculturation. Aesthetic non-cognitivists assumed that concept acquisition and mastery are possible
by assuming that language users possess cognitive mechanisms with which to psychologically grasp
abstract rules rules that are fixed independently of human responses that determine a concept’s
correct application. By positing a cognitive mechanism with which to “objectively” grasp these
abstract rules, aesthetic non-cognitivists argued that cognizers are thereby capable of grasping rules
for the correct application of aesthetic concepts without needing to rely on enculturation. In §4, I
discussed recent empirical work on perceptual learning in language and music acquisition that renders
the aesthetic non-cognitivist’s general position suspect. Then, in §5-7, I discussed several variations
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
of the non-cognitivist’s objective conception of rules and rule following, and then used
Wittgenstein’s rule following considerations to explain why they were implausible. I then suggested
other more plausible models as alternatives. Finally, in §8, I considered a counterargument that
suggests that one can master an aesthetic concept independently of an evaluative form of linguistic
enculturation by means of imaginatively identifying with the perspective in which such enculturation
takes place. I ended the discussion by concluding that such counterarguments remain unconvincing.
The conclusion that follows from the analysis provided in this article is that aesthetic non-
cognitivism should be rejected because we have good reason to believe that enculturation does
influence and enable the mastery of aesthetic concepts. Part of what’s involved in speaking
aesthetically is to belong to a cultural practice of making sense of things aesthetically. And it is within a
socio-linguistic community, along with that community’s practices, that such aesthetic sense can be
made intelligible.
Acknowledgements
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Elisabeth Camp, Sergio Salvatore, and several
anonymous reviewers at Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science for valuable discussion [END
PAGE 114] and helpful suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript. I would also like to thank
Paul Guyer for his excellent instruction in the history of modern philosophy and aesthetics. Any
remaining errors are the sole responsibility of the author.
References
Altham, J. (1986). The legacy of emotivism. In G. MacDonald & C. Wright (Eds.), Fact, science and
morality (pp. 275-288). Oxford: Blackwell.
Altmann, G., & Dienes, Z. (1999). Rule learning by seven-month-old infants and neural networks.
Science, 284, 875a.
Ayer, A. (1952). Language, truth and logic. New York: Dover Publications.
Bharucha, J., & Stoeckig, K. (1986). Reaction time and musical expectancy: Priming of chords. Journal
of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 12, 403-410.
Bharucha, J., & Stoeckig, K. (1987). Priming of chords: Spreading activation or overlapping
frequency spectra? Perception and Psychophysics, 41, 519-524.
Blackburn, S. (1992). Through thick and thin. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes,
66, 285-299.
Blomberg, O. (2007). Disentangling the thick concept argument. Sats Nordic Journal of Philosophy, 8,
63-78.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. (1985). Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press.
Burton, S. (1992). ‘Thick’ concepts revised. Analysis, 52, 28-32.
Camp, E. (2008). Showing, telling and seeing: Metaphor and “poetic” language. In E. Camp (Ed.),
The Baltic international yearbook of cognition, logic and communication, volume 3: A figure of speech (pp. 1-
24). New Prairie Press.
Camp, E. (2009). Two varieties of literary imagination: Metaphor, fiction, and thought experiments.
Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 33, 107-130.
Christiansen, M., & Curtin, S. (1999). Transfer of learning: rule acquisition or statistical learning?
Trends in Cognitive Science, 3, 289-290.
Chowdhury, S., & DeAngelis, G. (2008). Fine discrimination training alters the causal contribution of
macaque area MT to depth perception. Neuron, 60, 367377.
Croom, A. (2010). Thick concepts, non-cognitivism, and Wittgenstein’s rule-following
considerations. South African Journal of Philosophy, 29, 286-309.
Croom, A. (2011). Slurs. Language Sciences, 33, 343-358.
Curtis, M., & Bharucha, J. (2009). Memory and musical expectation for tones in cultural contexts.
Music Perception, 26, 365-375.
Dancy, J. (1996). In defense of thick concepts. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XX: Moral Concepts, 263-
279.
de Lima, L. (2007). From body resonances to cultural values: Insights on music, analysis, and
mediations. Journal of Music and Meaning, 4, section 6.
Dummett, M. (1959). Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics. The Philosophical Review, 68, 324-348.
Gibbard, A. (1992). Thick concepts and warrant for feelings. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society,
Supplementary Volumes 66, 267-284.
Goldstone, R. (1998). Perceptual learning. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 585612.
Greenwald, A. (1970). Sensory feedback mechanisms in performance control: With special reference
to the ideomotor mechanism. Psychological Review, 77, 7399.
Greenwald, A. (1972). On doing two things at once: Time sharing as a function of ideomotor
compatibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 94, 5257.
Gu, Y., Liu, S., Fetsch, C., Yang, Y., Fok, S., Sunkara, A., DeAngelis, G., & Angelaki, D. (2011).
Perceptual learning reduces interneuronal correlations in macaque visual cortex. Neuron, 71, 750-
761.
Guyer, P. (2005). Values of beauty: Historical essays in aesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hahn, T. (2007). Sensational knowledge: Embodying culture through Japanese dance. Middletown: Wesleyan
University Press.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Hannon, E., & Trehub, S. (2005). Tuning in to musical rhythms: Infants learn more readily than
adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102, 12639-
12643.
Hare, R. (1970). The language of morals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[END PAGE 115]
Hauser, M., Weiss, D., & Marcus, G. (2002). Rule learning by Cotton-top tamarins. Cognition, 86,
B51-B22.
Hommel, B., Musseler, J., Aschersleben, G., & Prinz, W. (2001). The theory of event coding (TEC):
A framework for perception and action planning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 849-937.
Hume, D. (1998a). An enquiry concerning the principles of morals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hume, D. (1998b). An enquiry concerning human understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hume, D. (2007). Of the standard of taste. In Essays: Moral, political and literary (pp. 231-258). (First
published 1757). New York: Cosimo Classics.
Hyde, K., Lerch, J., Norton, A., Forgeard, M., Winner, E., Evans, A., & Schlaug, G. (2009). Musical
training shapes structural brain development. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 3019-3025.
James, W. (1981). The principles of psychology. (First published in 1890). Cambridge: Harvard University
Press.
Justus, T., & Bharucha, J. (2001). Modularity in music processing: The automaticity of harmonic
priming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27, 1000-1011.
Kant, I. (2000). Critique of the power of judgment. P. Guyer (Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Kraus, N., Skoe, E., Parbery-Clark, A., & Ashley, R. (2009). Experience-induced malleability in neural
encoding of pitch, timbre, and timing. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169, 543-
557.
Kripke, S. (1982). Wittgenstein: On rules and private language. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Kuhl, P., & Rivera-Gaxiola, M. (2008). Neural substrates of language acquisition. Annual Review of
Neuroscience, 31, 511-534.
Kuhl, P., Stevens, E., Hayashi, A., Deguchi, T., Kiritani, S., & Iverson, P. (2006). Infants shown a
facilitation effect for native language phonetic perception between 6 and 12 months.
Developmental Science, 9, F13-F21.
Laland, K., Odling-Smee, F., & Feldman, M. (2000). Niche construction, biological evolution, and
cultural change. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 131-146.
Law, C., & Gold, J. (2008). Neural correlates of perceptual learning in a sensory-motor, but not a
sensory, cortical area. Nature Neuroscience, 11, 505513.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Law, C., & Gold, J. (2009). Reinforcement learning can account for associative and perceptual
learning on a visual-decision task. Nature Neuroscience, 12, 655663.
Lotze, R. (1852). Medicinische psychologie oder physiologie der seele. Weidmann.
Mackie, J. (1977). Ethics: Inventing right and wrong. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Marcus, G., Vijayan, S., Rao, S., & Vishton, P. (1999). Rule learning by seven-month-old infants.
Science, 283, 77-80.
McDowell, J. (1981). Non-cognitivism and rule-following. In S. Holtzman & C. Leich (Eds.),
Wittgenstein: To follow a rule (pp. 141-162). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
McDowell, J. (1996a). Mind and world. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
McDowell, J. (1996b). Precis of “Mind and world.” Philosophical Issues, 7: Perception, 231-239.
McDowell, J. (1998). Mind, value, and reality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Monson, I. (2007). Hearing, seeing, and perceptual agency. Critical Inquiry, 34, S36-S58.
Meyer, L. (1956). Emotion and meaning in music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pons, E., Lewkowicz, D., Soto-Faraco, S., & Sebastian-Galles, N. (2009). Narrowing of intersensory
speech perception in infancy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of
America, 106, 10598-10602.
Prinz, W. (1987). Ideo-motor action. In H. Heuer & A. Sanders (Eds.), Perspectives on perception and
action (pp. 47-76). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.
Prinz, W. (2002). Experimental approaches to imitation. In A. Meltzoff & W. Prinz (Eds.), The
imitative mind: Development, evolution, and brain bases (pp. 143-162). Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Rietveld, E. (2008). Situated normativity: The normative aspect of embodied cognition in unreflective
action. Mind, 117, 973-1001.
Rorty, R. (1987). Unfamiliar noises I: Hesse and Davidson on metaphor. Proceedings of the Aristotelian
Society, Supplementary Volumes, 61, 283-296.
Schnupp, J., Nelken, I., & King, A. (2011). Auditory neuroscience: Making sense of sound. Cambridge: MIT
Press.
Shaftesbury, A. (1999). Characteristics of men, manners, opinions, times. (First published 1711). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Steinbeis, N., Koelsch, S., & Sloboda, J. (2006). The role of harmonic expectancy violations in
musical emotions: Evidence from subjective, physiological, and neural responses. Journal of
Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 1380-1393.
[END PAGE 116]
Stevenson, C. (1937). The emotive meaning of ethical terms. Mind, New Series, 46, 14-31.
Stroud, B. (1965). Wittgenstein and logical necessity. The Philosophical Review, 74, 504-518.
Croom | Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2012) 46: 90-117
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-011-9184-5
!
Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2005). Conceptual foundations of evolutionary psychology. In
D. Buss (Ed.), The handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 5-67). Hoboken: Wiley.
Weston, M. (2010). Forms of our life: Wittgenstein and the later Heidegger. Philosophical Investigations,
33, 245-265.
Williams, B. (1985). Ethics and the limits of philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations. G.E.M. Anscombe & R. Rhees (Eds.). Oxford:
Blackwell.
Wittgenstein, L. (1970). Zettle. G.E.M. Anscombe (Trans.). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1974). Philosophical grammar. R. Rhees (Ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1978). Lectures in aesthetics. In L. Wittgenstein, Lectures and conversations on aesthetics,
psychology and religious belief (pp. 1-40). (First published 1966). Oxford: Blackwell.
Zhang, Y., Kuhl, P., Imada, T., Kotani, M., & Tohkura, Y. (2005). Effects of language experience:
Neural commitment to language-specific auditory patterns. NeuroImage, 26, 703-720.
Adam M. Croom received his undergraduate education in cognitive neuroscience, linguistics,
philosophy, and music at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently working on a graduate
degree. He has published in professional linguistics, philosophy, and psychology journals and has
won numerous awards and fellowships for his academic work, including the Phi Beta Kappa Elmaleh
Prize for best essay in the social sciences, the Elizabeth F. Flower Prize for best essay in philosophy,
an Andrew Mellon Fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania’s Humanities Forum, and an
Andrew Mellon Fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania’s Program in Democracy,
Constitutionalism, and Citizenship. Adam has also worked as a Research Fellow at the University of
Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center and as a Research Assistant in the Auditory Research Lab
at the University of Pennsylvania’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine. Adam plays
the saxophone and is a native of Redondo Beach, California.
[END PAGE 117]
1 23
Your article is protected by copyright and
all rights are held exclusively by Springer
Science+Business Media, LLC. This e-offprint
is for personal use only and shall not be self-
archived in electronic repositories. If you
wish to self-archive your work, please use the
accepted author’s version for posting to your
own website or your institution’s repository.
You may further deposit the accepted author’s
version on a funder’s repository at a funder’s
request, provided it is not made publicly
available until 12 months after publication.
... usually associated with specific bio-cognitive functions may actually engage in cross activation (extreme instances of which result in experiences of synaesthesia; see Ramachandran, 2011) 14 . This has led a number of researchers (e.g., Lakoff and Johnson, 2003;Johnson, 2007;Ramachandran, 2011) to describe the way we develop understandings of the world in terms of 'metaphorical' processes-a notion that goes deeper than the common linguisticconceptual usage of the term in order to describe the embodiedecological and often pre-reflective (non-linguistic) processes that allow us to enact meaningful esthetic experiences through the development of cross-modal relations (Eitan and Granot, 2006;Eitan and Timmers, 2010; see also Croom, 2012). Such insights are further supported by a range of research in neuroscience that has demonstrated how cognitive-esthetic potentials depend on the basic bodily systems that allow us to maintain a state of wellbeing and that constitute the most fundamental ways we become aware of and involved with the world-i.e., metabolism, basic reflexes, the immune system, pain and pleasure responses, basic drives, emotions, and feelings (Di Paolo, 2005;Thompson, 2007;Barbaras, 2010; see also Damasio, 1994Damasio, , 1999Damasio, , 2003LeDoux, 2002). ...
... These, he argues, are grounded in the basic logics of space, time and movement that, via the crossmodal, metaphorical and embodied nature of human cognition, give rise to the fundamental ways we get involved with music within the physical, social, and cultural ecologies we inhabit. Thus, as Johnson (2007) suggests, we would do better to describe musical experience first in embodied-ecological terms such as 'moving music, ' 'moving times, ' 'musical landscape, ' and 'music as moving force'; or image schemas that describe paths of motion (e.g., source-path-goal; Johnson, 1987;Lakoff and Johnson, 2003; see also Croom, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Forthcoming in Frontiers in Psychology (Music and the embodied mind: A jam session for theorists on musical improvisation, instrumental self-extension, and the biological and social basis of music and well-being) The enactive approach to cognition is developed in the context of music and music education. I discuss how this embodied point of view affords a relational and bio-cultural perspective on music that decentres the Western focus on language, symbol and representation as the foundations of cognition and meaning. I then explore how this 'life-based' approach to cognition and meaning-making offers a welcome alternative to standard Western academic approaches to music education. More specifically, I consider how the enactive perspective may aid in developing deeper ecological understandings of the transformative, extended and interpenetrative nature of the embodied musical mind; and thus help (re)connect students and teachers to the lived experience of their own learning and teaching. Following this, I examine related concepts associated with Buddhist psychology in order to develop possibilities for a contemplative music pedagogy. To conclude, I consider how an enactive-contemplative perspective may help students and teachers awaken to the possibilities of music education as ontological education. That is, through a deeper understanding of 'music as a manifestation of life' rediscover their primordial nature as autopoietic and world-making creatures and thus engage more deeply with musicality as a means of forming richer and more compassionate relationships with their peers, their communities and the 'natural' and cultural worlds they inhabit.
... 363). In other words, in order for a highly practiced musical skill like improvised saxophone performance to become represented in the implicit system of a musical agent's knowledge base, and thus capable of being implemented by a musical agent without interference from their explicit system during occasions of flow experience, a sufficient amount of musical skill must first be acquired by that musical agent through a substantive (though not excessive) amount of deliberate musical practice and the accumulation of the relevant sensory-motor integration that it results in (see also Croom, 2012b, pp. 98–101, 2014; De Manzano, Theorell, Harmat, & Ullen, 2010; Dietrich, 2004; Ericsson et al., 1993). ...
... (p. 133) As a result, since engagement or flow can contribute to psychological well-being (see also Carli et al., 1988; Croom, 2012b, 2014; Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990, 2000; De Manzano et al., 2010; Dietrich, 2004; Engeser, 2012; Ericsson et al., 1993; Hymer, 1984; Nakamura, 1988; Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002, 2009; Rich, 2013; Seligman, 2010, 2011; Shernoff & Csikszentmihalyi, 2009; Strati et al., 2011; Wells, 1988), and since several studies have indeed suggested that music practice and participation can contribute to engagement or flow experience (see also Bakker, 2005; De Manzano et al., 2010; Dietrich, 2004; Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994; Hymer, 1984; Pates et al., 2003; Peifer, 2012; Rogatko, 2009; Schuler, 2012), there are good grounds for asserting that music practice and participation can positively contribute to psychological well-being. This section has reviewed the recent literature on music and engagement or flow experiences to further clarify how music can function as a useful means for positively influencing engagement or flow experiences. ...
Article
Full-text available
In “Flourish,” Martin Seligman maintained that the elements of well-being consist of “PERMA: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.” Although the question of what constitutes human flourishing or psychological well-being has remained a topic of continued debate among scholars, it has recently been argued in the literature that a paradigmatic or prototypical case of human psychological well-being would largely manifest most or all of the aforementioned PERMA factors. Further, in “A Neuroscientific Perspective on Music Therapy,” Stefan Koelsch also suggested that “Music therapy can have effects that improve the psychological and physiological health of individuals,” so it seems plausible that engaging in practices of music can positively contribute to one living a more optimally flourishing life with greater psychological well-being. However, recent studies on music practice and participation have not yet been reviewed and integrated under the PERMA framework from positive psychology to further explore and explicate this possibility. This article therefore contributes to extant work by reviewing recent research on psychological well-being and music to offer support for the claim that music practice and participation can positively contribute to one living a flourishing life by positively influencing their emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.
... 245-246, 127) So it seems that a continually cultivated characteristic helps one tune into the particulars of certain kinds of situations and not blind one to them completely, as situationists suggest. In fact, it has now been wellestablished through recent empirical work from the psychology and neuroscience of perception (especially in language and music) that human sensitivities are indeed capable of development and fine-tuning through practicebased experience and perceptual learning (Hannon & Trehub 2005;Curtis & Bharucha 2009;Hyde, Lerch, Norton, Forgeard, Winner, Evans, & Schlaug 2009;Kraus, Skoe, Parbery-Clark, & Ashley 2009;Pons, Lewkowicz, Soto-Faraco, & Sebastian-Galles 2009;Schnupp, Nelken, & King 2011;Croom 2012a;Croom 2012b;Croom 2014a). For example, Poulsen, Picton, and Paus (2009) conducted a longitudinal EEG study on participants at 10 and 11.5 years of age (n = 60) and found that there was persistent maturation of the cortical mechanisms for auditory processing from childhood into middle adulthood and explained that this may result from experience-driven myelination of corticocortical and corticothalamic projections (p. ...
Article
Full-text available
For some time now moral psychologists and philosophers have ganged up on Aristotelians, arguing that results from psychological studies on the role of character-based and situation-based influences on human behavior have convincingly shown that situations rather than personal characteristics determine human behavior. In the literature on moral psychology and philosophy this challenge is commonly called the “situationist challenge,” and as Prinz (2009) has previously explained, it has largely been based on results from four salient studies in social psychology, including the studies conducted by Hartshorne and May (1928), Milgram (1963), Isen and Levin (1972), and Darley and Batson (1973). The situationist challenge maintains that each of these studies seriously challenges the plausibility of virtuous personal characteristics by challenging the plausibility of personal characteristics more generally. In this article I undermine the situationist challenge against Aristotelian moral psychology by carefully considering major problems with the conclusions that situationists have drawn from the empirical data, and by further challenging the accuracy of their characterization of the Aristotelian view. In fact I show that when properly understood the Aristotelian view is not only consistent with empirical data from developmental science but can also offer important insights for integrating moral psychology with its biological roots in our natural and social life.
... The claim here is that it is the especially strict formality with which the concept is made to apply that ensures the strict formality of its semantic or conceptual content. So for instance, concepts of chemistry that are primarily used among and so normatively regulated by a community of chemists will thereby have semantic or conceptual content that is more formal or strict than other concepts from natural language that are not so normatively regulated (for further discussion of concepts and normativity see also Croom, 2012Croom, , 2010a. In other words, the content of H 2 O is more strictly formal than the content of water because the application of H 2 O is more strictly regulated by a narrower and more specialized community than the application of water is. ...
Article
Full-text available
Coreferentialism refers to the common assumption in the literature that slurs (e.g. faggot) and descriptors (e.g. male homosexual) are coreferential expressions with precisely the same extension. For instance, Vallee (2014) recently writes that “If S is an ethnic slur in language L, then there is a non-derogatory expression G in L such that G and S have the same extension” (p. 79). The non-derogatory expression G is commonly considered the nonpejorative correlate (NPC) of the slur expression S (Hom 2008) and it is widely thought that every S has a coreferring G that possesses precisely the same extension. Yet here I argue against this widespread assumption by first briefly introducing what slurs are and then considering four sources of supporting evidence showing that slurs and descriptors are in fact not coreferential expressions with precisely the same extension. I argue that since slurs and descriptors differ in their extension they thereby differ in their meaning or content also. This article additionally introduces the notion of a conceptual anchor in order to adequately account for the relationship between slurs and descriptors actually evidenced in the empirical data, and further considers the inadequacy of common dictionary definitions of slurs. This article therefore contributes to the literature on slurs by demonstrating that previous accounts operating on the assumption that slurs and descriptors are coreferential expressions with the same extension, and that they thereby have the same meaning or content, are inconsistent with empirical data and that an alternative account in accord with Croom (2011, 2013a, 2014b) better fits the facts concerning their actual meaning and use.
... Instead, we learned to seek out the position from which the shot had been fired, to use our ears and eyes to determine the proximity of the enemies position, and to ascertain whether we were in a reasonably safe So it seems that a continually practiced characteristic helps one tune into the particulars of certain kinds of situations, not blind one to them completely, as situationists suggest. In fact, it has now been well-established through recent empirical work, especially in language (Kuhl, Stevens, Hayashi, Deguchi, Kiritani, & Iverson, 2006;Kuhl & Rivera-Gaxiola, 2008;Pons, Lewkowicz, Soto-Faraco, & Sebastian-Galles, 2009) and music perception (Hannon & Trehub, 2005;Curtis & Bharucha, 2009;Hyde, Lerch, Norton, Forgeard, Winner, Evans, & Schlaug, 2009;Kraus, Skoe, Parbery-Clark, & Ashley, 2009;Schnupp, Nelken, & King, 2011), that human sensitivities are indeed capable of development and fine-tuning through experience, a process often referred to in the literature as perceptual learning (see also Croom, 2010;Croom, 2012a;Croom, 2012b). 8 ...
Article
Full-text available
This article provides a critical analysis of the situationist challenge against Aristotelian moral psychology. It first outlines the details and results from four paradigmatic studies in psychology that situationists have heavily drawn upon in their critique of the Aristotelian conception of virtuous characteristics, including studies conducted by Hartshorne and May (1928), Darley and Batson (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 27:100-108, 1973), Isen and Levin (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 21:384-388, 1972), and Milgram (Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67:371-378, 1963). It then presents ten problems with the way situationists have used these studies to challenge Aristotelian moral psychology. After challenging the situationists on these grounds, the article then proceeds to challenge the situationist presentation of the Aristotelian conception, showing that situationists have provided an oversimplified caricature of it that goes against the grain of much Aristotelian text. In evaluating the situationist challenge against the actual results from empirical research as well as primary Aristotelian text, it will be shown that the situationist debate has advanced both an extreme, untenable view about the nature of characteristics and situations, as well as an inaccurate presentation of the Aristotelian view.
Article
Full-text available
The question of what constitutes and facilitates mental health or psychological well-being has remained of great interest to martial artists and philosophers alike, and still endures to this day. Although important questions about well-being remain, it has recently been argued in the literature that a paradigmatic or prototypical case of human psychological well-being would characteristically consist of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. Other scholarship has also recently suggested that martial arts practice may positively promote psychological well-being, although recent studies on martial arts have not yet been reviewed and integrated under the PERMA framework from positive psychology to further explore and explicate this possibility. This article therefore contributes to the literature by reviewing recent work on psychological well-being and martial arts to determine whether there is substantive support for the claim that practicing martial arts can positively contribute to one flourishing with greater psychological well-being.
Article
Full-text available
In Flourish, the positive psychologist Seligman (2011) identifies five commonly recognized factors that are characteristic of human flourishing or well-being: (1) "positive emotion," (2) "relationships," (3) "engagement," (4) "achievement," and (5) "meaning" (p. 24). Although there is no settled set of necessary and sufficient conditions neatly circumscribing the bounds of human flourishing (Seligman, 2011), we would mostly likely consider a person that possessed high levels of these five factors as paradigmatic or prototypical of human flourishing. Accordingly, if we wanted to go about the practical task of actually increasing our level of well-being, we ought to do so by focusing on practically increasing the levels of the five factors that are characteristic of well-being. If, for instance, an activity such as musical engagement can be shown to positively influence each or all of these five factors, this would be compelling evidence that an activity such as musical engagement can positively contribute to one's living a flourishing life. I am of the belief that psychological research can and should be used, not only to identify and diagnose maladaptive psychological states, but identify and promote adaptive psychological states as well. In this article I advance the hypothesis and provide supporting evidence for the claim that musical engagement can positively contribute to one's living a flourishing life. Since there has not yet been a substantive and up-to-date investigation of the possible role of music in contributing to one's living a flourishing life, the purpose of this article is to conduct this investigation, thereby bridging the gap and stimulating discussion between the psychology of music and the psychology of well-being.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of harmonic expectancy violations on emotions. Subjective response measures for tension and emotionality, as well as electrodermal activity (EDA) and heart rate (HR), were recorded from 24 subjects (12 musicians and 12 nonmusicians) to observe the effect of expectancy violations on subjective and physiological measures of emotions. In addition, an electro-encephalogram was recorded to observe the neural correlates for detecting these violations. Stimuli consisted of three matched versions of six Bach chorales, which differed only in terms of one chord (harmonically either expected, unexpected or very unexpected). Musicians' and nonmusicians' responses were also compared. Tension, overall subjective emotionality, and EDA increased with an increase in harmonic unexpectedness. Analysis of the event-related potentials revealed an early negativity (EN) for both the unexpected and the very unexpected harmonies, taken to reflect the detection of the unexpected event. The EN in response to very unexpected chords was significantly larger in amplitude than the EN in response to merely unexpected harmonic events. The ENs did not differ in amplitude between the two groups but peaked earlier for musicians than for nonmusicians. Both groups also showed a P3 component in response to the very unexpected harmonies, which was considerably larger for musicians and may reflect the processing of stylistic violations of Western classical music.
Article
Full-text available
Non-cognitivists claim that thick concepts can be disentangled into distinct descriptive and evaluative components and that since thick concepts have descriptive shape they can be mastered independently of evaluation. In Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following, John McDowell uses Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations to show that such a non-cognitivist view is untenable. In this paper I do several things. I describe the non-cognitivist position in its various forms and explain its driving motivations. I then explain McDowell's argument against non-cognitivism and the Wittgensteinian considerations upon which it relies, because this has been sufficiently misunderstood by critics and rarely articulated by commentators. After clarifying McDowell's argument against non-cognitivism, I extend the analysis to show that commentators of McDowell have failed to appreciate his argument and that critical responses have been weak. I argue against three challenges posed to McDowell, and show that the case of thick concepts should lead us to reject non-cognitivism.
Article
Values of Beauty discusses major ideas and figures in the history of aesthetics from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. The core of the book features Paul Guyer's most recent essays on the epochal contribution of Immauel Kant, and sets Kant's work in the context of predecessors, contemporaries, and successors including David Hume, Alexander Gerard, Archibald Alison, Arthur Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill All of the essays emphasize the complexity rather than isolation of our aesthetic experience of both nature and art; and the interconnection of aesthetic values such as beauty and sublimity on the one hand, and prudential and moral values on the other. Guyer emphasizes that the idea of the freedom of the imagination as the key to both artistic creation and aesthetic experience has been a common thread throughout the modern history of aesthetics, although the freedom of the imagination has been understood and connected to other forms of freedom in a variety of ways.