Philosophy Looks at the Arts

Philosophy Looks at the Arts

Philosophy Looks at the Arts

Philosophy Looks at the Arts

Excerpt

Contemporary philosophy is often accused of a certain unbecoming levity. Many people, to come at once to cases, are nonplussed to find philosophers cheerfully waiving their professional right to decide issues of right and wrong and public policy. I remember discussing some poems with a very charming lady who deferred to me somewhere in our conversation with an "Of course, as an aesthetician, you probably don't think these poems very good." I am reasonably sure she took my answer--"In a way, my opinion doesn't count"--to be a nice attempt at tact. I was of course trying to say something about the professional competence of aestheticians and not to hide my view of the poetry. Had she suspected, however, she might (much as people do with a philosopher's interest in moral and religious issues) have expressed some concern about the seriousness and importance of philosophy, the professional duty and public responsibility of philosophers.

Now, it is quite true that philosophers, at the present time, particularly those professionals associated with American and British universities, neither feel obliged nor qualified to decide the sort of issue mentioned. It is of . . .

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