Goodman’s Aesthetics: Nominalistic or Non-nominalistic? Abstract

Document Type : Scientific-research


Allameh Tabataba'i University assistant professor


In 1956, Nelson Goodman offers a theory of mereological nominalism, according to which there is nothing but concrete individuals.  This paper examines the relation of aesthetics to nominalism in Goodman’s philosophy and shows that Goodman’s aesthetics is a nominalist aesthetics.  This claim is justified by exploring Goodman’s theories of ‘definition of art’, ‘artwork’s content’, and ‘value of art’:  (1) in the problem of definition, art is defined by some syntactical and semantic features of works of art.  But, these features are not essential parts; (2) in the problem of content, in the case of representation of universals and non-existents and in the case of expression, it does not suppose an ontological realm, but world of individuals as the referent of artworks.  But, works of art still refer to individuals; (3) in the problem of value, although cognition – as artistic value – is common among all works of art and their relation is intrinsic, it is not unique to art.  Hence, this cannot be an essential function of art.  That Goodman’s aesthetics does not violate nominalism is itself the result of that Goodman’s theory of symbols, in which Goodman solves the aesthetic problems, does not violate nominalism.


Main Subjects

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