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Edited by ROBERT J. YANAL Pennsylvania State U. P. 1992. pp. 191. Paperbound, 14.95[pounds].
EACH OF these two volumes commemorates the work of a major contemporary aesthetician: both aestheticians have been associated (at least in someone's mind) with institutional theories/ accounts of art, and each volume contains a bibliography of the works of its subject. Further, there are topics and presenters in common between these volumes (Dickie writes in the one for Danto!). But there similarities end. For the Danto Festschrift is one of a series of parallel design and presentation, and includes replies by Danto. Also, although few of its eleven papers have nothing to say to the aesthetician, within them is included discussion of topics not of direct interest to readers of this journal, reflecting the variety of Danto's oeuvre (philosophies of mind, action and history, as well as philosophical method, occur here as well as mention of Danto's books on Nietzsche and Sartre). By contrast, Dickie's output (as represented by the bibliography) seems confined to aesthetics: certainly, the nine papers in the volume concentrate there. From among the assembled riches, here I can only consider briefly some of the interesting papers in each volume, focusing on similarities of theme.
The Dickie volume is organized in three sections, reconsiderations (respectively) of the institutional theory, of the evaluation of art, and the history of aesthetics. From this last section, I would especially single out Peter Kivy's `From literature as imagination to literature as memory', discussing (arguable) parallels between changes in the account offered for literature. The second section is concerned with themes from Dickie's Evaluating Art (Temple University Press, 1988): in particular, with his matrix or `grid' method for ranking/evaluating . artworks. `Once it is decided which particular aesthetic or cognitive properties [of the works of art] are to be assessed, Dickie proposes assigning numerical values to these properties in order to rank them' (p. 94). The results are then displayed in a grid.
The adequacy of this method is challenged here in two ways: first, Peggy Zeglin Brand (`Evaluating art: a feminist case for Dickie's matrix system') displays--through detailed consideration of two paintings--difficulties in taking seriously the outcomes of Dickie's methods if one is restricted to his categories. If this really is a case for Dickie's system, I should hate to read a case against it. Then, Marcia Muelder Eaton (`Evaluating more than art') considers how the system might be applied to `landscape values' (p. 110). She concludes, charitably, `a great deal of work remains to be done before Dickie's ranking method can get us to a public aesthetic policy' (p. 123).
Perhaps the most interesting paper in this volume is contributed by Noel Carroll (`Identifying art'). Writing `[a]s a student of George Dickie's' (p. 3), and accepting Dickie's points about `the importance of social context for the prospect of identifying art' (p. 4), Carroll claims `art is not identified by definitions, institutional or otherwise, but by narratives' (p. 4). The (psychological?) need for an identification of what is and what is not art is introduced. Here Carroll attributes to Stanley Cavell the recognition of `tine modern audience's fear that it might be the butt of a continuously floating confidence game' (p. 5). We should note, Carroll urges, that:
. . . the question `What …