Ways of Unworlding: Against Aesthetic Inferentialism
Keywords:aesthetics, semantics, Nelson Goodman, worldmaking, conceptual art, concept horror
I consider and support two claims about aesthetic experience: 1) that it involves encounters with a reality that is not conceptualized via such encounters; 2) that it can generate ruptures in established norms or in the production of shared worlds. This thesis is developed in the teeth of contemporary rationalist inhumanisms that draw on Nelson Goodman’s cognitivist aesthetics and his irrealist account of ‘worldmaking’ to translate the logical insights of inferentialism (or conceptual role semantics) into an aesthetics oriented towards concept-laden practices and their revision through the techniques of experimental art. I employ Derrida’s iterability argument to show that inferentialism presupposes a realist metaphysics that treats repetition and event individuation as independent of constitutive rules, conceptual schemes or ‘world versions’; indicating one way in which aesthetic material remains outside of, even recalcitrant to, the conceptual order. The aesthetic implications of this metaphysics of undecidable events are further explored by considering Jean-Pierre Caron’s recent discussion of Henry Flynt’s idea of ‘constitutive dissociations’ and, finally, the concept as, ambivalently, victim or suicide in the experimental horror of Gary Shipley’s novel Warewolff! and my own Snuff Memories.
Author(s): David Roden
Title (English): Ways of Unworlding: Against Aesthetic Inferentialism
Journal Reference: Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 18, No. 1-2 (2021).
Publisher: Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities - Skopje
Page Range: 54-64
Page Count: 11
Citation (English): David Roden, “Ways of Unworlding: Against Aesthetic Inferentialism,” Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 18, No. 1-2 (2021): 54-64.
David Roden, Open University
David Roden’s research has addressed the relationship between deconstruction and analytic philosophy, philosophical naturalism, the metaphysics of sound and posthumanism. His monograph Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human (New York, 2014) explores the ethical and epistemological ramifications of Speculative Posthumanism: the thesis that there could be agents originating in human social-technical systems that become posthuman as a result of some technological alteration of their powers. His current work considers posthumanist theories of agency and their implications for aesthetics and philosophical method. Roden also writes experimental fiction and concept horror works. His experimental novella SnuffMemories is published by Schism Press (2021).
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