Mind and Art: An Essay on the Varieties of Expression

Mind and Art: An Essay on the Varieties of Expression

Guy Sircello
Copyright Date: 1972
Pages: 367
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  • Book Info
    Mind and Art: An Essay on the Varieties of Expression
    Book Description:

    Guy Sircello's analysis of the varieties of expression and his use of them to justify a particular view of the human mind clarify a number of controversial topics in contemporary philosophy, among them the notion of "artistic acts," language as expression, the expression of ideas, expressions as "natural signs," and the nature of the causal relationship between an expression and what is expressed.

    Originally published in 1978.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6871-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
    G. S.
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    Expression is a characteristically Romantic idea, and understandably so. A notion held by many of the artists, critics, and philosophers of the Romantic Period is that the mind is an original source of human action and its products and perhaps even of Nature itself.¹ This idea contrasts with the typical seventeenth- or eighteenth-century view of the mind and its workings, of human acts and their products, as being derived, in a variety of ways, from non-mental Nature. According to the latter view, for example, ideas are copies of things, the intellect is a reflection of the world, art is an...

  5. chapter one Expressive Properties of Art
    (pp. 16-46)

    Romantic ideas about mind and its relation to art did not receive their clearest expression until the twentieth century. Then philosophers like Croce, Collingwood, Cassirer, Dewey, and Langer tried to spell out exactly how it is that art can be expressive. But to many other twentieth-century philosophers, especially to those working in the various “analytical” styles whose intellectual ancestry was anything but Romantic, those philosophical discussions of expression in art were puzzling. This puzzlement can best be seen in the work of Monroe Beardsley and O. K. Bouwsma, philosophers who represent two distinct strains in recent analytical philosophy.

    I think...

  6. chapter two The Mind in Art
    (pp. 47-87)

    The Canonical Position implies that the range of phenomena which the Expression Theory could reasonably seek to accommodate is no more extensive than the range of cases in which anthropomorphic predicates are applicable to works of art. In the present chapter I shall argue that that assumption is wrong. In particular I shall show that there are what I shall call “subjective factors” in works of art, which, like artistic acts, are not describable independently of the work but which, unlike artistic acts, are not describable in terms predicated of the work. “Subjective factors” is an ugly phrase that I...

  7. chapter three Language and Expression
    (pp. 88-131)

    The results of the preceding two chapters suggest two points: (1) the question of expression in art cannot be separated from an inquiry into expression in general; and (2) a general study of expression encompasses many forms of culture, such as language, science, historiography, and philosophy, some of which are not ordinarily considered in the least expressive. This chapter will argue in support of these points.

    As the preceding chapters brought out, there are certain features about works of art which make these works characteristic products of persons with certain emotions, feelings, attitudes, qualities of mind, personalities, temperaments, or moral...

  8. chapter four Expressing the Objective World
    (pp. 132-155)

    There is an old use of “expression,” now almost entirely extinct, which relates the term to art, particularly to sculpture and painting. According to this use, a work does not express feelings, attitudes, moods, characteristics, etc., which are possessed by its maker or which can seem to be possessed by its maker. Rather, statues or paintings of people can be said to “express” parts of the body or features of the face belonging to the sculpted or depictedsubjects.Likewise, artists can express persons in bronze or in stone; or they can express flesh or the texture of cloth in...

  9. chapter five The Expression of Ideas
    (pp. 156-181)

    One of the commonest ways of using “expression” and its cognates is to speak of a person expressing his ideas on a subject, his judgment of a person, his views on an issue, his opinions or beliefs on a topic. This sort of expression is done by making some sort of statement in a language or by doing what can be construed as a statement, such as nodding, raising one’s hand or groaning. Moreover, the ideas, beliefs, views, etc. which are expressed are always describable in propositional form. That is to say, they are describable as, e.g., the ideathat...

  10. chapter six Signs and Expressions
    (pp. 182-206)

    Let us take stock of what the preceding chapters have and have not shown. In the first place, all of the preceding discussion has presumed that there is a class of human acts, gestural, “facial,” and vocal, which are indisputable examples of expressions. Thus shaking one’s fist can be an expression of anger, smiling can be an expression of joy, shrieking can be an expression of anguish. Correspondingly, the shake of the fist expresses anger, the smile expresses joy, the shriek expresses anguish. I further presumed that although there is no shake of the fist without a shaker, the shake...

  11. chapter seven Causation and Expression
    (pp. 207-237)

    In arguing that to be an expression ofx’sFis not necessarily to be a sign ofx’s F, I have, I trust, uncovered some interesting features about expressions. But a major issue has still not really been settled, namely, whether an expression is a sort of natural sign. For it is still possible to maintain that in spite of the way the term “sign” is used with respect to expressions, an expression relates to what it expresses as a natural sign relates to what it signifies. In other words the “sign theory” of expressions can be construed as...

  12. chapter eight Showing and Expressing
    (pp. 238-264)

    The strategy of this chapter will be to bring forth a number of different uses of “show” in order to discover by comparison and contrast the way in which the concept functions with respect to expressions.

    There is a common use of “show” according to which it means, roughly, “display.” At agricultural fairs, for example, exhibits have become common in which the various stages of a chicken’s development inside the egg is described and depicted in a sequence of display windows containing eggs at designated stages. In the penultimate display window are eggs just ready to hatch; some of them...

  13. chapter nine The Romantic Mind Triumphant
    (pp. 265-300)

    As we showed in Chapter Eight, among the cases of showing which are not cases of expression, there is none which manifests a causal relation between what is shown and that in which it is shown. Apparently, trying to find the way in which expression is causal by analyzing the notion of “showing” has led to a dead end. More seriously, though, the analysis has evidently led to an absurdity. For it seems that the way in which an expression shows what it expresses not only leaves the causal aspects of expression obscure but makes us doubt that there can...

  14. chapter ten Self-Expression
    (pp. 301-339)

    The so-called “problem of the self” has been closely connected, historically, with questions concerning the nature of mind. We should therefore expect a theory of mind, especially one which concerns itself with feelings, attitudes, emotions, and mental qualities, to have implications for the idea of “self.” This is especially true of a theory of mind based upon the concept of expression, for it is the self which is frequently spoken of, in a variety of idioms, as “expressed.” These facts alone would be sufficient reasons for discussing the concept of self-expression at this point. There are, however, more interesting reasons....

  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 340-342)
  16. Index
    (pp. 343-349)