At The Brooklyn Rail
, philosopher Alva Noë offers this brief essay
on criticism, relying on Dewey to push back on now fashionable neuro-scientific views of aesthetic experience.
"The connoisseur or critic, crucially, is not a measuring instrument, a
kind of authorship- or value-detector. Rather, they are bent on seeing,
and seeing is not mere detection. Unlike detecting, seeing is not
instantaneous, nor is it all or nothing or once and for all. Seeing is
itself thoroughly critical; it is thoughtful and it is contextual.
Stanley Cavell captures this idea when he explains that what
distinguishes the critic is not that he or she can discern qualities
that you cannot, but rather that, in discerning them, the critic can
give you the means to discern them as well. Criticism is less an art of
discrimination than it is a discipline of accounting for what one sees;
it is a practice of making it intelligible to oneself and another. Critics make sense, and they give you the tools you need to make sense too. Critics don’t just see, they teach us how to see."
Labels: Alva Noë, Critics, philosophy