Paisley Livingston: "On Testimony and Acquaintance in Aesthetics"

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Paisley Livingston, Lingnan University: "On Testimony and Acquaintance in Aesthetics"

Various philosophers who allow that in many domains testimony is an indispensable source of evidence maintain that with regard to important, properly aesthetic topics, reliance on testimony cannot take the place of first-hand experience or acquaintance. In this vein, Richard Wollheim influentially defended what he called ‘the acquaintance principle’ in aesthetics, which makes acquaintance a necessary condition on adequate aesthetic judgements. In this talk I will identify significantly different kinds of acquaintance principles in the literature and discuss their shortcomings. I focus in particular on an argument that Frank Sibley developed in his defense of a strong, epistemic acquaintance principle. I propose an alternative to the various principles discussed in the talk.

Paisley Livingston is professor emeritus of Philosophy at Lingnan University and visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. His area of specialisation is aesthetics. Recent papers focus on the James-Lange theory of emotion, the nature of creativity, and aspects of cinematic narration.