8 (2005), Nr.2/June




„Give me a break.“ The Goodman Debate on the aesthetics online server, January to April 2005, 52112 Zeichen.





The Martian I am comes late at a time when the earth has dried out and, for miraculous reasons, one of the computers I can find that’s still working shelters data under the label „aesthetics-on-line“. My particular interest is drawn to a voluminous collection of letters spanning a period of several decades of early 21st century. Miraculously, with constantly growing interest I stumble repeatedly over two characters that obviously form an acronyme: LA. It can’t be nothing else than the West Coast town named after Spanish „angeles“ and effaced long since, I mean, Los Angeles. Well, quite wrong! It reveals to be the short form of a book called „Languages of Art“ whose author is Nelson Goodman.


I start with a letter a guy called William Conger wrote. He had obviously suggested the whole debate with writing: „We should go through his Languages chapter by chapter“ and, after some exchange on technique and its relevance to art under the heading „No Gombrich, Yes Goodman“ he suggests „that we each, active listers,“ - non-active listers keeping non-active - „take one chapter and provide a brief summary explanation, starting with chapter 1. Kate? Wanna start?“ (5 Feb 2005 08:16:03) No. It is Alexei Procyshyn who will do so, though only at the final stage of the discussion.


Copies of the book. Reluctance with Allan and Sullivan. Do they want the „whole“ book? the notation all in one? Derek Allan (in the thread misleadingly called „No Gombrich, Yes Goodman“): Gombrich traditionally representational, dated psychology, hidden critical Berenson. „But moving on to Goodman, I would like to discuss ‘Languages of Art’ chapter by chapter as you suggest but I will first have to borrow a copy from the library. I’ll let you know when I’ve got one. I hope Bob Cantrick – and any one else who wants to – will join in.“ (6 Feb 2005 12:44:39) Why doesn’t he own a copy anyway? Like Kate Sullivan disappointingly tells: „I have to go and find the book first. Chapter one is probably the simplest, so yes, I would prefer that one, unless I'm wrong and some other chapter is easier to precis.“ („No Gombrich, Yes Goodman7 Feb 2005 22:55:07) Is Goodman’s not one of the three most important American books on aesthetics and every aesthetics online lister supposed to have a copy at disposal. Also, as we know, it’s the last chapter of the book that is introductory and has been widely anthologized. After comparably long five days Sullivan tells us that „I have now managed to borrow a copy of 'Languages of Art'“ (12 Feb 2005 16:59:06) and even reports progress two days later: „I am acquiring a copy of language and Art which should arrive soon.“ (14 Feb 2005 13:36:53) What a considerable effort to get hold of a material book in internet times! I have also a problem with the participants’ not minding secondary literature - for instance Chris Miller on the significance of „a non-distinguishable copy [...] and what about a contemporary painter like Sol LeWitt -- who writes scores for paintings that others will paint“ could have mentioned that Kirk Pillow discussed the question „Did Goodman's Distinction Survive LeWitt?“ in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 61 (2003), pages 365-381 (27 Jan 2005 11:40:10). Kelly brings in at one of the very few times a third person, Thomas Mitchell, probably W.J.T. Mitchell (8 Mar 2005 07:17:48).


There has been some humor, for instance when Derek Allan sphinxicly replies to Frances Kelly’s terminology. „'Phaneron' fascinates me. Sounds like something out of 'Star Wars'.“ (Tue, 15 Feb 2005 09:09:54). In general, the sound of the discussion is refreshing, like a phone talk, conversational. It confirms that electronic mail originated by means of telephone modems well before internet mail became possible on a large scale. I imagine Robert Cantrick virtually phoning up Derek Allan with the conversation later deposited in our „voice“ boxes. For better or worse, there is no duty to respond. Somehow can be watched in slow motion what happens in a philosophical café, the discussion happenings that Marc Augé invented. The philosophical café and the mailing list - that makes already two new forms that emerged in the history of philosophical discourse only in two decades.


Humanly, all too humanly, the debate here included less noble behavior like cunning: „I admit that I mis-quoted you, but I also admit that I was not entirely innocent. I wanted to find out whether you know LANGUAGES OF ART by reading it yourself or whether you know it from reading what someone else has said about it.“ (Robert Cantrick on 18 Feb 2005 02:21:02) Or a long message provided by Frances Kelly (18 Feb 2005 18:03:51) with a following short one by her and without response immediately after in this thread by Derek Allan (19 Feb 2005 19:06:03). Yet Kelly responded to the latter as if there had happened nothing (19 Feb 2005 09:51:07). This is not really new. It was not even new when encounter groups started to let live it.


Or, Bob Cantrick is once more suspicious of second hand information: „No, you have it completely wrong. The distinction made by Goodman's 5 criteria is the distinction between what is a work of art and what isn't. The distinction is not between one individual work of art and another individual work of art“ (19 Feb 2005 18:57:20). This is not entirely correct because Goodman here refers to the aesthetic and not to the work of art. It seems to be difficult to take appropriate distance to conversation participants when Robert Cantrick praises Kelly because of her acquaintance with Goodman’s book „Structure of Appearance“ and feels the urge of saying: „Well, after that bouquet what can I throw at you now? I do have some questions“ (19 Feb 2005 21:16:14).


Derek Allan plays the advocate’s devil, the badman vs. Goodman. He is provocative, aggressive or at least ironical in several contexts and respects. For example: „I think it is a bit unfair that you are the only one who is coming to the defence of Goodman. (Well, Kate has now joined in …) I thought Goodman was a bit of an icon in the world of aesthetics. Is there no-one else to plead his cause? Or do we have so few readers of this list?“ (27 Feb 2005 19:52:25) Or those nice (characteristics of) „bloopers“ ascribed to Goodman (Allan 26 Feb 2005 18:44:25)! An exchange between Kelly and Allan reveals some unserious treatment by Allan. Kelly pockets criticism though he is not wrong criticizing her: „Why use two or three words when one will do? ('genuine and original and authentic'… ‘a forge [forgery?] or fake or fraud’ ….’ fooled or tricked’). It wears the reader out.“ (22 Mar 2005 09:23:19)


Cantrick is hardly fairer to her with saying „You say: ‘Even if aesthetic objects of humanal art are ... in some sort of linguistic language as Goodman insists.’ Now, this is a flat contradiction of what Goodman says. What Goodman says is that works of art are symbols in a NON-LINGUISTIC system“ and claiming she only read a „second-hand account of LA“ (23 Mar 2005 21:33:52). Sublimation in scientific discourse does not work as politely as it used to do. Aggression, impatience, subjectivity - yes, it’s a mailing list! - take over. The will is weak to obey discursive rules. The result may be the „uneasy feeling I’m talking to myself“ (Derek Allan on 8 Mar 2005 18:06:43).


To profile Allan with Allan himself „what a generous and kind-hearted soul I am“ (3 Mar 2005 11:50:56) or with Cantrick who credits him with „taking aesthetics seriously“ (27 Feb 2005 05:18:16). It will not help. A month later Cantrick’s settling-day re Allan takes place: „I am delighted to hear you say that you are going to drop out of the thread on Goodman.“ (31 Mar 2005 06:24:33) There are others who keep being skeptical toward Nelson Goodman, a „very theoretical fellow“ who remains „a question mark“ (Armando Baeza on 2 Mar 2005 16:20:14 and 14 Mar 2005 20:08:25).


ontology, reality


According to Cantrick the main point is - and with saying this already signaling a debate emerging from the thread „conger's evasion“ - the „five syntactic and semantic requirements for symbolizing [...] theory of notation.“ (28 Jan 2005 02:30:39). Three weeks later Cantrick involuntarily highlights one of the underlying tasks of such a theory: „If I have misrepresented Goodman by implying that his theory of notation is about ontology, then that would be unfortunate“, ontology in the sense of „what exists and what doesn't exist“ (19 Feb 2005 19:15:33). Well, doesn’t Goodman himself say in a differenciated way that existence - in the sense of compliance - is a matter of extension? (LA, 144) Pondering what ontology has to do with reality seems all the more to be inevitable since an invocation of the pictorial and literary arts’ stylistic feature of realism is readily at hand. Cantrick: „I do have some questions. One of them concerns the issue: realism vs. anti-realism. Another concerns the aesthetic vs. the artistic. [...] So far, so good -- in re LA. The theory of notation is such a systematic description. There is no question of ontology at all. There is, rather, a question of language. Insofar, this might be construed as a Peircian theory. However, it is not at all clear to me that Peirce distinguished what signs signify from what WORLD signs signify. To assume that there is only one world which signs signify is to ignore the 20th-century literature on anti-realism.“ (19 Feb 2005 21:16:14). Kelly who is addressed by Cantrick proposes an idealist realism with Peirce focused on sense, but without psychologism (24 Feb 2005 07:42:28). Yet Cheerskep is a bit right with cautioning against a discussion of isms, especially realism: „I would die semi-happy if all the listers following the current Goodman topic on our forum were to see that it's not a dispute about the "is-ness" or "no is-ness" of "art". It's a wrangle about what we should CALL art.“ (23 Feb 2005 14:52:32)


symbol, not sign


Everybody who watched the debate knows that until the end Derek Allan did not leave off reproaching Goodman that he had not defined „symbol“, nor distinguished sign and symbol (30 Mar 2005 17:31:54). Allan hears Goodman still „talking about ‘symbols’, ‘symbolization’ etc with nothing more substantial to define the terms than the non-definition in the Introduction“ (27 Feb 2005 11:57:34). He further wants to know how to get from symbols to art, more precisely, to art works, for instance when „“symbols are works of art in the world”“ (27 Feb 2005 19:52:25). What, however, if we assumed or even more, interpreted „Languages of Art“ as an overall attempt implicitly defining „symbol“ in terms of art languages? Maybe, Allan is too impatient with connecting a definition of symbol with a theory of art and demanding from Goodman to immediately say what art is a representation or expression OF! Bob Cantrick is appropriately strict: „Until you understand this distinction <„ that the world is the reality which concepts are OF [and] that the world is the reality which symbols MAKE“>, you cannot move on. For moving on will not be constructive. Any further comments that you make will be irrelevant.“ (27 Feb 2005 05:18:16)


With an eye on sense Frances Kelly summarizes with Goodman as had already done Cantrick: „The nonverbal "languages" of artistic objects deposit to sense or stir in sense nominal notions that are mentioned or expressed as symbolic "notations" in the "textual" form of (allographic/autographic?) "inscriptions" which may be oral or literal. [...] The grammatic structure of the symbolic "scheme" and the symbolic "system" consists of: (1) syntactic density, and (2) semantic density, and (3) syntactic repleteness, and (4) exemplification, and (5) multiple complex referability.“ (21 Feb 2005 22:23:01) She also wants to say with Kant and Goodman „that the world is merely a subjective reality which the mind makes with symbols“ - something which would well fit into a constructivist stance - . And she adds that this is „the best nineteenth century position we have on the art symbol that exists in our current century“, or: „both fiction and faction can be conditional propositions“, or: „On realist pragmatism, it with its categorics and semiotics is the best tool we now have to bridge the gap between metaphysical philosophy and empirical science.“ (28 Feb 2005 18:44:57).


Kelly more precisely: „Goodman must say this because he is a nominalist, and his symbols therefore need be reduced to lingual signs like terms. It might be best however to perhaps wait and see how the discussion by listers on Goodman will proceed, before pursuing this line of thought.“ (1 Mar 2005 07:36:45) Yet, all this does not prevent Goodman from Kelly’s vigourous criticism: „Goodman fails to make a global theory of symbolicity for art or nonart. [...] Goodman indeed fails to differentiate at least between kinds of "artistic classes" as say fine and liberal and applied or craft, and between kinds of "aesthetic experiences" as say emotional and sensible and material and technical and practical and intellectual and so on. [...] he completely misses the fact that what an original work of lofty fine art in being genuine and authentic has that others lack is the "formal power" to reflect worthy values and to evoke intense responses that might be held worthwhile as aesthetic or artistic.“ (3 Mar 2005 07:23:18) And he seems to miss „appreciating just what the material and original of the various arts really is.“ (9 Mar 2005 10:34:40) Eleven seconds later she says concerning one of the difference between the arts: „in an artwork like a painting, even the slightest change of form in a figure in a ground however will alter the feeling and "meaning" of the painted artifact, in ways that would not affect the knowing and meaning of the lettered word. The difference it seems to me could only be accounted for with a theory of iconicity and also indexicity.“ (9 Mar 2005 10:34:51)


In defence of Goodman - doesn’t he theoretically still profit from and demonstrate the formalist tradition not so much of Bell and Fry but the formalism of Frege and Russell which was a pendant to vigourous Russian formalism at the time? There is a formal power that is not so much the power of the material constituents but of the linguistic/symbolic/fomalist structure that brought the linguist turn in the theory of art. It is precisely in this that Goodman participates in the late aesthetic avant-garde that was developed and brought forward in the 1960es.


Kelly’s view is „that Goodman has a good special theory, of abstract symbols which are formally arbitrary and socially conventional, but that his analytic theory fails as a general or universal theory“ asd does his theory of metaphor that shows Goodman ending up with a „radical kind of subjective relativism“ (6 Mar 2005 10:27:16). While opting for „realist pragmatism“ which is not nominalist Kelly underlines the need „to get a historic inventory of symbols“. She thinks Goodman „is after all an extreme nominalist and holds the art symbol to be an arbitrary convention whose meaning is socially agreed upon“ (13 Mar 2005 05:23:34) whereas she is convinced that „all attributed essences and manifested substances and exemplified presences in the world are ‘seeming’ phenomena, and are sensed by normal humans as existent facts by the semiosic process of representation.“ (13 Mar 2005 05:44:10)


At one of the many times of switching to Peirce she says: „There is a reason in Peirce why he early on almost called his logic by the name "symbolic" rather than "semeiotic" which he first chose and that is now commonly called semiotics. The reason for "symbolic" was that representation and logic for him turns on signs, and symbols are the main kinds of signs used in logic. He changed his mind however when he found that logic in fact involves all kinds of signs, and not only symbols. [...] There is for me a strong covert presence of Peirce in Goodman struggling to get out. If the theory of Goodman were reframed in original Peircean thought, then perhaps a new symbolic perspective on Goodman might emerge, and even present his theory on a more global level. It is not likely however that his theory can be salvaged as a general theory from within itself without other external influences.“ (21 Mar 2005 07:44:11)


Kelly writes in „regard to the Goodman theory“ (9 Mar 2005 10:30:46). True, we want a theory. But shouldn’t we be careful with demanding a theory from a philosopher who thinks in the nominalist tradition of analytic „theory“, a tradition that rather aims at clarifying the relationship to (art) theory than constructing a theory itself. That means Goodman aims at resetting a debate on art with refocusing the analytic enterprise. Though we need not go as far as Wittgenstein who understood philosophy as a cure against theory. Locke will do, as Kate Sullivan reports (1 Mar 2005 08:40:27).


So, when Kelly obviously needs to clarify the relation to the theory of Peirce, she does so with a general interest in philosophical theory more than with a specific interest, as admittedly do others, in the aesthetics online list. She says that „sign is the genus umbrella under which any symbol should actually and properly fall as a species of sign“ (9 Mar 2005 10:34:40) as one of her „tasks here in this topic is to play an advocate for Goodman by trying to salvage his theory of art as a symbol in language. The only possible way for me to do this might be by placing his theory tentatively within a Peircean system of signage signs“ (30 Mar 2005 11:14:08). So Kelly receives response at different levels. Michael Brady (9 Mar 2005 10:39:16): „(1) You sent three messages, "Goodman," "3 Goodman," and "4 Goodman." Is there a No. 2? (2) Thank you for rediscovering the active voice and the natural cadence of the language! These messages are so much easier to read and follow.“ In a reply to Robert Cantrick Kelly who does not intend to enter a discussion on the theory of notation rather confesses: „Now, artworks are symbols supposedly in nonverbal language as Goodman speculates, which language of course does not yet exist. Furthermore, there is no such sign system as a nonlinguistic language. If signs are in a nonlinguistic system, then it is as signage and not as language. Artworks can nonetheless be symbols in nonlingual signage with no contest or problem, but this neat solution is not what Goodman is proposing. Rather, he is after a language of art.“ (24 Mar 2005 00:03:26) „Then, why do you bring it up?“, replies Cantrick with unease: „Goodman is not talking about signs. He is talking about symbols. [...] Goodman is not talking about signs. Period. Goodman is not talking about non-linguistic languages. Period. Goodman is not talking about semiotics. Period. Goodman is not talking about non-linguistic symbol systems as though the term 'non-linguistic symbol system' were a synonym for the term 'language'. Period. If a non-linguistic symbol system is not a language, what is it? It is the theory of notation in chapter 4.“ (30 Mar 2005 03:12:28)


The debate about symbol and/or sign remains unsettled until the end of the debate. Could symbol and sign be used interchangeably, as Alexei Procyshyn indicates (23 Mar 2005 21:22:07)? Or should more or less primitiveness be the distinguishing criterion, as Boris Hoshensky offers: „This is my take on understanding the difference between ‘sign’ and ‘symbol’ as Goodman sees it, but I may be wrong and I am sure you will correct me. “Symbol” in art is a complex of signs similar to the relation of molecule to atom. There is molecular biology, but no ‘atomic’ biology because atom can’t be ‘organic.’ The same in art we have ‘symbolism’, but no ‘signism’.“ (8 Mar 2005 22:47:28) Or is the task of „Languages of Art. An Approach to a Theory of Symbols“ to develop a philosophy of language focused on the arts - prompting Goodman to step from language to languages - before we can have a concept of the symbol. This is what Kate Sullivan observes: „The first paragraph of the introduction says that the objective is an approach to a general theory of symbols. It is possible that Goodman felt after the theory was conceived was a better time to define symbol.“ (26 Feb 2005 20:06:56) In fact, much of „Languages of Art“ reads, under the auspices of constructive nominalism, like a conversion of what is spreaded in Goodman’s „The Structure of Appearance“ for different aims.


Or does „symbol“ remain a foreign body to the philosophy of language as well as the philosophy of art altogether?


What ought to be said is that we should distinguish „symbol“ and „sign“ - with Goodman. For tactical and much more strategically subterranean reasons he says symbol, but often means sign. Obviously he wants to steer against a tradition that does not exist as simply as sometimes understood. Peirce (icon, symbol, index), Collingwood (representation), Morris (sign), Langer (symbolization) - the semiotic, the expressionist, the analytic, the symbolist tradition? Certainly not one single tradition alone. Leave alone what is or has become of the Lacanian symbolic, the art movement symbolism, Hegel’s symbolic art form (the natural forms of an oriental and Egyptian art of sublimity). Also „symbol“ is close to „sign“ because of a technological aspect invisible but at hands in Goodman’s approach. Art works could - „letters, words, texts, pictures, diagrams, maps, models“xi - be understood as products that are sign-like („zeichnerisch“) and design-like (plan/finish) produced by kinds of sign technologies.


William Conger is relaxed, with an eye on Goodman’s prehistory: „I wonder if he was influenced by Suzanne Langer who makes clear distinction between sign and symbol but feels that sign 'could' refer to both. She then adopted the term 'signal' (from Charles Morris) to keep separate the notion of simple reference to an object or situation while symbol stands for the idea (something bigger than object or situation) or conception. At any rate, I think it's ok to keep a somewhat fluid relation between signs and symbols since they require each other and thus must share some discursive traits.“ 8 Mar 2005 17:57:05) Much ado about nothing?




Ontology in a quasi evaluative sense is touched by Boris Hoshensky who maintains that the „'reality' of artwork is much richer then plain physical reality.“ (19 Feb 2005 21:25:59) Yes, true. But the richness of an artwork is achieved right away by means of Goodman’s „grammatic structure of the symbolic "scheme" and the symbolic "system" [...]: (1) syntactic density, and (2) semantic density, and (3) syntactic repleteness, and (4) exemplification, and (5) multiple complex referability“ as renders Kelly (21 Feb 2005 22:23:01). Rich and real in the sense of an ontology of symbols is what is dense and replete and what is exemplified rather than represented. With this intention of Goodman in mind we can at least understand why he hoped to sublate questions of value and judgment into questions of the arts and their cognitive efficacy and of the intrinsic value as provided by the very structure of the artwork itself (LA 109, 262).


So Chris Miller seems to miss the point when he says: „As Mothersill pointed out [...] the theory applies to matchbook covers as well as a Rembrandts -- without accounting for why one might have greater value than the other.“ (17 Feb 2005 11:59:55) Here Cantrick correctly says „that Goodman is not asking the same question as Mothersill. She is asking: what is an aesthetic judgment of an INDIVIDUAL work of art? This question is distinguished from the question: what is an aesthetic judgment of ANY work of art? In either case, the point is to distinguish what is good art from what is not. To say that Goodman's theory applies just as well to match book covers as to Rembrandts is to imply that Goodman's theory makes no aesthetic judgment at all. However, to imply this is not to discredit Goodman.“ (18 Feb 2005 03:17:12)


To which Chris Miller replies: „This inspection is not going to verify whether the match book cover could be considered a work of art -- or is even worthy of any attention at all -- but will just verify how one match book cover can be distinguished from another match book cover -- or from a Rembrandt painting -- or from any other made thing --- or from any natural thing --- is that correct ? If so -- my concern is that most of these distinctions are going to be -- as Cheerskep might put it -- 'banal' -- indeed, only a few will not be -- and how to discover and distinguish those few from the plethora of others would seem to be a more important question.“ (18 Feb 2005 11:50:06)


It is, however, to be maintained that this kind of distinctions is the basis for arriving at the aesthetic or the aesthetic difference. It does not matter whether it is art in the first place. As long as symbols are inscribed to languages/technologies, any symbolic activity is art. Of course we have the „arts“ in the conventional sense. Yet it is not a matter of (exclusion or) inclusion in the (non)meritorious sense. And for the banal - did not Arthur Danto write a whole book about the „Transfiguration du banal“ as the French title has it?


February, 24


„Be faithful to the earth!“



Those are the fourteen messages sent according to the numbers 349, 351-3, 356-63, 367, 369 as registered by the aesthetics-on-line list server on February 24, 2005 (note the different time zones):

349 09:08:47 Allan versus Cheerskep

351 10:17:41 Allan more precise (to Cheerskep)

352 12:08:53 Allan coping with Cantrick

353 02:47:14 Cantrick to Miller: “I am sorry I don't know“

356 05:09:47 Cantrick contra Allan

357 05:46:34 Hoshenski: „Alexei, you have me right 101%.“

358 16:52:12 Allan contra Cantrick

359 06:04:01 Hoshensky assists Cantrick

360 17:19:08 Allan (versus Hoshenski)

361 06:35:34 Hoshenski insists

362 07:42:28Frances to Alexei and Boris...“

363 11:08:15 Cheerskep to Procyshyn and on Kelly

367 12:20:30 „I have now got a copy of Goodman. Kate Sullivan"

369 16:21:05 Procyshyn accepting praise by Cheerskep


Given Aristotle’s three unities, could we imagine this disperse conversation in the internet - a spatial unity! - (1) of this day (2) „Re: Goodman“ (3) re-performed on a stage à la Feyerabend’s late plays? Yes. It could well form a whole act.


This is the material:

349 09:08:47 Derek Allan is skeptical toward Cheerskep (who misunderstands Goodman - who never said - that a lost painting falls out of the symbol system) saying to Cheerskep that such a kind of philosophy of art is not specific to art.

351 10:17:41 Derek Allan corrects 349: „an“ instead of „any“

352 12:08:53 Derek Allan copes with Robert Cantrick and keeps with the faith in „what the ‘reality’ or ‘world’ that is represented *is*“. He further suspects that Goodman’s dispensing with resemblance might yield more problems than it solves.

353 02:47:14 Robert Cantrick knows disappointingly little: „I am sorry I don't know the details you request“ although Chris Miller, the day before, asked very specific questions „Bob, can you tell us more about Goodman's career as an art dealer ? Did he have his own gallery ? In what period did he specialize ? How long did he do it ?“ (23 Feb 2005 12:03:22) right after he had reported: „At one time Goodman was a professional art dealer. When he came to my college at my invitation to give a lecture, he requested that a curator at the local art museum prepare a large number of slides selected from various periods and styles without telling him in advance who the artists were or what the periods and styles were and without providing any such information when projected on a screen. He then proceeded to lecture extemporaneously by identifying each artist, each period, and each style in order to explain that during the time when projected on the screen these representations were symbols conforming to various non-linguistic symbol systems. During the time when these individual objects were not being exhibited, for example when they were freight in a moving van, this freight did not conform to any non-linguistic symbol system. He titled his lecture "When Is Art", and subsequently made the point part of his 1978 book titled "Ways of World-making".“ (23 Feb 2005 02:51:19)

356 05:09:47 Robert Cantrick becomes increasingly impatient to Derek Allan with responding to Allan’s suspicion that „Goodman seems to have no clear idea of what the ‘reality’ or ‘world’ that is represented *is*“ (352 12:08:53): „There is one landscape represented. There is more than one representation of it. You say that this simple elementary distinction by Goodman is a vague generality? Give me a break.“

357 05:46:34 Hoshenski who has been approached by Kelly on Feb 23 and got help from Alexei with asking Kelly again who did not enter Boris’s question (who himself had given no answer to Kelly’s before): „Alexei, you have me right 101%.“

358 16:52:12 Derek Allan continues the quarrel with Cantrick. He insists that Goodman was unclear about what reality is which for Allan is supposed to be what the artist addresses.

359 06:04:01 Boris Hoshensky assists Cantrick with a message containing this one sentence: „I think Robert's example is as clear as it could be.“

360 17:19:08 Derek Allan (versus Boris Hoshenski): „Yes. It just wasn't relevant to my criticism, as I explained. But I am hoping we can move on...“

361 06:35:34 to which measage Hoshenski replies with insisting: „It is question of one landscape. The fundamental question the painter-S have to deal with is to represent (paint) the same landscape in as many ways as the number of painters.“

362 07:42:28Frances to Alexei and Boris...“ wants to enter a discussion with Procyshyn and Hoshenski (out of disappointment because one of her posts went unnoticed?): „The recent discussions of Derek and Robert on this topic might be best consulted here“, but then sets out to delineate Peirce’s position on the senses.

363 11:08:15 Cheerskep to Alexei Procyshyn who the day before wrote pro Wittgenstein and his everyday language stance and on Kelly. It is basically criticism on Kelly’s Peirce and about the distinction of everyday and expert language, something to which Kelly herself will not respond.

367 12:20:30 „I have now got a copy of Goodman. Kate Sullivan“

369 16:21:05 Alexei Procyshyn who just entered the discussion a day earlier referring to the early Wittgenstein’s discussion of solipsism (23 Feb 2005 22:07:45) accepts „praise“ by Cheerskep and tells the source with quoting Tractatus 5.631-5.641 which also is a hint for Kelly in particular. Procyshyn stands up for a „justification for a dense and presupposed vocabulary“ used instead of justified, and communicates that „I just picked up a copy of LA“. Also Procyshyn and Hoshenski want to stay with the topic landscape. Procyshyn: „I am not going to protest William's or Boris' (to name a few active listers that are artists) or my mechanic's use of it.“


What the director of the play would have to keep in mind: there is a multiple attention on behalf of the mail conversation participants akin to the attention of non-academic TV audience phoning into talk shows or zapping programs. Being online, as on this thursday, means for instance to Derek Allan to be able to respond at any (day) time which for Feb 24 allows for sending messages at 09:08:47, 10:17:41, 12:08:53, 16:52:12, and 17:19:08.


forgery, two letters and a debate disintegrating


Boris Hoshensky judgement on Goodman’s chapter III „Art and Authenticity“: „It feels like pure mental ‘gymnastics’.“ (8 Mar 2005 22:47:28) Yes, it may especially do so to someone who cannot - after all this forging in contemporary art since the 1960es by the market in general and the parodies on it from Warhol to the appropriationists - imagine how shocking the forger Van Meegeren case was at the time when Goodman developed his „Languages of Art“. Nonetheless the different ways of detecting an authentic work are crucial to understand the basic distinction for edifying a general theory of the arts, which is the distinction of autographic and allographic as Robert Cantrick reminds us (23 Mar 2005 03:23:11). Here as often Allan’s hermeneutical will is weak: „A distinction which I think I have now shown in two or three recent posts to be both muddled, and irrelevant to any useful analysis of the question of forgery.“ (23 Mar 2005 15:15:23) - Also with distancing resemblance and copy from conceiving representation in chapter I - II The Sound of Pictures - chapter III Art and Authenticity prepares for chapter IV „The Theory of Notation“.


The discussion about forgery and authenticity, obligatory for any Goodman debate, is launched by Derek Allan (3 Mar 2005 11:50:56). Only later, Allan is ready to include discussing the distinction autographic/allographic (11 Mar 09:07:50). He had discussed the person distilled or distinguished from the sculpture of the person (2 Mar 2005 09:46:27) and asks himself „what is going on when a picture is painted. It's a conceptual issue, not a practical one.“ (2 Mar 2005 13:18:15) After this, he speaks of portraiture in general which is an important change because portraiture takes of and replaces what had been covered by sculpture (Goodman) and painting (2 Mar 2005 13:31:32). And Boris Hoshensky imitates Allan’s double sequence (2 Mar 2005 15:45:02): „You are making my point by excellent examples. There is no mechanical duplication in all of them, but "extraction of 'soul'" using different 'symbols'.“


William Conger: „I suggest that Derek stop throwing stones until he gets there with him <Goodman>. But I know that's hopeless because we had this same conversation about Gombrich a few years ago. Ultimately, Derek wants to know why he feels some distress when confronted by fake art. The fact is that his malaise has nothing to do with Goodman or art as such but with some psychological reaction to betrayal or being lied to or being hoodwinked or being fooled, all understandable. Yet there's also a certain kind of admiration for convincing fakes and fakers. We like to be fooled because we want some zone of magic and mystery or some evidence that causality or reality can be subverted...but only with our prior agreement. It's a vanity thing.“ (8 Mar 2005 17:57:05).


As it turns out, Robert Cantrick introduces the final stage of the debate with presenting an exchange of two letters he had with Goodman more than thirty years ago. Does it indicate, apart from scanning problems with „hotmail“ not allowing attachments, a failure of communication (13 Mar 2005 22:09:50). The letters are finally presented by Cantrick in typed form under the heading „goodman's 1974 letter to me“: his letter to Goodman of August 14, 1974 about forging a symphony and Goodman’s answer of September 3, 1974 (18 Mar 2005 01:36:14).


It is Derek Allan who has a reply referring to „Languages of Art“, p.112, but cannot refrain from offending Cantrick: „I would rather read someone who thinks clearly.“ (20 Mar 2005 23:32:05) Replies come from Miller and two times from Allan: „both boxing with shadows“ and „I had always suspected that he was a far less substantial thinker than he was crackled up to be. Now I know that to be so.“ (21 Mar 2005 12:13:15) And Miller: „And what about those popular music groups -- like the Temptations -- where only one member of the orginal group is still involved -- but they still use the name and imititate the style of the originals. It might be legal -- but it's still a forgery, isn't it -- especially when they go back in the studio to re-record the famous old songs and issue an album called "Greatest hits" ?“ (27 Jan 2005 08:38:31)


From now on, March 15, there is a partition of the Goodman debate in those, like Allan and Miller, who do not like to anymore discuss „Languages of Art“ and want to talk about the letters relating to „Problems and Projects“ and those who further on wish to enter more intensely „Languages of Art“ like Procyshyn.


Late verve, end of the debate


The final stage of the debate arrived with several topics parting under the thread „Re: Goodman“ still in place for two more weeks: an exchange of Kelly and Armando Baeza, comments on the correspondance of Cantrick and Goodman, and Alexei Procyshyn’s remarks on Goodman’s distinction of linguistic and non-linguistic systems.


What a difference a day makes! March 15 shows to be the debate’s point of no return. Derek Allan had criticized LA, pp. 108 and 109 (12 Mar 2005 11:46:35) after Alex Procyshyn had expressed his feeling: „My frustration, Derek, [...] you don't say anything interesting about goodman.“ (11 Mar 2005 20:33:53) But Allan does not respond to that strong personal statement. Moreover he hastes to refer to LA pp. 109-112 with asking: „does it make any ‘aesthetic difference’ to the viewer knowing who painted it?“ (12 Mar 2005 17:28:19) and writing: „Bit disappointed that my analysis of pages 109 to 112 of Goodman <of 12 Mar 2005 17:28:19> is slipping into the realm of forgotten things, without comment.“ (15 Mar 2005 10:58:44) Yet Alexei Procyshyn is ready to take up the cudgel concerning the anaesthetic and aesthetic difference. He removes the question mark again that had been smuggled in by Kelly (13 Mar 2005 05:44:10) and says „about Goodman: there isn't much that hasn't been directly imported -- without due reflection on what such an importation might entail or transform -- from typical analytic philosophy of language“ and that Goodman is interested more in extension than in the work itself (15 Mar 2005 01:08:34). Allan replies that Goodman, with respect to the „powers of discriminating among works“ of art (p.111), does not define „aesthetic“ and does not seem to need feeling the difference between a Raphael and a Rembrandt painting (16 Mar 2005 11:27:45). To which Alexei replies: „My inclination is, to your dismay i'm sure, rather Kantian viz. a work of art: there is something fundamental about a work of art that resists conceptual subsumption. Goodman seems, however, to be trying to assimilate aesthetic judgment -- whatever that turns out to be -- to a notion of judgment (and by implication also experience in general, since it requires judgment) that Kant would call a determinative judgment (as opposed to a reflective one). [... <no difference between a rooster and a Vermeer painting> ...] He may be wrong, but not because there is a problem with the argument, but because some of his premises are wrong -- namely that 'aesthetic judgment' is identical with (for want of a better way of putting it) 'empirical judgment'.“ (15 Mar 2005 22:10:12, see also 16 Mar 2005 10:51:38) Again Allan simplifies: „Goodman is simply guilty of very sloppy thinking.“ (16 Mar 2005 18:57:49)


With objecting against Goodman that he „would have provided a rather detailed introduction that sketches the argument and hints at a few of the major results or definitions [... and] would hate to see a paper about literature, that began as a logic proof might: defining a universe of discourse, constructing a model, and then providing a valuation of it“ (16 Mar 2005 10:51:38), Procyshyn gets into his stride. He discusses art and epistemology with regard to the symbol and takes up the distinction reference/symbol with Goodman’s early coordinates - something the non-active listers would have liked to read already at the beginning of the debate: „However, as Goodman writes in his preface, "my inquiries into the theory of knowledge ... joined my interest in the arts," (v) and (from the Introduction) that "[t]hough this book deals with some problems pertaining to the arts, its scope does not coincide very closely with what is ordinarily taken to be the field of aesthetics" (xi). Moreover, "the objective is an approach to a general theory of symbols" (xi). In short, what might have been groundbreaking, or epoch making as you have mentioned, about Goodman's work here is the connection he attempts to establish between art and epistemology (by way of adopting a conception involved in both discourses -- 'symbol'): art is another way to know; and if it is another way to know, it is not susceptible to the emotivist reduction of an artwork's content to either a 'boo!' or 'Hurrah!' (which was, as I'm sure you are aware, a predominent trend up to about the late fifties (or even the seventies according to some) in normative or value theory. With this fundamental methodological shift to the techniques of analysis offered by the philosophy of language, some of the problems of language in general have to be addressed within his theory of art's language. If Goodman is to consider Art to fall within the purview of the philosophy of language, then 'reference,' as one among many perennial problems of phil. of language, needs to be addressed. Nevertheless, the cost incurred by this shift might be profitable, since one of the immediate upshots is that the domain of art is not a semantically vacuous one.“ (17 Mar 2005 13:21:39)


Without uttering doubts - a rare occasion with Allan - Procyshyn is confirmed by him (Fri, 18 Mar 2005 10:03:49). Procyshyn for his part delivers under the title „Goodman, a digest“ an account of G.’s definition of symbol with „Preliminaries, a Construction“ and a summary of Goodman’s introduction and ch. 1, secs. 1-9 (19 Mar 2005 18:31:43) solliciting comments and a summary of LA chs. 4 to 6 by Robert Cantrick (23 Mar 2005 22:28:40, 1 Apr 2005 02:22:57). Allan seems to be overtaxed and does not respond to it at all (20 Mar 2005 23:32:05) whereas Hoshensky is pleased of Procyshyn’s text that is „very clear, convincing and easy to read“ (21 Mar 2005 03:18:16) and Kate Sullivan reacts like a high school teacher: „I don't think the precis is supposed to be nearly as long as the original regardless of its clarity.“ (21 Mar 2005 12:28:56) Joseph Nechvatal replies merely artistically (21 Mar 2005 17:38:05). The same goes for Miller’s „Reply“: „On my website, for example, there's 13 different sculptural portraits commissioned [...]“ (21 Mar 2005 11:52:16).


Procyshyn does not show to be discouraged by this overall non-(specific) response. He proceeds to elaborate on the extension of a predicate/schemata II/6. Whether it can be translated, remains to be circular (21 Mar 2005 23:02:01) on the artistic conceptual scheme (21 Mar 2005 23:52:50) and on what Goodman has to say about deception, the „interface -- between our typical mode of interpretation and the one used in depicting something. [...] Derek Allan: „As for your claim that “in Goodman's sense, 'realism' is … a conceptual classification of works of art that involves two axes: horizontally, one tracks the everyday conceptual scheme used by people in going about their business; vertically, one tracks the conceptual scheme an artist uses in depicting an object. and the relation between these axes is an index of a work of art's 'realism'”, I have no idea where you get this from. Can you quote me the words where Goodman says this?“ (22 Mar 2005 17:29:09) Procyshyn: „Admittedly, the notions of a 'horizontal' and 'vertical' axis are mine. I introduced them only in order to make more apparent the distinctin goodman does in fact draw between the symbolic scheme used in depiction and the one used by someone in 'decoding'.“ (22 Mar 2005 21:35:25)


The ensuing posts - by Cantrick and Cheerskep - include indirect responses to Allan. Cantrick praises „Alexei: Your large posting (44b or so) came through to me O.K. I regard it as setting a high standard for others to follow.“ (23 Mar 2005 21:22:55; Allan also with compliment on 24 Mar 2005 09:40:12) Cheerskep says, also a bit directed to Kelly, that during Goodman’s lifetime „philosophers were accepting without question that an action they termed "denotation" could be carried out by insensate, inert, immotile extra-mental objects. But such objects do not "act" in any way.“ (23 Mar 2005 17:10:05) And Cantrick once more sheds praise on Procyshyn because he „raises the discussion above the level of lexical semantics“ mentioning what „Goodman says in ch. 2, p. 57, <not only!> of the first edition: "... not all labels are predicates; predicates are labels from linguistic systems." The point is that Goodman is not advocating any linguistic system. He is advocating a non-linguistic symbol system.“ And further on: „You have plucked two concepts out of two methodological traditions without recognizing that the two traditions are not in the same category“ which makes him, less friendly said, „very suspicious of anything you may say in the future (à la Derek Allan).“ (23 Mar 2005 22:28:40) Of course this is the moment when Allan cannot prevent himself from reentering the discussion: „I suspect I should be offended by this but I find Bob’s sentence rather hard to follow so I will just smile and nod instead.“ (24 Mar 2005 09:40:12)


My goodness, Goodman! The goddess deconstructuralism!


It occurred to Allan as he „was musing over Goodman (not a pleasant experience by the way) that there is an interesting similarity between his approach and deconstructionist thinking.“ (10 Mar 2005 09:03:25) This may have been stimulated by Alexei who wrote the other day „that many Deconstructionists say that everything is text. But it is important to note that Derrida himself said something more like, there is nothing outside of texts. and all this means is that so long as we hold onto the referential function of language, the only thing that can be referred to are other signs or symbols.“ (9 Mar 2005 18:04:19) There is a reply by Allan, but he does not enter pondering the possible Derrida share. He will touch however Lacan: „something is a symbolic only“ (10 Mar 2005 11:29:56) and the „Symbolist poets in France“: „God! I really don’t know if they ‘refer’ or not! I didn’t say they didn’t. The closest anyone has come to saying that is Bob Cantrick who seemed to end up saying that Goodman means that symbols symbolise symbols. My head is still spinning from that one“ (10 Mar 2005 19:50:18). That seems to have prompted Procyshyn to restrict his sympathies for the deconstructivism of Derrida and Heidegger: „I don't particularly like what Blanchot, Later Heidegger, or Derrida (*Truth in painting* might just be the worst book I have ever read, and "...Poetically Man Dwells..." the most dishonest analysis ever put forward), for example, have to say about anything, but that doesn't mean I read them - when I have to - as ascetically and negatively as possible. Even *Truth an Painting* has a moment or two that is suggestive.“ (10 Mar 2005 12:16:16)


Yet, two weeks later, Procyshyn answers, with reference to his digest 1/4, to the (Cheerskep’s) question „whether a symbol, taken in-itself [...] or whether an object for-itself (i.e. with my 'help'), denotes“ (23 Mar 2005 20:10:34). And he addresses Cantrick’s remark on property and predicate und his reproach using structuralism in a Saussure way of reformulating Goodman about the schema: „The second comment, however, requires a little more effort to defend. I invoked the tried and (un)true structuralist notion of a 'system of differences' (langue) in an attempt to explicate the manner in which Goodman deploys the notion of a schema. That is, a label is only articulate within a particular schema, wherein the range of its application is determined by other, distinct, different, as well as associated, similar, etc. labels. Only within a schema (which offers a certain fine-grainedness to a label by way of its differences and similarities to other labels, which constitute the schema) can the extension of a label be determined (LA 71-72). in short, it is not merely a matter of binary oppositions (e.g. between langue and parole), but how certain differences, etc, refine the scope of particular labels within a schema. This can be translated, i think, into set theoretic terms: one need only determine the intersection of certain labels, contrasted with their compliment and difference (i.e. what falls outside of the intersection of two labels, but contained by another distinct label). As such, while perhaps a strained transfer between two vocabularies, my point is not a category error.“ (23 Mar 2005 20:39:24)


Derek Allan joins the discussion with specifically replying with regard to the symbol that „one of the first things one would want to do is distinguish it from the idea of a sign. Goodman as far as I can see never does“ (24 Mar 2005 12:48:35) which reply makes Procyshyn defend himself with structuralism continued: „I don't think I'm using 'sign' and 'symbol' interchangeably. I'm only suggesting that the Connection between referent and symbol has yet to be determined -- not that the connection between signifier and signified is arbitrary (i.e. the difference par excellence between sign and symbol). Furthermore, all i am suggesting is that the connections between signifier, signified, and referent is not absolute or invarient. But this does not suggest that they are arbitrary. And it is precisely these connections, i think, that Goodman takes to be epistemological.“ (23 Mar 2005 21:22:07) This makes Allan answering with a question: „Why would we call a painting a ‘symbolic structure’?“ (24 Mar 2005 14:17:42) And while Cheer<radical?>skep claiming that denotation needs to be understood as action (24 Mar 2005 16:12:37) is confronted with Procyshyn’s question „if relations are not external, mind independent ontological enitities, could they be (as in say the British Hegelians) internal to mind independent ontological entities, a kind of potentiality that a subject actualizes?“ (24 Mar 2005 17:25:03), Allan is confronted by Procyshyn with a double maneuver: „the term 'structure' has become a bit of a verbal tick for me as of late (too much Althusser on the brain). Nothing may really depend on it. [...] G.'s idea of Realism is indeed idiosyncratic. [...] it's the *ease or expedience* of translation between the conceptual scheme used in the depiction and the conceptual scheme used in viewing that defines realism.“ And he is right with saying: „The real problem, i think lies in how symbols are constructed (hence the use of structure earlier, but again, my bark might have sprung a conceptual leak). [...] Goodman takes personification to be a metaphor. Now, I don't know how to square this, since personification is a tried and true method of *allegory* (one need only look at Prudentius's *Psychomachia* to verify this). Now, I know of at least one approach to allegory (namely the structrualist one) that treats it as an extended metaphor: the whole of an allegorical text, painting, etc., is a metaphor. But this can't be what Goodman has in mind, can it? How would personification, as a transfer of a schema, be extended in this sense? if it is, then we can, by parity of example, claim that the work itself is a symbol, whereas if it is not, then it has to be a structure of symbols... i think. in any event, there is something wonky at work in Goodman's treatment of personification and how this might affect the notion of symbol by way of his conception of schemata.“ (25 Mar 2005 14:07:11)


Is this the kind of thought that will make us with Allan helpless like a child: „I confess I don’t want to read any more of him“. (26 Mar 2005 17:49:54) Quite the opposite. There may be more of it in the future.


the battle for the question mark


Kelly adds the question mark - „Goodman?“ - for the first time without any further explanation in the mail body. Is it a reaction to an uneasiness that cannot be pulverized, maybe also a late answer for Armando in all Lord’s early morning (13 Mar 2005 05:44:10)? It becomes clear very quickly where the line are. „Goodman“ without question mark is recreated by Derek Allan (15 Mar 2005 10:58:44) while Armando Baeza reinstalls the mark (14 Mar 2005 20:08:25) and Alexei Procyshyn removes it again (15 Mar 2005 01:08:34). Kelly perseveres adding (15 Mar 2005 08:45:52) and Derek Allan removing it (16 Mar 2005 11:27:45). Armando Baeza adds (15 Mar 2005 23:45:14), Allan removes (16 Mar 2005 18:57:49), Kelly adds (16 Mar 2005 10:57:35), Boris Hoshensky removes (16 Mar 2005 16:14:00), Cheerskep adds (16 Mar 2005 12:35:33), Allan removes (17 Mar 2005 17:45:42) with Kelly and Baeza finally keeping it that way (21 Mar 2005 07:44:11, 21 Mar 2005 15:12:35) after there had in the meantime popped up two new threads: „goodman's 1974 letter to me“ and „Goodman, a digest“. It’s  1 Goodman“ that establishes as a thread since a Reply of Kelly to Cantrick (24 Mar 2005 00:03:26). It is Allan who shows kind of a disappointment with the heading „Languages of Art and a debate that never was“ (5 Apr 2005 18:08:23).




An example of the debate may be exemplary of the higher levels of the debate: Goodman’s artificial term „exemplification“.


What has been cited above from Frances Kelly: „The grammatic structure of the symbolic "scheme" and the symbolic "system" consists of: (1) syntactic density, and (2) semantic density, and (3) syntactic repleteness, and (4) exemplification, and (5) multiple complex referability“ is immediately followed by Kelly’s „PS The terms "exemplification" and "expression" as used here by Goodman are somewhat foggy for me. An exemplification for me is an ideal type or a pure norm or a perfect sample. An expression for me is cathartic as in a reagent or style or symptom.“ (21 Feb 2005 22:23:01) Kelly insists the next day: „Goodman does allow that the notated inscription of a symbol can be used as a referention via representation or description and exemplification and expression, but his representation is indeed mimetic.“ (22 Feb 2005 12:35:45) It does not come as a surprise that Derek Allan is sceptical too: „The next bit on ‘exemplification’ looks particularly dull so I don’t plan to spend a lot of time on it.“ (26 Feb 2005 18:44:25) But Cantrick rejects this: „if you dismiss exemplification as dull, you will fail to understand his theory of expression. ... Expressing OF is not conceptualizing OF the world at all; it is exemplification OF properties plus possession OF properties.“ (27 Feb 2005 05:18:16)


Kelly copies and pastes: „From the "Philosophy of Art" weblog at <> here is a posted message dealing with Goodman and exemplification that Derek mentioned earlier, for those who are interested.“ (8 Mar 2005 07:37:39) Miller takes up „exemplification“ this way: „What is the best way to experience that which these objects <„imaginary or legendary persons> exemplify ? Is it through a systematic study of these objects as systems of symbols --- or is it through a contemplation of what is immediately given, uncontaminated by distracting thoughts ?“ (9 Mar 2005 11:39:08).


Procyshyn gives this short formula in his summary of Goodman’s Chapter 1/section 9 on depiction and description: „we can determine what and how these possessed properties express, by way of exemplification and metaphorical transfer, something determinate that is denoted by the representation.“ (19 Mar 2005 18:31:43). And more extensively he has this to say to Chris Miller: „To determine the extension of the predicates possessed by a symbol, we need a notion of exemplarity. As Goodman puts it, "while a picture denotes what it represents, and a predicates denotes what it describes, what properties the picture or the predicates possesses depends rather upon what predicates denote it" (LA 51). More simply put (hopefully), a picture represents something by way of the interrelations of labels that constitute it, AND these labels in turn also have certain properties [i.e. their extension]. So, Goodman's solution turns out to be the following: the reason for our knowledge of the truth of the statement, "there is no one way the world is" derives from the further fact that we know what the properties of the labels we use are. This appears to involve, of course, an infinite regress that i can't see any way out of. And this is a huge problem for Goodman. Moreover, the only ways out of this regress are to either postulate Platonic Ideas, or to do what Goodman does: rely on exemplification of labels by way of samples. There are some things/symbols which exemplify some label and denote something in the world (LA 52-59). And because "exemplification as the subrelation of the converse of denotation [i.e. it works in the opposite direction of symbolic reference: a symbol refers by describing something in the world, whereas exemplification refers to the properties of the predicates possessed by a symbol that refers to somethign in the world], ... exemplification implies reference between the two in both directions" (LA 59).“ (21 Mar 2005 23:02:01)


Against this Cantrick tries to hold: „We can proceed to discuss exemplification in ch. 2 without getting bogged down in alll the meanings of the word 'label' that could be cited. I will postpone discussion of exemplification to a subsequent post.“ (23 Mar 2005 22:28:40) But this will not happen when Cantrick later is „Continuing my summary of LA“: „A fourth symptom may be exemplification. Exemplification, like denotation, relates a symbol to a referent.“ (1 Apr 2005 02:22:57)


In the end the discussion doesn’t get going as shown by a message of Procyshyn to Allan: „If you're willing perhaps we can go back to the expression and exemplification thing -- i don't recall you posting any criticisms of that part of the 2nd chapter.“ (5 Apr 2005 03:09:26)


How to perceive peircing with piercing?


Derek Allan (13 Feb 2005 16:12:07, 14 Feb 2005 08:54:17, 15 Feb 2005 09:09:54), Boris Hoshensky (23 Feb 2005 00:52:14), Alexei Procyshyn (9 Mar 2005 20:56:25) and Armando Baeza (23 Mar 2005 16:36:37) miswrite Peirce with „Pierce“.


True, Frances Kelly sometimes gives a hard time with permanent references to Peirce, in many cases not legitimated by the matter considering Ockham’s economical principle. Does it justify parapractical abuse of a name, intentionally or not? Certainly not.


Armando responds to Kelly personally, yet on the list written words „with fond greetings“ with inapproriately hard criticism given sentence by sentence: „Give Pierce a kick in the rear. AB“ (rather than „Give peace a chance!“) or „No Nirvana good end goal expected here“. (23 Mar 2005 16:36:37) One cannot refrain here and at other occassions of independent occurrences of „pierc-“ from supposing allusions to piercing? A Merleau-Ponty-like essay with a title like „The Sign, the Flesh, the Body“ could well submit these and other occurrences under investigation with the hypothesis that they are only negatively meant. The palette is manifold: tearing apart, disfiguring a father figure like Peirce, marking sexual penetration. Particularly nasty Armando’s „remains a subjective personal perception to all percievers“ (22 Mar 2005 00:53:33) is a praxis, not even a parapraxis of this kind.


Derek Allan, however, might be correct in saying that Peirce’s/Kelly’s is a kind of an „eschatological approach to philosophy“ (11 Mar 2005 09:07:50) in responding to what Kelly confessed shortly before (11 Mar 2005 06:47:17). There is an idealist Schellingian-Coleridgean heritage in Peirce’s philosophy that post-Hegelian analytic philosophers like Goodman were eager to overcome.


final stage


There seems to be only one fragment of Cantrick’s contribution under the heading „Continuing my summary of LA“ (1 Apr 2005 02:22:57) answered by Cheerskep however under different title „Subject: Language and "Art" (part one)“ (2 Apr 2005 14:36:20) and „Subject: Language and "Art" (part two)“ (2 Apr 2005 14:46:35) with a Reply by Allan containing sharp criticism on Cantrick (4 Apr 2005 20:33:23) und a final sequel (5 Apr 2005 10:21:18) under the title „Subject: Languages of Art and a debate that never was“ summarizing another contribution of a another web page. Follows a reply by Kelly to Cheerskep (5 Apr 2005 08:42:24) with tangling Peirce against (!) nominalism. In her long sequel (10:31:57) she enters discussing what Cheerskep had written to Bob before finishing with a second sequel (10:58:23). Miller finally returns to „Language and "Art" (part one)“ with „feeling“ - and tingle (5 Apr 2005 11:49:08)?


The difficulties of a non-guided list are obvious. The advantages either. At one point Robert Cantrick wanted to remove Derek Allan from the list as he had himself announced with settling by topic after topic in „Subject: Goodman's 1974 letter to me“. Cantrick wanted to actually discuss the „main disagreement with [...] chapter 4“ (31 Mar 2005 06:24:33). This makes Allan withdraw from his accusation. He shows to be offended and says hypocritically: „I understood that was good academic practice. Perhaps I should discontinue it?“ (31 Mar 2005 17:21:18)


As with mailing lists in general, very few references are given to earlier discussions about Goodman in the list. What the discussion about Goodman here lacked is taking pains on the hermeneutic context, not only of the person, but the systematic prerequisites of Goodman’s own philosophical stance, his historical environment. Everybody acquainted with Hegel’s Phänomenologie des Geistes knows that it is a confrontation with Kant who is mentioned only once in the preface. The same with Goodman. Although he honestly gives the references in „Languages of Art“ the confrontation with philosophers of his time and tradition happens only underneath the surface: names of colleagues and opponents only appear once or twice, their work or thought is never or rarely addressed explicitly. This is in order for a book of the range of Goodman’s „Languages of Art“. It takes the privilege to converse with others of his kind on intimate terms unmarked.


The Goodman debate 2005 may not be accepted to the history of philosophy as the „Spinoza-Streit“ in late 18th Century, the „Lehrstuhlstreit“ between philosophers and psycholists in 1913, the discussion between Heidegger and Cassirer and disciples at Davos in 1929, or the paper and ensuing discussion of Strawson’s „Analysis, Science, and Metaphysics“ at the Colloque Royaumont in 1961. It represents a lively debate though containing various material to go on with reading and thinking with and beyond Goodman.



Peter Mahr © 2005

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