1997 Sibley and After
The conference was called in order to commemorate the seminal work of Frank Sibley in aesthetics. Unfortunately Frank Sibley died before the conference took place but I trust he would have been pleased with both the interest that contemporary aestheticians still take in his work and the rigour and level of the conference that took place in his name. John Benson, who is working with several others on editing Frank Sibley’s unpublished work, started the conference off by outlining the interesting developments of Frank Sibley’s later work and shed some light on how he viewd his earlier articulations of his own position.
The next day Ted Cohen started with a robust defence of his critique of Sibley’s ‘Aesthetic Concepts’, followed by Peter Kivy developing some of his thoughts on Sibley’s last published paper on music, defending the claim that musical appreciation proper requires knowledge and mastery of music theoretic distinctions. Colin Lyas started from Siblian considerations upon the manifold logical complexities of adjectives and intriguingly developed these into a defense of the central role of expression in the arts. Nick McAdoo followed a similar strategy in suggesting that Siblian aesthetics must ultimately, pace Sibley’s own understanding of the matter, come to rest on a form of intuitionism.
The next day Jerry Levinson defended a separation between aesthetic description and evaluation, Peter Lamarque argued that, necessarily, artworks possess at least some aesthetic properties, Eddy Zemach gave a realist construal of aesthetic qualities and Nick Zangwill defended a telological conception of ‘art.’ The last day finished with Cheryl Foster and Terry diffey both concerned with the kind of aesthetic qualities to be found in nature.
The question sessions for all the papers were interesting and invigorating, as were the informal sessions over beer afterwards. But the fact that such a rich variety of interesting papers, and interested discussion, sprung from considerations on Frank Sibley’s work bears clear testimony to his analytic clarity, rigour and insight. He will be much missed.