[SydPhil] Cognition in Context 2014 - Workshop on Human Cognition and the Tracking of Artistic and Cultural Agents @ Macquarie University - [June 16, 2014]

Mirko Farina farinamirko at gmail.com
Fri May 23 13:18:41 AEST 2014

(Usual apologies for cross-posting this message)

Announcement: Cognition in Context (CiC) 2014 Seminar-Workshop Series

*Human Cognition and the Tracking of Artistic and Cultural Agents*

Keynote speakers: Distinguished Professor Stephen Davies (University of
Auckland, NZ), Distinguished Professor Jerrold Levinson (University of
Maryland, USA), and Professor Bill Thompson (Macquarie University).

Organisers: Dr Nicolas Bullot (Macquarie University), Mirko Farina
(Macquarie University), Daniel Wilson (University of Auckland, NZ)

Dear all,

On Monday 16 June 2014, a workshop entitled “*Human Cognition and the
Tracking of Artistic and Cultural Agents*” will take place at the
Department of Cognitive Science, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and
its Disorders, Macquarie University.

In this last workshop of the “Cognition in Context” series, we will examine
recent philosophical and interdisciplinary research on the interpretation
of cultural and artistic behaviours – see, e.g., [1-11]. The workshop will
focus on art understood as a paradigmatic case for interdisciplinary
research on cultural cognition. Questions to be addressed include, but are
not limited to: Does the appreciation and explanation of artistic/cultural
behaviours engage knowledge of these behaviours’ original historical
context? Does appreciation of an artwork require knowledge of the artist’s
intentions? To what extent is cultural and historical cognition engaged in
music production and appreciation? What are the explanatory advantages and
limitations of evolutionary and psycho-historical theories of
artistic/cultural cognition [12, 13]?

The *keynotes *speakers at the workshop are (alphabetic order):

- Distinguished Professor Stephen Davies (Philosophy, University of
Auckland, https://artsfaculty.auckland.ac.nz/staff/?UPI=sdav056);

- Distinguished Professor Jerrold Levinson (Philosophy, University of
Maryland, http://www.philosophy.umd.edu/people/levinson);

- Professor William Forde (Bill) Thompson (Psychology, Macquarie

*Organisation of the Workshop:* The workshop will be organised in two
parts, as follows:

- Part I (2:30-4.15 pm) - Interpreting Art, Music, and Artworlds. Keynote
speakers: Jerrold Levinson, Stephen Davies, and Bill Thompson

- Part II (4.30-5.30 pm) - Work in Progress in the Psycho-historical
Approach to Artistic and Cultural Cognition. Discussion of 4 to 6 papers
circulated in advance. Confirmed contributors: Amee Baird, Nicolas Bullot,
Mirko Farina, John Sutton, and Daniel Wilson.

Attendance to Part I of the workshop is free and registration is not
required. However, if you wish to receive the papers that will be discussed
in Part II, please register no later than 3 June 2014 by sending an email
to Mirko Farina (mirko.farina at mq.edu.au).

*Time and venue of the workshop:*

Monday June 16th, 2014, from 2:30 PM until 5:30 PM. Venue: Room 3.610,
Level 3, Australian Hearing Hub, 16 University Avenue, Macquarie
University, NSW 2109. A map is available at this URL:

Best Regards

Nicolas Bullot, Mirko Farina, and Daniel Wilson

PS: A number of the abstracts of the workshop papers presented or discussed
at the workshop follow:

*Abstracts of the talks (Part I):*

*Speaker*: Dist. Prof Stephen Davies (Philosophy, University of Auckland)

*Title*: Defining Art and Artworlds

*Abstract:* Most art is made by people with a well-developed concept of art
and who are familiar with its forms and genres as well as with the informal
institutions of its presentation and reception. This is reflected in
philosophers' proposed definitions. The earliest artworks were made by
people who lacked the concept and in a context that does not resemble the
artworlds of established societies, however. An adequate definition must
accommodate their efforts. The result is a complex, hybrid definition:
something is art (a) if it falls under an established, publicly recognized
art genre or within an established art tradition, or (b) if it is intended
by its maker/presenter to be art and its maker/presenter does what is
necessary and appropriate to realizing that intention, or (c) if it shows
excellence of skill and achievement in realizing significant aesthetic or
artistic goals. Meanwhile, artworlds, which play a crucial but implicit
role in (a) and (b), are to be characterized in terms of their origins.

*Speaker*: Dist. Prof Jerrold Levinson (Philosophy, University of Maryland)

*Title*: The Hypothetical-Intentionalist View of Artistic Interpretation

*Abstract: *My objective here will be to explain and motivate this view
(hypothetical intentionalism) of what interpretation of works of art [3],
most prominently but not exclusively works of literature or film, centrally
involves, and to defend the view as well as possible. The core idea is that
the meaning of a work of art is given not by what its forms might signify
in the abstract, nor by what its creator actually intended to convey, even
when such intention is realized, but by a *best hypothesis or
reconstruction *of what its creator intended to convey, given the work's
perceivable forms, the artist's public identity, and the context in which
the work is created and put forward for appreciation. Moreover, the notion
of a best hypothesis or reconstruction has two dimensions, an
*epistemic*one and an
*aesthetic* one; that is to say, what one is after is a hypothesis or
reconstruction of intended meaning or import that is epistemically most
justified in light of the aforementioned factors, but also, to the extent
compatible with that, one that is aesthetically most satisfying, that makes
the work come off best from an appreciative point of view. And the reason
that such a best hypothesis of work meaning in fact *constitutes* work
meaning is that works of art are fundamentally historically and
contextually situated *utterances*, whose central meaning is thus *utterance
meaning*--what their constituent perceivable forms, whether sentences,
patches of color, rhythmic figures, cinematic sequences, etcetera, convey
in context to suitably informed and backgrounded audiences--and not *utterer
meaning*, or what their creators actually intended to convey by so
presenting such forms in such contexts, where intentions are understood as
psychologically real states of creator's minds or brains.

*Speaker*: Prof Bill Thompson (Philosophy, Macquarie University)

*Title*: A Psycho-historical Perspective on Tonality

*Abstract*: Research on tonality has provided a rich understanding of the
mental representations that arise following repeated exposure to music.
However, musical artworks are produced with specific intentions in unique
historical contexts, and perceivers often incorporate an understanding of
these contexts into their appreciation of music. In this talk, I outline a
psycho-historical approach [10, 13] to the study of music and describe
research that supports this approach. The framework assumes that aesthetic
and emotional responses to music arise not only from basic exposure to a
work, but also from a cognitive process of inferring causal,
autobiographical, and / or historical information related to that work,
referred to as the artistic design stance. According to this framework,
artworks often engage a set of previously unexplored cognitive processes
that bring to mind historical details that influence aesthetic and
emotional experience through top-down pathways. Drawing on existing
findings as well as ongoing research, I describe how the psycho-historical
framework can be extended to research on tonality, and I argue that tonal
tension may provide an important bridge between the perception of tonality
and historical appreciation.

*Some abstracts of the works in progress (Part II)*

*Author*: Daniel Wilson

*Title*: Revolutionary Art and Evolutionary Art: The Implications of
Transgressive Regard for Levinson’s Intentional-historical Definition

*Abstract*: Jerrold Levinson rightly notes that an artefact cannot be
completely different from all prior artefacts of the same kind or else it
would have no claim to be the same class of thing. Yet he also claims that
revolutionary art, for example Dada, involves a regard that is ‘completely
distinct’ from pre-existing art-regards. But if art-regard is the essential
respect in which objects attain art status then, ostensibly, we are faced
with a contradiction. In the first part of this paper I critically examine
Levinson’s two suggestions for accommodating revolutionary art. In the
second section, I argue for an account of transgressive art-regard that
explains the confounding effect of revolutionary art like Dada while
simultaneously maintaining that a significant overlap of pre-existing art
regard obtains. In part three, I argue that the accommodation of
transgressive art-regard in conjunction with some recent theories of the
development of human behavioural modernity may likely result in an
undesirable regress that equates *ur*-art with the very first actual
artefact in the historical lineage of artefacts from which modern-day art

*Works cited*

1.         Levinson, J., *Defining art historically.* British Journal of
Aesthetics, 1979. *19*: p. 232-250.

2.         Levinson, J., *The irreducible historicality of the concept of
art.* British Journal of Aesthetics, 2002. *42*(4): p. 367-379.

3.         Levinson, J., *Defending hypothetical intentionalism.* The
British Journal of Aesthetics, 2010. *50*(2): p. 139-150.

4.         Davies, S., *Definitions of Art*. 1991, Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press.

5.         Davies, S., *Authors' intentions, literary interpretation, and
literary value.* The British Journal of Aesthetics, 2006. *46*(3): p.

6.         Stecker, R. and S. Davies, *The hypothetical intentionalist's
dilemma: A reply to Levinson.* The British Journal of Aesthetics,
2010. *50*(3):
p. 307-312.

7.         Thompson, W.F., *Music, Thought, and Feeling: Understanding the
Psychology of Music*. 2009, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

8.         Thompson, W.F. and L. Quinto, *Music and emotion: Psychological
considerations*, in *The Aesthetic Mind: Philosophy and Psychology*, E.
Schellekens and P. Goldie, Editors. 2011, Oxford University Press: Oxford.
p. 357-375.

9.         Balkwill, L.-L. and W.F. Thompson, *A cross-cultural
investigation of the perception of emotion in music: Psychophysical and
cultural cues.* Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1999. *17*(1):
p. 43-64.

10.       Bullot, N.J. and R. Reber, *The artful mind meets art history:
Toward a psycho-historical framework for the science of art
appreciation.*Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2013.
*36*(02): p. 123-137.

11.       Bullot, N.J., *Agent tracking: a psycho-historical theory of the
identification of living and social agents.* Biology & Philosophy, 2014: p.
1-24 [online first].

12.       Davies, S., *The Artful Species: Aesthetics, Art, and Evolution*.
2012, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

13.       Bullot, N.J. and R. Reber, *A psycho-historical research program
for the integrative science of art.* Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2013.
*36*(2): p. 163-180.

Mirko Farina

PhD Candidate
Department of Cognitive Science
ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD)
Australian Hearing Hub
16 University Avenue
Macquarie University, NSW 2109 AUSTRALIA

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