Peirce's Esthetics: A Taste for Signs in Art
- Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 43, Number 2, Spring 2007
- pp. 319-344
- Additional Information
Is Peirce's esthetic relevant for the philosophy of art—what is usually referred to today as aesthetics? At first glance Peirce's idiosyncratic esthetic seems quite unconcerned with issues of art. Yet a careful examination reveals that this is not the case. Thus, rather than attempt to "apply" Peirce's views to some aspect of the practice or the theory of art (e.g., creativity, historiography of art, style, genre), or even to a particular work of art, my intention is to examine how art fits into Peirce's own conception of his esthetic theory. The argument is divided into two parts. In the first section I present Peirce's conception of esthetics in the context of the normative sciences. I argue that esthetics connects with various strands of Peirce's philosophy, most notably his cosmology, his agapasm and with the way that important aspects of them hang together around the principle of abduction and the corresponding notion insight. In the second section, I consider in what way art may be said to be admirable, to contribute to the summum bonum. I try to show that Peirce's esthetic suggests that what attracts us towards art is first and foremost a semeiotic quality qua quality of mind or quality of Thirdness.