Philosophy's Neglect of the Arts

Bryan Magee 
a1 Keble College, Oxford


It is widely agreed that the arts can give us some of the most valuable and profound experiences of which we are capable, yet the conceptions of experience to which epistemology has addressed itself during its long history have usually omitted experience of the arts. This has had harmful consequences, because it has led to theories of experience being accepted which would have been falsified by a consideration of experience of the arts. The error still occurs, and there are important current examples of it: for instance, some widely held theories about the relationship between thought and language do not survive attempts to apply them to the thought-processes involved in composing a double fugue.

(Published Online October 13 2005)