A Relevance Theory of Art? (New member)

From: Jan Stra▀heim (strassheim@gmx.de)
Date: Tue May 13 2003 - 11:34:06 GMT

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    Dear readers of relevance mail

    My name is Jan Strassheim. I am a student of philosophy, linguistics and
    Greek at the Freie Universitdt Berlin. During my year as an affiliate at
    UCL, I attended Deirdre Wilsons pragmatics course, which was bound to
    make me an aficionado of RT.

    In my MA thesis in philosophy, Im going to try and put forward a fairly
    general theory of art with the concepts of relevance and poetic effect
    at its core. However, I have some doubts as to the theoretical basis
    that Id like to express to the List. The prospective range of that
    relevance theory of art, if you can call it that, is currently forcing
    me to generalise the basic elements and operations of RT (while keeping
    to RTs immanent possibilities and roughly following Edmund Husserls

    (1) As basic elements I would allow not only (propositional) assumptions
    but all (conscious?) states of mind (like aspect perception, emotion, or
    volition). One could translate all the latter into assumptions about
    oneself, but I feel that extra level would mean assuming more than
    necessary (and bring together two very different kinds of assumption).
    So in order to link assumptions to other states of mind, I would,
    instead of assuming a real thing such as an inner language which is
    quite contentious among philosophers, propose a mere concept, in my case
    phenomena, to do the job.
    (2) As basic operations which work on elements I would allow not only
    the three contextual effects given in Relevance (erasure, strength
    modification, implication), but also non-logical operations, such as
    association, analogy, emotional provocation, or even physical palpation.
    (You can see that my main aim is not so much empirical clarification as
    (3) Such processes are good for the cognitive device not only because
    through them it gets subjectively plausible information about the world,
    but in general because they enhance its sheer internal variation and
    irritability which are the motors of its evolutionary engagement with
    the environment. Since I would define assumptions / emotions etc. as
    well as perceived objects or events as phenomena (which term refers
    only to the latter in Relevance), I would say that the relevance of a
    phenomenon (assumption, object, utterance, etc.) for a cognitive device
    is greater to the degree that the phenomenon can change or bring about
    other phenomena in that device.

    Im not sure if my project might be of any interest to you  at any
    rate, Id love to hear what you think about, or what you dont like
    about, the above; for Im starting to get the wind up with my own

    Best wishes to all of you

    Jan Strassheim, Berlin, Germany

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