Why Joseph Margolis Has Never Been an Analytic Philosopher of Art
In this paper, we support a continuistic reading of Joseph Margolis’ philosophy, defending the claim that in the 1970s, Margolis tackled the issues suggested by the analytic philosophy of art from an original theoretical perspective and through conceptual tools exceeding the analytical framework. Later that perspective turned out to be a radically pragmatist one, in which explicitly tolerant realistic claims and non-reductive naturalism converged with radical historicism and contextualism. We will endorse this thesis by focusing on two important concepts appearing in Margolis’ aesthetics essays from the late 1950s to the 1970s: the type-token pair and the notion of cultural emergence. On the one hand, we will emphasise Margolis’ indebtedness to Peirce’s first formulation of the type-token distinction, involving a strong interdependence between the two elements of the pair, as well as an anti-essentialistic, historicised, and contextualised notion of type. On the other hand, we will delve into Margolis’ exploration of the concept of emergence and cultural emergence, involving a genuinely pluralistic view of ontology, as well as a non-reductive, continuistic form of naturalism. Finally, we will connect the criticism of the so-called closure of the physical world with Margolis’ anti-autonomistic stance in defining artworks.