Dominic McIver Lopes, From Languages of Art to Art in Mind, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58 (2000) 227-31
Nelson Goodman's legacy to aesthetics is not what one might think. Languages of Art, written in the sixties, opens with the following statement of purpose: "investigations in structural linguistics in recent years need to be supplemented with an intensive examination of nonverbal symbol systems." The book goes on to classify and differentiate symbol systems, giving detailed attention to pictures and musical scores, contrasting them with language. However, it is now clear that the concentration on language characteristic of philosophy in the sixties was preliminary to a broader study of mind and cognition. Goodman's statement of purpose needs updating: investigations in mind and cognition in recent years need to be supplemented with an intensive investigation of the arts as media for cognition. Goodman's legacy is in part to have prepared the ground for such an investigation. As evidence for this, this paper offers a new perspective on Goodman's account of pictures in light of recent cognitive science.