Robert Hopkins
Website

Robert Stern
Website

Michael Braddick
Website

Are Historical and Aesthetic Understanding
Distinctively Individualizing?


Principal Investigator

Robert Hopkins
Professor of Philosophy
New York University


Team Members

Robert Stern
Professor of Philosophy
University of Sheffield

Michael Braddick
Professor of History
University of Sheffield

 

A distinguished tradition in philosophy holds that historical and aesthetic understanding are distinctive in being individualizing. While science seeks to grasp phenomena by bringing them under general concepts and laws, the historian and the appreciative spectator seek to make sense of their objects of study in all their individuality. This project will investigate the idea of individualizing understanding, and how far it characterizes aesthetic and historical practice. It will attempt to articulate various options for what individualizing understanding might be. It will do so by considering the aesthetic case, and then ask how far the historical case fits those options. Although it is not likely that historical understanding, in particular, can be understood solely in these terms, this project’s working hypothesis is that some important strands in historical inquiry, and perhaps the central aspects of aesthetic interrogation, are usefully conceived in these ways.