In this chapter, we turn to a number of philosophers more influenced by the second part of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations than by the first: Frank Sibley, Richard Wollheim, Roger Scruton, and Stanley Cavell. Particularly in the case of the last three, the return to a more comprehensive approach to aesthetic experience seems to have been more intentional than accidental, as almost seems to have been the case with Danto. Wollheim and Cavell in particular offer models for the threefold synthesis of the aesthetics of truth, feeling, and play in the late twentieth century.
Let us begin with another aspect of Wittgenstein’s influence in the 1950s, the debate over whether “aesthetic concepts” are “condition governed” or rule-governed that was initiated by Frank Sibley (1923–96) in 1959. A student of Gilbert Ryle at Oxford who taught at Wittgenstein-dominated Cornell before taking up a professorship at the University of Lancaster, Sibley wrote a paper, “Aesthetic Concepts,” and several subsequent papers that actually criticized the family-resemblance approach to aesthetic concepts as still too close to the traditional paradigm according to which concepts have necessary and sufficient conditions for their application and argued instead that the use of aesthetic concepts can be objective and based on perceptible properties in objects without being governed by rules at all. In the Wittgensteinian mode, Sibley identified “aesthetic” or “taste” concepts not with a narrow list of overall evaluative predicates such as “beautiful” or “ugly,” but instead with open-ended lists such as “unified, balanced, integrated, lifeless, serene, somber, dynamic, powerful, vivid, delicate, moving, trite, sentimental, tragic,” and added that “the list of course is not limited to adjectives,” because aesthetic concepts are also conveyed in terms such as “telling contrast, sets up a tension, conveys a sense of, or holds it together.”