chapter  14
12 Pages

SIBLEY

ByCOLIN LYAS

Frank Sibley was born in Lowestoft in England and after war service as a tank commander went to Oxford to read modern languages. There, under the influence of Ryle, Grice, George Paul and Austin, the atmosphere of whose philosophical work was lastingly to imbue his thinking, he became interested in philosophy and in philosophical aesthetics. Already as an undergraduate he was convinced that the clue to understanding problems in aesthetics lay in the careful investigation of what he later called ‘praise words,’ ‘merit and demerit terms’ and ‘aesthetic terms.’ During 1948 and 1949 he collected vast lists of these from various works of criticism found in Oxford libraries. He sorted these into types and began to explore their relationships. This informed his teaching during the 1950s in the USA and equipped him with the extraordinary range of examples and counterexamples for which his interventions in discussions were so notable. It also led to his first and lastingly influential major contribution to aesthetics, “Aesthetic Concepts” (Sibley 1959a).