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Markosian’s Sideways Music and Aesthetic Value Gluts


In “Sideways Music”, Ned Markosian presents the aesthetic value variance of sideways music as a case against what the Spacetime Thesis—the thesis that time is one of four similar dimensions that make up spacetime. Critics have already raised worries about the premises of his argument. In this paper, I focus on Markosian’s assumed aesthetic realism. I argue that there is a version of aesthetic realism—a version that admits aesthetic value gluts—that is consistent with both the Spacetime Thesis and the aesthetic variance of sideways music. If this is right, then sideways music may simply be a non-issue for proponents of the Spacetime Thesis.

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  1. 1.

    What does affect an object’s intrinsic aesthetic value, according to Markosian, is distorting its spatiotemporal dimensions or rearranging its very structure. For example, if one folds The Starry Night in half, then its spatial dimensions are destroyed, thus may no longer be beautiful. Likewise, rearranging a pile of trash might result in a beautiful piece of avant-garde. As such, distorting an object’s dimensions or rearranging its structure is not the same as simply reorienting it in the spacetime manifold (Markosian, 2020: 53).

  2. 2.

    My thanks to the referee of this journal for pointing this out.

  3. 3.

    Image is from the Public Domain:

  4. 4.

    Image is from the Public Domain:

  5. 5.

    Wittgenstein (1954: Part II, §xi) offers a different, albeit still a realist, explanation of the ambiguous images.

  6. 6.

    My thanks to the referee of this journal for raising this issue.


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My thanks to Hazel T. Biana, Ben Blumson, Mark Anthony Dacela, Peter Eldridge-Smith, Brian Garrett, Graham Priest, my 2021 Symbolic Logic students, and the two referees of this journal for their comments and suggestions.

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Correspondence to Jeremiah Joven B. Joaquin.

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Joaquin, J.J.B. Markosian’s Sideways Music and Aesthetic Value Gluts. Acta Anal (2021).

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  • Spacetime thesis
  • Music
  • Aesthetic realism
  • Aesthetic value gluts