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2012-09-30
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

I would like to initiate discussion on this issue. Frankly, I will be surprised if anyone joins in because my experience is that philosophers of art have ignored it for so long that today very few even know what it is about!

The issue is simply this: how do we explain the capacity of certain works of art to ‘live on’ (to use the colloquial phrase) centuries or millennia after their creation while large numbers fall into oblivion?

The question is not about this or that work. It’s about a general capacity of (great) art – a capacity to transcend time – to remain vital and alive despite the passage of long periods of time. And it is also about the way works endure – but that’s a question for later on.

This is a vitally important issue for the philosophy of art (aesthetics). Why? Put simply: everything else in human life – from fads, to social customs, to religious beliefs etc – falls prey to the passing of time and ends up in what Malraux aptly calls “the charnel house of dead values”. Only art transcends time and lives again. How do we explain this? And what might it tell us about the unique significance of art?

Modern aesthetics thinks of art exclusively in terms of its characteristics as an object (e.g. whether it involves beauty, is a matter of “taste”, is a form of representation, etc, etc). The temporal nature of art - its capacity to transcend time - is ignored. I find this an amazing oversight (though one that can, I think, be readily enough explained…)

Having been neglected for so long, the issue I’m raising is often misconstrued. Recently, I’ve added a little page to my website called What the Question of Art and Time is NOT About which is designed to help in this respect. A talk I gave at the University of Ghent last year is also relevant: Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art. 

I welcome all views...

Derek Allan

2012-09-30
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
I have seen a paper within analytical aesthetics which suggests answers to this question. It is 'How can there be works of art?' by Michael Morris. Morris begins with the idea that works of art are indefinitely re-interpretable and then opens himself to the possibility that this might only be true of great works of art. He considers its pleasurable effect as an alternative theory for why art 'lingers', which he rejects. From his discussion, we can realize two potential answers: (a) those works of art that 'live on' do so because of their indefinite re-interpretatibility; (b)  those works of art that 'live on' do so because they give a pleasurable effect and are able to do so even with significant changes in the overall culture in which the artwork is perceived (e.g. they require little background knowledge to access and this background knowledge has been part of a range of successive cultures).

These are answers one would expect many people today to give. I am sure one can find instances of commentators talking about certain classic works in a way that suggests (a); and  (b) would presumably occur to any reflective utilitarian in ethics, though the topic is aesthetics. I am not saying either answer is right or that they exhaust the field - just wanted to let you know about this paper, if you are looking for material. Regarding other possible answers, at the very least you can moderate (a) and (b) to form a mixed approach.

2012-10-01
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Thank you Terence.

I’m pleased someone has replied.

I’ve glanced through the paper you cite but unfortunately it does not address the issue at stake. The writer’s interest seems to be, in his words, “what has to be the case if there are to be works of art”, not on the relationship between art and time. (I think, by the way, that this is a good example of the kind of non-question analytic aesthetics loves to pursue. But that’s another issue…)

You yourself suggest that works of art that endure do so either because of their “indefinite re-interpretability”; or because they give a pleasurable effect and are able to do so even with significant changes in the overall culture.

First, it’s worth noting (and this point applies to the Morris paper as well) that if our definition simply depended on the claim that art is “indefinitely re-interpretable”, it would be quite unusable. How could we ever know?  If a work has been interpreted 10 different ways, does that imply that it has an infinite number of interpretations? Would we need 15, 20? What number implies infinity? (And any idea of infinite “for practical purposes” is not worthy of a rigorous philosophy: it would not be a principled argument; it would have no explanatory power.)

It’s worth adding too that anything might, presumably, be interpreted indefinitely; it does not need to be a work of art. (Think of the seemingly endless interpretations one can place on nature depending on one’s mood etc.)

Your second point takes us no further, I’m afraid. Leaving aside whether the business of art is to give “pleasurable effects” (which I would vigorously deny) you are really only restating the premise of the discussion, not offering a solution. Yes, works of art continue to impress us despite the passage of time. The question is: why? What inherent power do they possess that enables them to do this? This is the issue aesthetics systematically ignores.

There is, moreover, an important “how” question. When we look back over the history of art we see that the works that impress us today have not, in fact, always done so. Byzantine and medieval art, for example, were regarded as barbaric from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. So art does not seem to endure (“live on”) timelessly – i.e. immune from changing circumstances. It can fade away and then revive. And in fact the major part of our world of art today is made up of works that have done just that. (Analytic aesthetics never comments on this kind of thing because it shies away from art history.) So we not only need to explain why art endures but also why it endures the way it does.

As I say, one can search high and low without finding any philosopher of art with anything significant to say on this. Time, to repeat, is the “forgotten dimension of art”.

DA


2012-10-01
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Somehow this question does not seem so puzzling to me and perhaps that is because I am missing something.  Nevertheless, at the risk being utterly simplistic, here's what I think.
First, I suspect we might run into trouble trying to give a single answer to why some works of art endure through time.  It is at least possible the answer might be different for different works and more probably different for different classes of works.  For instance, should we expect great plays to endure for the same reason that great buildings do?  I doubt it.  Moreover, there are different kinds of interest a work might attract in different ages, and the reasons for such attractions might well be highly contingent.  An example: icon paintings can be of great interest to one age as an aid to devotion and to another as works of simple beauty and to yet another as relics of a fascinating historical period.  In this particular example we could at least explain why the work was enduring but would find ourselves unable to draw any general conclusions about what a work must possess in order to be enduring.  

With all that as a preface, I would answer the general question in the following way.  Some works of art, especially visual arts, endure because they are beautiful.  Despite all we are often told to the contrary, I think there are good reasons to think human aesthetic sensibilities are fairly uniform through time and across cultures.  This obviously must be carefully qualified and much more needs to be said.  Still, there is enough of a common aesthetic sensibility to explain why the Parthenon continues to impress.  It's a lovely building.  

Other works of art endure because they deal in compelling ways with universal human experience.  Literature is here the most obvious example.  Shakespeare is translated and read all over the world because we all know, for instance, what it means to fall in love where circumstances make the enjoyment of that love impossible.  

Still other works of art endure because they happen to lend themselves to the interests of the age, whether those be moral, aesthetic, political, etc.  This is the least illuminating thing to say because it amounts to the claim that some works continue to be of interest because they happen to continue to be of interest.  Still, this is, I think, indeed what is going on in certain cases.  As I said above, no general lesson can be drawn but nevertheless we do have a sort of explanation insofar as we can identify what it is about a particular work of art that has appealed to each successive epoch.  


John Milliken

2012-10-01
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan

I am sincerely interested in this issue. You and I once met, Derek, at an aesthetics conference (perhaps it was in Uppsala or at the Scruton's Aesthetics Conference in Durham). We share an interest in Malraux. I believe him to be one of the few who understand the connection between an artwork's place in the history of art and an artwork's value. He understands the importance of style, a hopelessly under-discussed topic in analytic aesthetics.  

Anyway, one response to your concern, and a cheeky one, is that the definition of 'great artwork' implies that any work we bestow with the honorific 'great' is one that has endured. There will be no great artworks that have not endured. If this is so, then bestowal of the honorific may be less about a capacity to transcend time than a result of our intuitions about the application of a concept. That would be sad, but it might be true.  

If we conceive of enduring artworks as ones that are great in virtue partly of having endured, which we might do, then there will be no artworks that have endured which are not great. I am less inclined to accept this direction of implication. A work might endure because of the effect of its shock value, and I doubt that the capacity to shock is sufficient for something's being a great work of art. Duchamp's fountain might be like this. An artist's canned shit -- I don't know if anyone has done that -- would surely be like this, if it lived on, say, with the help of mention in art theory books, etc.  

That sort of thing aside, though, my best response at this point is to say that some artworks endure and are great because of a single complex feature that gives rise to both greatness and endurance. It gives rise to a greatness that they possess regardless of our preferences and an endurance that is a function of both that greatness and our response to it. This is the feature of being an exemplar of an artist's style that is partly original -- different from previous styles -- and partly similar to previous styles. They take a place in the art historical chain of ever-evolving style.

If one buys that story -- and I can think of few other stories that can make as much sense of the artistic problems that artists set for themselves -- then one is led immediately to a follow-on question: what is the connection between such a style and the very great value we take great artworks to have? That, anyway, is my take on the matter. But as far as I can see, it is also Malraux's.


2012-10-01
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi Christopher

I have an awful memory for conferences and people I meet – simply shocking. But I was at Uppsala in 2008 so it may well have been there. (I wasn’t at the other one you mention and I confess I am not a fan of Scruton.)

Anyway, thank you for your comments. I'm keen to get discussion going on this topic because I think it's a major forgotten issue in aesthetics and like so many things that are not on the orthodox agenda, it does not get an airing.

You say: “… one response to your concern, and a cheeky one, is that the definition of 'great artwork' implies that any work we bestow with the honorific 'great' is one that has endured. There will be no great artworks that have not endured. If this is so, then bestowal of the honorific may be less about a capacity to transcend time than a result of our intuitions about the application of a concept.

I think it’s true that the fact that a work has endured is often given as a reason why it should be considered a work of art. But I’m not coming at the topic from that angle. My concern is not the question of what are, or are not, works of art. I’m assuming that there are such things as works of art. We may not agree, of course, what they are, though presumably there are considerable areas of agreement. But if one is not prepared to assume this – if one thinks there are no such things as works of art and the phrase is meaningless – the whole point of the philosophy of art falls to the ground anyway (as it no doubt does for people who have no interest in art).

So, after that long-winded preamble, what I am saying is this: given that there are certain objects we call works of art, and given that they seem to endure over long periods of time (endure in the sense of remaining vital and alive, not physically of course),
  1. How do they endure? I mean do they endure by preserving the same meaning at all times throughout the ages (i.e. “timelessly”– which was the standard view from the Renaissance onwards); or do they change meaning over time? (If we look at the historical evidence the latter seems to be the case.) And then,

  2. How do we explain this capacity to endure? I mean: What elements within our account of what art is can we appeal to explain why and how this happens?

Analytic aesthetics doesn't ask these questions because it effectively treats art as atemporal. That is, it assumes that one can cover all the important characteristics of art without considering whether it has a specific temporal nature. So, for example, one might discuss art in terms of beauty, “aesthetic pleasure”, taste and so on, and, although passing reference might be made to how these ideas have changed over time, one does not ask: Does art itself, by its very nature, live a special kind of temporal life? 

It seems to me obvious that the answer to this question must be yes, simply because there are no other objects that transcend time – i.e. that remain vital and alive despite the passing of centuries or millennia. Of course, we preserve lots of non-art objects from the past but we put those in history museums not art museums: they are 'evidence' of the past but they no longer 'live' in the relevant sense. (It’s the difference between a sixteenth century legal document, for example, and Hamlet; or between a stone-age hand-axe and the Lascaux caves.)

I have not got to the rest of your post – e.g. your comments on why art endures – but this has already gone on too long so I’ll defer that for now.

Cheers


2012-10-01
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan

Thanks. I was aware that the writer of the paper I recommended was addressing a different issue; it was just that the discussion in it pointed the way to some attempted answers to your question - that's why I thought it might be useful for you. There may be very little explicitly on your question, but you may find material that suggests or even entails answers to it. I think both the answers I extracted should count as standard attempts to deal with your question, even if they eventually come to be judged inadequate. I wouldn't say they are insignificant, even if they are mistaken.

I get the impression you are looking for a single explanation for why the art that lives on does so. Moreover, it must apply to art and nothing else. If your question is to be understood as presupposing that there must be a single explanation and that it must be distinctive to art, then I think most philosophers will not be sure if it is a good question, because they doubt the presuppositions. Already one respondent has suggested different explanations for different art forms and I am attracted to different explanations at the level of specific art works.


2012-10-01
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
I think John's earlier suggestions were pretty compelling, and they echo my own thoughts about what plausibly makes an artwork a great artwork that I expressed in an earlier forum on whether video games could be art.

Here are some candidates, which can be taken alone or in various combinations but certainly needn't be considered exhaustive.

1) Having a profound subject matter—subject matters of great moral, philosophical, or human significance---or offer a profound insight into some subject matter, which may or may not itself be profound.

2) Exhibiting a strikingly innovative/original style or skillful execution of a remarkably high degree of difficultly.

3) Affording the viewer an (exemplary) aesthetic experience or supporting protracted and sustained multiple, repeat-viewings that yield more or less undiminished returns. 

Finally, lest you forget our dear Mother Muse Urania, Derek, note that works of philosophy also have the capacity to "remain vital and alive despite the passage of long periods of time"---though I suspect we'd be loathe to count many such enduring philosophical works as artworks.  


2012-10-01
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to John Milliken

Hi John

Sorry for the delay in replying.

I’ll take your points I order.

Might there be more than one reason why works endure, you say. I imagine one can’t rule that out – though if we’re looking for a unified theory of art, that would be a problem, wouldn’t it?

However, the problem at the moment is not that aesthetics offers us more than one candidate but that it offers none at all. That is, the question of the temporal nature of art (what kind of life it lives in time) is not addressed at all.

You offer three reasons why art might endure – that it is beautiful, that it deals with “universal human experience” or that it lends itself to the “interests of the age”.

It’s worth noting first that each of these raises its own problems: whether art is necessarily beautiful and what “beautiful” means in the context of art are very debatable topics;  whether there is such a thing as “universal human experience”, and what it might be, is equally problematic; and of course appealing to the “interests of the age” would not explain why a work endures.

But all that is somewhat beside the point anyway. The issue I’ve raised is not just about why works endure but the way they endure – the nature of art’s temporal life. Your first two (the last does not apply) would presumably mean that art endures timelessly – i.e. that given works appeal to all ages and mean the same to all of them. Now that is simply not what the history of art tells us. Medieval art, for example, (there are dozens of other examples) was despised for some three centuries after Raphael but is now considered one of the world’s great art periods. Even the Parthenon, which you quote, was not always admired as it is now – hence the enormous damage it has suffered. The notion that art endures timelessly - very powerful over the post-Renaissance period and virtually taken as read by Enlightenment aesthetics - is simply no longer viable. 

Perhaps I should also stress this point (which I shall also make in my reply to Christy): The issue at stake is not about sorting great art from less great or non-art  It's about whether or not art has a temporal nature and if so what it is. Analytic aesthetics, as I’ve said, does not deal with this question at all; it deals with art as an "object" and then considers its object characteristics – whether it is beautiful, "represents" objects etc. But as well as being an object, I am pointing out, art has a temporal life – a life in time, and the stark evidence of this is before us every time we read a Shakespeare play or visit an art museum which contains works from the past.

DA

 


2012-10-02
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi Terence

Sorry if I sounded ungrateful for your reference . I was concentrating on the points you raised.

But I don’t think it is correct to say that “both the answers I [i.e. you] extracted should count as standard attempts to deal with your question”. In fact aesthetics has provided no answers to the question, standard or otherwise. The only book in Anglo-American aesthetics I am aware of that addresses the question of art and time is Anthony Savile’s The Test of Time and that was published way back in 1982 and in any case only skims the surface of the issues at stake. The question I’m addressing has been almost totally neglected – an astonishing state of affairs once one realizes the importance of what's involved. Analogies are dangerous in this area and I wouldn’t want this one stretched too far, but the present situation in aesthetics is rather like someone describing an aeroplane and forgetting to mention that it can fly.

You also say: “If your question is to be understood as presupposing that there must be a single explanation and that it must be distinctive to art, then I think most philosophers will not be sure if it is a good question, because they doubt the presuppositions.”

I see no reason at all why there should not be a single explanation (though this does not necessarily imply a simple one).  Nor why it should not be distinctive to art. If we think that one of the distinctive features of art is a capacity to transcend time – which I do, and which our experience plainly indicates is the case – it is surely quite natural to look for such an explanation, is it not? Why would we presume that there could not be a single fundamental cause distinctive to art?

(I have dealt with the different explanations suggested by the John Milliken in my reply to him.)

DA


2012-10-02
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
There is a drawback to pluralistic explanations: the less an explanation unifies phenomena the less explanatory it is. Imagine a law of nature that was claimed to apply to merely one event. That law would not figure in an sort of theory that could reasonably be thought explanatory. It couldn't of course even be reasonably thought a law. The drawback is shared by atomistic explanations of the sort you appear to favor, but the drawback is acute, since such explanations fail to unify at all. Some might claim them to not even be explanations. 

Another way to put the point is to say that we are looking for an explanation of why a single modifier ('enduring') can be applied to a whole range of varied objects that we nevertheless refer to with a single kind term 'art'. If we are interested in explanation, then we ought, I think, to try to unify rather than give up the task as futile. If we're to give up the task as futile, then we ought to admit that, as Bell says, we then gibber when we use the term 'art'.





2012-10-02
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi Christy

First let me stress again that I am not dealing with the question of "what makes an artwork a great artwork"  I’ve now explained this point in other posts on the thread so I won’t labour it again – unless you wish me to. (Incidentally, I’ve met this misunderstanding before, which is why I have included it on my page What the Question of Art and Time is Not About (point 4).)

You also say:” Finally, lest you forget our dear Mother Muse Urania, Derek, note that works of philosophy also have the capacity to "remain vital and alive despite the passage of long periods of time"---though I suspect we'd be loathe to count many such enduring philosophical works as artworks.”

I’ve met this objection before too. But I think it is very dubious. I’m not an expert on the history of philosophy but I’m aware that there are some very debatable issues here. Do philosophical arguments remain vital and alive? Do they endure?  First question: what does that mean? Would we be saying that certain arguments have been accepted as true once and for all? That would be a brave claim, would it not? Any takers for naming an argument that has never been challenged? Or maybe we take the Hegelian route and claim that former arguments are somehow taken up and moved to a higher stage in later developments?  There’s hardly unanimous support for that idea either. Second, what does “philosophy” mean here? Presumably, we’d rule out the beliefs of everyone except Greeks, Romans and Europeans? But that’s a bit tough, isn’t it? What about Hindu philosophy or China? Come to that, why do we privilege philosophy over religious beliefs? So why not include the Egyptians, Pre-Columbians, etc. And even if we limit ourselves to the European tradition, we have pick and choose, don’t we? We might think Aquinas is a great philosopher, but Aquinas believed firmly in angels so we’d have to toss out that bit. Along with Descartes’ pineal gland, etc. Third, there are lots of questions about the extent to which we can accurately understand the ideas of earlier philosophers once they’re divorced from their cultural context. This is not my area but whole books have been written on it. 

In short, whether or not philosophy endures is a very thorny question. The answer is by no means self-evident.

With art on the other hand, things are much more straightforward. We know that certain works have endured because they are vital and alive for us. Just as we know that many others haven’t because they are like empty shells that leave us cold and unmoved. And we also know, incidentally, that many of the works that are vital and alive for us today come from cultures whose beliefs are alien to us or even completely unknown. So art can survive even when the beliefs associated with them are quite dead. We admire Lascaux but we know zero about the beliefs of those who painted them and almost certainly wouldn't share them if we did.

In short, whether philosophy transcends time is very debatable; whether art does is beyond question. The key question for philosophers of art – the question that has been ignored for so long – is why art transcends time and how it does so (i.e. the manner of its transcendence) .

Don’t you think it is astonishing that such an obvious feature of art has been ignored by aesthetics for so long?  I think one can identify the causes (I've already hinted at them), but it's astonishing nonetheless.

DA


2012-10-02
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Sorry. Ignore this post. Mistake and I can't seem to delete it

DA

2012-10-02
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
This is probably my last response. It is to Chris:
(1) I appreciate the considerations in favour of unificatory explanations, but when I consider certain enduring artworks and certain other enduring artworks, non-identical explanations for their endurance occur to me and these explanations seem very plausible. I am not inclined to attach that much value to being unificatory, in such conditions. But you think there is a big price to preferring pluralistic ones, which I address below.

(2) Regarding the last sentence of your response, your thought, as I understand you, is this: either there can be a good unificatory explanation for the endurance of artworks or it is a metaphysical error to think that different artworks belong to a common type 'art'. I will grant that they belong to a common type. But why does that requires thinking that the explanation must be unificatory?

My knowledge in this area is very limited, but perhaps your argument is as follows: (i) the reason for us saying that artworks belong to the common type 'art' is because we think that all important properties that manifest themselves in different artforms admit of unificatory explanations; (ii) endurance is an important property that manifests itself in different artforms - there are poems, musical works, paintings, etc. that live on; so if we think that there is no unificatory explanation of endurance, we have no reason to say that artworks belong to a common type 'art'. It is an interesting argument. But (i) seems very controversial. I suspect that if one looked through theories of what is art, most of them do not require anything as strong as (i) or even a moderated version that still includes endurance in the list of properties requiring a unificatory explanation.

2012-10-02
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek.  I think the easiest way for me to reply to your comments is to give excerpts from your post followed by my responses.
"Might there be more than one reason why works endure, you say. I imagine one can’t rule that out – though if we’re looking for a unified theory of art, that would be a problem, wouldn’t it?"


I would agree with this.  But, as you can probably tell, I'm skeptical that we should be looking for a unified theory.  My primary reason for this is the fact that art has been such a plastic category, including things that seem so very different.


"It’s worth noting first that each of these raises its own problems: whether art is necessarily beautiful and what “beautiful” means in the context of art are very debatable topics;  whether there is such a thing as “universal human experience”, and what it might be, is equally problematic; and of course appealing to the “interests of the age” would not explain why a work endures."


I don't think I need to endorse the position that art is necessarily beautiful to say that the explanation for why some works endure is their beauty.  I think what 'beautiful' means is quite controversial for philosophers and art critics but not for the ordinary person.  And here I don't think we need any very deep theory, but just the observation that an enduring object of art happens to afford people from various times and places aesthetic pleasure.  We would have to have a long conversation about universal human experience, but I will here just register my view that the burden of proof is squarely upon the one who would deny it.  As for appeal to the interests of the age, it does seem that it would provide an explanation of why a work has had continuing salience in various contexts.  I get the idea that by 'endures' you mean something different than this, but I'm not sure what.  


"Your first two (the last does not apply) would presumably mean that art endures timelessly – i.e. that given works appeal to all ages and mean the same to all of them."


I don't see that I'm committed to this view, either.  For one thing, enduring works need not appeal to all ages but obviously must appeal to more than one.  Also, I think the view I've sketched can certain accommodate cases where works of art skip generations, going from popularity to obscurity and back again as tastes change.  As for meaning the same to all ages, again I think this does not follow from what I have said.  Shakespeare could be universally popular but this could be because certain aspects of his works appeal in one place, and certain other aspects in other places.  Perhaps part of the attraction with Shakespeare is that he illustrates so many themes so well that every culture finds something within his corpus with which to resonate. 

Finally, I'd like to add my two cents about whether philosophy endures.  I have just recently been reading Plato's Republic with my students.  Several have told me they have found their views about certain things challenged and even changed by what they read.  If that is not a case of a work of philosophy enduring, what would count as such a case? 

I'd also point out that religious works have endured in many cases in a similar fashion.  Religious believers still read and respond in powerful ways to, for instance, Isaiah.  

I'm not sure if I'll be getting back in after this comment, so it seems appropriate to say farewell and thanks to everyone who has participated for an interesting discussion.  Thanks to you, Derek, for raising it and best of luck in coming up with a satisfying solution. 

John

2012-10-02
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan

Sorry about this, Derek, but I won't address the question in your reply, because I am leaving the discussion now. It has been nice thinking about this issue. I had read some of your work prior to the discussion. I think I encountered it on PhilPapers and I am not a specialist on aesthetics. So it is reaching people. Apart from Derek, I would also like to say thanks to Chris, or Christopher, for his reply and to the other discussants.


2012-10-03
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to John Milliken

Hi John

I note that you’ll probably not be responding but I’ll comment on a couple of points.

You say: “I'm skeptical that we should be looking for a unified theory.  My primary reason for this is the fact that art has been such a plastic category, including things that seem so very different.”

There are lots of things that manifest themselves in many different ways: philosophy, science, technology, religion, customs, genius, ambition, courage, cowardice, and so on … pretty well indefinitely. Over the last century, Western art has been unusually varied but we shouldn’t let ourselves be overawed by that.

(And of course once we give up on a unified theory of art we logically have to give up on the word/concept art too.)

You say: … As for appeal to the interests of the age, it does seem that it would provide an explanation of why a work has had continuing salience in various contexts.  I get the idea that by 'endures' you mean something different than this, but I'm not sure what.  

Let me try to explain. By “endures” I simply mean what we all know anyway: that there are large numbers of would-be works of art that sink beneath the waves, and only a very small proportion that survive. Or more broadly, that religions, customs, beliefs, etc die, but great art lives on. (e.g. we admire Egyptian art but certainly do not believe in Osiris, Horus etc.) So we run into a question about the nature of art: why does it live on when all else dies? Why does it survive the wreckage? What inherent power does it have that allows it to do that?

There’s really nothing esoteric about this. We all know that Shakespeare is alive and well and that Beaumont and Fletcher etc are only studied by specialists.  We all know that Mozart is alive and well and that Salieri only hangs on by Mozart’s coat-tails. And so on. I’m simply asking us (i.e. aesthetics) to address the question of why. I’m not talking about handing out plaudits to this work or that. The issue is a general one – one of principle, of theory. What is the nature of art’s power to survive – and how does it operate?

The truly curious thing is that, although aesthetics has ignored this question for about a century, it is very much part of our European intellectual heritage. The idea that art is “immortal,” “timeless” was invented in the Renaissance to deal with exactly the problem I’m discussing. (It explained why classical art had endured: it was immortal.) But then Hegel and Co came along and placed art within the domain of history and timelessness was dead in the water. So we today have a huge problem: how do we explain the capacity of art to endure? Again, I’m not talking about this or that work. The question is a general one: What unique capacity does art have that allows it survive the holocaust of historical change? It's a question that confronts is every time we enter an art museum…

This has got a bit too long, so I'll call a halt.

DA

 

 


2012-10-03
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Hi Terence

Thanks for being part of the discussion anyway. So little attention is paid to the issue that I was truly half-expecting that I would get no replies at all!

DA

2012-10-03
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to John Milliken

Hi John

Just a quick PS to my last posting.

You say at the end: “… best of luck in coming up with a satisfying solution”.

I should probably explain – not so much for you perhaps because you are leaving the thread, but for others – that I have already arrived at what I consider to be a very satisfactory solution to the problem. I have not mentioned this so far because my main concern at present is simply to raise the issue – to try to get philosophers of art to think about it at least – rather than move on to answers.

I won’t outline my thinking here, and in any case it’s not my thinking, it’s André Malraux’s. But I mention this point in case people think I am just wildly shooting arrows in the air and not caring where they fall – so to speak.

DA


2012-10-03
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan

Before interest in this issue flags completely (I seem to detect signs of it) let me see if I can explain what I am on about by coming at it from another angle.

Let’s choose a selection of the ideas that aesthetics commonly uses to discuss art – say, beauty, the provision of “aesthetic pleasure”, appealing to a sense of taste (nice traditional ones those) and, borrowing a couple from Christy’s earlier post, “having a profound subject matter” and  “exhibiting skilful execution of a remarkably high degree of difficulty.”

Now, none of these ideas has an intrinsically temporal component. One can, of course, say things like: “ideas of beauty and aesthetic pleasure change over time” or maybe even: “ideas of profundity and skill change over time”. But to say that requires us to introduce a category of time extraneous to art – i.e. historical change. There is nothing in the ideas of beauty etc themselves that connects with time and change. (And a fortiori of course there is nothing in those ideas that would explain a capacity to transcend time).

This, of course, was the great virtue of the traditional (and now defunct) idea that art is “immortal”, “eternal”, “timeless”. It gave art a temporal dimension: it meant that art by its very nature had a special kind of relationship with time, viz. a capacity to escape it, to be exempt from it.

Now none of the categories that aesthetics currently uses in its analyses of art (beauty etc) has an intrinsically temporal nature. (If anyone can think of one that does, please tell me.) So art, as it is now conceived, is intrinsically atemporal – i.e. it has no inbuilt relationship with time. It is essentially a “static” object, existing in a kind of temporal vacuum (even if bits of history are used in ad hoc ways to explain this and that).

Yet, as I’ve been pointing out in other posts, when we reflect on art and its capacity to transcend time, we see immediately that this cannot possibly be the case.

Which is why I say that time is the forgotten dimension of art.

DA


2012-10-04
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
"Put simply: everything else in human life – from fads, to social customs, to religious beliefs etc – falls prey to the passing of time..."

Surely not everything. Gadamer may be useful here. He contrasts poetry that "stands written" for all time with a throwaway verse swapped between young lovers. Like poetry, legislation is divorced from its exact origins too. The proper interpretation of laws is not based on historical psychologizing into the minds of lawmakers but on interpretation of, in laws' case, a text. Once we have this distinction of Gadamer's, we can move on to the transcendence of art.

On a separate point, even from what you say, some art is evanescent while some is transcendent, like everything else in human life, to coin a phrase.

2012-10-04
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
 Following this last contribution, about the emergence of a "great" work of art and its (subsequent) enduring quality, a good example might have been the emergence of the so-called primitive art, or even the re-invention of folk art, instead of having almost always something like Gioconda at the back of our minds. Really what turned Douanier Rousseau into a great artist and his works "great and enduring works of art"? And what about the undeniable influence that works of primitive art exercised on Picasso, works that in order to be allowed into the artworld had first to be judged worthy of a certain "greatness"?

It would be hard to deny the social and historical implications that accompany the elevation of a work of art in a state of "greateness". Any attempt to isolate the formal qualities of the art object would lead to a kind of  false "purity", as much as the attempt to attribute to that object a set of vague, subjective qualities would direct us to a certain romanticism with dubious outcomes. Therefore, a discussion concerning the dimension of time embedded in the ("great") work of art, would be useful to commence by inquiring into the notion of "greateness" -the brackets above addressing the question whether not all works of art don't involve the dimension of time, or eternity, as expressions of a historical moment. What turns certain works -and not others- into recognizable objects carrying a set of qualities that we value as worthy is tightly connected with the values that predominate in a certain historical period and their revivals and so we might wish to consider the matter of time in close relation with that of history.  

2012-10-05
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi Marek

Thank you for your comment.

I’m not exactly sure what your first point is. Are you saying that laws live on too, like art? I would find that very hard to accept. Imagine trying to run today’s complex world with the laws of ancient Egypt or of the Australian Aboriginals pre-European contact. Laws are closely tied to social/technological contexts and cultural beliefs. And like them, they are very much “prey to the passing of time" (to brazenly quote myself).

You also say “even from what you say, say some art is evanescent while some is transcendent, like everything else in human life, to coin a phrase.

I’m not sure what part of what I said you are thinking of, but perhaps it’s where I was speaking about medieval art being eclipsed for some three centuries?  This raises an extremely important point that’s absolutely central to the issue I’m trying to reinstate on the agenda of aesthetics. Let me explain very briefly:

It’s certainly true – we only have to look at the history of art – that, contrary to traditional thinking, art does not endure timelessly. That is, it is not exempt from time and does not endure by always meaning the same for each succeeding generation (as Hume thought when he said that the “The same Homer who pleased at Athens and Rome two thousand years ago, is still admired at Paris and London”.)

Art not only changes in meaning over time but, in so doing, it can sometimes fade into obscurity for long periods – as medieval and Byzantine art did, for example. But this does not mean it is “evanescent” to borrow your word. Because art is capable of resurrections – i.e. of reappearing with new and different significances (so, for example, medieval art has reappeared, but it does not mean for us what it meant in the 12th century). 

This is what Malraux calls art’s power of metamorphosis – its capacity to live again with changed significances. And the phrase ‘live again’ is meant very seriously. No one doubts that the statues at Chartres Cathedral (for example) were vital, living presences for medieval worshippers, who saw them as sacred figures who were part of the faith they lived by. And no one – at least no one with a love of art – doubts that the same statues are vital and alive for us today – as magnificent works of art (though no longer as sacred figures to be worshipped). And no one doubts that, in the interim, medieval art was despised for some three centuries – i.e. that it effectively sank into oblivion.

So (to generalize) art certainly endures as a living presence - and is the only human creation that does; but it does so by metamorphoses. If I may permit myself a quote from Malraux: “Metamorphosis … is the very law of life of the work of art”.

Give that this power to transcend time is such is such a striking and apparently miraculous characteristic of art, don't you find it amazing that aesthetics so comprehensively ignores it? I do.

DA



2012-10-05
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi Christina

Many thanks for your thoughts.

I’m not sure I follow your argument completely so please feel free to correct me if I misinterpret you.

I can’t recall if I used the term “great” – I probably did – but I would not wish to place too much weight on it. When I use it, it's simply my shorthand for works that are widely recognized as outstanding. And I'm not attempting to isolate particular “formal qualities” that might make a work great. (I know attempts are sometimes made to do that, but I think they are essentially a waste of time, and in any case are not relevant to my present arguments.)

I think you are right to draw attention to the “emergence of the so-called primitive art”. This is a classic case of “metamorphosis” – no different in essence from the metamorphosis that has taken place in the case of medieval art (see my reply to Marek) or, say, Egyptian art, or Pre-Columbian art. (Sacred works becoming (for us) “works of art”).

You say at the end “What turns certain works -and not others - into recognizable objects carrying a set of qualities that we value as worthy is tightly connected with the values that predominate in a certain historical period and their revivals and so we might wish to consider the matter of time in close relation with that of history.”

To a point, I agree. This is one reason why the traditional explanation of the temporal nature of art – that it is “timeless” – has failed. The notion of timelessness – which has been immensely influential in European thought, and still lingers on today – requires us to consider a (great) work exempt from the passing of time – immune from history, as it were. But when we look at the history of art, and especially the eclipses that certain works and styles have suffered, this explanation is plainly untenable. So we need an explanation of the capacity of art to endure that accepts the effects of history. Which is one of the reasons I favour Malraux’s theory of metamorphosis.

It’s worth adding, though, that we can’t explain art’s capacity to endure by invoking history alone. History explains why art is affected by time (changing social contexts etc); it does not explain why it transcends it.

DA


2012-10-07
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Thank you, Terrence, for spending time thinking so carefully about my comment.

You have got my main claim right: (a) there is a unificatory explanation for passing the test of time OR the objects we refer to using the term 'art' do not belong to a common type. And you have (of course) got right the transformation of that claim into its more useful version: (b) if the objects we refer to using the term 'art' belong to a common type, then there is a unificatory explanation for their passing the test of time.

The argument you offer on my behalf to arrive at the claim is, however, not one I would support. Consider premise (i): "Because we think that all important properties that manifest themselves in different artforms admit of unificatory explanations, we say that artworks belong to the common type 'art'." I would claim, rather, that we believe they must belong to a common type (i.e., must have shared defining features) because we refer to them all with the same term. Our using the same term is evidence that they have shared defining features. We may be wrong, in which case, as Bell says, we then gibber. 

Here is my reason for believing (b) true. The following is not possible: '(i) there is a feature or set of features necessary and sufficient for something's being an artwork BUT (ii) there is no explanation for passing the test of time that includes reference to that feature/features as a necessary part of the cause of their having passed the test'.

It is not possible because, if the works that endure do so as art, then the reason for that endurance will have to do with the feature/features they have in common and in virtue of which they are art. Another way to put the point is to say that if they endure because of features that do not bear on what makes them art, then they have endured not as art but as something else, in which case their having endured is not the interesting question we had taken it to be.


2012-10-07
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

If I might make a brief marginal comment here.

Christopher refers to “passing the test of time”.

I’d like to make it clear that in starting this thread I was in no sense endorsing the notion of a “test of time”. The very little that has been written about the temporal nature of art in modern aesthetics (eg Savile’s book) has indeed been about this idea, but that is why, in my view, it is virtually useless.

Without going into my reasoning too deeply, ponder this: Would an art lover any time between say 1600 and 1800 have thought that any medieval art had passed the “test of time”?  Answer: He or she would not have even regarded it as art.

Similarly, would said art lover have thought any Indian, Egyptian or Pre-Columbian art had passed the “test of time”? Same answer.

And going one step further: Would any ancient Egyptian have thought that any of the art of his 3000 year old civilization had passed the “test of time”? Answer: he would have found the question incomprehensible because the notion of “art” did not exist in Egyptian culture (or in lots of others).

The so-called “test of time” only seems plausible if one ignores the history of art…

DA


2012-10-08
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Dear Derek

This is an interesting thread, thank you for initiating it. I would like you to elaborate further on your ideas.

What is at issue in rejecting the idea of a test of time for art works because the concept of *art* is not constant over time? You started the thread by saying that art has "a capacity to transcend time – to remain vital and alive despite the passage of long periods of time". In other words, they stand the test of time.

Or do they?

Filippo

2012-10-08
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Hi Christopher, I am returning because I couldn't resist responding! So we agree that this is your thesis:
(CS) If the things we think of as artworks belong to the common type 'art', then there is a unificatory explanation for why enduring artworks have endured.

And here are claims which I read you as making in justifying it:
(i) The things that we think of as artworks can only belong to the common type 'art' if there is a feature or set of features necessary and sufficient to make something an artwork.
(ii) The endurance question is only of interest to aesthetics if there are artworks that have endured as art and not merely endured.
(iii) An answer that preserves this interest will refer to the defining feature/features of art as at least part of the reason for endurance.

Anyone interested in the endurance question needs to reflect on this combination of claims, I think. But even if we grant them, I don't see how we get to (CS). A pluralist might say, 'Some artworks endure because of the combination of the defining features of art along with feature X, while other artworks endure because of the combination of the defining features of art along with feature Y.' They don't seem to violate the requirement on interest-preserving answers captured by (iii). 

2012-10-09
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Hi Filippo

Thank you for your perceptive comment.

My opening post was necessarily a little abbreviated – i.e. I was not attempting to cover the whole issue.

I wrote that: “The question is not about this or that work. It’s about a general capacity of (great) art – a capacity to transcend time – to remain vital and alive despite the passage of long periods of time. And it is also about the way works endure – but that’s a question for later on.”

So there are a couple of basic points I’m making here: First, I’m not interested in the question of whether a work’s capacity to endure somehow allows it to qualify as a work of art – i.e. the so-called “test of time”. (In general, I’m very sceptical about all “tests” – i.e. criteria – that allegedly separate art from non-art. But that’s another matter.) The question, as I say, is about the nature of the capacity – the “power” if you like – of art to transcend time: How does it work? Why does it work? What is this power?

So, as I say, it’s a general question about the nature of art. Now, if we're looking into the nature of a capacity to endure, the first question to ask is: what do we mean by “endure” in the case of art? Ordinarily, when we talk about enduring we think of something lasting continuously from point A to point B (with point B in this case being the present). Is this what happens in the case of art?

In fact, when we look at the (large numbers of) works from the past that form part of our modern world of art, we see that things have often not worked that way at all. Medieval and Byzantine art sank into virtual oblivion for some three hundred years; Egyptian art ditto for some 1500 years; and prior to the Renaissance, Greek art – even Greek art! – had been ignored for nearly a thousand years.

So art does not seem to endure continuously. It seems to endure by resuscitations – resurrections if you like. It can fade into insignificance and then reappear (unlike religions, customs, etc for example, which disappear irretrievably).

There's more to say but I’ll stop here for now because this will get too long. I’ll just add this: given what I’ve said, the so-called “test of time” is misleading on two counts: 1. It tends to focus our attention on individual works when it’s a general capacity of art that’s in question; and 2. It tends to make us think in terms of continuous enduring when that in fact is not the case.

I hope this helps make my position a bit clearer.

DA

2012-10-09
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi, Derek

Yes, thank you: I think I get what you have in mind to do, now.

You accept that (some) art remains significant over time but do not want to make this feature of (some) art a criterion for the quality of art. You want to enquire into how and why art keeps its resonance over time. It seems to me like yours are genuine and interesting questions. Interesting project! I will definitely keep an eye on how it unfolds.

Thank you

Filippo

2012-10-10
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Hi Filippo

Malraux summed it up nicely as far back as 1935:

“A work of art is an object, but it is also an encounter with time.”

The implications for aesthetics are, I think, quite revolutionary.

DA

2012-10-12
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Have you looked at "The Test of Time" by Antony Savile, 1982? It has also received a lot of attention from others, Peter Lamarque, Jerrold Levinson, Robert Stecker, just to name a few.--Jim Hamilton

2012-10-12
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi Jim

Thank you for your comment. Yes, I’m quite familiar with Savile's book and the responses to it.

As I indicated in two earlier posts (2 and 7 October), Savile’s approach – the so-called “test of time” – comprehensively misses the central point at issue, in my view. Worse than that, it acts as a red herring that positively leads us astray. Which would not matter much if we were talking about a question of minor importance but that is certainly not the case here.

I have elaborated a little on my criticisms of Savile et al in this article and, at somewhat greater length, in my book on Malraux in which the relationship between art and time is a central theme. (Please excuse the commercial: I simply want to make it clear that I have gone into this issue at some depth.)

In general, I think, as I indicate in the title of this thread, that the relationship between art and time – the temporal nature of art – is the big neglected question of modern aesthetics. (I specify “modern” because it was by no means neglected in earlier stages of Western intellectual history.) This situation is most unfortunate, in my view, because it results in a modern aesthetics that hugely underrates the human significance of art…

DA


2012-10-13
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,Thanks for the references. I am following up.
--Jim

2012-11-12
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
 We reinvent the wheel in every age -- because the concept of a circle flatters our need for apodeitic certainty, but never does the circle have a "beginning" and an "end" which is meaningful. It therefore reinvents itself for the age which needs it.  All art considered great has a vanishing point -- the impossible idealism and generality which teases a course philosophical need for stability.

Its unity draws us in, but its persistence will titillate the dialectical imagination which can find no beginning nor end.

(From an artist, who knows all the tricks which produce intellectual salivation more predictably than Pavlov's dog)

2012-11-12
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek

Thank you for your response. I see what you mean and the only reason I had to recall history was due to the time parameter that was introduced by you in the attempt to trace the emergence of the great or outstanding work of art, as I understood it.

I cannot say I am acquainted with Malraux, but Deleuze has surely a lot to say about the transcedental qualities of of art, only without specifying the nature of this art, leaving all possibilities open and pointing largely to the empirical character of it. Could this be closer to what you are attempting to specify? I find that philosophy of art incorporates so many other domains that it is hard to interpret such a wide subject by occupying a unique point of view and in that sense Deleuze comes, for me, really close to these attempts.

2012-11-12
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi everyone,

The reason behind the so colled endurance or how (great) art "lives on", in my opinion, lies in the capacity of an artwork to continually originate a time of its own; rather than transcending time by letting free from an origin as one would tend to think in terms of a linear understanding of time.

Though it's been some years now, I'd tried to handle the issue in my graduate studies from a Heidegerrean point of view. Not in the specific framework of "timelessness of the work of art" in Gadamer's words, but from rather an ontological perspective, or about what makes up the colors of the rainbow, if I can say so. You can check it here.


Eray Sariot
 


2012-11-12
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Interloper from lit-crit here. If the question has really been ignored, I'm not sure it has been for very long.  It seems to me that a reasonable answer can be found in the works of Ernst Cassirer and Susanne Langer, a thread of thinking that was temporarily overwhelmed in academe by the poststructuralist boom (or bubble, if you like). They emphasize symbolic value, which lasts as long as the symbols answer to human needs.  Art that lasts (the cave paintings at Lascaux, for example) would thus bid fair to give us insight into human nature, if we were to agree that such a thing exists. Words fail to capture that particular insight, though--or so far they have, which is okay by me, since we have the paintings whether words can capture their value or not. At any rate, a theory such as you desire would have to account for fairytales as well as Flaubert, which suggests to me that it would have to refer to developmental psychology or anthropology--fields which aren't or shouldn't be foreign to philosophy "proper."

2012-11-13
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi James

Thanks for your interesting comment. 

RE: “They emphasize symbolic value, which lasts as long as the symbols answer to human needs”

So, given that this “answering” process could presumably come to an end, art on this view could not last timelessly?  That is, it is not exempt from time?

Thus, the lasting would presumably happen “in spurts”, so to speak – when the symbols and the needs happened to match up?  So Gothic sculpture (to take an example), was ignored for three hundred or so years (from about 1550 on) because, if we follow the logic, its symbols stopped answering to needs? Then, in the late nineteenth century they started to answer again and today they continue to do so (hence our admiration for Gothic art)?

I see one positive and two negatives in this explanation.

The positive is that it matches up with the fact that art does not, as once thought, last timelessly – i.e. it is not exempt from historical changes: it does in fact go through periods in “limbo”.

A major negative is that it doesn’t account for the fact that much of the art we admire today was not “art” originally – so it has changed its nature as well as re-emerging from limbo. So it’s not just that art with a certain “symbolic value” comes and goes; it has also changed from being non-art (religious images etc) to art.

The other negative - or at least, problem - is that one would need to explain the relationship between “symbolic value” and art. And there would no doubt also need to be explanations of why certain symbolic values lose and regain their "answering" capacity at certain times. But all that's no doubt, a longish story... 

DA


2012-11-13
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Eray Sariot
Hi Eray

Not sure I follow. How does "originating a time of its own" allow a work to transcend time?

I can imagine one could argue that a work generates its own sense of time, but that's something that happens within the work - much as it might generate its own sense of place (e.g. Balzac, Dickens), or its sense of how human psychology operates (e.g. Shakespeare vs Richardson etc), etc. 

But how does the particular sense of time one experiences within a work explain its capacity (if it has one) to transcend - escape - historical time?

DA

2012-11-15
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Hi Christina

You say: "Deleuze has surely a lot to say about the transcendental qualities of of art".

What does he mean by "transcendental" in your view? The word is often used rather vaguely I find. I mean it specifically in the sense of transcending time - ie. escaping its historical context and living on across the centuries.

DA

2012-11-20
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek,

  it's been a long time since I wrote this post and I'm not sure I have followed the thread thoroughly since then. However, I couldn't fine something more vague than a work of art that "transcends time".  We acknowledge the enduring qualities of a work of art, but this goes both ways, as it is precisely time endurance that emphasizes the artwork's qualities. So, I would move the discussion to the causes of this transcendence. There comes Deleuze, not only in his short writings on a specific piece of art (i.e. the writings of Kafka) but also, I would dear to say, with his attempts to bring together Practice and Reflexion ( or passion and imagination) and the way they relate in human creation.

2012-11-22
Time: The Forgotten Dimension of Art

Hi Christina

Yes, but it is not "endurance [emphasizing] the artwork’s qualities” that interests me. (This brings up the dubious question of the “test of time” which some philosophers of art have written about – to very little purpose in my view). I am interested in the nature of this capacity to endure – what it is and how it operates.

For example, it was long thought that works of art endure because they are exempt from historical change – timeless or “immortal”. This hugely influential idea began with the Renaissance (see Shakespeare’s sonnets, for example) and was still alive and well in the 18th century.  One finds it in Hume, for example – as well as various other writers of the times. And the idea still hangs around in a half-hearted way today (“This timeless work…” etc).

But for reasons a bit lengthy to go into here, the notion that art is timeless is no longer credible. So how does it endure? What is the nature of art’s relationship with the passing of time? Clearly it escapes time in some way; otherwise it would be just like any object that gets overtaken by time and becomes part of history – an out-dated map or an old musket for example.  So what is the process? Why does art transcend time and, just as importantly, how does it do it?

Does Deleuze say anything about this? My reading of him suggests not. In fact it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find any modern theorist/philosopher of art who discusses these questions. Which is food for thought...

DA