Common Knowledge 15 (3):517-517 (2009)

Barry Allen
McMaster University
Craft work (for example, ceramics and furniture) poses a dilemma for modern thinking about beauty and the arts. Because of its beauty, craft has more than mere functionality, yet because of its functionality it cannot be fine art. What should craftmakers do? Claim their work to be fine art and forget about functionality? Or remain loyal to functionality (you can eat noodles from the finest ceramic bowl) and face extinction competing with machine-made products of industrial design? Apparently, the tendency is to abandon functionality, though Risatti thinks that is a mistake. Craft is not craft without functionality; bowls too large to lift have become the useless art of sculpture. Function is important because it implies a relation to the hands that make and use the work, guaranteeing human scale and meaning. How much fine art can you say that about? The real threat to craft is not assimilation to fine art, however. The effect of industrial design and machine production is to divorce the way a thing looks from how it is made. Never has so little of our artifactual environment actually been made by hand, and it’s a loss. A loss of connection. A thing made by and for the hands has a sense that transcends our differences and when beautifully made is an eloquent reminder of where ingenuity ultimately comes from.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1215/0961754x-2009-047
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,291
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Studies in Recent Aesthetic.Katherine Everett Gilbert - 1927 - Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina Press.
Function and Normativity in Hutcheson's Aesthetic Epistemology.Pje Kail - 2000 - British Journal of Aesthetics 40 (4):441-451.
The Aesthetic Function of Art.Gary Iseminger - 2004 - Cornell University Press.
Two Contrasts: Folk Craft Vs Folk Science and Belief Vs Opinion.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - In John D. Greenwood (ed.), The Future of Folk Psychology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 135--148.
The Aesthetic Value of Animals.Glenn Parson - 2007 - Environmental Ethics 29 (2):151-169.
Three Conceptions of Expression in Husserl.Genki Uemura - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 19:175-180.
Plato's Expression Theory of Art.Robert Stecker - 1992 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 26 (1):47-52.
Functional Beauty.Glenn Parsons - 2008 - Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
46 ( #234,700 of 2,456,037 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #303,388 of 2,456,037 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes