Introduction -- Landscape and longing -- Art and human nature -- What is art? -- But they don't have our concept of art -- Art and natural selection -- The uses of fiction -- Art and human self-domestication -- Intention, forgery, dada : three aesthetic problems -- The contingency of aesthetic values -- Greatness in the arts.
In this essay, then, I would like to address what I believe are the most compelling epistemic arguments against the notion that literature (and art more broadly) can function as an instrument of education and a source of knowledge.
This paper takes a cognitive perspective to assess the significance of some Late Palaeolithic artefacts (sculptures and engraved objects) for philosophicalconcepts of art. We examine cognitive capacities that are necessary to produceand recognize objects that are denoted as art. These include the ability toattribute and infer design (design stance), the ability to distinguish between themateriality of an object and its meaning (symbol-mindedness), and an aesthetic sensitivity to some perceptual stimuli. We investigate to what extent thesecognitive processes played a role in (...) the production and appreciation of somerecently discovered Palaeolithic artefacts. (shrink)
In Art and intention Paisley Livingston develops a broad and balanced perspective on perennial disputes between intentionalists and anti-intentionalists in philosophical aesthetics and critical theory. He surveys and assesses a wide range of rival assumptions about the nature of intentions and the status of intentionalist psychology. With detailed reference to examples from diverse media, art forms, and traditions, he demonstrates that insights into the multiple functions of intentions have important implications for our understanding of artistic creation and authorship, the ontology (...) of art, conceptions of texts, works, and versions, basic issues pertaining to the nature of fiction and fictional truth, and the theory of art interpretation and appreciation. Livingston argues that neither the inspirationist nor rationalistic conceptions can capture the blending of deliberate and intentional, spontaneous and unintentional processes in the creation of art. Texts, works, and artistic structures and performances cannot be adequately individuated in the absence of a recognition of the relevant makers4intentions. The distinction between complete and incomplete works receives an action-theoretic analysis that makes possible an elucidation of several different senses of "fragment" in critical discourse. Livingston develops an account of authorship, contending that the recognition of intentions is in fact crucial to our understanding of diverse forms of collective art-making. An artist's short-term intentions and long-term plans and policies interact in complex ways in the emergence of an artistic oeuvre, and our uptake of such attitudes makes an important difference to our appreciation of the relations between items belonging to a single life-work. The intentionalism Livingston advocates is, however, a partial one, and accommodates a number of important anti-intentionalist contentions. Intentions are fallible, and works of art, like other artefacts, can be put to a bewildering diversity of uses. Yet some important aspects of art's meaning and value are linked to the artist's aims and activities. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the prototype theory of concepts supports two controversial claims in the philosophy of art: that art cannot be defined, and that the possession of a certain sort of historical narrative is a sufficient but not necessary means of determining the art status of contested works. It is argued here that two sorts of considerations undermine the thesis that prototype theory offers significant support to anti-definitionism and historical narrativism. First, there is reason to think that prototype (...) theory is as a psychological theory not the sort of view that can support philosophical theories like anti-definitionism and historical narrativism. Second, well-known objections and theoretical alternatives to prototype theory theory raise serious questions about that theory’s own credentials. (shrink)
According to Arthur Danto, post-modern or post-historical art began when artists like Andy Warhol collapsed the Modern distinction between art and everyday life by bringing “the everyday” into the artworld. I begin by pointing out that there is another way to collapse this distinction: bring art out of the artworld and into everyday life. An especially effective way of doing this is to make street art, which, I argue, is art whose meaning depends on its use of the street. I (...) defend this definition and show how it handles graffiti and public art. (shrink)
Philosophers involved in the ‘porn-or-art’ debates standardly assume that pornography is centrally about sexual arousal, while art is about something else. I argue against this assumption and for the view that there is no single thing that pornography (or art) ‘is about’. This suggests that there is no prima facie reason for claiming that some x cannot be both pornography and art. I further go on to develop an understanding of (what I call) ‘porno-art’ - a wholly new kind of (...) thing developing from the extant categories of pornography and art, but still distinct and separate from them. (shrink)
The last twenty-five years have seen a radical shift in the work of politically committed artists. No longer content to merely represent social reality, a new generation of artists has sought to change it, blending art with activism, social regeneration projects, and even violent political action. I assess how this form of contemporary art should lead us to rethink theories of artistic value and argue that these works make a convincing case for an often-dismissed position, namely, the pragmatic view of (...) artistic value. However, the pragmatic view, when properly applied, sets the bar high indeed—art that tries to change society should be considered good art only when it succeeds in making a tangible difference. (shrink)
WHAT is art? Classificatory disputes.. Classificatory disputes about what is art SEE this link for the images embeded in the text!! https://ulrichdebalbian.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/classificatory-disputes-about-what-is-art/ -/- Art historians and philosophers of art have long had classificatory disputes about art regarding whether a particular cultural form or piece of work should be classified as art. Disputes about what does and does not count as art continue to occur today -/- Defining art is difficult if not impossible. Aestheticians and art philosophers often engage in disputes (...) about how to define art. By its original and broadest definition, art (from the Latin ars, meaning “skill” or “craft”) is the product or process of the effective application of a body of knowledge, most often using a set of skills; this meaning is preserved in such phrases as “liberal arts” and “martial arts”. However, in the modern use of the word, which rose to prominence after 1750, “art” is commonly understood to be skill used to produce an aesthetic result (Hatcher, 1999). (shrink)
Over a decade ago, Arthur Danto announced that art ended in the sixties. Ever since this declaration, he has been at the forefront of a radical critique of the nature of art in our time. After the End of Art presents Danto's first full-scale reformulation of his original insight, showing how, with the eclipse of abstract expressionism, art has deviated irrevocably from the narrative course that Vasari helped define for it in the Renaissance. Moreover, he leads the way to a (...) new type of criticism that can help us understand art in a posthistorical age where, for example, an artist can produce a work in the style of Rembrandt to create a visual pun, and where traditional theories cannot explain the difference between Andy Warhol's Brillo Box and the product found in the grocery store. Here we are engaged in a series of insightful and entertaining conversations on the most relevant aesthetic and philosophical issues of art, conducted by an especially acute observer of the art scene today.Originally delivered as the prestigious Mellon Lectures on the Fine Arts, these writings cover art history, pop art, "people's art," the future role of museums, and the critical contributions of Clement Greenberg--who helped make sense of modernism for viewers over two generations ago through an aesthetics-based criticism. Tracing art history from a mimetic tradition through the modern era of manifestos, Danto shows that it wasn't until the invention of Pop art that the historical understanding of the means and ends of art was nullified. Even modernist art, which tried to break with the past by questioning the ways of producing art, hinged on a narrative.Traditional notions of aesthetics can no longer apply to contemporary art, argues Danto. Instead he focuses on a philosophy of art criticism that can deal with perhaps the most perplexing feature of contemporary art: that everything is possible. (shrink)
I consider the field of aesthetics to be at its most productive and engaging when adopting a broadly philosophically informative approach to its core issues (e.g., shaping and testing putative art theoretic commitments against the relevant standard models employed in philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind) and to be at its most impotent and bewildering when cultivating a philosophically insular character (e.g., selecting interpretative, ontological, or conceptual models solely for fit with pre-fixed art theoretic commitments). For example, when (...) philosophical aesthetics tends toward insularity, we shouldn’t be surprised to find standard art-ontological categories incongruous with those standardly employed in contemporary metaphysics. Of course, when contemporary metaphysics tends to ignore aesthetic and art theoretic concerns, perhaps we likewise shouldn’t be surprised to find the climate of contemporary metaphysics inhospitable for a theory of art. While this may seem to suggest at least a prima facie tension between our basic art theoretic commitments considered from within philosophical aesthetics and our standard ontological commitments considered from without, I think any perceived tension or antagonism largely due to metaphysicians and aestheticians (at least implicitly) assuming there to be but two available methodological positions with respect to the relationship between contemporary metaphysics and philosophical aesthetics (in the relevant overlap areas). I call these two opposing views the Deference View and the Independence View. I argue that either view looks to lead to what I call the Paradox of Standards. (shrink)
This is a critical discussion of Nick Zangwill’s Aesthetic Creation Theory of Art, as he has presented the theory in his book Aesthetic Creation. The discussion focuses on two questions: first, whether the notion of art implied by Zangwill’s theory is at once too wide and too narrow; second, whether Zangwill is right about the persistence conditions of works of art.
The question whether art is of any epistemic value is an old question in the philosophy of art. Whereas many contemporary artists, art-critics, and art-historians answer this question affirmatively, many contemporary philosophers remain skeptical. If art is of epistemic significance, they maintain, then it has to contribute to our quest of achieving our most basic epistemic aim, namely knowledge.Unfortunately, recent and widely accepted analyses of knowledge make it very hard to see how art might significantly contribute to the quest of (...) achieving this aim. Hence, by the lights of recent epistemology, it is questionable whether art is of any epistemic value. In order to hold on to the epistemic value of art, one has three options: (a) reject the recent analyses of knowledge that make the epistemic value of art questionable, (b) accept the recent analyses of knowledge but argue that they are compatible with the epistemic value of art, or (c) find another epistemic aim (besides knowledge) and show that art is of significant help in achieving this aim. In this paper I will argue that, at least with respect to pictorial art, option (c) seems promising. By reconsidering some basic insights and ideas from Nelson Goodman we can identify (objective) understanding as an epistemic aim to which pictorial art makes a significant contribution. (shrink)
A standard art-ontological position is to construe repeatable artworks as abstract objects that admit multiple concrete instances. Since photographic artworks are putatively repeatable, the ontology of photographic art is by default modelled after standard repeatable-work ontology. I argue, however, that the construal of photographic artworks as abstracta mistakenly ignores photography’s printmaking genealogy, specifically its ontological inheritance. More precisely, I claim that the products of printmaking media (prints) minimally must be construed in a manner consistent with basic print ontology, the most (...) plausible model of which looks decidedly nominalist (what I call the relevant similarity model) and that as such, photographic artworks must be likewise construed, not as abstracta but as individual and distinct concreta. That is, the correct ontological account of photographic art must be one according to which photographic artworks are individual and distinct concrete artworks. In the end, I show that the ontology of photographic art resists the standard repeatable-work model because the putative repeatability of photographic artworks is upon closer inspection nothing more than the relevant similarity relation between individual and distinct photographic prints. (shrink)
Aesthetic alienation may be described as the paradoxical relationship whereby art and truth have come to be divorced from one another while nonetheless remaining entwined. J. M. Bernstein not only finds the separation of art and truth problematic, but also contends that we continue to experience art as sensuous and particular, thus complicating and challenging the cultural self-understanding of modernity. Bernstein focuses on the work of four key philosophers—Kant, Heidegger, Derrida, and Adorno—and provides powerful new interpretations of their views. Bernstein (...) shows how each of the three post-Kantian aesthetics to construct a philosophical language that can criticize and displace the categorical assumption of modernity. He also examines in detail their responses to questions concerning the relations among art, philosophy, and politics in modern societies. (shrink)
In his absorbing book Art as Performance, David Davies argues that artworks should be identified, not with artistic products such as paintings or novels, but instead with the artistic actions or processes that produced such items. Such a view had an earlier incarnation in Currie’s widely criticized “action type hypothesis”, but Davies argues that it is instead action tokens rather than types with which artworks should be identified. This rich and complex work repays the closest study in spite of some (...) basic objections to be raised concerning Davies’s central concept of an action token. (shrink)
This article criticizes what I call "Raunchy" feminist art by employing discussions of pornography and objectification from Eaton and Nussbaum. Artists considered include Carolee Schneeman, Cindy Sherman, Lisa Yuskavage, and Jenny Saville. The article includes by citing examples of feminist art dealing with erotic material in a more productive manner: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Kiki Smith, and Marlene Dumas.
Noël Carroll proposes a generalist theory of art criticism, which essentially involves evaluations of artworks on the basis of their success value, at the cost of rendering evaluations of reception value irrelevant to criticism. In this article, I argue for a hybrid account of art criticism, which incorporates Carroll's objective model but puts Carroll-type evaluations in the service of evaluations of reception value. I argue that this hybrid model is supported by Kant's theory of taste. Hence, I not only present (...) an alternative theory of metacriticism, which has the merit of reinstating the centrality of reception value in art critics’ evaluations, but also show that, contrary to a common conception, Kant's aesthetic theory can house a fruitful account of art criticism. The benefit of this hybrid account is that, despite being essentially particularist, it should be appealing even to generalists, including Carroll. (shrink)
I discuss the aesthetic power of painful art. I focus on artworks that occasion pain by “hitting too close to home,” i.e., by presenting narratives meant to be “about us.” I consider various reasons why such works may have aesthetic value for us, but I argue that the main reason has to do with the power of such works to transgress conversational boundaries. The discussion is meant as a contribution to the debate on the paradox of tragedy.
British art historian Charles Harrison presumes the existence of a patriarchal world with power in the hands of men who dominate the representation of women and femininity. He applauds the ground-breaking work of feminist theorists who have questioned this imbalance of power since the 1970s. He stops short, however, of accepting their claims that all women have been represented by male artists as images of “utter passivity” (p. 4), routinely reduced by the male gaze to the status of exploited sexual (...) objects, or that women’s subjectivity is eroded by the visual treatment they receive at the hands of male artists such as Manet and Picasso. He wants to show that what is depicted in the picture plane by the (typically male) artist and enjoyed by the (typically male) spectator is more nuanced than just a simple privileged understanding between two men. He adds a third (and possibly fourth or more) party to the mix when he significantly redefines and expands our concept of the gaze: “A gaze may also be conceived of as a function of a painting’s represented content” (p. 9). In other words, a gaze may be “addressed outward by a represented figure,” and regardless of who and where, “the assumption conveyed by the term [‘gaze’] is that some differential and usually asymmetrical relation will be at stake in any exchange between one who directs the gaze and another at whom it is directed. In fact, it is just this difference—in age, in sex, in class, in interest, in power —that the operation of the gaze tends to mark” (p. 9). Referring to a woman depicted within the picture plane, he asks us to consider, “What does it feel like to look like this?” (p. 21) in order to entertain our many emotional responses and interpretations. When he adds, “What does it feel like to whom?” the sexual difference of the spectator also clearly comes into play. (shrink)
Kant, Art, and Art History is the first systematic study of Kant's reception of and influence on the visual arts and art history. Arguing against Kant's transcendental approach to aesthetic judgment, Cheetham examines five 'moments' of his influence, including the use of Kant's political writings among German-speaking artists and critics in Rome around 1800; the canonized patterns of Kant's reception in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art history, particularly in the work of Wölfflin and Panofsky; and the Kantian language in (...) the criticism of Cubism. He also reassesses Clement Greenberg's famous reliance on Kant. The final chapter focuses on Kant's 'image', both in contemporary and posthumous portraits, with respect to his status as the image of philosophy within a disciplinary hierarchy. In Cheetham's reading, Kant emerges as a figure who has constantly erected and crossed the borders among art, its history, and philosophy. (shrink)
In this chapter I explore what painful art can tell us about the nature and importance of human welfare. My goal is not so much to defend a new solution to the paradox of tragedy, as it is to explore the implications of the kinds of solutions that I find attractive. Both nonhedonic compensatory theories and constitutive theories explain why people seek out painful art, but they have troublesome implications. On some narrow theories of well-being, they imply that painful art (...) is bad for us. Accordingly, we may rightly wonder if it rational for people to watch melodramas or to listen to love songs. One might think that we should generally avoid unpleasant works of art. This implication flirts with absurdity. I show how it can be avoided by making a distinction between well-being and worth. (shrink)
Deconstruction and the Visual Arts brings together a series of new essays by scholars of aesthetics, art history and criticism, film, television and architecture. Working with the ideas of French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the essays explore the full range of his analyses. They are modelled on the variety of critical approaches that he has encouraged, from critiques of the foundations of our thinking and disciplinary demarcation, to creative and experimental readings of visual 'texts'. Representing some of the most innovative thinking (...) in the various arts disciplines, these contributions offer important challenges to existing disciplinary orthodoxies. Also included in this volume is a long interview with Derrida, published here for the first time. (shrink)
In "Convention and Dickie's Institutional Theory" (British Journal of Aesthetics 1980), Catherine Lord maintains the following thesis: (L) If a work of art is defined as institutional and conventional, then the definition precludes the freedom and creativity associated with art. Lord also maintains that the antecedent of this conditional is false. In this note, I argue that (i) certain confusions and assumptions prevent Lord from showing the antecedent is false, and (ii) even if the antecedent is assumed to be true, (...) there are counterexamples to the entire conditional. With regard to (ii), I will suggest that conventionality is necessary for creativity. [This was my first published paper, written as a graduate student, taken from my University of Illinois at Chicago dissertation written with Professor George Dickie on the topic of conventions, utilitizing David Lewis' definition of "convention."]. (shrink)
First published in 1959, this book is concerned with the methodology of art history, and so with questions about historical thinking; it enquires what scientific history of art can accomplish, what are its mean and limitations? It contains philosophical reflections on history and begins with chapters on the scope and limitations of a sociology of art, and the concept of ideology in the history of art. The chapter on the concept of "art history without names" occupies the central position in (...) the book — thoroughly discussing the basic philosophical outlook for the whole work. There are also further chapters on psychoanalysis, folk art and popular art. The chapter on the role of convention in the history of art points the way for further study. (shrink)
From Plato to Goodman, many philosophers have addressed problems in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Nevertheless the central issues here have remained ill-defined. In this book, A. L. Cothey overcomes this difficulty by giving a systematic account of the leading philosophical ideas about art and aesthetics from ancient times to the present day. In The Nature of Art , Cothey concludes that the best-known philosophical theories of art fail to satisfy either the pragmatic or the aesthetic criteria required to (...) explain our experience of art. Introducing topics from areas of philosophy such as semantics, theories of cognition and the ethical nature of pleasure and enjoyment, Cothey develops a new theory explaining aesthetic satisfaction, artistic ability and why aesthetic experiences escape articulation. The Nature of Art will force readers to re-examine their views on art, and prove a significant contribution to the new debate onaesthetics. (shrink)
The book draws on the astonishing scope and depths of Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics, exploring the multifaceted issue of art and the absolute. Why does Hegel ascribe absoluteness to art? What can such absoluteness mean?
The first volume in the series Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts offers a range of responses by distinguished philosophers and art historians to some crucial issues generated by the relationship between the art object and language in art history. Each of the chapters in this volume is a searching response to theoretical and practical questions in terms accessible to readers of all human science disciplines. The editors, one a philosopher and one an art historian, provide an introductory chapter (...) which outlines the themes of the volume and explicates the terms in which they are discussed. The contributors open new avenues of enquiry involving concepts of 'presence', 'projective properties', visual conventions and syntax, and the appropriateness of figurative language in accounting for visual art. The issues they discuss will challenge the boundaries to thought that some contemporary theorising sustains. (shrink)
Katy Deepwell calls for a vital and visible "new" feminist criticism in 1997 amidst a pessimistic overview of the state of feminist art and criticism in Britain, Canada, and the U.S. As an update to this review, I note that Deepwell took decisive and effective action on her pessimism and for the past twenty years (as of this writing in July 2017) created an online feminist journal--n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal--that has published over 550 articles by 400 writers and artists (...) from more than 80 countries. After 40 issues, the journal has come to an end. What a success story! (shrink)
Danto, A. The artworld.--Dickie, G. What is art?--Margolis, J. Works of art are physically embodied and culturally emergent entities.--Kjørup, S. Art broadly and wholly conceived.--Meyer, L. B. Forgery and the anthropology of art.--Brunius, T. Theory and ideologies in aesthetics.--Tilghman, B. R. Artistic puzzlement.--Binkley, T. Deciding about art.--Alexander, H. G. On defining in aesthetics.--Iseminger, G. Appreciation, the artworld, and the aesthetic.--Glickman, J. Creativity in the arts.--Sclafani, R. The theory of art.--Lyas, C. Danto and Dickie on art.--Beardsley, M. C. Is art essentially (...) institutional? (shrink)
In his Critical Aesthetics and Postmodernism, Paul Crowther argued that art and aesthetic experiences have the capacity to humanize. In Art and Embodiment he develops this theme in much greater depth, arguing that art can bridge the gap between philosophy's traditional striving for generality and completeness, and the concreteness and contingency of humanity's basic relation to the world. As the key element in his theory, he proposes an ecological definition of art. His strategy involves first mapping out and analyzing the (...) logical boundaries and ontological structures of the aesthetic domain. He then considers key concepts from this analysis in the light of a tradition in Continental philosophy (notably the work of Kant, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Hegel) which--by virtue of the philosophical significance that it assigns to art--significantly anticipates the ecological conception. On this basis, Crowther is able to give a full formulation of his ecological definition. Art, in making sensible or imaginative material into symbolic form, harmonizes and conserves what is unique and what is general in human experience. The aesthetic domain answers basic needs intrinsic to self-consciousness itself, and art is the highest realization of such needs. In the creation and reception of art the embodied subject is fully at home with his or her environment. (shrink)
Introduction : normative aesthetics and artistic value -- Culture and artistic value -- Cultural exclusion and the definition of art -- Defining art, defending the canon, contesting culture -- The aesthetic and the artistic -- From beauty to art : developing Kant's aesthetics -- The scope and value of the artistic image -- Distinctive modes of imaging -- Twofoldness : pictorial art and the imagination -- Between language and perception : literary metaphor -- Musical meaning and value -- Eternalizing the (...) moment : artistic projections of time -- Conclusion : the status and future of art. (shrink)
Thanks to his unsurpassed eye and his fearless willingness to take a stand, Clement Greenberg (1909 1994) became one of the giants of 20th century art criticism a writer who set the terms of critical discourse from the moment he burst onto the scene with his seminal essays Avant Garde and Kitsch (1939) and Towards a Newer Laocoon (1940). In this work, which gathers previously uncollected essays and a series of seminars delivered at Bennington in 1971, Greenberg provides his most (...) expansive statement of his views on taste and quality in art, arguing for an esthetic that flies in the face of current art world fashions. Greenberg insists despite the attempts from Marcel Duchamp onwards to escape the jurisdiction of taste by producing an art so disjunctive that it cannot be judged that taste is inexorable. He argues that standards of quality in art, the artist's responsibility to seek out the hardest demands of a medium, and the critic's responsibility to discriminate, are essential conditions for great art. The obsession with innovation the epidemic of newness leads, in Greenbergs view, to the boringness of so much avant garde art. He discusses the interplay of expectation and surprise in aesthetic experience, and the exalted consciousness produced by great art. Homemade Esthetics allows us particularly in the transcribed seminar sessions, never before published to watch the critics mind at work, defending (and at times reconsidering) his theories. His views, often controversial, are the record of a lifetime of looking at and thinking about art as intensely as anyone ever has. (shrink)
Artists and critics regularly enlist theory in the creation and assessment of artworks, but few have scrutinized the art theories themselves. Here, Daniel examines and critiques the norms, assumptions, historical conditions, and institutions that have framed the development and uses of art theory. Spurred by the theoretical claims of Arthur Danto, a leader in the philosophy of the avant-garde, Herwitz reexamines the art and theory of major figures in the avant-garde movement including John Cage, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and Andy (...) Warhol. (shrink)
This anthology is remarkable not only for the selections themselves, among which the Schelling and the Heidegger essays were translated especially for this volume, but also for the editors' general introduction and the introductory essays for each selection, which make this volume an invaluable aid to the study of the powerful, recurrent ideas concerning art, beauty, critical method, and the nature of representation. Because this collection makes clear the ways in which the philosophy of art relates to and is part (...) of general philosophical positions, it will be an essential sourcebook to students of philosophy, art history, and literary criticism. (shrink)
Sustaining Loss explores the uncanny, traumatic weaving together of the living and the dead in art, and the morbid fascination it holds for modern philosophical aesthetics. Beginning with Kant, the author traces how aesthetic theory has been drawn back repeatedly to the moving power of the undead body of the work of art. He locates the most potent expressions of this philosophical compulsion in Hegel's thesis that art is a thing of the past, and in Freud's view that the work (...) of art is the haunting of the present by the endless suffering of what is dead but still has claims over the living. Sustaining Loss examines not only Kant, Hegel, and Freud, but also the contemporary artists Gerhard Richter and Ilya Kabakov, whose art turns fruitfully against art's own past. (shrink)
Art In Its Time takes a close look at the way in which art has become integral to the everyday 'ordinary' life of modern society. It explores the prevalent notion of art as transcending its historical moment, and argues that art cannot be separated from the everyday as it often provides material to represent social struggles and class, to explore sexuality, and to think about modern industry and our economic relationships.
This collection of essays explores the rise of aesthetics as a response to, and as a part of, the reshaping of the arts in modern society. The theories of art developed under the name of 'aesthetics' in the eighteenth century have traditionally been understood as contributions to a field of study in existence since the time of Plato. If art is a practice to be found in all human societies, then the philosophy of art is the search for universal features (...) of that practice, which can be stated in definitions of art and beauty. However, art as we know it - the system of 'fine arts' - is largely peculiar to modern society. Aesthetics, far from being a perennial discipline, emerged in an effort both to understand and to shape this new social practice. These essays share the conviction that aesthetic ideas can be fully understood when seen not only in relation to intellectual and social contexts, but as themselves constructed in history. (shrink)
Research seeking a scientific foundation for the theory of art appreciation has raised controversies at the intersection of the social and cognitive sciences. Though equally relevant to a scientific inquiry into art appreciation, psychological and historical approaches to art developed independently and lack a common core of theoretical principles. Historicists argue that psychological and brain sciences ignore the fact that artworks are artifacts produced and appreciated in the context of unique historical situations and artistic intentions. After revealing flaws in the (...) psychological approach, we introduce a psycho-historical framework for the science of art appreciation. This framework demonstrates that a science of art appreciation must investigate how appreciators process causal and historical information to classify and explain their psychological responses to art. Expanding on research about the cognition of artifacts, we identify three modes of appreciation: basic exposure to an artwork, the artistic design stance, and artistic understanding. The artistic design stance, a requisite for artistic understanding, is an attitude whereby appreciators develop their sensitivity to art-historical contexts by means of inquiries into the making, authorship, and functions of artworks. We defend and illustrate the psycho-historical framework with an analysis of existing studies on art appreciation in empirical aesthetics. Finally, we argue that the fluency theory of aesthetic pleasure can be amended to meet the requirements of the framework. We conclude that scientists can tackle fundamental questions about the nature and appreciation of art within the psycho-historical framework. (shrink)
There are good, even if inconclusive, reasons to think that cognitive penetration of perception occurs: that cognitive states like belief causally affect, in a relatively direct way, the contents of perceptual experience. The supposed importance of – indeed as it is suggested here, what is definitive of – this possible phenomenon is that it would result in important epistemic and scientific consequences. One interesting and intuitive consequence entirely unremarked in the extant literature concerns the perception of art. Intuition has it (...) that knowledge about art changes how one aesthetically evaluates artworks. A profound explanation of this intuitive fact is that perceptual experiences vary with artistic expertise. Cognitive penetration provides an explanatory mechanism for this latter effect. What one knows or otherwise thinks about art may affect, in one of two ways sketched below, how one perceives art. Differences in aesthetic evaluation may follow, either because high-level aesthetic properties can be perceptually represented or because they causally depend on low-level perceptible properties. All of this lends credence to the hypothesis that the expert better judges art because she better perceives art. And she better perceives art because she better knows art. (shrink)
In this richly argued and provocative book, David Davies elaborates and defends a broad conceptual framework for thinking about the arts that reveals important continuities and discontinuities between traditional and modern art, and between different artistic disciplines. Elaborates and defends a broad conceptual framework for thinking about the arts. Offers a provocative view about the kinds of things that artworks are and how they are to be understood. Reveals important continuities and discontinuities between traditional and modern art. Highlights core topics (...) in aesthetics and art theory, including traditional theories about the nature of art, aesthetic appreciation, artistic intentions, performance, and artistic meaning. (shrink)