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)
Many of the most popular genres of narrative art are designed to elicit negative emotions: emotions that are experienced as painful or involving some degree of pain, which we generally avoid in our daily lives. Melodramas make us cry. Tragedies bring forth pity and fear. Conspiratorial thrillers arouse feelings of hopelessness and dread, and devotional religious art can make the believer weep in sorrow. Not only do audiences know what these artworks are supposed to do; they seek them out (...) in pursuit of prima facie painful reactions.Traditionally, the question of why people seek out such experiences of painful art has been presented as the paradox of tragedy. Most solutions to the paradox of tragedy assume that the reason we seek out tragedies, horror films, melodramas, and the like is because they afford pleasureful experiences. From there, theorists attempt to account for the source of this pleasure, a pleasure assumed to be had from representations of events from which we do not derive pleasure in real life. I argue that this assumption is suspect: the motive for seeking out devotional religious art, melodrama, tragedy, and some horror is not clearly to find pleasure. (shrink)
This essay updates Aaron Smuts', 2009 Philosophy Compass piece, “Art and Negative Affect” in light of recent work on the topic. The “paradox of painful art” is the general problem of how it is possible to enjoy or value experiences of art that involve painful emotions. It encompasses both the paradox of tragedy and the paradox of horror. Section 2 lays out a taxonomy of solutions to the paradox of painful art and argues that we should opt (...) for a pluralistic approach rather than seeking a unified solution. Section 3 surveys recent work on the topic, with an emphasis on views holding that it is possible for an experience of art to be pleasant partly in virtue of involving painful emotion. Section 4 suggests a range of phenomena that are not usually considered under the umbrella of the paradox of painful art but that offer promising directions for further research. (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.
I argue that a solution to the paradox of horror should accommodate the possibility of enjoying an aesthetic experience partly in virtue of its being painful. This possibility is typically thought to be ruled out by the very nature of pleasure and pain. I argue that this is not so for adverbial accounts of pleasure. Using Aristotle's theory of pleasure as an example of an adverbial account, I show that it is possible for to enjoy an aesthetic experience partly (...) in virtue of its being painful. (shrink)
Most philosophers since Sidgwick have thought that the various forms of pleasure differ so radically that one cannot find a common, distinctive feeling among them. This is known as the heterogeneity problem. To get around this problem, the motivational theory of pleasure suggests that what makes an experience one of pleasure is our reaction to it, not something internal to the experience. I argue that the motivational theory is wrong, and not only wrong, but backwards. The heterogeneity problem is the (...) principal source of motivation for this, otherwise, highly counterintuitive theory. I intend to show that the heterogeneity problem is not a genuine problem and that a more straightforward theory of pleasure is forthcoming. I argue that the various experiences that we call pleasures all feel good. (shrink)
In this essay, I discuss a few ways in which songs are used, ways in which listeners engage with and find meaning in music. I am most interested in sad songs—those that typically feature narratives about lost love, separation, missed opportunity, regret, hardship, and all manner of heartache. Many of us are drawn to sad songs in moments of emotional distress. The problem is that sad songs do not always make us feel better; to the contrary, they often make us (...) feel worse. So, why do we listen to sad songs? I argue that we seek out sad songs, partly, to intensify distress, which helps us reflect on situations of profound personal significance. (shrink)
Four main issues have occupied center stage in the analytic-cognitivist work on horror: (1) What is horror? (2) What is the appeal of horror? (3) How does it frighten audiences? and, (4) is it irrational to be scared of horror fiction?
Why do people seemingly want to be scared by movies and feel pity for fictional characters when they avoid situations in real life that arouse these same negative emotions? Although the domain of relevant artworks encompasses far more than just tragedy, the general problem is typically called the paradox of tragedy. The paradox boils down to a simple question: If people avoid pain then why do people want to experience art that is painful? I discuss six popular solutions to (...) the paradox: conversion, control, compensatory, meta-response, catharsis, and rich experience theories. (shrink)
A comprehensive discussion of Plato's treatment of techne, which shows that the final goal of Platonic philosophy is nontechnical wisdom. The Greek word "techne," typically translated as "art," but also as "craft," "skill," "expertise," "technical knowledge," and even "science," has been decisive in shaping our "technological" culture. Here David Roochnik comprehensively analyzes Plato's treatment of this crucial word. Roochnik maintains that Plato's understanding of both the goodness of techne, as well as its severe limitations and consequent need to be supplemented (...) by "nontechnical" wisdom, can speak directly to our own concerns about the troubling impact technology has had on contemporary life. For most commentators, techne functions as a positive, theoretical model through which Plato attempts to articulate the nature of moral knowledge. Scholars such as Terence Irwin and Martha Nussbaum argue that Plato’s version of moral knowledge is structurally similar to techne. In arguing thus, they attribute to Plato what Nietzsche called "theoretical optimism," the view that technical knowledge can become an efficient panacea for the dilemmas and painful contingencies of human life. Conventional wisdom has it, in short, that for Plato technical, moral knowledge can solve life's problems. By systematically analyzing Socrates’ analogical arguments, Roochnik shows the weakness of the conventional view. The basic pattern of these arguments is this: if moral knowledge is analogous to techne, then insurmountable difficulties arise, and moral knowledge becomes impossible. Since moral knowledge is not impossible, it cannot be analogous to techne. In other words, the purpose of Socrates' analogical arguments is to reveal the limitations of techne as a model for the wisdom Socrates so ardently seeks. For all the reasons Plato is so careful to present in his dialogues, wisdom cannot be rendered technical; it cannot become techne. Thus, Roochnik concludes, Plato wrote dialogues instead of technical treatises, as they are the appropriate vehicle for his expression of nontechnical wisdom. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper examines Mohan Matthen's account of aesthetic pleasure. The first part explores implications of Matthen's notion of ‘fit’ between features of art objects and our pleasurable contemplation of them. Through historical comparisons with Plato and Dewey, I challenge his claim not to be offering a theory of aesthetic norms. The second part of my paper sketches how Matthen might address two important problems of contemporary aesthetics: the first concerning interpretation, and the second concerning genres of art that evoke negative (...) or painful emotions such as tragedy, melodrama, and horror. (shrink)
_Art and Mourning_ explores the relationship between creativity and the work of self-mourning in the lives of 20th century artists and thinkers. The role of artistic and creative endeavours is well-known within psychoanalytic circles in helping to heal in the face of personal loss, trauma, and mourning. In this book, Esther Dreifuss-Kattan, a psychoanalyst, art therapist and artist - analyses the work of major modernist and contemporary artists and thinkers through a psychoanalytic lens. In coming to terms with their own (...) mortality, figures like Albert Einstein, Louise Bourgeois, Paul Klee, Eva Hesse and others were able to access previously unknown reserves of creative energy in their late works, as well as a new healing experience of time outside of the continuous temporality of everyday life. Dreifuss-Kattan explores what we can learn about using the creative process to face and work through traumatic and painful experiences of loss._Art and Mourning _will inspire psychoanalysts and psychotherapists to understand the power of artistic expression in transforming loss and traumas into perseverance, survival and gain. Art and Mourning offers a new perspective on trauma and will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, psychologists, clinical social workers and mental health workers, as well as artists and art historians. (shrink)
Disgust has been a perennial feature of art from medieval visions of hell to postmodern travesties. The purpose of this chapter is to chart various ways in which disgust functions in artworks both in terms of content and style, canvassing cases in which the content and/or style is literally disgusting in contrast to cases where the disgust serves to characterize the content, often for moral or political or broader cultural purposes.
Two seemingly contradictory aspects have marked art’s appreciation – and aesthetic appreciation in general. While an experience of pleasure seems to ground judgments of aesthetic value, some artworks seem to gain our praise by the very negative – unpleasant – experience they provoke. Known as the paradox of negative emotions, aestheticians have, at least since Aristotle, tried to deal with these cases and offer different explanations of the phenomenon. In this article, María José Alcaraz León does not directly offer an (...) alternative explanation; rather she focuses on the apparent tension between an understanding of aesthetic experience in terms of a certain kind of pleasure and the negative aspect that is necessarily involved in our appreciation of painful art. The purpose of her article is to show that cases of artistic appreciation that involve negative emotions do not need to give up on the idea that aesthetic value is ultimately grounded upon an experience of pleasure. (shrink)
Paradigmatic aesthetic properties include beauty, elegance, gracefulness, harmony, balance, loveliness, prettiness, handsomeness, and unity, as well as their negative counterparts, for example, ugliness, clumsiness and disunity. The book investigates the nature, reality, and structure(s) of these properties. It also focuses on special cases such as rightness of architectural proportion, musical beauty, functional beauty, and the aesthetic properties that are responsible for our interest in ‘painful art’ (horror and tragedy). [Manuscript is currently undergoing revision.].
_Welfare, Meaning, and Worth_ argues that there is more to what makes a life worth living than welfare, and that a good life does not consist of what is merely good for the one who lives it. Smuts defends an objective list theory that states that the notion of worth captures matters of importance for which no plausible theory of welfare can account. He puts forth that lives worth living are net high in various objective goods, including pleasure, meaning, knowledge, (...) and loving relationships. The first part of the book presents a theory of worth, a mental statist account of welfare, and an objectivist theory of meaning. The second part explores the implications for moral theory, the popularity of painful art, and the viability of pessimism about the human condition. This book offers an original exploration of worth as a combination of welfare and meaning that will be of interest to philosophers and ethicists who work on issues in well-being and positive psychology. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
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)
In “How Art Teaches: A Lesson from Goodman”, Markus Lammenranta inquires if and how artworks can convey propositional knowledge about the world. Lammenranta argues that the cognitive role of art can be explained by revising Nelson Goodman’s theory of symbols. According to Lammenranta, the problem of Goodman’s theory is that, despite providing an account of art’s symbolic function, it denies art the possibility of mediating propositional knowledge. Lammenranta claims that Goodman’s theory can be augmented by enlarging it with an account (...) of direct reference developed by Bertrand Russell and contemporary philosophy of language. On this basis, an expanded version of Goodman’s theory can explain how artworks can express propositions even without being linguistic, representational, or non-fictive. Lammenranta explicates his theory by explaining how abstract paintings and literary fictions can mediate propositional claims about the actual, everyday world. (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)
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)
In this paper, I critically discuss Riggle’s definition of street art. I argue that his definition has important limitations, and is therefore unsuccessful. I show that his view obscures a defining feature of street art, that is, its subversive power. As a significant consequence of ignoring that essential aspect, Riggle is incapable of fully understanding how street art transforms public space by turning one corner of the city at the time into contested ground. I also suggest that, when appreciating street (...) art's subversiveness, its challenge against the Modern separation of art and life appears more radical than Riggle foresees. (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)
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)
To analyze the relations between art and science, philosophers and historians have developed different lines of inquiry. A first type of inquiry considers how artistic and scientific practices have interacted over human history. Another project aims to determine the contributions that scientific research can make to our understanding of art, including the contributions that cognitive science can make to philosophical questions about the nature of art. We rely on contributions made to these projects in order to demonstrate that art and (...) science are codependent phenomena. Specifically, we explore the codependence of art and science in the context of a historical analysis of their interactions and in the context of contemporary debates on the cognitive science of art. (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)
Art can be addressed, not just to individuals, but to groups. Art can even be part of how groups think to themselves – how they keep a grip on their values over time. I focus on monuments as a case study. Monuments, I claim, can function as a commitment to a group value, for the sake of long-term action guidance. Art can function here where charters and mission statements cannot, precisely because of art’s powers to capture subtlety and emotion. In (...) particular, art can serve as the vessel for group emotions, by making emotional content sufficiently public so as to be the object of a group commitment. Art enables groups to guide themselves with values too subtle to be codified. (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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
In recent years, an increasing number of contemporary artists have incorporated live animals into their work. Although this development has attracted a great deal of attention in the artworld and among animal rights activists, it has not been much discussed in the philosophy of art—which is quite remarkable, given the serious ethical and artistic questions that these artworks prompt. I focus on answering two such questions. First, is the use of animals in these artworks ethically objectionable? Or are such artworks (...) instead morally permissible or even laudable? Second, what might be the distinctive value or good of incorporating animals into artworks in this way? In response to both questions, I argue that one distinctive value of some of the artworks I discuss is their ability to facilitate a relationship of moral concern and respect on the part of an audience toward the animals that are a part of the artwork. Insofar as artworks facilitate such relationships, they are not simply artistically important; they are also, to that extent, morally good. (shrink)
This article offers a detailed textual reexamination of the ‘family resemblance’ passages to reconsider their implications for understanding art. The reassessment takes into account their broader context in the Philosophical Investigations, including the rule following considerations, and draws on a realist interpretive framework associated principally with the work of Cavell, Diamond, McDowell, and Putnam. Wittgensteinian “realism with a human face” helps us discern that the primary issue is not whether certain concepts are definable, posing a stark opposition between essentialism and (...) its denial about kinds such as language or games. What is at issue is keeping uses of language in view in their variety and their broader life contexts. Focus on rules suggests more broadly that norms and values inhere in practices and play a constitutive role in determining the entities integral to those practices. From this perspective, a Wittgensteinian framework explains art as locally overlapping practices, each with their own constitutive norms and values for the works integral to them. What makes something art has normative force specific to a practice. This recognizes the historically contingent nature of art practices in a way that relational definitions or disjunctive ‘cluster’ explanations do not. (shrink)
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)
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)
R. G. Collingwood thought that to express emotion is to come to understand it and that this is something art can enable us to do. The understanding in question is distinct from that offered by emotion concepts. I attempt to defend a broadly similar position by drawing, as Collingwood does, on a broader philosophy of mind. Emotions and other affective states have a profile analogous to the sensory profiles exhibited by the things we perceive. Grasping that one's feeling exhibits such (...) a profile is to understand it. That understanding differs from any involved in conceptualizing the affect in question. And, I argue, engagement with the expressive character of works of art is one way to gain it. (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.
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)
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)