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Constraints on Definitions of Art Any definition of art has to square with the following uncontroversial facts: Two general constraints on definitions are particularly relevant to definitions of art.
First, given that accepting that Definition essay defining art is inexplicable is generally a philosophical last resort, and granting the importance of extensional adequacy, list-like or enumerative definitions are if possible to be avoided.
Whether any definition of art does account for these facts and satisfy these constraints, or could account for these facts and satisfy these constraints, are key questions for aesthetics and the philosophy of art.
Definitions From the History of Philosophy Classical definitions, at least as they are portrayed in contemporary discussions of the definition of art, take artworks to be characterized by a single type of property.
The standard candidates are representational properties, expressive properties, and formal properties.
So there are representational or mimetic definitions, expressive definitions, and formalist definitions, which hold that artworks are characterized by their possession of, respectively, representational, expressive, and formal properties. It is not difficult to find fault with these simple definitions.
For example, possessing representational, expressive, and formal properties cannot be sufficient conditions, since, obviously, instructional manuals are representations, but not typically artworks, human faces and gestures have expressive properties without being works of art, and both natural objects and artifacts produced solely for homely utilitarian purposes have formal properties but are not artworks.
The ease of these dismissals, though, serves as a reminder of the fact that classical definitions of art are significantly less philosophically self-contained or freestanding than are most contemporary definitions of art.
Relatedly, great philosophers characteristically analyze the key theoretical components of their definitions of art in distinctive and subtle ways. For these reasons, understanding such definitions in isolation from the systems or corpuses of which they are parts is difficult, and brief summaries are invariably somewhat misleading.
Nevertheless, some representative examples of historically influential definitions of art offered by major figures in the history of philosophy should be mentioned.
Artworks are ontologically dependent on, imitations of, and therefore inferior to, ordinary physical objects. Physical objects in turn are ontologically dependent on, and imitations of, and hence inferior to, what is most real, the non-physical unchanging Forms. Grasped perceptually, artworks present only an appearance of an appearance of the Forms, which are grasped by reason alone.
Consequently, artistic experience cannot yield knowledge. Nor do the makers of artworks work from knowledge. Because artworks engage an unstable, lower part of the soul, art should be subservient to moral realities, which, along with truth, are more metaphysically fundamental and, properly understood, more humanly important than, beauty.
The arts are not, for Plato, the primary sphere in which beauty operates. The Platonic conception of beauty is extremely wide and metaphysical: Art for Kant falls under the broader topic of aesthetic judgment, which covers judgments of the beautiful, judgments of the sublime, and teleological judgments of natural organisms and of nature itself.
The deepest metaphysical truth, according to Hegel, is that the universe is the concrete realization of what is conceptual or rational. That is, what is conceptual or rational is real, and is the imminent force that animates and propels the self-consciously developing universe.
The universe is the concrete realization of what is conceptual or rational, and the rational or conceptual is superior to the sensory. So, as the mind and its products alone are capable of truth, artistic beauty is metaphysically superior to natural beauty. Hegel, Introduction III p.
A central and defining feature of beautiful works of art is that, through the medium of sensation, each one presents the most fundamental values of its civilization. Art and religion in turn are, in this respect, inferior to philosophy, which employs a conceptual medium to present its content.
Art initially predominates, in each civilization, as the supreme mode of cultural expression, followed, successively, by religion and philosophy. Skepticism about Definitions of Art Skeptical doubts about the possibility and value of a definition of art have figured importantly in the discussion in aesthetics since the s, and though their influence has subsided somewhat, uneasiness about the definitional project persists.
See section 4, below, and also KivyBrandand Walton Hence art is indefinable Weitz Against this it is claimed that change does not, in general, rule out the preservation of identity over time, that decisions about concept-expansion may be principled rather than capricious, and that nothing bars a definition of art from incorporating a novelty requirement.
A second sort of argument, less common today than in the heyday of a certain form of extreme Wittgensteinianism, urges that the concepts that make up the stuff of most definitions of art expressiveness, form are embedded in general philosophical theories which incorporate traditional metaphysics and epistemology.
But since traditional metaphysics and epistemology are prime instances of language gone on conceptually confused holiday, definitions of art share in the conceptual confusions of traditional philosophy Tilghman Definition Essay – Defining Art What is art?
Art and perception are deeply interrelated, since our ability to experience and comprehend artistic works is strongly biased by our own perceptions.
Accordingly, any definition of art should emphasize the importance of perception in creating and experiencing art.
- Defining the Ideal in Plato's The Republic In , Vance Palmer, the famous Australian author and poet, noted, in his essay titled "On Boundaries", that "it is the business of thought to define things, to find the boundaries; thought, indeed, is .
Essay Defining Art Notes This is a sample of our (approximately) 4 page long Essay Defining Art notes, which we sell as part of the Aesthetics Notes collection, a package written at University Of Oxford in that contains (approximately) 55 pages of notes across 13 different documents.
The definition of art has been debated for centuries among philosophers.”What is art?” is the most basic question in the philosophy of aesthetics, which really means, “how do we determine what is defined as art?” This implies two subtexts: the essential nature of art, and its social importance (or lack of it).
Expository Definition Essays - Definition Essay - Defining Art. The Many Forms of Art Essay - Throughout the cultural history of man, objects have been created to entertain, record, confront, enrich, clarify, communicate, reveal, to order and disorder, with or without a purpose.
The definition of art is controversial in contemporary philosophy. Whether art can be defined has also been a matter of controversy. The philosophical usefulness of a definition of art has also been debated.