Definitions of Art

Definitions of Art

Definitions of Art

Definitions of Art

Synopsis

In the last thirty years, work in analytic philosophy of art has flourished, and it has given rise to considerable controversy. Stephen Davies describes and analyzes the definition of art as it has been discussed in Anglo-American philosophy during this period and, in the process, introduces his own perspective on ways in which we should reorient our thinking.

Excerpt

In this book my primary aim is to describe and comment on the definition of art as it has been discussed in Anglo-American philosophy over the past thirty years. I bring to that discussion not a new theory but rather a certain perspective: I view the debate as revealing conflicting commitments to functional and to procedural accounts of art's nature.

My personal inclination is to prefer proceduralism to the other approaches I discuss. At the same time I am far from confident that the institutional theory's version of proceduralism is correct. It seems to me that much historical and sociological, as well as philosophical, work needs to be done if the institutional theory of the definition of art is to attain credibility. In any event, I am more concerned with the detailed development of the perspective on which I concentrate than with settling on a winner of the debate. Definitional questions are inextricably meshed with ontological, interpretive, and evaluative issues; their implications stretch in many directions and take many twists and turns. Where matters are as complex and fundamental as this, straightforwardly decisive arguments are not to be expected.

My second aim is to provide a resource for those who work in the area of philosophical aesthetics, in that I canvass the literature more thoroughly than is common (or usually necessary) and offer summaries and glosses of the wide array of proposals that currently hold the field. My intention is not so much to list who scored which points . . .

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