1
Philosophical Resistance to Mass Art: The Majority Tradition

Introduction

Philosophical aesthetics in the twentieth century has shown a striking inability to come to terms with mass art. In the main, the phenomenon is generally ignored in philosophical treatises on art. Instead, the examples upon which twentieth-century philosophers of art construct their theories are primarily drawn from the realm of what is often called high art. Moreover, when philosophers or philosophically minded art theorists have focused on the topic of mass art, their findings are frequently dismissive and openly hostile. Often their energies are spent in the attempt to show that mass art is not genuine art, but rather something else, sometimes called kitsch or pseudo-art. The point of this chapter is to examine some of the leading philosophical arguments against mass art, each one advanced by a significant commentator.1 Since it is my purpose in this book to show that mass art is a legitimate topic for philosophical aesthetics, I will be at pains to show what is wrong with these arguments. In the following sections, I will critically examine six arguments against mass art. Then I will conclude with a section that offers a conceptual diagnosis of one of the major underlying reasons why most philosophical writing on mass art has been incapable of coming to terms with it.

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1
I want to stress that this chapter only examines some of the leading philosophical arguments against mass art. There are other important arguments against mass art that I will examine in ensuing chapters. This chapter is meant as an introduction to the theme of philosophy's resistance to mass art. It is not exhaustive in this regard. Thus, other philosophical objections to mass art will crop up as the text proceeds.

Moreover, I should add, that I count an argument against mass art as philosophical just in case it is based upon a conception of the nature of mass art, of art, or both.

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A Philosophy of Mass Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Philosophical Resistance to Mass Art: The Majority Tradition 15
  • 2 - Philosophical Celebrations of Mass Art: The Minority Tradition 110
  • 3 - The Nature of Mass Art 172
  • 4 - Mass Art and the Emotions 245
  • 5 - Mass Art and Morality 291
  • 6 - Mass Art and Ideology 360
  • Envoi 413
  • Index 419
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