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Philosophy Meeting Summary:

Quotes for “What is Art?” - Part II

Our last gathering of the season was cut short. Martine had booked a large party; a little after 9:00, the waitress rudely slapped bills on laps, and by 9:30 the loudness of the party and the kitchen noise had drowned our dialogue. So, we stopped. I spoke with a few of you after the café-philo, and we all seem to concur that we needed a more hospitable place. I have received a few suggestions. As soon as I come back, I'll get to work for a better arrangement. In the meantime, keep sending suggestions. I hope to be able to keep email contact while in Europe. I began the evening by briefly describing some philosophical views on what art is. I made sure, of course, to remind you that no view is without problem. Aristotle had argued that art was imitation of nature. Another view is that art is expression, an expression of the artist's feelings, and sometime the expression has social or political value (Tolstoy). Art, others argue, is what the art world (the "experts") says it is (a version of Hume's view). Art is whatever is related to established art by means of a theory of art (Arthur Danto). Art is a symbol or exemplification defined by various semantic and syntactic criteria (Nelson Goodman). The first reaction was in the form of a criticism of the art world because of its allegiance to money. Art is no longer what it was because of the monetary values assigned to it. Clearly, however, someone replied, money has always been an issue in art. I did not think that this line of thought was going to help us, and I tried to redirect the discussion toward some criteria (necessary conditions) for art to be present. I asked whether we should restrict our discussion to fine arts. Most of you were intent on including all forms (music, literature, etc.) of art.
What I gathered from our exchange is that most of you thought that art was a form of expression, at times *necessitated* (in the strong sense) by an intensity of "something" to communicate to the world. The notion of necessity quickly became controversial. Later on, Frank used as a counterexample the case of Verdi who had to be begged to write Falstaff.  The notion of intensity, on the other hand, seemed to capture most of you.The intensity was immediately perceptible to the audience. One could immediately tell an artistic novel from a commercial one, Leslie said.  In an artistic novel, the reader is constantly rewarded by the richness of a content that never ceases to unfold reading after reading. There is plenitude and generosity in the text. Does the work of art, however, bear this intensity, or does it convey the artist's intensity of feelings? There are, after all, forgeries that fool the "experts." How can a forger capture the intensity of the original artist? Maybe there is a spirit of intensity emanating from the work of art. Forgers and artists possess it. Larry was intrigued by the role of an audience to the artist. While he was a radio personality, certainly a form of art, he often was puzzled by the meaning of an audience. He guessed that people were listening, but he was unable to visualize that audience. Larry also mentioned that the word 'art' was also used to describe the manner in which a particular task was performed. Thus, we speak of "con artists," and the "art of the deal. He asked whether we should consider this usage of the word. Some thought that it would be fruitful to seek what distinguishes the two uses. Tudor suggested a distinction between "high" and "low" art. Another very good suggestion came from a young man seated at my right on the sofa (sorry I forgot your name). He argued that art is art by fiat, but then, there is "good" art and "bad" art. The gatherings are moderated by Bernard Roy, Ph.D., Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY Department of Philosophy, Baruch College, CUNY Event Date: July 8, 1999 Next Article  
MissBitchy Created by the SnS Team
Copyright 2018 - 2019 Hi-Tech Development Co., Ltd. All rights reserved  

Blog

Philosophy Meeting Summary:

Quotes for “What is Art?” - Part II

Our last gathering of the season was cut short. Martine had booked a large party; a little after 9:00, the waitress rudely slapped bills on laps, and by 9:30 the loudness of the party and the kitchen noise had drowned our dialogue. So, we stopped. I spoke with a few of you after the café-philo, and we all seem to concur that we needed a more hospitable place. I have received a few suggestions. As soon as I come back, I'll get to work for a better arrangement. In the meantime, keep sending suggestions. I hope to be able to keep email contact while in Europe. I began the evening by briefly describing some philosophical views on what art is. I made sure, of course, to remind you that no view is without problem. Aristotle had argued that art was imitation of nature. Another view is that art is expression, an expression of the artist's feelings, and sometime the expression has social or political value (Tolstoy). Art, others argue, is what the art world (the "experts") says it is (a version of Hume's view). Art is whatever is related to established art by means of a theory of art (Arthur Danto). Art is a symbol or exemplification defined by various semantic and syntactic criteria (Nelson Goodman). The first reaction was in the form of a criticism of the art world because of its allegiance to money. Art is no longer what it was because of the monetary values assigned to it. Clearly, however, someone replied, money has always been an issue in art. I did not think that this line of thought was going to help us, and I tried to redirect the discussion toward some criteria (necessary conditions) for art to be present. I asked whether we should restrict our discussion to fine arts. Most of you were intent on including all forms (music, literature, etc.) of art.
What I gathered from our exchange is that most of you thought that art was a form of expression, at times *necessitated* (in the strong sense) by an intensity of "something" to communicate to the world. The notion of necessity quickly became controversial. Later on, Frank used as a counterexample the case of Verdi who had to be begged to write Falstaff.  The notion of intensity, on the other hand, seemed to capture most of you.The intensity was immediately perceptible to the audience. One could immediately tell an artistic novel from a commercial one, Leslie said.  In an artistic novel, the reader is constantly rewarded by the richness of a content that never ceases to unfold reading after reading. There is plenitude and generosity in the text. Does the work of art, however, bear this intensity, or does it convey the artist's intensity of feelings? There are, after all, forgeries that fool the "experts." How can a forger capture the intensity of the original artist? Maybe there is a spirit of intensity emanating from the work of art. Forgers and artists possess it. Larry was intrigued by the role of an audience to the artist. While he was a radio personality, certainly a form of art, he often was puzzled by the meaning of an audience. He guessed that people were listening, but he was unable to visualize that audience. Larry also mentioned that the word 'art' was also used to describe the manner in which a particular task was performed. Thus, we speak of "con artists," and the "art of the deal. He asked whether we should consider this usage of the word. Some thought that it would be fruitful to seek what distinguishes the two uses. Tudor suggested a distinction between "high" and "low" art. Another very good suggestion came from a young man seated at my right on the sofa (sorry I forgot your name). He argued that art is art by fiat, but then, there is "good" art and "bad" art. The gatherings are moderated by Bernard Roy, Ph.D., Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY Department of Philosophy, Baruch College, CUNY Event Date: July 8, 1999 Next Article