Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Just because there are different words this does not mean that there are clearly distinguished kinds of thing.

"The individual words in a language name objects - sentences are a combination of such names. Every word has a meaning, it stands for something." Augustine

Wittgenstein had accepted Augustine's way but later realized that context is needed to truly understand a word. Wittgenstein said that we restrict words if we try to define them out of their context. He said: "philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday". Essentially, Wittgenstein is saying that taking language out of context renders it often useless and at the very least, hard to understand fully. He recognized that words have many different uses in different contexts.


The context for the development of the use of the word "art" was - in Europe - the attempt by painters and sculptors to raise their status at the time of the Renaissance. Before then they had been generally  regarded as craftsmen (few women). They and their proponents, such as Vasari, wanted to raise their status and thus the monetary value of their work. They began signing their work, educating themselves and including references to classical culture, developing their own themes rather than working to specified requirements of those commissioning them such as Church authorities, etc.  They became not anonymous craftsmen, but individualistic Artists with an emphasis on personal style and self-expression - i.e. the now widely accepted notion of the Artist which was further developed and exaggerated by the Romantics. It is now so widely accepted that it seems as if it were a fact of nature, or true by definition, rather than a recent cultural developement with economic roots.

Raised Status of Painters and Sculptors

Up until the Renaissance, painters and sculptors had been considered merely as skilled workers, not unlike talented interior decorators. However, in keeping with its aim of producing thoughtful, classical art, the Italian Renaissance raised the professions of painting and sculpture to a new level. In the process, prime importance was placed on 'disegno' - an Italian word whose literal meaning is 'drawing' but whose sense incorporates the 'whole design' of a work of art - rather than 'colorito', the technique of applying coloured paints/pigments. Disegno constituted the intellectual component of painting and sculpture, which now became the profession of thinking-artists not decorators.


It happened a bit later in Holland, but was the same sort of development:

Rembrandt's Self-Portrait in Painter's Costume is one of the abnormally numerous depictions of the artist by himself. Even though the sheer amount of Rembrandt's self-portraits is exceptional, it is also symptomatic of a period when the individuality of the artist was a newly recognized value. Many 17th-century Netherlandish painters went out of their way to apply their trademark on their work. Unsurprisingly, the habit to sign one's work spread at that time.


A marxist approach complements Wittgenstein's advice :-)

Also there has been a lot of work on aesthetics - after Kant, Hegel, etc. - there's no need for us to reinvent the wheel - my old aesthetics lecturer would be shaking her head. I'm not saying philosophers now agree or that we must agree with authorties on the subject, but maybe we should be aware of what some of the main ones have said, which  would  avoid some of already refuted generalisations made here.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Jun 15th, 2009 at 12:09:37 PM EST
Well done.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jun 15th, 2009 at 12:31:13 PM EST
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Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Jun 15th, 2009 at 12:36:48 PM EST
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yup, great comment, ted. i really resonated with the part about italy and the renaissance.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 16th, 2009 at 06:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Some aesthetic approaches:

Even as late as 1912 it was normal in the West to assume that all art aims at beauty, and thus that anything that wasn't trying to be beautiful couldn't count as art. The cubists, dadaists, Stravinsky, and many later art movements struggled against this conception that beauty was central to the definition of art, with such success that, according to Danto, "Beauty had disappeared not only from the advanced art of the 1960's but from the advanced philosophy of art of that decade as well."[12] Perhaps some notion like "expression" (in Croce's theories) or "counter-environment" (in McLuhan's theory) can replace the previous role of beauty. Brian Massumi brought back "beauty" into consideration together with "expression".[15] Another concept, as important to the philosophy of art as "beauty," is that of the "sublime," elaborated upon in the twentieth century by the postmodern philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard.

Perhaps (as in Kennick's theory) no definition of art is possible anymore. Perhaps art should be thought of as a cluster of related concepts in a Wittgensteinian fashion (as in Weitz or Beuys). Another approach is to say that "art" is basically a sociological category, that whatever art schools and museums and artists define as art is considered art regardless of formal definitions. This "institutional definition of art" (see also Institutional Critique) has been championed by George Dickie. Most people did not consider the depiction of a Brillo Box or a store-bought urinal to be art until Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp (respectively) placed them in the context of art (i.e., the art gallery), which then provided the association of these objects with the associations that define art.

Proceduralists often suggest that it is the process by which a work of art is created or viewed that makes it art, not any inherent feature of an object, or how well received it is by the institutions of the art world after its introduction to society at large. Whereas if exactly the same set of words was written by a journalist, intending them as shorthand notes to help him write a longer article later, these would not be a poem. Leo Tolstoy, on the other hand, claims that what makes something art or not is how it is experienced by its audience, not by the intention of its creator. Functionalists like Monroe Beardsley argue that whether or not a piece counts as art depends on what function it plays in a particular context ...


But I  still prefer the marxist approach - as they say in "All the president's men" - "follow the money" :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Jun 15th, 2009 at 12:41:17 PM EST
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Ted Welch:
Perhaps (as in Kennick's theory) no definition of art is possible anymore.

great! it'll be god next, lol...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 16th, 2009 at 06:46:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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