Today it is customary to assume that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ rather than in the nature of things themselves. The neurosis of contemporary art is based on this idea that aesthetic values are relative. In this series of papers I explore the roots of this idea, showing how the philosophy of the Enlightenment is ultimately responsible for the assumed subjectivity, and the corollary decline, of beauty.
Building on the ground covered in the previous essay, this essay explores some of the broader artistic ramifications of Enlightenment theory in the contemporary art scene.
Over the last three hundred years art has evolved into an autonomous concept and, consequently, lost the dignity and vitality they once enjoyed. In this manifesto I have suggested that this trend can be reversed only through rejecting the idea of ‘art for art’s sake’ and rediscovering the function art once enjoyed as the servant of man.
Forgery is not simply an ethical problem, it also raises profound philosophical questions concerning the criterion by which we ascribe aesthetic value to works. For example, why is it that a work can receive highest critical acclaim whilst thought to have been painted by a master and then, when the forgery is exposed, the work is no longer admired for it’s aesthetic properties, as in the case of the notorious Van Megereen forgieries? In this essay I have used such questions as a basis by which to make a radical proposal about imitative art.
What role, if any, does the intention of the artist play in the evaluation and interpretation of artworks? It is customary for contemporary theorists to deny that intention has any relevance to evaluation and interpretation. I argue otherwise.
The philosopher R. G. Collingwood argued that works of art do not exist in the real world but, rather, exist in the mind of the artist. He reached this conclusion through a definition of art that distinguished it sharply from craft and divorced it from any element of technique. In this essay I have tried to show that Collingwood’s theory is theoretically unsound and practically inconsistent with the way in which many artists work.
In recent years there has been a movement in the music world for ‘authentic performance’, meaning music played in the style and on the instruments from the time in which it was written. In this essay I consider some of the arguments for and against this movement.
In this essay I have tried to explain the main aspects of Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic theory, while pointing out one or two ways in which the theory is inconsistent with real experience.
Many thinkers from the ancient Greeks to the present day have grappled with the question of why tragedy, with all its sorrow and tears, should apparently be a source of pleasure to audiences. In this essay I explore a solution to this paradox that was proposed by the 18th century philosopher David Hume, followed by a counter-theory proposed by the contemporary philosopher Susan Feagin. After explaining why I find both these theories to be inadequate, I offer some suggestions regarding a possible answer to the puzzle.
This short piece consists more of an explanation than an argument, for why I object to music with a heavy beat.
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