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ID number:555066
Published: 11.08.2005.
Language: English
Level: College/University
Literature: 7 units
References: Used
Table of contents
Nr. Chapter  Page.
CHAPTER I  Traditional Aesthetic Theories   
CHAPTER II  Family Resemblances   
CHAPTER III  Institutional Theory   
  Original Text   

Questions of the type “What is X?” have been prominent in philosophy since the times of Socrates. Such questions as What is knowledge? What is truth? What is beauty? What is art? have baffled thinkers through the ages. Even no answer will be forthcoming to this question; the quest for a definition may still be worthwhile. Moreover, it can be the best way of introducing the main “theories” of art that have been put forward - about what is art, what makes it important and valuable, what makes the difference between good and bad art, and so on…
For example, Clive Bell wrote in his book Art that “the aim of definition of art is to discover the essential quality… that distinguishes works of art from all other classes of objects” (p.7; 1.). Other example, the great novelist Tolstoy offered a definition of art, which would make it subservient to moral concerns. “True art, he maintained, would serve a good purpose…”(Ibid.). (As with some other definitions of art, Tolstoy’s answer gives us not only a definition, but also a criterion of quality: the answer “What is art?” at the same time an answer to “What is good art?”).
Nowadays we are less prepared to lay down criteria for good art in terms of moral benefit, for we may hold that art has its own special kind or kinds of value. And if we do not insist on moral criteria, we do at least want the expenditure to be on something that is valuable in some sense… But it means that that expenditure must be on art, and not on some substitute pretending to be art. This time question about art has become an important question of public policy and also arises at a personal level. Art this time can be recognized as a matter of taste. And so, concepts such as those of art, knowledge and truth do not spring up at random; they are reflections of human needs and interests. …

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