• Ciceronianus
    3k
    From time to time, I've wondered what art is, what an artist is, what the Philosophy of Art or Aesthetics is, for that matter. I'm a novice when it comes to these questions, but I very nearly derailed a thread by bringing this subject up, tangentially at best, and was duly challenged by others I hope will participate in this one.

    Someone claimed philosophy is art. Being a mischievous sort, I suggested this did a disservice to art. Philosophers aren't artists, and when they try to be, they fail, miserably I think.

    Believe it or not, I've complained in the past regarding the Philosophy of Law. I've wondered what it is, and what business it is of philosophers to attempt to explain the nature and purpose of the vast ocean of laws and the associated rituals employed in their application; an ocean in which I've sailed for too many years. I don't know the answers to those questions, but I've thought that the practice of law is something that should figure in their consideration.

    Maybe that's as good a place as any at which to begin. Should what artists do in creating a work of art figure in what considering what art is, or what a work of art is, or what an artist is?

    Law and art are different things, though. Lawyers qua lawyers don't create the law, though they may assist in the creation of laws. They're instruments or functionaries of the law; they're part of the system that is the law, they figure in its application and operation. Artist create works of art. We don't speak of art as a system. Artists don't "apply" art. They make it.

    One would think that artists, who make art, should know at least how to make it. Is that what Philosophy of Art is about, though? Does it address how to make it? I'm not sure, but don't think so. Does it critique art? Is it intended to explore the relationship between art and those who experience it?

    "Art" seems a very vague concept; is it in the eye of the beholder, like beauty is said to be? We could define "fine art" with some accuracy, I think, but that would seem to easy a task for an entire branch of philosophy to be devoted to it.

    Let's try applying the pragmatic maxim. A short version of it suggests we consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings we conceive art in this case to have. Our conception of those effects is the whole of our conception of "art."

    The "practical effects" art has must be its effects on us, or what takes place when we interact with a work of art--the result of what we see, hear, read etc. when experiencing it. So, art evokes feelings; it doesn't explain or analyze existence, or reality, or knowledge, or indeed anything and isn't intended to do so. As part of its evocation, it may lead to insights about ourselves or the rest of the world, but that isn't its purpose. It's not philosophy, in other words.

    If that's the case, though, what is the Philosophy of Art?
  • Janus
    15.7k
    For me the purpose of the arts is the creation of novel ways of seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking. The 'novel' part is where the creative imagination comes into play.
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    Someone claimed philosophy is art
    [ ... ] If that's the case, though, what is the Philosophy of Art?
    Ciceronianus
    Philosophy might be "an art" insofar as it creates (i.e. imagines), as Janus says, "novels ways of" clarifying, interpreting, reformulating, evaluating and problematizing givens (which are either conceptual, perceptual or practical); if so, then the Philosophy of Art in "novel ways" ... problematizes as givens: artworks, making art, evaluating art and aesthetic responses to both artifacts & nature. For me, their respective aims differ, however: most distinctively, Philosophy attempts to clarify life's limits via 'thought-experiments' (aporia) of distinctions, connections, hierarchies ... whereas Art attempts to mystify – intensify – 'feeling alive' via 'representative examples' (idealizations) of craft, performance or participation.

    Philosophers aren't artists, and when they try to be, they fail, miserably I think.
    Really e.g. ... Plato?
    Lucretius?
    Montaigne?
    F. Schiller?
    RW Emerson?
    F. Nietzsche?
    G. Marcel?
    JP Sartre?
    S. DeBeauvoir?
    A. Camus?
    I. Murdoch?
    A. Danto?

    ... all failed artists? :sweat:

    For me the purpose of the arts is the creation of novel ways of seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking. The 'novel' part is where the creative imagination comes into play.Janus
    :up: :up:
  • Janus
    15.7k
    Philosophy attempts to clarify life's limits via 'thought-experiments' (aporia) of distinctions, connections, hierarchies ... whereas Art attempts to mystify – intensify – 'feeling alive' via 'representative examples' (idealizations) of craft, performance or participation.180 Proof

    :up: I think we agree that philosophy can be thought as an art, but that it has its own unique concerns, its content being generally more intellective than affective, while its form may be aesthetically pleasing or not.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k


    Well, we know what Plato thought of artists, and poets in particular. I think he does more to demonstrate the distinction between art and philosophy than I ever could, banishing artiists from his grim Republic. Lucretius was a poet who expressed philosophical thoughts of Epicurus in his poetry. I think it's far easier for an artist to do that than it is for a philosopher to create a work of art.

    A philosopher may write a novel, or a poem, or paint a picture or compose music, but I suspect that philosopher would distinguish between them and works devoted to philosophy.

    As you say, there's a difference between art and philosophy. Art need not address philosophical subjects, and if it does it's not expository; it doesn't explain. It evokes in a way that isn't prosaic, through music, sculpture, painting, and language which inspires and elicits feelings and emotions.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Oh, sure. Just casually ask the hardest questions there are in philosophy. Why not? ;)

    I think Plato counts as art, though, given its dialogic form. That's exactly what makes it timeless -- it can be seen from many angles.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    More directly:

    Art is not definable, because it's creative

    Even so -- there is at least a possibility, to my mind, that philosophy can be art, and vice-versa.

    Camus and Sartre seem like good examples here.
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    FWIW, from a 2019 thread Aesthetics – what is it?

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/344963

    Also a post from a 2023 thread Was Socrates a martyr? concerning how literary texts differ from philosophical texts ...

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/772708 (includes a link to a video interview of philosopher & novelist Iris Murdoch)
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Someone claimed philosophy is art. Being a mischievous sort, I suggested this did a disservice to art. Philosophers aren't artists, and when they try to be, they fail, miserably I think.Ciceronianus

    I don't think this is a mischievous view, more of a conventional one. I suspect most people would be in agreement with you that philosophers are not artists.

    And I would agree that it's not useful to reclassify philosophers as artists. What I was saying was that there is an artistic sensibility, an artistic creative power behind some philosophical visions/works. And that (perhaps) the act of philosophy can also be considered an artistic one, as per Janus below -

    For me the purpose of the arts is the creation of novel ways of seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking. The 'novel' part is where the creative imagination comes into play.Janus

    I think this largely captures it. I think many professions have their artists and visionaries - exponents with prodigious levels of skill, innovation, creativity. You don't have to be an artist to have an artistic imagination or produce works of great literary and artistic significance. As per our earlier discussion about President Grant's memoirs.

    I think there are some philosophers who are also superb prose stylists and writers of significant literary merit. Since literature is an art form, I have no hesitation is describing Camus, Sartre, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, as great literary artists, as well as prominent exponents of philosophy. Whether one agrees with them, or appreciates their works is irrelevant to this matter.
  • jkop
    709
    From time to time, I've wondered what art is, what an artist is, what the Philosophy of Art or Aesthetics is, for that matter.Ciceronianus

    Some works of art inspire or provoke discussion on what is art. Since the early 1900s, artists have been exhibiting ready-made, or abstract, or ugly, or revolting objects in fine art galleries.

    Being exposed to such works can evoke experiences that vacillate between the ugly and the beautiful or sublime. They can also show differences between the value of an object that you appreciate for its own sake and its significance in a social context, e.g. its market price.

    For example, in 2008 a bottle of urine with a crucifix was sold for 277.000 USD. Who appreciates it for its own sake?

    Other works of art are less preoccupied with the question of what is art or social construction. Instead the works show signs of skill, craftsmanship, intelligence, beauty, or unusual properties that catch our interest. A more traditional notion of art, I suppose.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k

    Difficult questions, I admit. And very annoying, the more I think of them. Are they the kind of questions Wittgenstein spoke of, regarding which we must, or should, be silent?

    Maybe art is something which must be shown, or more broadly experienced, or felt.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k


    I hate being conventional. But I see what you mean.

    Say art is an act, for the sake of argument. Something done remarkably well. Great athletes do things most cannot do. It's not something that can be explained except in a trivial sense; but they posses an ability or talent at which we marvel.

    Is there such a thing as the Philosophy of Sport? Should there be?
  • Ciceronianus
    3k


    A more traditional view, perhaps, but suggestive. Maybe Philosophy of Art is an inquiry into why and how what is shown or is done by artists effects us as it does.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k


    "More affective than effective." Well put.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    Art is the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings.
    Philosophy of art studies the nature of art and how individual art pieces are evaluated and experienced.
    Aesthetics is the study of beauty and taste, though ill-defined.
    So, at a superficial level, aesthetics and phil of art overlap when phil of art is investigating artificial objects that are beautiful (though not necessarily express feelings) in what makes it art and how it is evaluated, and aesthetics will investigate what makes it beautiful. But being that the definition of art here is an artificial object that is beautiful, what makes it beautiful is what makes it art, so phil of art and aesthetics would be, in this scenario, doing the same thing.
  • baker
    5.6k
    Believe it or not, I've complained in the past regarding the Philosophy of Law. I've wondered what it is, and what business it is of philosophers to attempt to explain the nature and purpose of the vast ocean of laws and the associated rituals employed in their applicationCiceronianus
    Similarly, many scientists and supporters of science take a dim view of the philosophy of science.
    Many religious people take a dim view of the philosophy of religion.
    Etc.

    A "philosophy _of_" something is a meta-analysis thereof. Obviously, there can be many meta-analyses of something, as there are many perspectives from which to look at something.

    So, art evokes feelings; it doesn't explain or analyze existence, or reality, or knowledge, or indeed anything and isn't intended to do so.
    On the contrary, it often does precisely that, and in a manner so concise that philosophy can't.
  • jkop
    709
    Maybe Philosophy of Art is an inquiry into why and how what is shown or is done by artists effects us as it does.Ciceronianus

    Historically there's been a lot of speculation on the psychology of the aesthetic experience. For example the art historian Heinrich Wölfflin used ideas about empathy as a theoretical ground for describing aesthetic experiences. One of those ideas was the philosopher Theodor Lipps' theory of empathy, Einfuhlung.

    Empathy is the ability to use knowledge of one's own experiences in order to understand the experiences of others, and Lipps' theory was that you project your own experiences onto any object of perception, including shapes and colours. Hence a bulging shape is heavy in some sense, a concave shape slender, a yellow colour inviting, a red colour intense and so on. Wölfflin describes Venus in Botticelli's famous painting as if rays of energy literally flow through her fingers.

    From his evocative descriptions and psychological speculations followed an aesthetic individualism. There were also counter-movements that emphasized universality, such as De Stijl in art, and the international style in architecture. But the psychological speculations about the meanings of shapes and colours are still used in contemporary art, design, and architecture.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    Thanks but it was

    :up: I think we agree that philosophy can be thought as an art, but that it has its own unique concerns, its content being generally more intellective than affective, while its form may be aesthetically pleasing or not.Janus
  • Noble Dust
    7.8k


    At this point, for me the most sublime experiences I’ve had of art feel like fleeting glimpses into the nature of reality that a lifetime of philosophical study might never achieve (but maybe it can for some). Of course, philosophy is generally seeking more like the whole picture, rather than a glimpse.

    Of course, a lot if not most art doesn’t provide a window for this glimpse, or doesn’t attempt to. I would provisionally delineate art into exoteric (non-glimpse-into etc) and esoteric (glimpse). Of course the word esoteric has a lot of baggage, but I think it’s an appropriate differentiation to make here.

    So as to the nature of art, its root, its esoteric experiential purpose if you will (experiential because mankind has been making art for as long as we know, and the process of making it, interpreting it, and philosophizing about it is a historically experiential process) is to reach out and try to grasp the nature of reality. Exoteric permutations are not concerned with their root or its purpose, which, by the way, is fine with me.

    This is just my current thought process du jour on the nature of art.

    Addendum: to expand on the experiential aspect of art I mentioned, I’m really just referring to what I think is the experiential nature of all human experience (ha). By default I was going to say “arts…esoteric purpose”, but that sounds as if I think I have special knowledge into an esoteric topic, which is not my point. To me all philosophy is experiential; humans questioning and seeking throughout history. The exoteric/esoteric distintion makes sense to me in this context because esoteric here doesn’t mean something mystical or secret. Inevitably in the experiential search for the nature of reality, the distinction between what is found in every day experience, whether that be through logical deduction, science, or social constructs, etc, is distinct from that something that is found (glimpsed) behind the everyday. Anyway, I think great art is one way we experience this.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Is there such a thing as the Philosophy of Sport? Should there be?Ciceronianus

    Maybe you're asking the wrong guy. I don't watch or participate in any form of sport. And I'm not sure about the merit of philosophy more generally.

    But more broadly, I'm fairly sure you can have a philosophy of anything. Does sport seek to convey ideas the way art does? Is technique and skill at games the same as technique and skill in literature, poetry, painting?

    No doubt one can build a philosophy around what sport represents, the hierarchies and conservatism intrinsic to participation, rules and codification, etc.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Are they the kind of questions Wittgenstein spoke of, regarding which we must, or should, be silent?Ciceronianus

    I don't think silence is needed, I just think it's a hard question to answer. I've read a little bit of aesthetics before, but didn't decide much. I'm pretty sure art cannot be defined, but I still think there's room for a philosophy of art.

    Another way to think about what art is is its place within an institution. Objects become art through the artworld participating and dubbing them so. Then philosophy of art would be that branch dealing with how we conceptualize art and classify it, but only after art has been dubbed by the artworld for consideration (while recognizing that one of the roles within the artworld, that of artist, is to bring in new works of art)

    Now I'm inclined to think of this institutional theory of art as in opposition to theories of art which rely upon defining art by our feelings, at least, but I can't say I'm certain you do -- you're attempting to apply the pragmatic principle in defining art, and then offering "feelings" as a possible effect, but would still include institutional acts and effects?
  • Ciceronianus
    3k

    Damnation. Sorry. Well, this way I can claim it as my own.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k
    Now I'm inclined to think of this institutional theory of art as in opposition to theories of art which rely upon defining art by our feelings, at least, but I can't say I'm certain you do -- you're attempting to apply the pragmatic principle in defining art, and then offering "feelings" as a possible effect, but would still include institutional acts and effects?Moliere

    It would seem to be an effect, in that it would be a reaction to art, or the result of our reaction to it.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k
    At this point, for me the most sublime experiences I’ve had of art feel like fleeting glimpses into the nature of reality that a lifetime of philosophical study might never achieve (but maybe it can for some). Of course, philosophy is generally seeking more like the whole picture, rather than a glimpse.Noble Dust

    I think what you describe is what I'd assert is the difference between art and philosophy. Art, or at least great art, evokes, sometimes only in a fleeting way; it doesn't explain. Our reaction to it isn't thoughtful, or careful.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k
    hilosophy of art studies the nature of art and how individual art pieces are evaluated and experienced.
    Aesthetics is the study of beauty and taste, though ill-defined.
    Lionino

    So neither is the study of how art is made, or what prompts some of us to make it?
  • Moliere
    4.1k


    Cool, then I don't have a ready-made response in that case. :D Your first attempt looks plastic enough that I could make it work somehow.

    It's tough to get a grapple on the differences between art and philosophy because both are so large that a comparison/contrast is difficult, and there are some crossovers we can point to, but I think I'm still inclined to say there's a difference.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    So neither is the study of how art is madeCiceronianus

    It depends on what is meant by "how is made". If by that, the techniques used are meant, what studies that is exactly the practice of the respective art, plastic art, scenic art, visual art, architecture, etc. If how human action produces something artistic is meant, I see little difference between that question and what makes something art conjoined with the matter of techniques expounded on above, therefore leaving it to philosophy of art.

    what prompts some of us to make itCiceronianus

    Psychology of art?
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Your first attempt looks plastic enough that I could make it work somehow.Moliere

    Let's try applying the pragmatic maxim. A short version of it suggests we consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings we conceive art in this case to have. Our conception of those effects is the whole of our conception of "art."

    The "practical effects" art has must be its effects on us, or what takes place when we interact with a work of art--the result of what we see, hear, read etc. when experiencing it. So, art evokes feelings; it doesn't explain or analyze existence, or reality, or knowledge, or indeed anything and isn't intended to do so. As part of its evocation, it may lead to insights about ourselves or the rest of the world, but that isn't its purpose. It's not philosophy, in other words.
    Ciceronianus

    Found and browsed How to Make Our Ideas Clear -- there's a lot there so I've only skimmed at this point.

    We agree that art and philosophy are not the same.

    I think I'd push against the notion that art shows and philosophy says, though -- I think both the artist and the philosopher show themselves in their activity, whatever that happens to be.

    (EDIT: To be clear -- the say/show distinction was the first distinction I thought of as a possible difference and then decided against it for various examples I thought of)
  • jkop
    709
    Objects become art through the artworld participating and dubbing them so.Moliere

    It serms to turn art into PR (networking, making headlines, influencing people) and the art becomes whatever serves those interests.

    I prefer Nelson Goodman's suggestion that instead of defining what is art we look at when something is art.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    I disagree!

    For instance, I'd say that a person sharing a personal poem at a local poetry reading that won't go anywhere is art.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment