I tend to agree with Hegel when it comes to art, to view art as something which is simply sensuous is an outdated notion. There are very few accomplished, modern artists who will create a piece of art simply to look nice.
As Hegel would say, art must point to something beyond itself. This is clearly a function, and to view it as anything else is to misinterpret it.
This is also very similar to Kant, because as Kant says, in our first moment we see something as being beautiful, once we are past this first moment it is no longer beautiful and it turns into something that we see as good. This seems true (at least from a personal stand point) because I rarely focus on art solely on its beauty, almost any philosopher would look past this and ask what is it trying to convey? All this to say that function is a key part of art, the function is to convey something beyond itself.
I understand this is certainly not a discussion of Kant, however I’m inclined to believe your interpretation of Kant is flawed. When he describes our moments of experience what he defines as good should not be taken in a moral or ethical way. What he means by good is simply that it fulfills out views of what something should be. If a piece of art strikes us as beautiful we do not dwell in that, we try and see why we feel its beautiful. The good we see in art is what you would attribute to colours, brush strokes and form. Hence the good can be conceptualized In response to the statement of why can’t art be made for beauty? It certainly can, however by simply making this claim shows a misrepresentation of Kant’s version of beauty and yours. “as it were, an agent of beauty?” The reason I say this is that if beauty – according to Kant – is not able to be conceptualized, how can you make a piece of art strictly to be beautiful. Therefore I would say that the way you use beauty is more like the good. It is fulfilling a concept that the artist has of what he feels will please people. Therefore, it will point to something, this does not mean a social effect as you said. This means that the work of art is representing something other than “this thing is a painting”
Very nice counter Stirling, I believe we are getting closer to the same idea of art. One point I would like to bring up is the idea that art is merely subjective. Your description of only humans being able to notice beauty is very similar to Kant’s; perhaps you took in more than you thought!
However, I think it is too easy to define art as being subjective. Certainly beauty is a different argument, however what we define as good art is very common. I believe that this is a case where for some reason we value everyone’s opinion when we shouldn’t.
If we were to look to Hume, and looked over what he says about this I think it would put a nice spin on this argument. Hume argued that there is in general, a large number that agree on what is beautiful and what is art. He argued that if people have a conflicting view it is because perhaps they are not as experienced with art, or they bring a prejudice to the experience. One must view art in the context the artist intended to view it, and in doing so one is being generous to the artwork.
I have always found it interesting that art is one of the view arguments where the claim that everyone sees it differently holds, when of course everyone’s opinion shouldn’t necessarily be valued.