Happy New Year! The January Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species. Discuss it now.
The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.)
Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Seeing as a definition is mostly a string of words arranged in sentences to generalize a group of particulars under a certain concept, it's unlikely for me that there will ever be an exact definition of Art as it surpasses the symbolic marginalization of definitions. To put a definition on Art is to strip it from its essence as being a particular. However, restrictions can be made on what is called Art and what isn't; explained in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy under the entry "The Definition of Art", which I agree with.
"Art mocks verbal definition." - T. W. Adorno
What makes Art good is an even more challenging question.
Art is most likely to be considered good when it stands firm against critique. The more critique it survives the better the Art. This critique is mostly based on theory: philosophical, sociohistorical, aesthetical, etc... Thus, any good artwork has to have a considerable basis in its theory and history, but if an artwork is purely based on those then it stands against its own concept; the antithesis of the empirical. Therefor, a certain degree of intuition is involved in the making of Art, but good Art cannot be fully intuitable since then it contradicts its own metaphysical question of what Art is and negates its own rationality.
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I think you are onto something with your first point. In answering "what is art?" with an appeal to "true art needs no explanation" you have highlighted the fact that when we recognize something as art it is revealed to us, and thus it is also revealed to us what we have been assuming about art. Art being recognized in a revelation also implies that it is something significant for the beholder and not just another painting or composition.
But are we, then, in danger of relativizing art and consecuently devaluing it, as others have suggested? No, because it is not so significant that we establish what art is for everyone, but rather it is significant that we share something with others regarding what l, or you, find captivating about the artwork, and.thus possibly usher a revelation within them and give them a.glimpse of our inner life.
The revelation of art within ourselves is opening of the possibility of relation with fellow man.