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Is philosophy an art form?

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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Thomyum2
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Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Thomyum2 » October 27th, 2019, 11:56 am

For my belated first thread on this site, I thought I would choose the aesthetics forum since it seems like an area that doesn't get very much attention relative to the others. Before I became seriously interested in philosophy, I had studied classical music for many years and also cultivated an interest in the other fine arts, so this seems a fitting place.

Coming into philosophy, I sensed that there are really many parallels between philosophy and the arts. For me, reading a good philosophical text or listening to a well-reasoned argument often seemed akin to listening to a performance of a great musical composition or coming to understand a masterpiece of art or architecture. Music, and all arts, are often described as a type of 'language', a medium for communication, and I believe that is true in that they allow us to share the sense of beauty that we have had in our sensory experiences. Music allows us to share our experience of beauty in sound, and similarly, painting and sculpture play that role for visual beauty; dance for our kinetic sense of movement; architecture for our relationship to the space around us; culinary arts for taste; literature for the way we express of our experiences in language. Philosophy seems to fulfill a similar role.

In the history of philosophy as well, the major thinkers stand in relation to their field in a similar way as do the great composers. For example, Beethoven, in his celebration of the individual and his tremendous influence on the course of the development of western music is very much like Descartes. Similarly, Wittgenstein and the philosophers of the early twentieth twentieth century have many similarities to Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School in classical music, which took music off onto a new course at contemporary turbulent time in European history. We could get carried away with these parallels, perhaps by suggesting the Berkeley, Locke and Hume are like a Mendelssohn, Chopin and Schumann, whereas Kant stands alone like a Brahms or Wagner, although at some point this has to break down.

But to the original point, this idea really took root for me when I encountered Wittgenstein famous statement in the Tractatus that "philosophy is not a theory but an activity." I've come to agree with this statement sincerely, and to understand that philosophy really is more like an activity that we participate in which produces, not learning, but rather the opportunity to share self-awareness, thought and understanding, which is more than an aesthetic experience that it is one of concrete learning. It is a living art, which has to be practiced in order to come alive, in the same way that music and the other fine arts are.

So I ask your thoughts, could philosophy be more accurately described as a form of art? Are we mistaken to think that philosophy is a way to knowledge or right answers about the world, but perhaps instead is more of a means of expression of thought, a way to communicate to others of who were are and how we understand the world? Wouldn't it be better to look at the great masters of philosophy not as people making attempts to arrive at some ultimate goal of perfect knowledge, or as being 'right' or 'wrong' in what they said, but rather to celebrate them as people who were great creators and left us with works of beauty that each express in a special way their own unique experiences of the world?

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Mark1955
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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Mark1955 » October 30th, 2019, 4:33 am

Thomyum2 wrote:
October 27th, 2019, 11:56 am
But to the original point, this idea really took root for me when I encountered Wittgenstein famous statement in the Tractatus that "philosophy is not a theory but an activity." I've come to agree with this statement sincerely, and to understand that philosophy really is more like an activity that we participate in which produces, not learning, but rather the opportunity to share self-awareness, thought and understanding, which is more than an aesthetic experience that it is one of concrete learning. It is a living art, which has to be practiced in order to come alive, in the same way that music and the other fine arts are.

So I ask your thoughts, could philosophy be more accurately described as a form of art? Are we mistaken to think that philosophy is a way to knowledge or right answers about the world, but perhaps instead is more of a means of expression of thought, a way to communicate to others of who were are and how we understand the world? Wouldn't it be better to look at the great masters of philosophy not as people making attempts to arrive at some ultimate goal of perfect knowledge, or as being 'right' or 'wrong' in what they said, but rather to celebrate them as people who were great creators and left us with works of beauty that each express in a special way their own unique experiences of the world?
In general I'd agree with you and Wittgenstein, but on the specific point in bold, no I think many philosophers are attempting to provide an answer and claiming that their answer is right. Any philosopher who develops a system is generating a solution as they see it and it appears to me that that applies to the majority of them.

I'd suggest the great exception is David Hume who deconstructed logic and knowledge and is thus largely ignored or misinterpreted for his pains.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Pattern-chaser » October 31st, 2019, 12:17 pm

I think there's an element of perspective here, in the sense that we can choose to look at almost anything as an art form. I suppose the judgement is this: is this new perspective useful? If it is, then looking at philosophy as an art form has value. 👍
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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Sculptor1 » October 31st, 2019, 12:23 pm

Thomyum2 wrote:
October 27th, 2019, 11:56 am
For my belated first thread on this site, I thought I would choose the aesthetics forum since it seems like an area that doesn't get very much attention relative to the others. Before I became seriously interested in philosophy, I had studied classical music for many years and also cultivated an interest in the other fine arts, so this seems a fitting place.

Coming into philosophy, I sensed that there are really many parallels between philosophy and the arts. For me, reading a good philosophical text or listening to a well-reasoned argument often seemed akin to listening to a performance of a great musical composition or coming to understand a masterpiece of art or architecture. Music, and all arts, are often described as a type of 'language', a medium for communication, and I believe that is true in that they allow us to share the sense of beauty that we have had in our sensory experiences. Music allows us to share our experience of beauty in sound, and similarly, painting and sculpture play that role for visual beauty; dance for our kinetic sense of movement; architecture for our relationship to the space around us; culinary arts for taste; literature for the way we express of our experiences in language. Philosophy seems to fulfill a similar role.

In the history of philosophy as well, the major thinkers stand in relation to their field in a similar way as do the great composers. For example, Beethoven, in his celebration of the individual and his tremendous influence on the course of the development of western music is very much like Descartes. Similarly, Wittgenstein and the philosophers of the early twentieth twentieth century have many similarities to Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School in classical music, which took music off onto a new course at contemporary turbulent time in European history. We could get carried away with these parallels, perhaps by suggesting the Berkeley, Locke and Hume are like a Mendelssohn, Chopin and Schumann, whereas Kant stands alone like a Brahms or Wagner, although at some point this has to break down.

But to the original point, this idea really took root for me when I encountered Wittgenstein famous statement in the Tractatus that "philosophy is not a theory but an activity." I've come to agree with this statement sincerely, and to understand that philosophy really is more like an activity that we participate in which produces, not learning, but rather the opportunity to share self-awareness, thought and understanding, which is more than an aesthetic experience that it is one of concrete learning. It is a living art, which has to be practiced in order to come alive, in the same way that music and the other fine arts are.

So I ask your thoughts, could philosophy be more accurately described as a form of art? Are we mistaken to think that philosophy is a way to knowledge or right answers about the world, but perhaps instead is more of a means of expression of thought, a way to communicate to others of who were are and how we understand the world? Wouldn't it be better to look at the great masters of philosophy not as people making attempts to arrive at some ultimate goal of perfect knowledge, or as being 'right' or 'wrong' in what they said, but rather to celebrate them as people who were great creators and left us with works of beauty that each express in a special way their own unique experiences of the world?
Urumph!!

You will have to define "art" first.
I imagine your definition shall be so wide, vague, and vacuous as to include just about everything we do. And since ART has been extended to **** in a can, I do not think this topic has much to offer.

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Jklint » November 1st, 2019, 4:02 pm

True enough that
"philosophy is not a theory but an activity."
Instead, it's an activity which creates theories.

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Jklint » November 1st, 2019, 5:45 pm

Thomyum2 wrote:
October 27th, 2019, 11:56 am
Wouldn't it be better to look at the great masters of philosophy not as people making attempts to arrive at some ultimate goal of perfect knowledge, or as being 'right' or 'wrong' in what they said, but rather to celebrate them as people who were great creators and left us with works of beauty that each express in a special way their own unique experiences of the world?
That's pretty well how I always thought of philosophy as an art of interpretation which incorporates its own critique. Like music, it does not have to be beautiful to be considered or accepted as great. It can also be reductive and discordant in attempting to reach its conclusions or coda.

Within the brain every thought or idea seems structured as a pattern that by means of various arts amenable to our senses, including philosophy, those patterns are demonstrated. Though the composer or philosopher will always have his own interpretation or opinion of what is conceived it will become impersonal, that is, inflect as an object when transcribed into the minds of others who receive the content and subjectively felt. This is also true, as happens often, for its creator when not immediately aware of the significance of what they themselves created.

Music is a different medium of philosophic expression, the main difference is such that philosophy as rendered linguistically offers denotations while music by means of its greater spectrum of voices forces a greater variety of connotations encapsulating multiple relationships simultaneously without requiring a verbal description of it.

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by h_k_s » November 3rd, 2019, 2:23 am

Thomyum2 wrote:
October 27th, 2019, 11:56 am
For my belated first thread on this site, I thought I would choose the aesthetics forum since it seems like an area that doesn't get very much attention relative to the others. Before I became seriously interested in philosophy, I had studied classical music for many years and also cultivated an interest in the other fine arts, so this seems a fitting place.

Coming into philosophy, I sensed that there are really many parallels between philosophy and the arts. For me, reading a good philosophical text or listening to a well-reasoned argument often seemed akin to listening to a performance of a great musical composition or coming to understand a masterpiece of art or architecture. Music, and all arts, are often described as a type of 'language', a medium for communication, and I believe that is true in that they allow us to share the sense of beauty that we have had in our sensory experiences. Music allows us to share our experience of beauty in sound, and similarly, painting and sculpture play that role for visual beauty; dance for our kinetic sense of movement; architecture for our relationship to the space around us; culinary arts for taste; literature for the way we express of our experiences in language. Philosophy seems to fulfill a similar role.

In the history of philosophy as well, the major thinkers stand in relation to their field in a similar way as do the great composers. For example, Beethoven, in his celebration of the individual and his tremendous influence on the course of the development of western music is very much like Descartes. Similarly, Wittgenstein and the philosophers of the early twentieth twentieth century have many similarities to Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School in classical music, which took music off onto a new course at contemporary turbulent time in European history. We could get carried away with these parallels, perhaps by suggesting the Berkeley, Locke and Hume are like a Mendelssohn, Chopin and Schumann, whereas Kant stands alone like a Brahms or Wagner, although at some point this has to break down.

But to the original point, this idea really took root for me when I encountered Wittgenstein famous statement in the Tractatus that "philosophy is not a theory but an activity." I've come to agree with this statement sincerely, and to understand that philosophy really is more like an activity that we participate in which produces, not learning, but rather the opportunity to share self-awareness, thought and understanding, which is more than an aesthetic experience that it is one of concrete learning. It is a living art, which has to be practiced in order to come alive, in the same way that music and the other fine arts are.

So I ask your thoughts, could philosophy be more accurately described as a form of art? Are we mistaken to think that philosophy is a way to knowledge or right answers about the world, but perhaps instead is more of a means of expression of thought, a way to communicate to others of who were are and how we understand the world? Wouldn't it be better to look at the great masters of philosophy not as people making attempts to arrive at some ultimate goal of perfect knowledge, or as being 'right' or 'wrong' in what they said, but rather to celebrate them as people who were great creators and left us with works of beauty that each express in a special way their own unique experiences of the world?
Philosophy is pure human thought error free of fallacies or lies. That's not really art. That's more like a methodical craft.

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 3rd, 2019, 1:20 pm

h_k_s wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 2:23 am
Philosophy is pure human thought error free of fallacies or lies. That's not really art. That's more like a methodical craft.
No, it's wishful thinking, isn't it? "Error free" is a surprising description of any form of human thought. It certainly defies history. 🤔
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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by h_k_s » November 3rd, 2019, 5:28 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 1:20 pm
h_k_s wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 2:23 am
Philosophy is pure human thought error free of fallacies or lies. That's not really art. That's more like a methodical craft.
No, it's wishful thinking, isn't it? "Error free" is a surprising description of any form of human thought. It certainly defies history. 🤔
Well, maybe not perfect, but as close as we can come whenever we try really hard.

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 5th, 2019, 9:22 am

h_k_s wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 5:28 pm
Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 1:20 pm


No, it's wishful thinking, isn't it? "Error free" is a surprising description of any form of human thought. It certainly defies history. 🤔
Well, maybe not perfect, but as close as we can come whenever we try really hard.
Ah, that's a rather different thing. "As close as we can come" isn't really all that close, is it? Isn't it important to remember the difference between theory (ought) and practice (is)? I find it so.


h_k_s wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 2:23 am

Philosophy is pure human thought error free of fallacies or lies. That's not really art. That's more like a methodical craft.
Having established that nothing we do is, or can be, error-free, I still wonder what this has to do with philosophy being art (or not)? 🤔
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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Sculptor1 » November 5th, 2019, 10:20 am

So wotz art init?

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Thomyum2 » November 5th, 2019, 1:51 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 9:22 am
h_k_s wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 2:23 am

Philosophy is pure human thought error free of fallacies or lies. That's not really art. That's more like a methodical craft.
Having established that nothing we do is, or can be, error-free, I still wonder what this has to do with philosophy being art (or not)? 🤔
This actually illustrates part of the point I was trying to get at when I made the original post. Philosophy strives for an ideal, an ‘error free’ mode of thinking or talking about the world - I actually find this parallels the way that artists through history have also reached toward an ideal of beauty in their creative works.

Defining ‘art’, I think, is an entire endeavor and a whole subcategory of the philosophy of art in and of itself, and it’s not my intention to try to tackle that here, but perhaps for purposes of this discussion we could think of it in a very generic sense as any creative form of expression.

So maybe I could ask my question in a little bit of a different way: is philosophy an effort of creativity or one of discovery? In other words, do works of philosophy, like science, discover something new about the world that always existed but that we weren’t aware of? Or do they, like the arts, bring something new into the world that did not exist previously, but that then takes hold and incorporates itself into our culture and vocabulary and then gives us new tools with which to think about and experience the world? Or perhaps even, are these two - efforts of creativity and discovery - one and the same?

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Sculptor1 » November 5th, 2019, 3:08 pm

Thomyum2 wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 1:51 pm

Defining ‘art’, I think, is an entire endeavor and a whole subcategory of the philosophy of art in and of itself, and it’s not my intention to try to tackle that here, but perhaps for purposes of this discussion we could think of it in a very generic sense as any creative form of expression.
This thread is empty words unless you are prepared to off in place a running definition of art.
Of course this definition is likely to be guided by the way we all want to answer the question.
Art can be defined extremely narrowly and very widely to include most of human activity - or at least some aspects of ALL human activity.

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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 7th, 2019, 12:54 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 3:08 pm
Thomyum2 wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 1:51 pm

Defining ‘art’, I think, is an entire endeavor and a whole subcategory of the philosophy of art in and of itself, and it’s not my intention to try to tackle that here, but perhaps for purposes of this discussion we could think of it in a very generic sense as any creative form of expression.
This thread is empty words unless you are prepared to off in place a running definition of art.
Of course this definition is likely to be guided by the way we all want to answer the question.
👍 We all know, in general, everyday terms, what art is. That definition, vague and wooly though it is, is sufficient for this discussion, no? 🤔
Sculptor1 wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 3:08 pm
Art can be defined extremely narrowly and very widely to include most of human activity - or at least some aspects of ALL human activity.
Exactly. There is art - specifically: creativity - at the heart of science, its complement. [ Where do the ideas for those cleverly planned and executed experiments come from? Creative scientists, that's who.] And there is art in philosophy too, and in most human endeavours, as far as I can see....
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Re: Is philosophy an art form?

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 7th, 2019, 12:57 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
Off-topic: don't I remember you from a brief stay in the DAF, before it became a sciencists' talking-shop? 🤔 I'm bad with names, but I remember the photo of your sculpture, I think. 😉
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