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Aesthetics: Contemporary Theories. Aims of the Course. To provide an introduction to Contemporary Aesthetics To discuss a range of topics that are relevant to the judgment and appreciation of art To think about a range of topics in relation to works in Tate Modern. Further Information.

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aims of the course
Aims of the Course
  • To provide an introduction to Contemporary Aesthetics
  • To discuss a range of topics that are relevant to the judgment and appreciation of art
  • To think about a range of topics in relation to works in Tate Modern
further information
Further Information
week by week
Week by Week
  • 1) Against Definition
  • 2) The Institutional Theory
  • 3) Identifying Art (change!)
  • 4) Aesthetic Concepts
  • 5) Artists’ Intentions
  • 6) Style and Personality
traditional aesthetic theories
Traditional Aesthetic Theories
  • Define art
  • Give its essence
  • Spell this out in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions
weitz
WEITZ
  • Focus not on ‘What is Art?’
  • But on “What sort of concept is ‘Art’?”
necessary conditions
Necessary Conditions
  • = pre-requisites
  • E.g. necessary condition of being a fox that a mammal
  • E.g. necessary condition of being a student that you are studying something
sufficient conditions
Sufficient Conditions
  • = guarantees
  • E.g. sufficient condition of being a student that you are studying at Oxford University
  • E.g. sufficient condition of being on this course, that you have a ticket.
art and nec and suff conditions
Art and Nec. And Suff. Conditions
  • According to Clive Bell a work of art is
  • 1) An Artifact (necessary but not sufficient)
  • 2) Has Significant Form (necessary and sufficient)
weitz on the attempt to define art
Weitz on the attempt to define art….
  • ‘a logically vain attempt to define what cannot be defined’ (p.411).

= treating art as a closed concept when it is an open one…

open concepts
Open Concepts
  • Derived from Ludwig Wittgenstein on games – in Philosophical Investigations
  • No common essence of ‘game’
  • Open concepts require a decision with new cases; closed, can state nec. and suff. conditions
sub concepts of art
Sub-concepts of Art
  • E.g. is this work a sculpture?
  • Answer isn’t given by reference to nec. and suff. conditions but by decision of whether or not to extend concept of art to cover it.
summary p 413
Summary (p.413)
  • ‘the very expansive, adventurous character of art, its ever present changes and novel creations, makes it logically impossible to ensure any set of defining properties.’
  • Can close the concept…
slide14
BUT…
  • What is Weitz’s evidence?
  • 1) Past failures of definitions
  • 2) Plausibility of family resemblance notion.
  • Does it follow that it is ‘logically impossible’?
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