Art as an Open Textured Concept Morris Weitz
Background • Ludwig Wittgenstein, (1880-1951) • Tractatus (1921) • Philosophical Investigations (1953) • Language-game • Meaning – use • Family resemblance
Three Americans • Morris Weitz (1956) • Arthur Danto (1964) • George Dickie (1974)
Problematics • Modern unconventional artworks different from older works (paintings, sculptures, architecture) • Sometimes no visible difference between works that are art and works that are not art • In order to explain the status of the work as a work of art a theoretical understanding is required
Weitz • Attempts to solve the problem of definition • Wittgenstein applied to the Philosophy of Art • Real definition /Open concept • Necessary and sufficient conditions • Use of the words: art & work of art • Classification (collection, not natural kind) • Evaluation (in reference to som criteria)
Main points • Essentialism is wrong. • Whatever could be art. • We learn the right use of words by observing how others use the word in certain situations
Collection – natural kind • Difference between a collection of objects and a natural kind. • Art is not a concept of a certain kind of objects but of a certain collection of objects. • Real qualities of things do not determine whether they belong to the collection of objects we call works of art.
Traditional aesthetics • Art as Representation, Expression, Form etc • One rejects what the other maintains and adds another criteria • Weitz: Aesthetic theories are logically impossible, the try to define necessary and sufficient conditions of what does not have such conditions
Open concept • A concept is open if its conditions of application are emendable and corrigible; i.e. if a situation or case can be imagined or secured which woult call for some sort of decision on our part to extend the use of the concept to cover this, or to close the concept and invent a new one to deal with the new case and its new property.
Closed concept • If necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of a concept can be stated, the concept is a closed one. But this can happen only in logic or mathematics where concepts are constructed and completely defined. It cannot occur with empirically-descriptive and normative concepts unless we arbitrarily close them by stipulating the ranges of their uses.
Art and definition • Real definitions of art are impossible because they close the concept of art that is an open concept • Art has no necessary and sufficient qualities that each work of art must have if they are to be works of art
Two uses of the concept of art • Weitz turns to examining how we use the concept of art. • Distinguish art from non- art (classificatory). • Distinguish good art from bad art (evaluative).
Wittgensteinian themes • Comparison with games • The idea of family resemblance • Strand of similarities • Comparable in that both are open.
Paradigma and new situations • Idea of paradigma and resemblance to the paradigma. • When does the question arise? When we encounter a work that is different. • Example from novels: from the subconcepts of the concept of art • Transferred to the main concept: an open concept
Closed concepts in art • There are closed concepts in art, especially in historical context • Example: Greek tragedy; portraiture • From the point of view of creative art the concept must be open
Art and Creativity • 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.
Classificatory / evaluative • Not to confuse the classificatory concept and the evaluative concept • Evaluative concepts are somtimes treated as classificatory • This is not art!
Two kinds of criteria • Criteria of recognition • How do we distinguish a work of art from what is not a work of art? • Criteria of evaluation • On what premisses do we judge a work of art as a good work of art?
Role of theories • Role of theories in aesthetics: revaluate our evaluation of works of art • Built in discusssion about the foundations of evaluation in art • Point to different aspects of work: this is also art.
Critical question • According to Weitz use is a criterion of the concept. But this is not the case. • It is not the use, or the concept itself, that is open to changes. What changes is what objects are counted as art, the situation where you can rightly apply the concept. The concept as such or its use is neither open nor can be changed. • We have the same concept of art whether we are discussion Rembrandt or Duchamp.