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What is the purpose of a work of art? What drives us to make art? Why do we value art and consume it? Nick Zangwill argues that we cannot understand the nature of art without first having answers to these fundamental questions. On his view, which he dubs 'the Aesthetic Creation Theory', a work of art is something created for a particular aesthetic purpose. More specifically, the function of art is to have certain aesthetic properties in virtue of its non-aesthetic properties, and this function arises because of the artist's insight into the nature of these dependence relations and her intention to bring them about. In defending this view, Zangwill provides an account of aesthetic action and aesthetic creative thought and shows how the Aesthetic Creation Theory can accommodate two kinds of seeming counterexamples to aesthetic theories of art: narrative art and twentieth-century avant-garde art. Aesthetic Creation also contains a detailed exposition and critique of a range of rival views, including Dickie's institutional theory of art, accounts of art that make essential reference to an audience, and sociological theories which purport to explain the nature of art without recourse to the notion of the aesthetic.
should we ask? However, my view is that this is the wrong place to begin. I shall address that question, in a way; and, in a way, I shall propose an answer to it. But I think that there are questions that should precede it. If asked alone, the question, ‘‘What is art?’’, invites us to speculate on what works of art have in common and on how they differ from other things. It invites us to conceive of the project of understanding art as being about ﬁnding a description that snugly ﬁts all and only
by contemplating a different work of art, perhaps in another medium, or something which is not a work of art at all. For the pleasure is an ‘intentional’ pleasure—a pleasure that is directed onto the work of art, a pleasure in characteristics of the work. So the pleasure taken in a particular piece of music could not be the same pleasure as that taken in a painting or in a game of cards. If we say that pleasure is involved, we can explain the fact that we are motivated. And if we say that the
values and our evaluations helps to break the deadlock. The debates over personal identity and free will are examples. 2 Aesthetic Creation if our inquiry into art turned into a purely metaphysical one, we would have lost the thread of what originally puzzled us. My guiding methodology in the theory of art is that of seeking a rational explanation. I want to explain our art-activities. And I want to make our art-activities intelligible. That is, I want to show how they are rational and
This is a controversial matter. But it is clear that the relation is a normative one. The type, as it were, prescribes the performance. It is probably not necessary for Aesthetic Functionalism to be committed to a very exact position on this, but it is worth sketching the shape of the issue. The substantive question is: to what extent do properties of a work constrain properties of good performances of that work? On the one hand, do the properties of the work Oedipus Rex completely determine what
theory is also of this broad sort, despite some differences from Dickie, since for Danto what it is to be art, rather than some ‘mere real thing’ consists in some art–artworld relation.⁴⁰ But let us focus on Dickie’s theory, which is a cleaner target. 2 Dickie emphasizes the artefactuality of art in all his accounts. I think that this is right and that works of art are essentially artefacts. Beautiful natural things such as (wild) ﬂowers may be appreciated, but they are not works of art.