here - Southeastern Louisiana University

Philosophy and the Arts
Midterm Exam Study Guide
Midterm: October 14, 2015
DISCLAIMER: Some of this is my own interpretation on topics discussed in class. I am
sure there are other ways to interpret or understand this material. Just know I tried my
best to give the most accurate and clear way of understanding these terms.
***= my own interpretation or way of looking at/defining a term. May be slightly influenced by
something mentioned in class but is mostly my understanding of it (which could totally be
wrong-that’s why I’m telling you this)
Originality and genius: In the 18th century “original” idea or “original” work became important.
People started focusing on “who created it?” This ties in with Intellectual property (any idea that
you have created like lyrics, melody, writing, etc. It is not physical but it is owned by you
because you created it) and the Roman traditional law that implies that if you do not have
something physically it is not your property. Originality and the notion of the genius refer to
creating something out of nothing.
** Koon’s vacuums will remain new forever and maintain their newness from not being used.
Challenging the notion of newness is originality even over time by challenging the assumptions
of art.
Authors and authority: This can also be tied into intellectual property because of the consumer
revolution. Since the traditional Roman law said that you must have something in our possession
to own it authors had a difficult time making a living as an author because during the consumer
revolution people began taking books they owned because it was in their possession and started
making copies of them and selling them. So the individual that made the copies financially
benefitted from the “original” or true author’s work. This caused book sellers to call for
intellectual property laws (although intellectual property has a time limitation). Authority refers
to who has the authority to sell and profit off of these books and control the sales and publication
of these works.
Consumer revolution: emerged as a result of a rising middle class, especially in London.
During this time the book publishing industry greatly benefits because of the new ability to make
copies of books much easier. It also was the time period that inspired the need for intellectual
property laws. (See above for more info) The consumer revolution was a time of questioning
new art works. Newspapers and other publications were able to discuss art and pass judgment on
it. This created a time for art and publication to really thrive because of this new access to
information that was not always available.
Art and representation: Before photography, art was representational in the since that it
mainly served the purpose of representing what was seen in reality. Like portraits and
landscapes. Art served the function of recreating reality with accuracy very similar to what
photography is now. Art was seen as the ability to create a work that represented something.
But when photography came about artists began to explore representation. What is art doing
besides representing? Different ideas were explored: an artist is making a copy of what is real,
“accurate representation”. So representational art became representing reality but with the artists
own interpretation or twist.
Consequences of photography: As a result of photography Representational artists began to
question their value or even if their task was really representational. Photography challenged the
notion of representation. Photography kick started the questioning of representational art, and it
started making new things possible. With photo’s details could be seen that could never be seen
in real time and things could be seen better in a photograph than with the naked eye.
Example: Horse Gallop debate, Stanford’s $25,000 bet- fast action photography showed all four
feet of the horse do leave the ground at the same time.
If all one must do is “point and shoot” does that make it art? This lead to not only artists but
photographers to contemplate how to make their art, their photography, more expressive and not
just representational.
Art proper/art as amusement: Art proper would be what Collingwood considered “true art”.
The belief that the value of art lies within its ability to entertain us is considered art as
amusement. By these standards, Collingwood is saying that art as amusement falls short of art
proper. Basically, he thinks that if all we find in art is entertainment or amusement than we have
missed the thing most worth finding. True art, aka art proper, is beyond just entertaining. This is
in a way the cognitive theory of art in that proper art or true art or successful art provokes
thought in the viewer.
Higher/lower pleasures (Mill): The value of art lies in the pleasure we get from it. Mill says
that a higher pleasure is of a different quality. This higher quality compensates for any lack of
quantity because high quality delivers high pleasure and low quality gives lower pleasure. To be
able to make this distinction between higher and lower pleasure, we should consider the fact that
there is a difference between the pleasures as an adult compared to as a child. Adults have the
ability to think on a higher level than children, called “higher facilities”. An adult’s higher
facilities allow them to experience higher understanding. With that understanding comes higher
quality and with that higher quality comes the higher pleasure.
Standard of Taste: aesthetic preferences are expressions of the taste of the observer, not
statements about the object, and the wide diversity of opinions about art that we find in the world
is a confirmation of this fact. Even though taste is a matter of feeling things to be agreeable or
disagreeable, there is still a standard of taste. The standard of taste arises from the nature of
human beings. Since they share a common nature, broadly speaking they like the same things.
When it comes to art the test of time will separate the good from the bad. Only those things that
are truly aesthetically pleasing will continue to be held in high regard as years pass. Every
individual is different and so are their tastes. A person’s taste’s is linked to aesthetics being
thought of as a feeling. Individual taste refers to a feeling the person gets. Sad movies, horror
movies, and the abject are all things that elicit unpleasant feelings, but when this type of art is
done effectively it becomes pleasurable through the presentation or the structure. Time erases
prejudices and when paired with delicacy, we are able to see the true value of art
(successful if still being talked about year/decades later).
Delicacy: There is a delicacy of taste observable in some men, which very much resembles
this delicacy of passion, and produces the same sensibility to beauty and deformity of every
kind, as that does to prosperity and adversity, obligations and injuries. When you present a poem
or a picture to a man possessed of this talent, the delicacy of his feeling makes him be sensibly
touched with every part of it; nor are the masterly strokes perceived with more exquisite relish
and satisfaction, than the negligence’s or absurdities with disgust and uneasiness. A polite and
judicious conversation affords him the highest entertainment; rudeness or impertinence is as
great a punishment to him. Delicacy of taste has the same effect as delicacy of passion: It
enlarges the sphere both of our happiness and misery, and makes us sensible to pains as well as
pleasures, which escape the rest of mankind.
Between these two species of delicacy, I am persuaded, that nothing is so proper to cure us of
this delicacy of passion, as the cultivating of that higher and more refined taste, which enables us
to judge of the characters of men, of compositions of genius, and of the productions of the nobler
On occasion the term passion is used narrowly, as in the present essay, to designate only the
more violent passions, such as love and hatred, grief and joy, or pride and humility. When Hume
speaks here of a "delicacy of passion," he means a disposition to be affected strongly by the
violent passions in the face of prosperity or misfortune, favors or injuries, honors or slights, and
other accidents of life that lie beyond our control. What he here calls "taste"—the sense of beauty
and deformity in actions or objects—is also a passion, broadly speaking, but normally a calm
one. A delicacy of taste is a keen sensitivity to beauty and deformity in actions, books, works of
art, companions, and such.
The more you know the better you are to judge. Delicacy refers to how sensitive an
individual’s senses are and the ability to identify subtle differences (for example in tasting
wine, or listening to music).
Experience: one thinks of a description of an experience not as a description of action, but as a
description of pain or organic feelings. I think experience is linked to taste or the delicacy of
taste. Over time a delicacy of taste is found through experience. These experiences are what
influence our taste. Hume’s thoughts on taste are according to our individual experiences.
Wittgenstein’s thoughts on experience are what people experience culturally overtime and what
we experience with language games, our experience is our environment we are born and raised
within. So Wittgenstein refers to experience as something individually and culturally influenced.
So experience directly influences an individual’s tastes and the delicacy of those tastes.
What is art, for Tolstoy: The expression of emotion(s) that are perceivable to the viewer and
how well the viewer is able to grasp the emotion being expressed? What is Art is the name of a
book Tolstoy wrote that stated his challenges against art. He wanted to explore what is art and
what does art do? Who benefits from art? Tolstoy is very anti-elitism and the wealthy and the
elite are who benefited most from art. He believed high priced art was a status symbol and
thought that as bullshit. He feels that art almost would have to be useless to be considered art.
Since Tolstoy was so disinterested in elitism (during his time class distinction was much more
visibly prominent), Kant’s theory of disinterest and being able to separate yourself from
everyday interests in order to appreciate artwork wasn’t feasible to Tolstoy because that was a
luxury only the elite had. Being able to appreciate fine art was considered a mark of a cultured
Edge of chaos: A computer program was created for artificial life, and in order to maintain a
living species, the artificial life would need the ability to change or adapt in order to survive and
thrive. The environment cannot be too stable or too chaotic- it needs to exist on the edge of
chaos. Evolving systems in which the rate of evolution is maximized near the edge of chaos.
{***refers to a phase of transition to a new order or way of doing things. During this transitional
phase there is a level of chaos or disorder as a result of resistance to the changes occurring. So I
think the edge of chaos would refer to the fine line an artist can walk within different styles or
genes of art that allow them to follow the rules in a way, but at the same time the artist can push
the boundaries/bend the rules to create a new perspective or way of expression. It is not easily
accepted and there is usually a great deal of resistance to change in general—changing the way
people view things is very difficult. The edge of chaos is necessary because it gives artist room
to experiment and come up with new or original methods of expression… ***}
**This would include transfiguration
**This is linked to art as self-discovery. The creative process is the art of self-discovery where
you learn about yourself while creating.
**intuition is another aspect of this that we discussed.
Transitional period allowing artist’s to push the boundaries within a genre to make
something “new” and “original” without pushing hard enough to be excluded from the
genre its self.
***Postmodernism: Modern history of art has come to an end. All things postmodern are
“new”. All art before postmodernism is original. Postmodernism finds a way of taking old
ideas, theories, ways, etc. and creating something “new” and “original” from it. There is an
understanding that all art is inspired by something somewhere so nothing is truly original. It’s a
fancy highbrow term referring to recycling in a weird way….
Refers to the “new”. Eclectic. It refers to questioning and challenging grand
narratives/pre-existing notions. Giving more freedom to the artist in terms of expression.
Art and censorship: This refers to a number of things but mainly it is talking about how art is
okay as long as it’s the right kind of art. People are impressionable and since art appeals to
emotion it can be considered dangerous. The song “Cop Killer” is an example of this by
discussing in detail how the artist was going to go about killing cops, this song was considered,
to put it lightly, in poor taste and there was a campaign to force Warner Bro’s to with draw the
album. Plato and the poets participated in art and censorship when they wanted to only allow the
“good” art to be released to the public but prohibit bad art from being put out there.
Plato and the poets: Realized how influential, powerful, and dangerous art could be so they
decided that art is okay as long as it is for the good of others. Only what was considered “good”
would be allowed. The “bad” would not be allowed.
Disenfranchisement of art: Plato thought that art appeals to a non-rational/subjective
phenomenon. Since art does not lead to knowledge it is useless. It appeals to a more irrational
emotional side of people. Art inspires and it can motivate and direct people which became a
causing factor of the disenfranchisement of art (like becoming a navy pilot because of the movie
Top Gun). Under the assumption that art is dangerous, the response would be the
Disenfranchisement of Art referring to a way of taking away the voice of the art and how it is
viewed in two stages. These stages are referring to the way an individual would view a piece of
art work; the first stage would be to claim that art exists in another plane of reality; the second
stage is to completely rationalize art. ***In my opinion, I think disenfranchisement of art is
talking about influencing the way art was viewed as a whole, by removing the voice of the artist
and the message and emotions that are being conveyed in the different works of art. In order for
that to be accomplished people would have to see a piece of art as something totally unassociated
with our reality. It would have to be looked at in a very unemotional, cold, distant, unattached
perspective so that it is unable to affect us and the way we think, feel, act, etc… then to
completely rationalize art would be to view it or evaluate, explain, or justify the art logically. No
symbolism, emotion, hidden meanings. Art is what it is, nothing more and nothing less.
Institutional theory: A way of defining art that pays full attention to the social context of art.
Separates art from being socially and politically relevant. Something becomes a work of art if
relevant critics regard it as being a candidate for this status. Art is what the art world decides it
is. This made artists become more philosophical in the since that they started to consider things
like thinking about what it is that makes a work of art worthy of appreciation.
Readymade art: To challenge conventional conceptions of art by putting ready made products
in an artistic context. The vacuum cleaner art would be an example of this. Fountain with R.
Mutt signed onto it by Duchamp was the beginning of readymade art. Brillo Box by Andy
Warhol, not readymade in a literal sense, since it did not come straight from the store, though
what was presented looked more or less like the commercially produced Brillo box.
Conceptual art: conceptual thinking processes, by which intellectual and emotional values are
conferred on images and objects that are central for art of this kind. Focuses on the ideas behind
the art and what statement the art is making. To understand the artwork the explanation from the
artist must be understood.
Sublime: (according to the book) found most obviously in nature as well as beautiful things.
This shows favoritism to natural beauty than artistic beauty. A flower strikes us as beautiful
because of its delicacy and the interplay between the color and the form it displays. A mighty
waterfall like Niagara Falls impresses us because of the sheer chaos of its power. The same sort
of contrast is to be found in art. These examples have something in common—namely the kind
of attitude they invite, an attitude whose key element is a feature identified by Kant,
Disinterestedness. This would also refer to becoming completely absorbed in something.
Goes beyond yourself and takes your own self out of it. ***So the sublime would be
something naturally beautiful that an average individual would not be interested in but that
sublime and natural beauty can be seen and appreciated through a disinterested eye…
Art as play: purposefulness without purpose. Pretty to look at but serves no purpose. An
example would be architecture.
Art as sport: this refers to trying to define art and how there is not one definitive, accurate, and
all-encompassing way to give it a definition. This is the same for sport. When asked to define
sport there are many aspects and circumstances that could be used in trying to define sport but
there is no one correct way to define sport. Art is the same way. You can try and list
characteristics of what you think makes art art, but there is not one universal way that art or sport
can be defined. Winning is the purpose of sport; also skills and skill sets. Art with purpose
is a skill but in art you aren’t trying to win anything.
Cognitive theory: notion that we should learn something from art in order for it to be
considered art.
Intentional fallacy: To be able to understand a work of art we need to understand what was
intended; what the artist meant to say or was attempting to convey in art work. This gives
priority to the artist interpretation.
Structuralism: The value of an artwork cannot be judged by itself. It can only be understood
when you place it with all other art. This takes into account the cultural context. In order to
understand a language game for example, you must be submerged in the culture for the language
game to be successful. The same thing goes for structuralism, art work can’t be judged without
considering things like outside influences and culture.
Language games: examples include sarcasm, questioning, giving an order, stating a fact, etc.
Language games are very difficult because they have a cultural context to them that makes
understanding the culture a requirement to successfully participate in language games. To
understand and appreciate language games one must be immersed in the culture in which the
game is taking place.
Essay Questions:
1. A common understanding of art is that it is representational. Discuss what it means to
think of art as representational. Who are some philosophers who thought of art in this
way? What are some problems with understanding art as representational, and how does
avant-garde art challenge this understanding? Elaborate and be sure to bring in examples.
2. In his essay on the “Standard of Taste,” Hume argues that although one’s taste is neither
true or false, it can be better or worse than someone else’s. Elaborate this argument. What
are some of the problems Graham has with Hume’s arguments? And finally, contrast
Hume’s understanding of the standard of taste with another of the theories we have
discussed in class.
3. Compare and contrast the institutional theory of art with what Wittgenstein says about
art. Feel free to bring in any of the other theories or ideas discussed in class to assist in
laying out the similarities and differences between institutional theory (Danto and Dickie
in particular) and Wittgenstein.