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Philosophical Perspectives on Art$
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Stephen Davies

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199202423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199202423.001.0001

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Essential Distinctions for Art Theorists

Essential Distinctions for Art Theorists

(p.23) 1 Essential Distinctions for Art Theorists
Philosophical Perspectives on Art

Stephen Davies (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

There are many approaches to theorizing about or defining art. To the extent that art is part of human nature, its essence cannot be purely nominal. The project of definition is concerned primarily with classification and description. That of theorizing is concerned more widely with art's significance, value, and point. Anti-essentialists' rejection of the project of definition has been popular and no one definition is free from problems, but there has been progress and convergence in recent years on the idea that a successful definition must be disjunctive, must include mention of art's function (if only in relation to the earliest works), must recognize the relevance of the maker's intentions (to account for the art-status of extra-artworld art-failures), and must acknowledge the role of artworld institutions (to account for the art-status of appropriated or unintended artworks).

Keywords:   defining art, essential distinctions, intentions, institutions, artworld

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