Philosophy for AS: UNIT 2 'AN INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY 2': Section 3 'The Value of Art': INTRODUCTION

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Good art should portray authentically

  • We have a natural desire to make and look at representations. We praise art that is true to nature or to life, or that resembles what it is of.
  • Artists work hard to develop techniques for depicting objects and situations accurately or authentically.
  • Plato argued that art imitates particular objects, as particular objects imitate the Forms.
  • But art does not literally imitate reality. Nor does it copy it. First, all perceptual experience involves interpretation - there is nothing independent to copy. Second, good art need not be a good copy.
  • We could still argue that good art represents reality well. But then we need an account of 'representation'; and in any case, not all art represents anything at all.
  • If we valued art for what it represents, why not just look at what is represented? If we value it as a representation, this suggests we value it not just because it informs us, but because of its imaginative qualities.
  • Finally, concentrating just on how it may inform us overlooks the emotional nature of our response to art.
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Glossary

metaphysics - The branch of philosophy that enquires about the fundamental nature of reality.

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