Art in Context: Understanding Aesthetic Value


The various lenses—ethical, political, sexual, religious, and so forth—through which we may view art are often instrumental in giving us an appreciation of the work. In Art in Context: Understanding Aesthetic Value, philosopher David Fenner presents a straightforward, accessible overview of the arguments about the importance of considering the relevant context in determining the true merit of a work of art.

Art in Context is a systematic, historically situated, and historically ...

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The various lenses—ethical, political, sexual, religious, and so forth—through which we may view art are often instrumental in giving us an appreciation of the work. In Art in Context: Understanding Aesthetic Value, philosopher David Fenner presents a straightforward, accessible overview of the arguments about the importance of considering the relevant context in determining the true merit of a work of art.

Art in Context is a systematic, historically situated, and historically evidenced attempt to demonstrate the importance of considering contexts that will, in the vast majority of cases, increase the aesthetic experience. While focusing on distance, detachment, aestheticism, art for art’s sake, and formalism can at times be instructive and interesting, such approaches risk missing the larger and often central issue of the piece.

Based on the findings of philosophers and critics, and on artwork throughout
history, Art in Context provides a solid foundation for understanding and valuing a work of art in perspective as well as within the particular world in which it exists.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804011044
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David E. W. Fenner is dean of the Graduate School at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. He is the author of The Aesthetic Attitude and Introducing Aesthetics and the editor of Ethics and the Arts and Ethics in Education.

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Table of Contents

Preface     xiii
Acknowledgments     xvii
Introduction     1
The Public Art Museum     2
The Advent of Art Museums as Decontextualized Spaces and the Advent of Disinterest Theory     6
A Theory of "The Aesthetic"     17
Defining the Aesthetic     18
Aesthetic Experience as Basic     18
Describing Aesthetic Experience     24
Aesthetic Experience as a Psychological Phenomenon     26
Formal Analysis     26
External Factors     27
Associations     30
Contexts     32
An Inductivist Approach to Understanding Aesthetic Experience     36
Lessons on Defining the Aesthetic     40
The Value of Art     43
Intrinsic Value Accounts and Anita Silvers's Revisionism     44
Instrumental Value Accounts     49
Monroe C. Beardsley's Aesthetic Account     50
Considering Beardsley's Account     51
Nelson Goodman's Cognitivist Account     54
Considering Goodman's Account     57
Leo Tolstoy's Affective Account     62
Considering Tolstoy's Account     63
Alan H. Goldman's Alternative World Account     66
Considering Goldman's Account     67
The Modification Problem     67
A Noninstrumental Extrinsic Value Account     71
Lessons on Value Accounts     78
Disinterest Theory and Formalist Theory     80
Disinterest as the Basis for Aesthetic Judgment     81
Lord Shaftesbury     82
Francis Hutcheson     84
Joseph Addison     86
Archibald Alison     87
David Hume     89
Immanuel Kant     92
Disinterest as the Basis for Aesthetic Experience     95
Arthur Schopenhauer     96
Edward Bullough and Psychical Distance     99
Jerome Stolnitz     104
Disinterest Theory Summarized     108
Formalism     110
Contextualist Theory     122
On Aesthetic Perspective     124
Feminist Aesthetics as "Meta-Aesthetics"     124
The View from Somewhere     127
Aesthetic Experience     131
George Santayana     131
Roger Scruton     132
John Dewey     134
Anita Silvers     136
Monroe Beardsley     137
Frank Sibley     139
Arnold Berleant     140
Allen Carlson     141
The Nature of Art and Artworks     144
Morris Weitz     145
Arthur Danto     145
Jerrold Levinson     147
Kendall Walton     148
Stephen Davies     149
Internal and External Rules for a Given Work of Art     150
Moral, Ethical, Social, and Political Considerations     155
Plato     155
Leo Tolstoy     156
Noel Carroll     158
Berys Gaut     160
Marcia Muelder Eaton     161
Mary Devereaux     163
Disinterest Theory Under Assault     164
Issues of Definition     167
Modern Art     167
Functional Art and Architecture     173
Example One: Wright's Barrel Chair     178
Example Two: Automobile Styling     179
Example Three: Theater Design     179
Dance     185
Issues Concerning the Power of Art     196
Emotion     196
Expressivist Theory     199
Inspiration     202
Catharsis     205
Humor     208
Identification      213
Personal Identification     213
Gender and Sex     216
Ethnicity     217
Nationality and Politics     219
Class     220
Religious Identity     221
Imagination     225
Issues of Meaningfulness     228
Political Meaningfulness     230
Political Art Theory and Karl Marx     232
Political Art Theory and Mao Tse-tung     234
Nationalist Art     237
Political Context and the Value of Art     245
Religious Meaningfulness     246
Ritual     253
Institutional Rituals     254
Social Rituals     255
Personal Rituals     255
Elements in Common     255
Rituals and Function     260
Science and Contextualist Aesthetics     262
Aesthetic Properties and Scientific Theory     263
Aesthetic versus Epistemic Considerations     263
Positive Environmental Aesthetics     270
Aesthetic Approaches in Social-Scientific Research     273
Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies     273
Making a Methodological Choice     278
Contextualism in Social-Scientific Research      282
A Review of the Arguments and Evidence     285
Supporting Arguments     286
The Nature of Aesthetic Attention     286
Revisionist Art Evaluation     287
Feminist Aesthetics     288
Aesthetic Experience     288
The Nature of Art and Artworks     289
Moral, Ethical, Social, and Political Considerations     289
The Unnaturalness of Disinterest     290
Decontextualism and Elitism     291
The Internal and External Logics of Artworks     292
Appreciating Aesthetic Properties     292
The Relativity of Taste     293
The Theoretical, Major Premise     293
The Empirical, Evidentiary Premise     297
Defining Modern Art     298
Defining Architecture     298
Defining Dance     299
Emotion and Inspiration     299
Emotion and Catharsis     300
Emotion and Humor     300
Personal Identification     300
Identification, Gender, and Sex     301
Identification and Ethnicity     301
Identification, Nationality, and Politics     301
Identification and Class     302
Religious Identification     302
Imagination     302
Political Meaningfulness     303
Religious Meaningfulness     303
The Nature of Ritual     303
Final Remarks     304
Notes     307
Bibliography     331
Index     345
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