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Aesthetics in Dialogue

Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World

Edited By Zoltan Somhegyi and Max Ryynänen

The impact of aesthetics is increasing again. For today’s scholars, aesthetic theories are a significant companion and contribution in studying and ana-lysing cultural phenomena and production. Today’s scene of aesthetics is more global than what it is in most disciplines, as it does not just include scholars from all over the world, but also keeps on applying philosophical traditions globally
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9 Questions not Answers: The Usefulness of the Philosophy of Art to Artistic Practice & Education (Matthew Rowe)


Matthew Rowe

AbstractThis chapter builds upon a 2012 article of mine (“View From a Bridge: Aesthetics as a Guide to Practice”), which outlined an approach of using the philosophy of art in art school settings through “translating” abstract philosophical problems into concrete situations that bear on an artist’s practice. This text thus attempts a (tentative and speculative) theoretical exploration of why this approach might be fruitful.

This exploration is underpinned by a discussion of an asymmetric relationship between the philosophy of art and art, in which it is argued that (a) the philosophy of art cannot have a regulatory role for artistic practice and consequently (b) the idea of philosophical progress can apply to the philosophy of art but not to artistic practice.

The paper proposes another “translation” – of the purposes of philosophical aesthetics – to reflect its situatedness within artistic rather than philosophical practice. When so situated the kind of critical analysis on which philosophical progress relies are discarded as philosophy’s own concern, leaving only those philosophical techniques which open discussion and invite dialogue. As such, this suggests an attitude in which positions and theories within philosophy are treated by artists as useful rather than true. It’s proposed therefore that the purpose of the philosophy of art, when situated within artistic practice is to instigate a certain kind of philosophical questioning that opens up the possibilities of a practice, artwork, art form, material or medium, for an artist.

In conclusion, it’s argued...

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