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Re: definitions



I probably shouldn't insert myself in this question, but my
training in philosophy really won't permit me to.  So: most
philosophers agree, I think, that it is obviously fruitless
conflate the thing and its goodness.  That is, whatever qualities
an object has, it has; and its aesthetic qualities can be 
judged and debated at length.  To argue that, perhaps, a 
really, really, *really* good quilt may be art, is to take
a direction unlikely to yield a useful definition.

There is not, I think, anything like a consensus on the 
definition of "art" -- but the strongest arguments, to my 
mind, start by grounding the definition in intention.  An
assemblege that results from the play of natural forces
may thus be beautiful, but it is not art.  On the other hand,
an object made by a artist -- that is an object intended
primarily or importantly to satisfy aesthetic criteria --
may be ugly, silly, stimulating, thought-provoking, beautiful,
etc., etc., etc.  What *value* it has for us (individually
and collectively), in other words, is separate from its
status as a work of art.  

This makes it possible to say sensibly, perhaps even 
accurately, that many objects which result from craft are 
more beautiful than those which result from art. But 
beauty is not the only end of art.

Sid Huttner, University of Tulsa.



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