Defining Art

In Anna Christina Ribeiro (ed.), Bloomsbury Companion to Aesthetics. pp. 39-54 (2015)
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Overview of the definition of art and its relationship to definitions of the individual art forms, with an eye to clarifying the issues separating dominant institutionalist and skeptical positions from non-skeptical, non-institutional ones. Section 2 indicates some of the key philosophical issues which intersect in discussions of the definition of art, and singles out some important areas of broad agreement and disagreement. Section 3 critically reviews some influential standard versions of institutionalism, and some more recent variations on them. Section 4 discusses some recent reductionist approaches to definitional questions, which advocate a shift of philosophical focus from the macro- to the micro-level —from art to the individual art forms. Section 5 outlines an alternative, non-institutionalist and non-reductionist approach to definitional questions

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Thomas Adajian
James Madison University


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