Definitions of Art, by Stephen Davies [Book Review]

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (2):492-494 (1994)
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Davies presents the reader with a sterling review of the literature--the recent history of the interest in defining "art" through the writings of Anglo-American philosophers that follow Morris Weitz' well-known 1956 essay, "The Role of Theory in Aesthetics"--and a stimulating discussion of the role of conventions in the making and appreciating of contemporary art. His emphasis on the social nature of art leads one to wonder how other recent inquiries into the multilayered contextually of the artistic enterprise might fare under his perusal, for example, feminist critiques of traditional definitions of "art," challenges to the elitist makeup of the Artworld, . . . and opposition to his very choice of paradigms: in addition to Duchamp, the "hard cases" include works by John Cage, Andy Warhol, Olivier Messiaen, Jorge Luis Borges, and Gerald Hoffnung. Definitions of Art is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of aesthetics and as it informs the current dialectic on art.

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Peg Brand Weiser
University of Arizona


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