This Is Art: A Defence of R. G. Collingwood's Philosophy of Art

Dissertation, University of Southampton (2017)
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R. G. Collingwood’s 'The Principles of Art' argues that art is the expression of emotion. This dissertation offers a new interpretation of that philosophy, and argues that this interpretation is both hermeneutically and philosophically plausible. The offered interpretation differs from the received interpretation most significantly in treating the concept of ‘art’ as primarily scalarly rather than binarily realisable (this is introduced in ch. 1), and in understanding Collingwood’s use of the term ‘emotion’ more broadly (introduced in ch. 2). After the exposition of ch. 1, the remainder of that chapter and the subsequent three chapters are each centred around one sort of objection. In ch. 1, I consider the objection that Collingwood’s scalar understanding of ‘art’ is deviant and unhelpful. I respond by first observing that the understanding is not deviant, and second that it is more philosophically and artistically illuminating. In ch. 2, I consider the objection that Collingwood’s understanding of ‘emotion’ is so narrow that it fails to do justice to the fact that art can be philosophically potent. I respond that his understanding of ‘emotion’ is broad enough that this objection fails. In ch. 3, I consider the objection that Collingwood has no theoretical room for the prima facie plausible thought that some emotions are not worth expressing in art. In response, I reinterpret the points that appear to support this contention in a way that makes them both more plausible and more Collingwoodian. Finally, in ch. 4, I consider the objection that Collingwood does not have the theoretical room to do justice to the value of the delight we take in art. I respond by arguing that although he does not have this room to say that this delight is itself an artistic value, it does yet have an important place in his philosophy.
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