The Definition of Art (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
A seventh argument against defining art, with a normative tinge thatis psychologistic rather than sociopolitical, takes the fact thatthere is no philosophical consensus about the definition of art asreason to hold that no unitary concept of art exists. Concepts ofart, like all concepts, after all, should be used for the purpose(s)they best serve. But not all concepts of art serve all purposesequally well. So not all art concepts should be used for the samepurposes. Art should be defined only if there is a unitary concept ofart that serves all of art’s various purposes—historical,conventional, aesthetic, appreciative, communicative, and so on. So,since there is no purpose-independent use of the concept of art, artshould not be defined (Mag Uidhir and Magnus 2011; cf. Meskin 2008).In response, it is noted that an account of what makes variousconcepts of art concepts of art is still required, whichleaves open the possibility of important commonalities. The fact (ifit is one) that different concepts of art are used for differentpurposes does not itself imply that they are not connected insystematic, ordered ways. The relation between (say) the historicalconcept of art and the appreciative concept of art is not anaccidental, unsystematic relation, like that between river banks andsavings banks, but is something like the relation between Socrates’healthiness and the healthiness of Socrates’ diet. That is, it is notevident that there exist a multiplicity of art concepts, constitutingan unsystematic patchwork. Perhaps there is a single concept of artwith different facets that interlock in an ordered way, or else amultiplicity of concepts that constitute a unity because one is at thecore, and the others depend on it, but not conversely. (The last is aninstance of core-dependent homonymy; see the entry on , section on Essentialismand Homonymy.) Multiplicity alone doesn’t entail pluralism.
The definition of art is controversial in contemporary philosophy
What is AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Alternatively, we might use a visual analogy to explain structuralism. Imagine a sculpture consisting of a number of tin cans and fishing wire. The cans are tied together in a network of thin, practically invisible strings. The whole sculpture hangs suspended in the air. One way to understand the shape of that sculpture would be to focus on each individual tin can as it appears to float in the air. I.e., we could see each can as a separate entity and focus our attention on it, ignoring the rest. In contrast, the structuralist would focus on each of those barely visible strings, and define the shape of the sculpture by how the strings link each can together. The connections themselves become the point of study rather than what they connect.
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As to the over-inclusiveness of aesthetic definitions, a distinctionmight be drawn between primary and secondary functions. Or it may bemaintained that some cars, lawns, and products of industrial design areon the art/non-art borderline, and so don’t constitute clearand decisive counter-examples. Or, if the claim that aesthetic theoriesfail to account for bad art depends on holding that some works haveabsolutely no aesthetic value whatsoever, as opposed to somenon-zero amount, however infinitesimal, it may be wondered whatjustifies that assumption.