Unit 02 - The value of art - Notes

Note by , created almost 6 years ago

Notes outlining the information contained within the course.

Created by chrislmurray2014 almost 6 years ago
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Page 1

We value art because it informs us

IntroductionThe argument that we value art because it provides us with information is one of the most prominent points philosophers use to defend the value of art to humans. On this page are a number of detailed arguments explaining how art is informative, and how it is therefore valuable. There are four basic sub-arguments which fall under the main argument of valuing art because it informs us. One is that 'good art should illuminate our experience'. Another is that 'good art should reveal truths'. The third is that 'good art should articulate a vision', and the last is that 'good art should be epiphanic'. ll the arguments will have examples to show their meaning.

Good art should illuminate our experience   When we talk about art 'illuminating our experience' what we mean is that it somehow widens our knowledge or understanding. We might associate it with recognising truths we hadn't previously recognised. The art might clarify certain truths for us, and help us to cement our grasp of them. 'Illuminating our experience' would also imply that the art somehow is linked, or affects our lives, maybe in that we see similarities between ourselves, or our lives, and the subject matter within the art. An example of art that could be said to illuminate our experience would be the song 'Killing In The Name' released by 'Rage Against The Machine'. It was the focus of a social media campaign in 2009 to stop the X Factor winner claiming the UK Christmas #1. It was successful and showed off the power of social media, and the power of the people. It was a symbol of Democracy, and people felt it was important because it showed them that they have power. (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - 'Killing In The Name' by 'Rage Against The Machine'

Good art should reveal 'truths'   Another claim for defending the value of art under the theory that it informs us, is to look for 'truths' in art. These truths may be able to be expressed in a propositional way, which means we are clearly able to explain the facts that it has provided us with. This isn't always possible, some truths are more complicated to express, possibly because they relate to a broader understanding of something, perhaps an emotional or a moral truth. When we talk about art revealing 'truths' to us, we usually mean that it will reveal worthwhile insights into life, the universe, and the state of things, as opposed to just trivial facts.   An artwork where this theory might apply is the 'Guernica'. a famous oil painting made in 1937 by Pablo Picasso, during the Spanish civil war. It depicted a Basque country village, being pillaged and burned by Spanish Nationalist forces. Picasso painted the 'Guernica' to show the world the atrocities committed on the village. This revealed the true state of affairs, and the cruelty of the Nationalist's to the world, so it revealed a very important and worthwhile truth, expressed through art. (Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Picasso's 'Guernica'.

Good art should articulate a 'vision'.   Another claim is that art should articulate, or express, an informative vision. This refers to how artwork can have a particular way of looking at, and expressing certain aspects about the world. This vision is usually a reflection of the views and thoughts of the artist, which adds a certain human element to the art. The artists often do this deliberately, to showcase to the world their own thoughts, visions and perspectives on the world, which can be learned from through the artworks they produce. This can help us to consider ideas that we would not normally consider. Because it's being shown to us through the medium of art, an unusual way of learning, we can see things in a different light. This theory tends to coincide with the view that the best artists are the ones which create a body of work that is distinctive and identifiable as their own. They may have a particularly recognisable style or use recurring themes or situations in their work. 

We value art because it informs us