Evaluating Art

Evaluating Art

Copyright Date: 1988
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 208
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Evaluating Art
    Book Description:

    "Those who think they know George Dickie's views should be sure to read this book. They are in for some interesting surprises. Of course, those unfamiliar with Dickie's views will also learn a lot." --Anita Silvers, San Francisco State University In this book George Dickie presents a theory about how to judge a work of art--as opposed to a theory that explains why a particular work is defined as art. Focusing mainly on the writings of Monroe Beardsley and critically examining the views of seven other philosophers and art critics--Paul Ziff, Frank Sibley, Nelson Goodman, Nicholas Wolterstorff, David Hume, Bruce Vermazen, and J. O. Urmson--Dickie synthesizes their insights to discover what can be derived from their theories. On this basis, he attempts to work out a theory of art evaluation--the first such book on this topic by a contemporary philosopher. Initially, the author outlines all possible theories of art evaluation, assuming that traditional evaluative notions are used. He identifies seven theory-types that fall under four general headings: imitation value theory, objective intrinsic value theories, subjective intrinsic value theory, and instrumental value theories. Dickie then discusses the historical development of the theory of art evaluation, examining the ways in which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophers treated representation and other cognitive dimensions of art as artistic values. His thorough analysis of the work of other contemporary theorists argues for a theory of art evaluation derived from various strands of thought.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0487-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    George Dickie
  4. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    David Hume begins “Of the Standard of Taste” by remarking at length on the diversity of taste. Is this diversity to be explained away, with some tastes seen as conforming to a universal standard and some tastes as deviating from it? Or is the diversity of taste, or some significant part of it, to be accepted as a datum? This question is the primary focus of this book. In other words, the primary concern of this book is the theory of normative art evaluation. Metalinguistic questions about the meaning of evaluational terms that have fascinated so many philosophers in recent...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Historical Background
    (pp. 15-38)

    One of the most remarkable and relatively recent changes in the way that philosophers theorize about the evaluation of art has been the rejection of the representative or more generally the cognitive element as being of artistic value. Plato long ago of course denigrated the value of the representation in art of the world of sights and sounds, but his view is generally regarded as idiosyncratic and merely curious. Aristotle in contrast uses imitation (representation) as one of the criteria of artistic value. Imitation establishes a powerful relation between art and the world it represents. The great majority of humankind...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Artistically Good: Ziff
    (pp. 39-52)

    A new era for the theory of art evaluation began in 1958 with the publication of Paul Ziff’s “Reasons in Art Criticism”¹ and Chapters X and XI of Monroe Beardsley’sAesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism.² Each philosopher presents an ingenious instrumentalist theory with little or no attention paid to the metalinguistic questions that so concerned other philosophers of the time. Both theories have to some extent incorporated the anti-cognitivism of the Schopenhauerian tradition, although this aspect is more explicit and obvious in Beardsley’s theory, because his theory is worked out at greater length and in greater detail. I...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR A Theory of Art Evaluation: Beardsley
    (pp. 53-80)

    As noted at the beginning of the last chapter, Monroe Beardsley first proposed his theory of art evaluation in 1958 in his bookAesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism.¹ His theory, which is worked out in great detail, is a substantive, nonmetalinguistic theory. Like Ziff’s, Beardsley’s theory is an instrumentalist one. Beardsley, however, unlike Ziff, proposes that art is to be evaluated on the basis of how well it can produce aesthetic experience—aesthetic experience being valuable. Since Beardsley initially proposed his theory, he has periodically repaired and refined it, but certain central features of the theory have remained...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Critical Principles: Sibley
    (pp. 81-100)

    As noted in the last chapter, Monroe Beardsley’s account of critical reasoning about the value of art involves a commitment to critical principles, that is, to general criteria. He has devoted considerable time and energy as well as great philosophical skill to combating those who deny that such generality is involved in evaluative criticism. In this chapter, although I shall not challenge the importance of critical principles, I shall call into question the particular view that Beardsley has worked out. In part, I shall rely on an argument recently published by Frank Sibley that greatly illuminates the way in which...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Instrumental Cognitivism: Goodman
    (pp. 101-114)

    I have now arrived at a compromise of Beardsley’s and Sibley’s views, a view that was expressed at the end of the last chapter in terms of a variety of critical principles. I propose to amplify the compromise view by gleaning what I can from an examination of the recent work of Nelson Goodman.

    In 1968, at the very end ofLanguages of Art,¹ Goodman began sketching the broad outlines of an instrumentalist theory that like Beardsley’s proposes to evaluate art on the basis of its ability to produce aesthetic experience. He continued sketching this theory in his 1978 article,...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Experiencing Art: Wolterstorff
    (pp. 115-128)

    In Chapters Four and Six, I examined Monroe Beardsley’s and Nelson Goodman’s opposing theories of art evaluation. Both view art evaluation as instrumentalist; that is, both hold that art is to be evaluated according to its ability to produce aesthetic experience. However, their views differ radically over the nature of aesthetic experience. Beardsley holds that aesthetic experience is detached and that its content consists solely of aesthetic qualities that are nonreferential. Goodman holds that aesthetic experience is not detached and that its evaluatively significant content consists solely of referential characteristics. Goodman characterizes aesthetic experience as a kind of cognitive experience...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Relativism: Hume
    (pp. 129-156)

    Where does the amplified, compromise view leave us? First, it is an instrumentalist account in which the value of a work of art is derived from the work’s capacity to be the source of a valuable experience. The question that immediately arises is,What kindof valuable experience do works of art give rise to? I shall run through the answers that the theories discussed in earlier chapters give to this question, and I shall begin, as usual, with Beardsley’s theory. This quick survey will serve as a reminder of the point to which the earlier chapters have brought matters....

  12. CHAPTER NINE Comparison and Specificity: Vermazen and Urmson
    (pp. 157-182)

    I shall now sum up the content of the amplified, compromise view as it has been developed to this point. By the end of Chapter Five, I had concluded that definitions of primary positive and negative criteria of aesthetic value can be formulated. Since Beardsley’s distinction between primary and secondary criteria has been abandoned, it is unnecessary to specifyprimaryfor these definitions. These definitions run as follows:

    A property is a positive criterion of aesthetic value if it is a property of a work of art and if in isolation from other properties it is valuable.

    A property is...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 183-188)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 189-194)