edited to note that I had the good fortune to be admitted.
theadw's 250 wrote:Certain twentieth century artworks challenged longstanding definitions of art by carrying the
concept of mimesis to its logical conclusion. Pieces like Warhol’s Brillo Box or Duchamp’s Fountain are
perceptually indistinguishable from commonplace Brillo boxes and urinals; this indistinguishability
jeopardizes the ontological discreteness of art by breaching the boundary between art and everything else.
In response, Arthur Danto, an eminent philosopher of art, attempts to refortify art qua ontological
category via redefinition. His “embodied meanings view” states that an object is art if and only if it (a)
has meaning and (b) embodies its meaning(s). Meeting the latter criterion demands that an object’s
meaning relate to its properties in a rational and explicable (not necessarily direct or obvious) fashion—
e.g., this essay embodies a thesis about art, but not about horticulture. Though Danto’s view alleviates
the indistinguishability problem—Brillo Box means something, a Brillo box doesn’t—it is still
overinclusive, as any number of things one would be loath to call art (this essay among them) have and
Danto’s definition is unsatisfactory, but is also salvageable. Adding an adverbial criterion
specifying that an object’s aesthetic—related to but distinguished from perceptual—properties play an
ineliminable role in its embodying a meaning restricts the definition’s scope while retaining its ability to
properly categorize indistinguishables. The above distinction between Brillo Box and its counterpart
holds, and this essay fails to count as art as its meaning is entirely independent of its aesthetic properties.