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same kinds of criticisms that are leveled at aesthetic theories of art.
13. T.W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, translated by C. Lenhardt (New York: Routledge and Kegan
Paul, 1984), p. 322.
14. It should be noted that the notion of disinterestedness is a particularly nettlesome one.
When it was first introduced in the eighteenth century, it seemed to mean impartiality.That
is, if I judge something to be beautiful, then if my judgment is authentic, it should be
impartial “ the judgment must not be to the judge™s direct personal benefit, as it would be
if my judgment of the beauty of my house was made in order to enhance its property value.
That is, a disinterested judgment is one in which the judge is indifferent to the conse-
quences of his judgment for his own personal benefit.
This, of course, makes sense. Judgments of artworks should be impartial. But, of course,
so should judgments of all sorts of other things. When I evaluate an artwork, I should be
impartial. But, then again, if I am a judge of champion pigs at the state fair, or a juror at a
murder trial, I should also be impartial. Impartiality does not mark off aesthetic judgments
or experiences. It is a property of all sorts of judgments and experiences, including not only
aesthetic ones, but moral ones as well. Thus, disinterestedness, construed as impartiality, is
not a sufficient condition for aesthetic experience.
Where pleasure is added to disinterestedness “ as it is in Hutcheson and Kant “ it may be
argued that disinterestedness, if not a sufficient condition, is a necessary condition, which when
joined with pleasure yields an essential definition of aesthetic experience. But if we subtract
pleasure from the formulation “ for the good reason that it does not appear to be the case that
all aesthetic experiences need be pleasureable “ and we are left only with disinterestedness to
define aesthetic experience, then the failure of distinterestedness, understood as impartiality, to
supply a sufficient condition for aesthetic experience becomes a major problem.
Furthermore, it should be obvious that from disinterestedness, construed in the unobjec-
tionable sense of impartiality, it does not follow that moral, political, practical, instrumental, or
cognitive concerns must be bracketed from aesthetic experiences properly so-called. For these
judgments can all be made, and generally should be made, from a disinterested (impartial) point
of view. It is a mistake that lies deep in the tradition to think that the reasonable expectation of
impartiality in aesthetic judgments entails that this requires or excludes moral, political, cogni-
tive, and other concerns from aesthetic experience.These are not alien to the state of being
indifferent to the direct personal benefits that an experience might afford to the judge in ques-
tion. Moreover, it should be evident that valuing an experience for its own sake does not fol-
low from the notion, which most might assent to, that aesthetic judgments should be impartial
concerning the personal benefit of the relevant judges.
Impartiality is, in some ways, an empty notion.You can be impartial about anything. So
talking about the disinterestedness (the impartiality) of an aesthetic experience as a defin-
ing description of said experience has next to nothing to say about the content of the
experience; it is flagrantly uninformative.
Nor does it help to stipulate that aesthetic experience is just the sort of experience that
has nothing whatsoever to do with any other kind of experience, not only because this
seems palpably false, but also because a thoroughly negative characterization of aesthetic
experience like this is completely impoverished.
15. The temptation to use the label “aesthetic experience” for all appropriate experiences of art
can, I believe, be traced back to aesthetic theories of art, insofar as such theories identify the
intended elicitation of aesthetic experiences as the quiddity of all art. On such theories, it is
natural to suppose that all appropriate art responses are aesthetic experiences, since those
experiences are what is thought to define art. However, once we abandon the aesthetic the-
ory of art, we may also abandon the subsidiary notion that all appropriate, because defini-
tory, experiences of art are aesthetic.The tendency to continue to correlate all appropriate
402 NOTES
art experiences with aesthetic experience is, in my view, merely the confused residue of
aesthetic theories of art.

ART, PRACTICE , NARRATIVE
AND

1. See William Kennick,“Does Traditional Aesthetics Rest on a Mistake?” in Mind 67 (1958): 27.
2. See Morris Weitz,“The Role of Theory in Aesthetics,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism,
15 (1956), and Weitz, “Wittgenstein™s Aesthetics,” in Language and Aesthetics, ed. Benjamin
Tilghman (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1973).
3. These responses to the open concept approach are derived from Maurice Mandelbaum,
“Family Resemblances and Generalizations Concerning the Arts,” in Aesthetics, ed. by
George Dickie and Richard Sclafani (New York: St. Martin™s Press, 1977).
4. The classic formulation of the Institutional Theory of Art is to be found in George Dickie™s
Art and the Aesthetic (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974). Dickie has attempted to meet
many of the objections to this theory by elaborating its central insights in The Art Circle
(New York: Haven Publications, 1984), especially chs. IV and V. This reformulation may
evade some of the above objections that are directed at the classic statement of the theory.
However, I have chosen to focus discussion on the classic statement for heuristic and expo-
sitional purposes. Furthermore, I should add that, although I think that Dickie™s reformula-
tion of his view is an improvement, it still shares a crucial liability with the classic statement
of the theory, namely, a lack of an explicit enough emphasis on the role of art history in the
characterization of the internal structure of the artworld. That is, the thrust of Dickie™s
newer theory remains essentially sociological rather than historical. Dickie™s newer theory
may, in fact, be strictly compatible with the view propounded in this essay. Nevertheless,
Dickie still does not underscore the importance of history in the discussion of the artworld,
which topic is the central purpose of this essay.
5. The categories of repetition, amplification, and repudiation are also discussed in my “Film
History and Film Theory,” in Film Reader, no. 4, 1979. At that time, I was committed to an
Institutional Theory of Art, a position that I have since attempted to modify in terms of the
notion of a cultural practice.
6. For a discussion of the idea of associated values see my “Post-Modern Dance and Expres-
sion,” in Philosophical Essays on Dance, ed. Gordon Fancher and Gerald Myers (New York:
Dance Horizons, 1981).
7. By invoking the category of repudiation, one may establish that an object is an artwork.
But this, of course, is to establish very little.Whether a repudiation will catch on, whether
it is interesting or important to the life of the culture requires further argumentation.
Often, repudiating art will be advocated by linking it to political and moral concerns and
to other cultural projects. For example, Cunningham™s choreography, which repudiates
certain forms of Modern Dance, is promoted on the grounds that it is democratic.That
is, the successful endorsement and acceptance of repudiating art “ as well as other forms
of art “ involves more than identifying it as art. The admission that “more” can involve
reference to broader cultural contexts is meant to allay worries that the view in this
paper is exclusively formalist.
8. Other categories for dealing with innovative art readily come to mind. One is synthesis; an
artist attempts to fuse existing, even opposed, styles. An example here might be Godard,
who in the sixties was involved in developing a style that combined elements of Soviet
editing and Italian Neo-Realism.Another category could be called radical reinterpretation;
artists take an animating concept of an earlier stage of art and reread it in such a way that
radically changes its reference. For instance, in the fine arts modern painters reconstrued the
idea of realism in such a way that paintings were reconceived as mere real things (in Danto™s
sense) rather than as representations of real things.
9. The perspective that art might be identified historically is not original to this paper. It is
discussed in Richard Wollheim, Art and Its Objects (Cambridge: Cambridge University
NOTES 403

Press, 1980 [second ed.], esp. sections 40 and 60“63); and in Jerrold Levinson, “Defining Art
Historically,” British Journal of Aesthetics, vol. 19, no. 3, Summer, 1979. Levinson states his theory
explicitly:“X is an art work at t = df X is an object of which it is true at t that some person or
persons, having the appropriate proprietary right over X, non-passingly intends (or intended)
X for regard-as-a-work-of-art, i.e., regard in any way (or ways) in which objects in the exten-
sion of ˜art work™ prior to t are or were correctly (or standardly) regarded.” If I understand this
formula correctly, the view propounded in our essay and Levinson™s may be at least compatible
and perhaps mutually informing. One could take our discussion of repetition, amplification,
and repudiation as a detailed exposition of some of the precedented ways of correctly regarding
artworks. On the other hand, I do disagree with Levinson™s suggestion that the artist must have
a proprietary right over the object in question; had Picasso stolen into a subway yard at night
and, after the fashion of graffiti artists, painted Guernica on the side of a train, it would be art no
matter what Mayor Koch says.
10. Both Wollheim and Levinson discuss the possibility of recursively identifying art.
11. In his review of Dickie™s Art and the Aesthetic (Philosophical Review, January, 1977), Kendall Wal-
ton writes “Perhaps the systems of the artworld are connected by causal/historical ties; perhaps
the artworld consists of a limited number of protosystems, plus any other systems which devel-
oped historically from these in a certain manner.” (p. 98) This paragraph is a speculative sketch
of such a protosystem from which other systems could be generated by processes such as repe-
tition, amplification, repudiation, synthesis, radical reinterpretation, and so on.
12. Tribal art, remote from our influences, represents another point at which we begin to reach
the boundaries of our tradition and where the identification of objects as art gravitates
toward considerations of function (though not necessarily the same type of considerations
previously discussed). Here narrative accounts may be replaced by reference to functional
analogies between the relevant tribal symbolic practices and the art in our tradition, espe-
cially at the level of the protosystem (see previous note). The reason for this is obvious;
much tribal art is not part of our tradition, though it may represent a significantly parallel
practice. The upshot of this admission for this essay is that historical narration is not the
only means of identifying artworks due to the necessity of recourse to certain issues of
function in various cases; however, this is consistent with the claim that historical narration
is our primary means of identifying objects as art.
13. The preparation of this essay has benefitted from discussion with numerous colleagues
including Peter Kivy, Dale Jamieson,Anita Silvers, Joseph Rouse, Joseph Margolis, Richard
Eldridge, and the philosophy department of Swarthmore College.

IDENTIFYING A RT
1. For a statement of this approach, see my “Art, Practice and Narrative,” The Monist 71
(1986): 140“56.
2. Nelson Goodman, “When Is Art?” in his Ways of Worldmaking (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub-
lishing Co., 1978).
3. Kendall Walton, review of George Dickie™s Art and the Aesthetic, Philosophical Review 86
(1977): 97“101.
4. Monroe Beardsley, Aesthetics: Problems in the Theory of Criticism (New York: Harcourt, Brace
& World, 1958).
5. The realization that the question “What is art?” may represent different requests for infor-
mation has been noted by T. J. Diffey in his “The Republic of Art,” British Journal of Aesthet-
ics 9 (1969): 45“56. My thinking has been influenced by this article and by discussions with
Dale Jamieson.
6. Stanley Cavell, “Music Discomposed,” in his Must We Mean What We Say? (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1969).
7. T. J. Diffey, “Essentialism and the Definition of Art,” British Journal of Aesthetics 13 (1973):
103“20.
404 NOTES

8. George Dickie, The Art Circle (New York: Haven Publications, 1984), p. 80.
9. The debate here would center on the issue of whether there is a purely classificatory,
nonevaluative sense of “art.” Here I agree with Dickie in thinking that there is.
10. Monroe Beardsley, “Is Art Essentially Institutional,” in Culture and Art, ed. Lars Aagaard-
Mogensen (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1976), p. 106.
11. See Morris Weitz,“The Role of Theory in Aesthetics,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Crit-
icism 15 (1956): 27“35; Morris Weitz,“Wittgenstein™s Aesthetics,” in Language and Aesthetics,
ed. Benjamin Tilghman (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1973); William Kennick,
“Does Traditional Aesthetics Rest on a Mistake?” Mind 67 (1958): 317“34; William Ken-
nick, “Definition and Theory in Aesthetics,” in Art and Philosophy, ed. William Kennick
(New York: St. Martin™s Press, 1964); and Paul Ziff, “The Task of Defining a Work of Art,”
Philosophical Review 62 (1953): 58“78.
12. Weitz,“The Role of Theory in Aesthetics.”
13. Kennick,“Does Traditional Aesthetics Rest on a Mistake?”
14. Arthur Danto,“Thoughts on the Institutional Theory of Art,” a paper delivered at the San
Francisco Art Institute, July 10, 1991.
15. Arthur Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1981). It is interesting to note that Danto™s point “ that art is something the eye cannot
descry “ counts against the family resemblance approach to identifying artworks as well as
against certain well-known aesthetic theories of art (such as Clive Bell™s).
16. See Maurice Mandelbaum, “Family Resemblances and Generalizations Concerning the
Arts,” American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (1965): 219“28; and Anthony Manser,“Games and
Family Resemblances,” Philosophy 42 (1967): 210“25.
17. It is instructive to note that even though George Dickie exploited the criticisms of people
like Maurice Mandelbaum in terms of the latter™s suggestion that the properties that the
family resemblance theorists overlooked were nonmanifest relational ones, he did not also
take Mandelbaum™s suggestion that the relevant properties might be functional. Perhaps the
reason for this is that the most obvious candidate for the pertinent functional properties in
this area involved the putative capacity of artworks to engender aesthetic experiences.And,
of course, Dickie was already opposed to the invocation of anything aesthetic.
18. Dickie, The Art Circle, p. 80.
19. Ibid., pp. 80“82.
20. Dickie™s theory of the art circle is also criticized by Robert Stecker in his “The End of
an Institutional Definition of Art,” British Journal of Aesthetics 26 (1986): 124“32. Dickie
has answered Stecker in his “Reply to Stecker,” in Aesthetics: A Critical Anthology, 2nd
ed., ed. George Dickie, Richard Sclafani, and Ronald Roblin (New York: St. Martin™s
Press, 1989). See also Jerrold Levinson, review of Dickie™s The Art Circle, Philosophical
Review 96 (1987): 141“46.
21. Throughout this essay, when it is claimed that identifying narratives are distinct from real
definitions, I mean that they are distinct from definitions in terms of necessary conditions
that are jointly sufficient. I take this to be the relevant sense of “definition” for a discussion
such as the present one because that is the kind of definition which has been at the center
of our controversies since the 1950s.
22. This method identifies works as art where the works were art at the moment of their
inception. Identifying narratives do not constitute works as art; thus, they are not suscepti-
ble to the kinds of objections that were leveled at Dickie™s notion of the conferral of status.
Identifying narratives are typically mobilized in contexts where questions about whether
some work is an artwork are likely to arise. In such contexts, identifying narratives establish
the credentials of something that is already art. Identifying narratives do not, so to say, turn
nonartworks (or not-yet-artworks) into artworks.
Furthermore, this procedure is classificatory insofar as it in no way implies that the
work in question is good. For even if an unproblematic application of the procedure
NOTES 405

implies that an artist succeeded in making art, that success is logically independent from the
question of whether the art is good.
23. Clive Bell, Art (New York: Capricorn Press, 1958). For an analysis of Bell™s theory in rela-
tion to the avant-garde art of his contemporaries, see No«l Carroll, “Clive Bell™s Aesthetic
Hypothesis,” in Aesthetics:A Critical Anthology.
24. R. G. Collingwood, Principles of Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935).
25. Susanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form (New York: Scribner™s, 1953).
26. Arthur Danto,“The Last Work of Art:Artworks and Real Things,” Theoria 39 (1973): 1“17.
27. Arthur Danto, The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1986).
28. See Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays, ed. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Ries (Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 1965); and Victor Erhlich, Russian Formalism (New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1981).
29. See Roland Barthes,“The Death of the Author,” in his Image-Music-Text (New York: Hill &
Wang, 1977); Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author,” in Twentieth-Century Literary Theory,
ed.Vassilis Lambropoulos and David Neal Miller (New York: State University of New York
Press, 1987).
30. Benjamin R.Tilghman,“Reflections on Aesthetic Theory,” in Aesthetics:A Critical Anthology,
p. 161.
31. R. A. Sharpe, “A Transformation of a Structuralist Theme,” British Journal of Aesthetics 18
(1978): 160.
32. This view of criticism may seem to be at odds with the influential view of Arnold Isenberg,
who holds that what critics do, essentially, is to point at specific features of artworks in order
to get audiences to see their properties. The view of criticism sketched above, however,
does not preclude this sort of critical activity. Rather, it sees this sort of “pointing” as pro-
ceeding within a larger framework of contextualization.The critic contextualizes in order
to orient and to give sense to her pointings. For Isenberg™s view of criticism, see Arnold
Isenberg, “Critical Communication,” in his Aesthetics and the Theory of Criticism (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1973).
33. Sharpe,“A Transformation of a Structuralist Theme,” p. 170.
34. W. B. Gallie,“Art and Politics,” in The Aristotelian Society 46 supp. (1972): 111. See also Gal-
lie™s “The Function of Philosophical Aesthetics,” Mind 57 (1948): 302“21; his “Essentially
Contested Concepts,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 (1956): 169“98; and his “Art as
an Essentially Contested Concept,” The Philosophical Quarterly 6 (1956): 97“114.
35. For one, perhaps not pellucid, account of these anxieties, see Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of
Influence (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973).
36. For a discussion of the distinction between chronicle and narrative, see Arthur Danto, Nar-
ration and Knowledge (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), pp. 112“43.
37. This picture of historical narration differs from the one proposed by Danto in Narration and
Knowledge. There Danto maintains that historical narration shows the significance of earlier
events in the series by connecting them to their consequences.The point of historical nar-
ration, on his construal, is to elucidate the significance of the earlier events in the series.
However, the kinds of historical narratives we are talking about “ identifying narratives “
aim at illuminating the final event in the series; therefore, identifying narratives represent a
counterexample to Danto™s general view of historical narration.
38. For the view that historical narratives need not have unified subjects, see L. B. Cebik, Con-
cepts, Events and History (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1978).
39. Quoted by Bronislava Nijinska, Early Memoirs (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston,
1981), p. 224.
40. In my “Art, Practice and Narrative,” I call this option “repetition.”
41. These options are called, respectively, “amplification” and “repudiation” in my “Art, Prac-
tice and Narrative.”
406 NOTES

42. Information on Duncan™s career is available in Deborah Jowitt, Time and the Dancing Image

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