Phenomenology

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By James W. Manns

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JAMES H. FETZER Page xi Preface This book aims to provide the reader with a sense of the abiding issues in aesthetics. It embodies a deep respect for traditiontradition in the arts and in the theories of art that have been formulated across the centuries. Artistic fads come and go, and have come and gone as long as there has been art, but the works of some artists have somehow managed to preserve their august rank amidst all the comings and goings of artistic styles and approaches. This is a basic fact that any responsible study of aesthetics must take into account.

19 Art is not, on Danto's view, just one among many phenomena that we come across in the course of our experience and for which we seek to supply some explanation, an explanation that ultimately takes the form of a theory of art. "20 Danto's reflections inspired what is known as the institutional theory of art. This theory, put forward by George Dickie, attempts to provide a definition of art by placing "the work of art within a multi-placed network of greater complexity than anything envisaged by the various traditional theories.

The answer appears simple enough: it would have to be systematically ignored by the artworld public. Surely no particular quality or complex of qualities that an artifact might possess could alone ensure that it deserved to be regarded as a work of art. All that the various qualities inhering in an object can accomplish is to capture the eye (or ear) and the imagination of a given segment of the public; and a work that fails to do so has thereby failed to gain entry into the artworld. It follows as a consequence of this approach, however, and a disquieting one, that the quest for inclusion into the artworld (the desire to be received as an artist) could lead one to do whatever it takes to gain the requisite attention: exposition would give way to exhibitionism.

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