Anti-Anti-Essentialism About Art

Daniel Patrick Wilson


The successful specification of the definition of art has so far proven elusive. Discouraged by repeated failed attempts at the definition of art, numerous anti-essentialist philosophers have suggested alternative accounts (for example, Dominic McIver Lopes, Kathleen Stock and Berys Gaut). In this paper I defend the project of the definition of art by arguing that the strongest anti-essentialist arguments are unsuccessful in ruling out either the possibility or the value of a definition of art. Based on my observations regarding a blind spot in Wittgenstein’s anti-essentialist “look and see” approach, I conclude by suggesting a new avenue of investigation for essentialism regarding art.


Definition of art; Anti-essentialism; Wittgenstein

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