Must Aesthetic Definitions of Art be Disjunctive?

Jonathan Farrell


Aesthetic definitions of art face difficulties in dealing with art that is nonaesthetic.  This has led some to suggest that if aesthetic theories of art are to apply to all art, then they must be disjunctive.  In such a case, something would be art if and only if it either (i) satisfied certain aesthetic criteria, or (ii) satisfied other, nonaesthetic, criteria.

Nick Zangwill offers the Aesthetic Creation Theory.  He considers ways that his theory could account for nonaesthetic art, and ultimately adopts a disjunctive theory that makes use of the notion of second-order art?art that gains art status by referring to first-order art that satisfies the Aesthetic Creation Theory?s conditions.

I will examine Zangwill?s theory and his response to the problem of nonaesthetic art with the aim of showing that the idea of second-order art may be unnecessary.  There is hope for a non-disjunctive account of the nature of art, I claim, if we reconsider the attempts to deal with nonaesthetic art that Zangwill himself rejects.


Art; Definitions; Aesthetic; Zangwill

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