The Good Life as Conceptual Art

Hichem Naar


If we take conceptual art seriously, that is, if we consider that art does not have clear-cut boundaries and that it is not limited to the production of aesthetic objects, then a whole spectrum of possible artworks is open to us. Not only can random objects be conceived as artistic, but cognitive states (ideas, concepts, representations) and behaviors can also be meaningfully conceived as pieces of art by their producer and by any sensitive observer. If one is to take one?s life as a piece of conceptual art, one then faces the question of what kind of life would count as a worthwhile piece of art, i.e., what kind of life can have any artistic worth. In this paper, I discuss the possibility that the pursuit of a worthwhile life in the Aristotelian sense, more particularly the meticulous design of a character as a set of good emotional, conative, and behavioral dispositions, can count as an artistic endeavor. My aim is to show how this can be the case, and to show that this bears on major issues in contemporary philosophy of art concerning the relation between ethics and aesthetics.



Conceptual art; virtue

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