BOOK RE: Is "Art" is Misused?

Natasha Vita More (
Fri, 29 May 1998 10:01:39 -0500

A book I'd like to suggest is _Art, The Arts, And The Great Ideas_ by
Mortimer J. Adler.

"Does a piece of visual or musical art have any content? How is a sonata
different from a poem? Continuing his thoughtful and though-provoking
exploration of the substance of basic education, Mortimer J. Adler examines
the inherent value of various art forms and considers their significance
within a well-rounded curriculum. He maintains that imaginative literature
and works of science, philosophy, theology, and history act upon our
intellects and stimulate the discussion of ideas…"

Although I do not agree in total with Alder's understanding of art in its
full interpretation (he, does state that art is often misrepresented and
all too often referred to something visual such as an artifact); I do
appreciate the following contribution Alder makes to the world of thinking:

"'Art' is one of the most misused words in the English language." In the
chapter titled The Current Prevalent Confusions, Alder discussed
misconceptions about art, artist, artifact and work of art. I found this
chapter particularly significant because he touches on the aspects of the
viewer or appreciator of art and the artist or person who possesses the
power to produce an object of art or a performance or concept.

"Is not the art they [artists] possess the power to produce this or that
object, this or that performance? Is it, therefore not reasonable to use
the word 'art' for the skill that makes a human being an 'artist,' and to
use the phrase 'work of art' [objet d'art] for the product of the artist's
productive activity?"

Here he states that there is an important contradiction in the above
statement if we make the mistake of continuing to think that "what adorns
museums of art and makes the name of such institutions intelligible to
us-is the misuse of the world "art" exclusively for paintings and sculpture."

In the chapter titled The Relevant Clarifying History, Alder explains
cogently the use of the word "art" by the Greeks.

"Throughout the dialogues of Plato and the treatises of Aristotle, the word
'art' is used as frequently as 'science,'…. Science and art are for the
Greeks the two fundamental forms of knowing - the former, knowing that,
what, why and wherefore; the latter, knowing how." But don't let this
confuse you! It's not as simple as it sounds -:) He goes on to discuss
how the word "art" got so incredibly confusing in the 20th century by
everyone - especially by the art schools (i.e, fine art and liberal art,
for example).

I especially liked his summary argument where he discusses imagination,
ideas and perpetual thought (including cognitive acts) that "have reality
in the every-changing, sensible realm of becoming."

Natasha Vita More [fka Nancie Clark]:
Transhumanist Art Centre - Home of Extropic Art:
**NEW** Transhuman Culture InfoMark:
PRESS RELEASE: "We are transhumans ..." Meme Orbits Saturn in 2004!

"The best defense is an aesthetic offense."