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Anthony Edwards
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The Art Question: A Clear and Concise Introduction to the Philosophy of Art by Nigel Warburton



The Art Question by Nigel Warburton: A Review




The Art Question is a short and clear introduction to the philosophy of art written by Nigel Warburton, a British philosopher and podcaster. The main aim of the book is to explore and evaluate different theories that attempt to answer the question "What is art?" Warburton covers a wide range of approaches, from classical to contemporary, and presents them in an accessible and balanced way. He also discusses some of the challenges and implications that arise from trying to define art.




the art question nigel warburton pdf 20



The central question: What is art?




Warburton begins by explaining why the question "What is art?" is important and difficult to answer. He argues that art is not a natural kind that can be easily identified by its features or functions, but rather a human construct that depends on historical and cultural contexts. He then introduces four main types of theories that attempt to define art:


  • Art as significant form: This theory claims that art is any object or event that has a significant form, which means a combination of shapes, colors, sounds or movements that produces an aesthetic emotion in the viewer. Warburton discusses some examples of this theory, such as Clive Bell's formalism and Roger Fry's post-impressionism.



  • Art as expression: This theory claims that art is any object or event that expresses or communicates an emotion or an idea from the artist to the audience. Warburton discusses some examples of this theory, such as Leo Tolstoy's emotionalism and R.G. Collingwood's idealism.



  • Art as family resemblance: This theory claims that art is not a single category that can be defined by a common essence or a set of necessary and sufficient conditions, but rather a collection of overlapping and related cases that share some similarities or resemblances. Warburton discusses some examples of this theory, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein's anti-essentialism and Morris Weitz's open concept.



  • Art as institution: This theory claims that art is any object or event that is conferred the status of art by the artworld, which is a network of institutions, practices and conventions that determine what counts as art and how it should be appreciated. Warburton discusses some examples of this theory, such as George Dickie's institutionalism and Arthur Danto's artworld theory.



The challenges of defining art




Warburton then examines some of the problems and limitations of each theory of art. He points out that none of the theories can account for all the cases and counter-cases of art that exist or could exist, and that each theory faces some objections and counterexamples. He also shows that some of the theories are incompatible or inconsistent with each other, and that some of the theories rely on vague or controversial concepts or criteria. He illustrates these challenges with examples from various forms and periods of art, such as painting, sculpture, music, literature, photography, film, performance and conceptual art.


The implications of the art question




Warburton then reflects on the consequences and significance of the art question for artists, critics and audiences. He argues that the question "What is art?" is not only a theoretical or academic issue, but also a practical and ethical one. He suggests that the way we define art affects the way we create, evaluate and enjoy art, and that the way we understand art influences the way we understand ourselves and our world. He also raises some questions about the value and purpose of art, such as whether art can be judged objectively or subjectively, whether art can be moral or immoral, whether art can be political or apolitical, and whether art can be meaningful or meaningless.


The Art Question by Nigel Warburton: A Critique




The Art Question is a well-written and informative book that provides a concise and comprehensive overview of the philosophy of art. However, like any book, it also has some strengths and weaknesses that can be identified and assessed.


The strengths of the book




One of the main strengths of the book is its clarity. Warburton explains complex and abstract ideas in a simple and straightforward way, using everyday language and examples. He avoids jargon and technical terms, and when he does use them, he defines them clearly. He also organizes his arguments in a logical and coherent way, using headings, subheadings, summaries and transitions. He makes his points clear and easy to follow for any reader.


Another strength of the book is its accessibility. Warburton makes his book appealing and engaging for a wide range of readers, from students to teachers, from artists to general readers. He does not assume any prior knowledge or background in philosophy or art history, and he provides enough context and explanation for each theory and example. He also uses a conversational style as written by a human (using an informal tone, utilizing personal pronouns, keeping it simple, engaging the reader, using the active voice, keeping it brief, using rhetorical questions, and incorporating analogies and metaphors). He makes his book enjoyable and interesting to read.


A third strength of the book is its breadth. Warburton covers a large number of theories and examples from different perspectives and traditions. He does not limit himself to one school or approach, but rather presents a variety of views and arguments. He also does not restrict himself to one form or period of art, but rather explores a diversity of genres and styles. He gives his book a wide scope and relevance.


A fourth strength of the book is its balance. Warburton does not favor or endorse any particular theory or example, but rather presents them in an objective and fair way. He does not impose his own opinion or agenda, but rather lets the reader decide for themselves. He also does not ignore or dismiss any theory or example, but rather acknowledges their merits and drawbacks. He gives his book a neutral tone and attitude.


The weaknesses of the book




One of the main weaknesses of the book is its brevity. Warburton writes a very short book that only scratches the surface of the philosophy of art. He does not go into much depth or detail for each theory or example, and he leaves out many important aspects and nuances. He also does not address many other relevant questions or topics that could enrich his discussion, such as the history or sociology of art, the psychology or neuroscience of art, the aesthetics or criticism of art, or the comparison or contrast between different arts. He gives his book a limited content and insight.


```html He does not acknowledge or explore some of the difficulties or controversies that surround each theory or example, and he sometimes makes some questionable or dubious claims or assumptions. He also does not offer any alternative or original solutions or perspectives that could challenge or advance the debate. He gives his book a simplistic argument and analysis.


A third weakness of the book is its neutrality. Warburton writes a very neutral book that does not take any position or stance on the art question. He does not argue for or against any theory or example, and he does not express any personal or critical evaluation or judgment. He also does not engage or interact with any other authors or sources that could support or oppose his views. He gives his book a passive voice and style.


A fourth weakness of the book is its lack of originality. Warburton writes a very conventional book that does not offer any new or innovative contributions to the philosophy of art. He does not propose any novel or creative theories or examples, and he does not explore any emerging or cutting-edge issues or trends. He also does not demonstrate any distinctive or unique voice or personality that could distinguish his book from other similar books. He gives his book a standard format and structure.


The Art Question by Nigel Warburton: A Recommendation




The Art Question is a useful and enjoyable book that provides a solid and reliable introduction to the philosophy of art. However, it is not a definitive or comprehensive book that provides a deep and thorough understanding of the philosophy of art. Therefore, I would recommend this book for different types of readers depending on their goals and interests.


Who should read this book?




I think this book is ideal for readers who are new to the philosophy of art and want to get a general overview of the main theories and examples. This book is also suitable for readers who are familiar with the philosophy of art and want to refresh their knowledge or review the basics. This book is especially helpful for students who are taking courses on the philosophy of art and need a clear and concise textbook or reference. This book is also useful for teachers who are teaching courses on the philosophy of art and need a simple and accessible guide or resource.


However, I think this book is not enough for readers who are looking for more depth and detail on the philosophy of art and want to explore more aspects and nuances. This book is also not sufficient for readers who are seeking more complexity and ambiguity on the philosophy of art and want to challenge more problems and limitations. This book is especially lacking for researchers who are working on the philosophy of art and need a more rigorous and original contribution or perspective. This book is also insufficient for critics who are evaluating the philosophy of art and need a more personal and critical voice or judgment.


How to read this book?




I think this book can be read in different ways depending on the reader's preference and purpose. One way to read this book is to read it in order from start to finish, following Warburton's logical and coherent presentation of the theories and examples. This way, the reader can get a complete and consistent picture of the philosophy of art as Warburton sees it. Another way to read this book is to skip some chapters or sections that are less relevant or interesting for the reader, focusing on Warburton's summaries and transitions that highlight the main points and connections. This way, the reader can get a selective and efficient overview of the philosophy of art as Warburton outlines it.


A third way to read this book is to use it as a reference or a resource, consulting Warburton's headings, subheadings, tables and indexes that organize the information and topics. This way, the reader can get a specific and convenient answer to a particular question or issue about the philosophy of art as Warburton explains it. A fourth way to read this book is to approach it as a starting point or a springboard, supplementing Warburton's explanations and evaluations with other sources and opinions that provide more information and perspectives. This way, the reader can get a broader and deeper understanding of the philosophy of art as Warburton introduces it.


What to read after this book?




I think this book can be followed by different readings depending on the reader's curiosity and ambition. One type of reading that can complement this book is reading some primary sources that present some original theories and examples of art by some influential philosophers and artists. For example, one could read Plato's Republic, Kant's Critique of Judgment, Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics, Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, Dewey's Art as Experience, Heidegger's The Origin of the Work of Art, Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Sartre's What is Literature?, Beardsley's Aesthetics, Goodman's Languages of Art, or Derrida's The Truth in Painting. One could also read some works by some famous artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, Duchamp, Pollock, Warhol, or Banksy.


Another type of reading that can challenge this book is reading some secondary sources that present some critical analyses and discussions of the theories and examples of art by some contemporary philosophers and critics. For example, one could read Carroll's Philosophy of Art, Davies' Philosophy of the Arts, Gaut's Art, Emotion and Ethics, Lamarque's The Philosophy of Literature, Lopes' Beyond Art, Nussbaum's Love's Knowledge, Scruton's Beauty, Shusterman's Pragmatist Aesthetics, or Wollheim's Painting as an Art. One could also read some essays or reviews by some renowned critics, such as Greenberg, Frye, Barthes, Eco, Sontag, Kundera, Jameson, Eagleton, or Nussbaum.


Conclusion




The Art Question by Nigel Warburton is a book that attempts to answer the question "What is art?" by exploring and evaluating different theories and examples of art. The book is clear, accessible, broad and balanced, but also brief, simple, neutral and unoriginal. The book is ideal for beginners and students who want to get a general overview of the philosophy of art, but not enough for advanced and researchers who want to get a deep understanding of the philosophy of art. The book can be read in different ways depending on the reader's preference and purpose, and can be followed by different readings depending on the reader's curiosity and ambition. The book is a useful and enjoyable introduction to the philosophy of art, but not a definitive or comprehensive one.


FAQs




  • Q: Who is Nigel Warburton?



  • A: Nigel Warburton is a British philosopher and podcaster who specializes in the philosophy of art. He is the author of several books on philosophy and art, such as Philosophy: The Basics, Philosophy: The Classics, Philosophy Bites and A Little History of Philosophy. He is also the co-host of the popular podcasts Philosophy Bites and Thinking Books.



  • Q: What is the main aim of The Art Question?



  • A: The main aim of The Art Question is to explore and evaluate different theories that attempt to answer the question "What is art?" Warburton covers a wide range of approaches from classical to contemporary and presents them in an accessible and balanced way.



  • Q: What are the main types of theories that Warburton discusses?



  • A: Warburton discusses four main types of theories that attempt to define art: art as significant form; art as expression; art as family resemblance; and art as institution. He also discusses some of the challenges and implications that arise from trying to define art.



  • Q: What are the main strengths and weaknesses of The Art Question?



  • A: The main strengths of The Art Question are its clarity, accessibility, breadth and balance. The main weaknesses of The Art Question are its brevity, simplicity, neutrality and lack of originality.



  • Q: Who should read The Art Question and how?



  • A: The Art Question is ideal for readers who are new to or familiar with the philosophy of art and want to get a general overview of the main theories and examples. The Art Question can be read in order from start to finish, skipping some chapters or sections, using it as a reference or a resource, or approaching it as a starting point or a springboard.



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