Volume 4, 1999
Philosophies of Religion, Art, and Creativity
The Aesthetic Function of Art
Like most aestheticians today I begin by firmly separating the concept of art from the concept of the aesthetic; unlike them, I conclude by reuniting these concepts in the thesis that the function of art is to promote the aesthetic. I understand the existence of artworks and of artists to be “institutional facts” (though the institution of art is an informal one, not to be confused with formal institutions to which it has given rise, such as museums, academies, etc.), while I take “aesthetic situations,” involving appreciators and objects made, at least in part, to be appreciated, to constitute something approaching a natural kind. Rather than dealing directly with the concept of a function I argue for three theses closely related to the idea that the function of art is aesthetic: that art is better than any other institution at promoting the aesthetic; that art is better at promoting the aesthetic than it is at doing anything else; and that art was intended by its instituters to promote the aesthetic.