The Philosophy of Art

The Philosophy of Art Stephen Davies Intended as an undergraduate textbook, The Philosophy of Art provides a great overview of contemporary philosophy of art. It would probably be too difficult for students to read but very useful as a reference book for teachers. It covers the interpretation of art, the relation between art, culture and our evolutionary heritage, the expression and arousal of emotion through art and the challenges posed by varieties of art over time and across cultures. Even though the contents maybe too challenging for students to read themselves, the end of each chapter has a list of relevant questions that students could quite easily attempt to answer without necessarily having read the book. For example, “Is it unreasonable to assume that non-human animals, such as birds and apes, cannot make art?” or “must artworks be…made by humans…or could they be found readymade in nature?” Chapters of Note: Chapter One: Evolution and Culture: Goes over the arguments for art as a product of biological evolution vs a culturally created concept. Too advanced for students but a good introduction to the topic for teachers. Chapter Two: Defining Art has a particularly good description of the various definitions of art. The various concepts discussed, being actually quite simple, could be easily presented to students by a teacher in language that they can understand. Chapter Five: Interpretation lists and discusses the various theories of interpretation. Like chapter two, while the language and complexity of the material would be too hard for students to handle by themselves, the various theories could easily be presented in a more simple manner to students by teachers.

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