What Is Art Essay, Research Paper

Without cognizing foremost what art is, we will non be able to state what good is art. Having studied several different definitions of art, I am most satisfied with Tolstoy & # 8217 ; s definition of art from his essay & # 8220 ; What is Art? & # 8221 ; ( pckt pg.21 ) . Harmonizing to Tolstoy, art is a signifier of communicating, a vehicle which the creative person can utilize to pass on his feelings and emotion ; it is a & # 8220 ; agencies of intercourse between adult male and adult male & # 8221 ; ( pckt pg. 23 ) . Tolstoy & # 8217 ; s definition of art is barely based on the beauty of the work, instead he focuses on the communicative qualities of the work viz. , infectiousness, lucidity and earnestness. Therefore, any piece of work exposing all the three conditions in any variable grade, is considered a work of art. The quality of a work of art is determined by the grade to which it is sincere, clear and infective. Using Tolstoy & # 8217 ; s given definition of art my essay efforts to discourse what art is good for, chiefly with regard to moralss.

My base on art is that it can be both for good and for bad when it comes to the inquiry of moralss. For illustration, literature as art can move in both ways, which manner it goes depends on both the author and reader. Literature, since it & # 8217 ; s origin has ever been a signifier of communicating, and good literature be it the prose of Trollope, verse form of Blake, the dramas of Shakespeare or even political propaganda has ever had the earnestness of its Godhead. Throughout history, literature has been able to convey a societal, or moral message to the people. And good literature has ever been infective, at times even lighting reform and revolution. Without a uncertainty, literature brings to the reader or audience a circumstance we are unable to see in existent life and therefore raise moral or societal concerns. From Swift & # 8217 ; s satirical & # 8220 ; Gulliver & # 8217 ; s Travels & # 8221 ; which poked merriment at the societal mores of his clip, to the fiction of Dickens whose supplication for reform did non travel unheard and pushed a plan for reformation into action. Yet literature with its power to travel multitudes can besides travel bad, for case, the misunderstanding of Marxist theories led to the government of agony and panic we know as Communism. Art, as Tolstoy has described, is infective, sincere and clear, qualities that make it highly accessible to the multitudes, and given its infective nature, art as a signifier of look and communicating can fuel alterations or destruct whole societies.

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& # 8220 ; The experience of art is more easy degraded & # 8230 ; & # 8221 ; ( book pg.199 ) says Murdoch in her essay & # 8220 ; The Sovereignty of Good & # 8221 ; . Murdoch substantiates Tolstoy & # 8217 ; s claim that art is communicative when she describes it as a & # 8220 ; human merchandise & # 8221 ; that is easy comprehended or & # 8220 ; degraded & # 8221 ; . Murdoch & # 8217 ; s chief statement is that moral moralss and virtuousnesss are in fact connected to Beauty in Art, or in Nature. ( book pg. 198 ) Her statement is based on two premises ; viz. , that worlds are all selfish and that there is no external ground for human life. In position of her premises, it follows that whatever makes us less selfish or more nonsubjective is virtuous. And beauty be it in Nature or Art, has the ability to do us indulge in & # 8220 ; self-forgetful pleasance & # 8221 ; ( book pg. 198 ) therefore doing us less selfish and more nonsubjective. Beauty in Art is & # 8220 ; more enlightening & # 8221 ; ( book pg.199 ) since it is a human merchandise ; and even more so when we are speaking about representational art like literature or pictures. ( book pg.199 ) She claims art to be & # 8220 ; concerned with morality & # 8221 ; , and that it presents to us what we would be excessively timid or selfish to detect on our ain. Good art is a presentation of the trouble of being nonsubjective and is a & # 8220 ; topographic point in which the nature of morality can be seen. & # 8221 ; ( book pg.200 ) In other words, art is where the creative person sheds his individualistic head covering of perceptual experience and creates a work where others can portion in his objectiveness. This is an act of virtuousness. In appreciating art, we become less selfish and can see the world of the universe presented. I agree really much that objectiveness is introduced to the witness, and I can believe of no more fitting illustration than when Dickens removes the selfish, nescient head covering of the rich through his Hagiographas to uncover to them the being of the hapless and lower categories.

In congruity with Murdoch, Nussbaum believes that art, with regard to literature gives the reader or audience an objectiveness with which to consider the moralss of a character’s actions. Nussbaum describes life as “fiction-making” and that literature is merely a heightened extension of that. She says “Our experience is, without fiction, excessively confined and excessively parochial” ; therefore, literature is a manner that we can see state of affairss that we may non see in existent life. Ethical deliberations in literature is competently summed in Hamlet’s “To be or non to be” , and the audience watching Hamlet’s quandary is better able to do ethical judgements from their nonsubjective point of view. The audience excessively may ne’er see Hamlet’s quandary of retribution, and art allows them that opportunity to do an ethical judgement. Similarly, novels make it easier for reader to do ethical deliberations on the actions of characters instead than when one is sing the state of affairs in existent life. Thus, Nussbaum promotes that literature be used in concurrence with the survey of moralss.

Art, nevertheless may non state the whole truth about existent life state of affairss. A literary work is after all written from the position of the writer and the so called objectiveness gained from a work of fiction can be skewed. To widen the illustration of & # 8220 ; Hamlet & # 8221 ; , we see his deliberation about taking retaliation, but for the interest of play he does set his ideas into action and slayings his step-father. Murder can non be justified much less when all grounds of the offense comes from a shade. Shakespeare & # 8217 ; s work was ne’er intended to be didactic, but it was meant to be dramatic. Even though the quandary of Hamlet arouse our ethical deliberation, it does non try to prophesy or promote any kind of moral behaviour. The consequence of our moral deliberation is therefore our duty, the audience will hold to make up one’s mind for itself what is right or incorrect. Of class there are many other literary plants that & # 8220 ; sit on the fencing & # 8221 ; , or thin towards one side of the moral judgement, and so there are besides works that would intentionally advance a certain sort of behaviour. These plants are but paper and ink until we make our ain readings of what is morally right.

The fiction of populating out a state of affairs in an art work, say a movie about the Holocaust, puts one in an nonsubjective position, as Murdoch puts it & # 8221 ; Art & # 8230 ; gives sense to a impression of world & # 8230 ; & # 8221 ; . ( book pg.200 ) However, it is the same fiction that can falsify world and misdirect the reader or audience. For case watching a movie about the Holocaust can give one a sense of the panic of a victim, but if the work is from the position of Hitler, the audience can be misled merely as Germany was into believing the Fuhrer is the bastion of morality. Film, merely as literature can be considered as art because it is a manner of communicating and works particularly good in its & # 8220 ; infection & # 8221 ; . True, movies do show a version of the truth to the audience and let the audience to see a fiction or representation of world. Michael Norman does non believe that this fiction is at all healthy. In his essay & # 8220 ; Carnage and Glory, Legends and Lies & # 8221 ; he criticizes war films for being the bad representation of the truth. Norman argues that & # 8220 ; the prevarication begins every bit shortly as the first cut is made and clip and world are altered & # 8221 ; ( book pg.211 ) . Life is non every bit neatly structured nor every bit dramatic as we see in all signifiers of Art. Movies, verse forms and dramas all have a beginning, a center and an terminal. Just as Norman says that war films are about our & # 8220 ; phantasies of war & # 8221 ; ( book pg.213 ) , art is a phantasy of life. It is the phantasy of state of affairss that we are unable to or excessively afraid of sing. The realisation that art is fiction based on world, means that it is possible for us to be misled when it is manipulated by its Godhead to prosecute our feelings.

In decision, I would wish to add that the benefits of art does non stop with moral deliberation. Art gives individuality to a category or civilization, and is an educational device every bit good. Art, as I have shown is a double-edged blade in relation to moralss. It surely can cut both ways, but if used responsibly by both the audience and Godhead, it can cut the right manner.


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