Whether the object be a painting, sculpture, or a recordings piece of music: is that the art or what's happening within my own mind when I consume it (look, listen, and so on)?

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    You could try checking out this article in the IEP to start, specifically the section on art objects. "Art and Epistemology in the IEP as well as "The Definition of Art" on the SEP might interest you also. There are many different ideas that have been proposed by many different people for thousands of years, aesthetics contains a wide diversity of ideas and arguments.
    – Not_Here
    Aug 11, 2017 at 7:24
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    definition questions are off-topic. there's different words for the two, like art object, contemplation... not sure what you hope to get out of the question as it is. i imagine philosophers have asked if aesthetic qualities are relative, if that's what you mean
    – user28117
    Aug 11, 2017 at 10:42
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    which bit? i was suggesting that questions like "what does 'art' mean", being a question about definitions, is off-topic. if not, then you still need to define what you mean by "what's happening in my own mind" if e.g. it includes your distracted emotions about lunch... i'm guessing that you should look up aesthetic relativism and / or phenomenology, but it's a guess!
    – user28117
    Aug 11, 2017 at 10:49
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    so you're asking whether sounds exist independent of the mind?
    – user28117
    Aug 11, 2017 at 10:59
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    you're asking, what it is you judge? if you're asking whether you can call a physical object "art" the answer is surely yes imvho
    – user28117
    Aug 11, 2017 at 11:02

4 Answers 4


Perhaps not surprisingly, different philosophers disagree. Kant centers aesthetics around the judgement of the viewer. Beardsley focuses on the artistic experience. Danto considers aesthetic quality to be a function of social context. Bell focused on formal properties of the art object.

Art is a subject with very little consensus in philosophy.


I think the artwork stays the same (is concrete). Then it is your mind plus the ambience of the room, or atomosphere of the place, that brings the particular experience of the work.

A painting may look happy on one particular day, the same painting may look sinister that same evening (perhaps the darkness plus a ray of light strikes it in a certain way). The next day it may be different to you again. Again, the painting is exactly the same, but your brain reinterprets the work taking into account what we call the "atmospherics" of the place.

A word about music. Music too can depend on the size and shape of the room (acoustics), if there are speakers, where are they placed and so on. Plus one should not have a heavy meal before listening to music. It dulls the music because it eventually dulls the brain, and we could fall asleep. But the music, the notes are the same (of course it's also possible to have a new arrangement of the score). If we are in a sad or dejected state of mind, all music might sound sad to us, it is our state of mind which has changed, not the music itself. When we first fall in love, all music sounds great to us; same score, different state of mind.

The closest philosopher here might be Derrida. The "text" is fixed, but forever open to interpretation. However, that could just be my interpretation of Derrida. It's impossible to misinterpret Derrida, if you understand Derrida; if you understand (comprehend) what I'm saying.

If you have not read Derrida, and you are enjoying paintings, prints, books, music, maybe plays, sculpture, whatever, good! Stop there and enjoy! Derrida might leave you pulling your hair out like he did me. It may not be worth reading him.

My feeling is that you probably have the artistic temperament yourself. Which is good, not bad. Of course, there is no emotion here. No, no, none. Strictly the brain. But wait! Emotion is in our brain. The medical books said in the past it was in the heart, now they say the brain. Who knows? It must be somewhere inside of us! Enjoy.

  • "A word about music. Music too can depend on the size and shape of the room (acoustics), if there are speakers, where are they placed and so on." THAT! How can an artist deal with this? His piece of art (for a fixed human) is going to change everytime due to the environment. There's nothing concrete. He can't pass a "unique" sound (thus, a fixed "message").
    – markzzz
    Aug 12, 2017 at 8:33
  • Thus the question: if art rely on sounds, and it changes constantly (due to environment), does it means that art is changing as well?
    – markzzz
    Aug 12, 2017 at 9:11
  • Yes, exactly. I think music is different in this way. It can never be totally fixed, you are right. There is nothing concrete. It is tragic for the composer in some ways. The one who writes music must just learn to accept this, he has no choice. Yes it changes constantly due to the environment, also. I think this is an important observation on your part! I do think that the art itself (music) changes. I never really considered this before. Good observations.
    – Gordon
    Aug 12, 2017 at 21:43
  • @markzzz it may help to think about what you class as the object. the same song sung by different singers is the same song, yet different.
    – user28117
    Aug 13, 2017 at 5:16
  • But isn't brain also compensating for changes? Trying to get a consistence message? Such as en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_constancy
    – markzzz
    Aug 13, 2017 at 8:56

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

So google definitions defines "art" as expression. Artistic expression is usually said to transform or create an object; it then adheres in it, which is not to say that it actually exists in the object, because things can often appear objective but not be. It is often called the "objectification" of the artist's emotion.

In turn, the e.g. listener can experience aesthetic emotions from the form of the object (e.g. loudness of a tone in time), or the material (e.g. the fundamental and overtones of the tone), its representations (e.g. connotations of lunch).

However, many philosophers would say there is a difference between music making me feel sad, and it expressing sadness, as the former is variable.

  • this is just me searching for 'object' in some notes i made from a book, hth
    – user28117
    Aug 13, 2017 at 5:02

I believe most art appreciation is boredom relief. The objects tend to be very novel and/or more dramatically detailed than life itself. So the artist is simply making a product for the marketplace, demand meeting supply, meeting the sufficient "quota" for novelty. There's nothing special going on at all.

Artists tend to be pretty novel and the issue of art being more "exciting" than life is a critique on bourgeois society generally, on which many contemporary artists comment.

Last century, art had gone meta: novelty given for it's own sake made "absurdism", for example (cf. Dada). Some artists are even commenting on the art experience itself. In such cases, it would seem the artist is either trying to wake you up or subtly mocking you (but, via association, also themselves, since the artist is equally free to revolt). I honestly believe the soul is in such pain all the time, it is trying to express itself in whatever way (through the artist or the "crazy" person in the street) will jolt people into action.

This, perhaps, is the artists (or souls) own substitute for not slitting their own wrist or ...going on killing sprees to express him or herself. Consider Chris Burden's performances, for example. There just aren't many media for the soul to employ for waking up people -- those who are in positions of power, but simultaneously under medications of some sort along with continual frantic media bombardment -- for creating change: guns, [psychological] shock treatments, and art. Alas, spiritual practices for accomplishing this task were tried in the 60s, but are just too glacially slow for the change needed.

In the end, depending on whether you act, the art gallery has proven itself to be just another part of society`s "theater of the absurd". In other words, you may not be doing anything.

This is why the next evolution of art is communal, where life will imitate art (or art will be life). See wiki.hackerspaces.org/zeitgeist and metagovernment.org/Novus_Ordo_Seclorum.

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