Philosophy of Arts

This term I am taking the philosophy of arts and tonight is the first class.  As usual, there isn’t any Chinese face in the class.  Ok, there are some CBC, but definitely no one looks like coming from HK.  The professor working full-time in Kwantlen College and teaching part-time in SFU.  It seems all the 200 level philosopher professors are out sourced to Kwantlen College.  Maybe the lower level students are not good enough to deserve a tenured professor.

This class is a lot harder than I expected, not because of the aesthetic theories, but because almost I had never heard of all those artists.  I feel totally lost especially when the professor using some contemporary artists with reference to films, painting, visual arts, or simply junk arts.  The professor challenged us on the definition of arts by giving us controversial examples.  Is a signed urinal art?  Is 4 minutes 33 seconds of silence a piece of music?  What about a frozen shark in a bath tub?  In my opinion, those are just garbage.

I feel more like home in the second half of lecture.  The professor start talking about the 3 major art theories: representationalism, expressionism and formalism.  Representationalism dated all the way back to Plato and Aristotle.  Then expressionism comes in the 18th century due to the popularity of music, something representationalism cannot explain.  Then again in 19th century, formalism comes in and gave a paradigm shift on the definition of arts.
Maybe we can simply explain arts away by claiming it as a catalogical error just like the mind in the mind-body problem?

Leave a Reply