Nick Zangwill: "What Should a General Theory of Art Strive to Do?"

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Nick Zangwill, University College London: "What Should a General Theory of Art Strive to Do?"

I consider the goals of the theory of art. I contest conceptual analysis as a methodology and reject the role of intuitions about cases of art. In particular, I attempt to dispose of the goal of ‘defining art’, which implies, or is identical with, trying to give necessary and sufficient conditions for being art. By contrast, I defend rational explanatory approaches. I consider the objection that art activities require that agents possess the concept of art, but I argue that this does not derail a rational explanatory approach. I defend the role of evaluation in rational explanations of art. Lastly, I consider the role of non-rational explanations.