For our October meeting, I propose that we discuss some questions related to art and aesthetics, including the following:
1. What is art? What distinguishes art from non-art? (Can, for example, graffiti be art? What about advertising imagery?)
2. What distinguishes good art from bad art? Is this strictly a matter of subjective opinion, or are there objective criteria for good art?
3. Who is to decide what counts as art and which art is good? Public and private awards and funding are offered to successful artists; who should determine the recipients? A panel of experts? Popular vote?
4. Is there any connection between the aesthetic value of art and the aesthetic value of natural phenomena? Is a sunset beautiful for the same reason that the Mona Lisa is beautiful?
As usual, we’ll begin with a very brief introduction and restatement of these questions, and then we’ll have an open (though moderated) discussion.
For a brief academic overview of some of these issues (especially question 1), see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art-definition/
And here’s a nice audio discussion of the topic from the Philosophy Bites podcast: http://philosophybites.com/2008/03/derek-matravers.html
Hope to see you there!