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Art, Practical Knowledge and Aesthetic Objectivity

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It seems often to have been assumed by art theorists and aestheticians that concepts of art and the aesthetic are related, if not actually identical. In recent times, however, David Best has criticized this widespread assumption in the interests of marking a quite radical distinction between artistic and aesthetic concerns. But this claim may be considered problematic in turn, not only in terms of its denial of the conventional conception of art as implicated in the production of aesthetic effects, but also because it obscures our understanding of the objectivity of aesthetic judgement – and hence, ultimately, of the rational basis of artistic appreciation and endeavour. In the light of some critical attention to Joseph Dunne’s recent work on practical reason in Aristotle, the following paper argues that a suitably modified notion of phronesis may provide the key to understanding the relationship of aesthetic sensibility to artistic knowledge.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Education, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, Scotland

Publication date: September 1, 1999

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