Phil. 3361/Aesthetics/ Fall 2008                                                                          Dr. Cynthia Freeland


Take-Home 1 Questions


Directions: Write on two of the following questions.  Graduate students must answer Question 7 and may choose one other question to answer. Your essay should be typed, double-spaced. The suggested length for each essay is three pages. Be sure to provide appropriate examples and use some quotations from the Shiner text.


1  .The anthropologist Richard Anderson in his book Calliope’s Sisters examined artworks from many time periods and societies worldwide. He came up with the following definition of art: “Art is culturally significant meaning, skillfully encoded in an affecting, sensuous medium.”  What would Shiner be likely to say about this definition?


2.  The aesthetic: What is it? What gave rise to it? What’s wrong with it? Do you want to defend it? Why or why not? Explain.


3  Shiner gives the impression that he is against the use of concepts like “genius”, “imagination,” and “art for art’s sake,” etc. Is he? Explain and comment. (It might be fun and interesting to integrate some comments about a movie about an artist into your answer. Examples have been mentioned in class, such as Immortal Beloved, Pollock, Girl with the Pearl Earring, etc.)


4  Shiner favors a reunification of fine art with craft. How can this ever succeed, given the failure of the Arts and Crafts movement? Are there any signs in American life of such a reunification?


5.  What does Shiner mean by saying that there is a “dialectical relationship” between the two movements of assimilation and resistance in relation to the modern system of the arts?  Explain and then comment about where this seems to be leading (if anywhere).


6.  Describe the emergence of the notion of “Fine Art” as it applies to one field in particular, e.g., music, literature, visual art, architecture. What steps were involved, and what was the result? Try to add comments on where this field seems to stand now, that is, is it still important to the participants that their work be considered “fine art”? 


Question for Graduate Students

7.  Arthur Danto, like Richard Anderson, has proposed a cross-cultural, universal account of art. On his view, even in “primitive” or tribal societies, such as those of his fictional Pot People and Basket People, certain artifacts are valued aesthetically. Denis Dutton, in “Tribal Art and Artifact”, has attacked Danto’s view. Explain how Shiner would see this debate and what his likely opinion would be about the “artworks” of the Pot and Basket People.


Be sure to cite all of your sources!  Plagiarism is a violation of the UH Academic Honesty Policy. Papers found to be plagiarized will be penalized with a grade of “0”. Plagiarism includes both quoting and paraphrasing from sources without citing them. All of the work in your paper should be your own.


Essays are due on October 2, 2008. Late papers will be marked down in accordance with how late they are. Please contact the instructor for alternative arrangements if you have had to miss class due to hurricane-related problems.