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Title: The epistemic value of contemporary art
Author: Simoniti, Vid
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Recently in analytic philosophy, interest in the issue of the epistemic value of art has been revived. Philosophers have sought to establish whether and in what ways art is a source of knowledge, understanding or a means of inquiry. In philosophy this is a longstanding question, addressed both in the Greek and German traditions, but it seems pertinent to ask the question again today in light of significant changes that have taken place in contemporary art practice. In my thesis, I investigate this question from two perspectives: in terms of analytic philosophy of art, and in terms of developments in contemporary art since the 1960s. In Part I, I offer a defence of a philosophical theory of artistic value, critically overview the extant philosophical literature on the question of epistemic value of art, and explain why the inherently experimental character of contemporary art makes it difficult simply to apply the available theories. I argue that a philosophical engagement with contemporary art requires a different, more inductive method. In Part II, I closely consider three recent developments in which the relationship between art and knowledge has been rendered more complex. The Conceptual Art movement of the 1960s and 1970s privileged concerns with concepts, thought processes and truth over expression, materiality and fidelity to genre. The social turn of the 1990s cast the artist in a position that is almost indistinguishable from that of a teacher, social activist or even of a technology developer. And the artists working within the bio art movement of the 1990s and 2000s have assimilated the activity of the artist to that of the scientist, sometimes blurring the two roles. The goal of the thesis is twofold. On the one hand, I show how cases from recent art history put pressure on some key commitments in recent analytic philosophy. Revisions and challenges are suggested in particular for extant theories of artistic value, conceptions of artistic autonomy and heteronomy, and some popular accounts of the epistemic value of art. On the other hand, concepts from analytic philosophy are used to shed light on some of the more radical developments in recent art practice, and to rethink the ways in which art participates in the broader culture.
Supervisor: Gaiger, Jason; Grootenboer, Hanneke Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of art and visual culture ; Philosophy ; Philosophy of art ; Art ; Fine art ; aesthetics ; contemporary art ; epistemology ; epistemic value ; Conceptual Art ; bio art ; social turn ; Adrian Piper