This paper was written in preparation for my research project ‘How does it make you really feel? A second sort of argument, less typical these days than in the heyday of a particular kind of extreme Wittgensteinianism, urges that the ideas that make up the stuff of most definitions of art (expressiveness, form) are embedded in common philosophical theories which incorporate standard metaphysics and epistemology.
The essential claim that every function of art belonging to no extant artform pioneers a new 1 may possibly be defended on the grounds that any explanation to say that a work belonging to no extant artform is an artwork is a purpose to say that it pioneers a new artform.
Against this it is claimed that change does not, in general, rule out the preservation of identity over time, that decisions about idea-expansion may be principled rather than capricious, and that practically nothing bars a definition of art from incorporating a novelty requirement.
A single distinctively modern, conventionalist, sort of definition focuses on art’s institutional features, emphasizing the way art modifications more than time, modern operates that seem to break radically with all classic art, and the relational properties of artworks that depend on works’ relations to art history, art genres, and so on.
A fifth sort of argument concludes that defining art is philosophically unnecessary, on the grounds that the issue of defining art reduces to a pair of simpler sorts of problems: the issue of providing an account of each individual artform, and the dilemma of defining what it is to be an artform.
A seventh argument against defining art, with a normative tinge that is psychologistic rather than sociopolitical, requires the fact that there is no philosophical consensus about the definition of art as reason to hold that no unitary idea of art exists.