The Historical Ontology of Art

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

Abstract

In this article, I argue that our ontology of art has undergone a major change in the course of modern history. While we currently think of artworks as parts arranged in a certain way, there was a time when artworks were thought of as metaphysically more akin to ordinary artefacts such as tables and chairs; that is, as wholes having replaceable parts. This change in our ontology of art is reflected in our approach to art restoration. But what explains the change? I will suggest that the change took place because of a change in our conception of the function of art. More specifically, I will suggest that we have started to think of artworks as parts arranged in a certain way, because we have started to think of artworks as having, primarily, an aesthetic function.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberpqz046
Number of pages14
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Aug 2019

Fingerprint

Art
Historical Ontology
Artwork
Ontology
Restoration
Modern History
Artifact
Aesthetics
Conception
Function of Art

Keywords

  • ontology of art
  • art restoration
  • function of art
  • parthood

Cite this

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title = "The Historical Ontology of Art",
abstract = "In this article, I argue that our ontology of art has undergone a major change in the course of modern history. While we currently think of artworks as parts arranged in a certain way, there was a time when artworks were thought of as metaphysically more akin to ordinary artefacts such as tables and chairs; that is, as wholes having replaceable parts. This change in our ontology of art is reflected in our approach to art restoration. But what explains the change? I will suggest that the change took place because of a change in our conception of the function of art. More specifically, I will suggest that we have started to think of artworks as parts arranged in a certain way, because we have started to think of artworks as having, primarily, an aesthetic function.",
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author = "{DE CLERCQ}, Rafael",
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The Historical Ontology of Art. / DE CLERCQ, Rafael.

In: The Philosophical Quarterly, 08.08.2019.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

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AB - In this article, I argue that our ontology of art has undergone a major change in the course of modern history. While we currently think of artworks as parts arranged in a certain way, there was a time when artworks were thought of as metaphysically more akin to ordinary artefacts such as tables and chairs; that is, as wholes having replaceable parts. This change in our ontology of art is reflected in our approach to art restoration. But what explains the change? I will suggest that the change took place because of a change in our conception of the function of art. More specifically, I will suggest that we have started to think of artworks as parts arranged in a certain way, because we have started to think of artworks as having, primarily, an aesthetic function.

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