The Historical Ontology of Art

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

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
Pages (from-to)268-281
Number of pages14
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Volume70
Issue number279
Early online date8 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

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

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