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Thus in the case of the Greeks, if the religion places the meaning of life in earthly happiness, in beauty and strength, then art transmitting the joy and energy of life would be considered good, but art transmitting despondency would be bad.
But all attempts to define absolute beauty have failed. All definitions amount to the same thing; that art is that which makes beauty manifest, and beauty is that which pleases without exciting desire.
But there is and can be no explanation of why one thing pleases one man and displeases another, so scientists cannot work out the laws of art.
Aetheticians have attempted to work backwards by first listing acknowledged works of art, and then trying to find a theory to fit them all.
So now, no matter what insanities appear in art, once they find acceptance among the upper classes of society, a theory is quickly invented to explain and sanction them, just as if there had never appeared in history people who produced false and deformed art, which was afterwards discarded and forgotten.
The activity of art is based on the fact that when we witness a man experiencing an emotion, we to some extent share it.
To evoke in oneself a feeling that one has once experienced, and to transmit that feeling to others through forms and colours, sounds or movements. Art is not pleasure, but a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for life and progress towards well-being of individuals and of humanity.And one may see now in the art of our circle, to what lengths the insanity and deformity of art may go.So that theory of art is nothing but the setting up as good whatever pleases us, that is, pleases a certain class of people.The kind of pleasure we receive from beauty is that which pleases us without evoking desire in us.We might try to be scientific about it, and try to find a definition of art based on beauty, which we could apply to all art productions to see if they belonged to the realm of art or not.Furthermore, the production of a play which does not afford pleasure to the producer or audience, may yet be a work of art.The inaccuracy of all these definitions arises from the fact that, in them all, the object considered is the pleasure art may give, and not the purpose it may serve in the life of man and of humanity.If we compare it to the food question, nobody would affirm that the importance of food consists in the pleasure we get from eating it.We know that the satisfaction of the taste buds is no infallible guide to the best food from a health point of view, in the same way the pleasure we get from a painting is no indication of its worth. Art is an activity arising even in the animal kingdom, springing from sexual desire and the propensity to play (Schiller, Darwin Spencer) and accompanied by a pleasurable excitement of the nervous system. Art is an external manifestation by means of lines, colours, movements, sounds,or words, of emotions felt by man. Art is the production of some permanent object or passing action, which is fitted not only to supply an active enjoyment to the producer, but to convey a pleasurable impression to a number of spectators or listeners, quite apart from any personal advantage to be derived from it.This was how Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle looked on art, and how all the great religious teachers understood it.Plato was so convinced of the power of art, that he suggested that artists should be banned from his ideal republic.