We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Evaluating Art

George Dickie

Publication Year: 2010

"Those who think they know George Dickie’s views should be sure to read this book. They are in for some interesting surprises. Of course, those unfamiliar with Dickie’s views will also learn a lot." —Anita Silvers, San Francisco State University In this book George Dickie presents a theory about how to judge a work of art—as opposed to a theory that explains why a particular work is defined as art. Focusing mainly on the writings of Monroe Beardsley and critically examining the views of seven other philosophers and art critics—Paul Ziff, Frank Sibley, Nelson Goodman, Nicholas Wolterstorff, David Hume, Bruce Vermazen, and J. O. Urmson—Dickie synthesizes their insights to discover what can be derived from their theories. On this basis, he attempts to work out a theory of art evaluation—the first such book on this topic by a contemporary philosopher. Initially, the author outlines all possible theories of art evaluation, assuming that traditional evaluative notions are used. He identifies seven theory-types that fall under four general headings: imitation value theory, objective intrinsic value theories, subjective intrinsic value theory, and instrumental value theories. Dickie then discusses the historical development of the theory of art evaluation, examining the ways in which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophers treated representation and other cognitive dimensions of art as artistic values. His thorough analysis of the work of other contemporary theorists argues for a theory of art evaluation derived from various strands of thought.

Published by: Temple University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (102.2 KB)
pp. ix-x

In this book I present and argue for a theory of art evaluation. As far as I can tell this theory has no necessary connection with the institutional theory of art. This lack of connection should not be surprising, for the institutional theory of art is supposed to be a classificatory theory of art—a theory that explains why a work of art is a work of art. Why a work of art is valuable or disvaluable is ...

read more

Chapter One: Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (623.5 KB)
pp. 3-14

David Hume begins "Of the Standard of Taste" by remarking at length on the diversity of taste. Is this diversity to be explained away, with some tastes seen as conforming to a universal standard and some tastes as deviating from it? Or is the diversity of taste, or some significant part of it, to be accepted as a datum? This question is the primary focus of this book. In other words, the ...

read more

Chapter Two: The Historical Background

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 15-37

One of the most remarkable and relatively recent changes in the way that philosophers theorize about the evaluation of art has been the rejection of the representative or more generally the cognitive element as being of artistic value. Plato long ago of course denigrated the value of the representation in art of the world of sights and sounds, but his view is generally regarded as idiosyncratic ...

read more

Chapter Three: The Artistically Good: Ziff

pdf iconDownload PDF (641.1 KB)
pp. 39-51

A new era for the theory of art evaluation began in 1958 with the publication of Paul Ziff's "Reasons in Art Criticism" 1 and in Chapters X and XI of Monroe Beardsley's Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism.2 Each philosopher presents an ingenious instrumentalist theory with little or no attention paid to the metalinguistic questions that so concerned other philosophers of the time. Both theories have to some extent incorporated the ...

read more

Chapter Four: A Theory of Art Evaluation: Beardsley

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 53-80

As noted at the beginning of the last chapter, Monroe Beardsley first proposed his theory of art evaluation in I958 in his book Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism.1 His theory, which is worked out in great detail, is a substantive, nonmetalinguistic theory. Like Ziff's, Beardsley's theory is ...

read more

Chapter Five: Critical Principles: Sibley

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 81-100

As noted in the last chapter, Monroe Beardsley's account of critical reasoning about the value of art involves a commitment to critical principles, that is, to general criteria. He has devoted considerable time and energy as well as great philosophical skill to combating those who deny that such generality is involved in evaluative criticism. In this chapter, although I shall not challenge ...

read more

Chapter Six: Instrumental Cognitivism: Goodman

pdf iconDownload PDF (692.0 KB)
pp. 101-113

I have now arrived at a compromise of Beardsley's and Sibley's views, a view that was expressed at the end of the last chapter in terms of a variety of critical principles. I propose to amplify the compromise view by gleaning what I can from an examination of the recent work of Nelson Goodman. In 1968, at the very end of Languages of Art,1 Goodman began sketching the broad outlines of an instrumentalist theory that like Beardsley's proposes to evaluate art on the basis of its ability to produce aesthetic experience. He continued sketching this theory in ...

read more

Chapter Seven: Experiencing Art: Wolterstorff

pdf iconDownload PDF (772.7 KB)
pp. 115-128

In Chapters Four and Six, I examined Monroe Beardsley's and Nelson Goodman's opposing theories of art evaluation. Both view art evaluation as instrumentalist; that is, both hold that art is to be evaluated according to its ability to produce aesthetic experience. However, their views differ radically over the nature of aesthetic experience. Beardsley holds that aesthetic experience is detached and ...

read more

Chatper Eight: Relativism: Hume

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 129-155

"Where does the amplified, compromise view leave us? First, it is an instrumentalist account in which the value of a work of art is derived from the work's capacity to be the source of a valuable experience. The question that immediately arises is, What kind of valuable experience do works of art give rise to? I shall run through ...

read more

Chapter Nine: Comparison and Specificity: Vermazen and Urmson

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 157-182

I shall now sum up the content of the amplified, compromise view as it has been developed to this point. By the end of Chapter Five, I had concluded that definitions of primary positive and negative criteria of aesthetic value can be formulated. Since Beardsley's distinction between primary and secondary criteria has been abandoned, it is unnecessary to specify primary for these definitions. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (168.5 KB)
pp. 183-187


pdf iconDownload PDF (213.5 KB)
pp. 189-193

E-ISBN-13: 9781439904879

Publication Year: 2010