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Substantial introductory text,
This review is from: Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
NoŽl Carroll introduces the reader to the philosophy of art by examining in turn the most influential modern attempts to define art. He makes the point that there has been very little agreement concerning these matters, and that this suggests that there may be a fundamental difficulty with all definitional approaches to art. Having carefully examined various alternatives - representationalism, formalism, neo-Wittgensteinianism, institutional theory and so on - noting their strengths and weaknesses, and how their advocates have responded to critics, he concludes by suggesting an alternative, narrational approach that may avoid the problems created when we insist on a single, universal definition of art.
There are many introductory texts in this area, but I think that this is one of the more substantial. The author is a Professor of the Philosophy of Art, and a well-known figure in the area. His book is aimed primarily at undergraduate students of the arts, or of philosophy. Nonetheless, it should be accessible to any intelligent adult reader with a genuine interest in the subject who is willing to read carefully and is not intimidated by line-by-line argumentation. Its strength is not so much that it argues for any given approach - though obviously the author favours his own - as that it forces the reader to see how complex the apparently simple process of art appreciation really is, and why easy definitions continue to elude us.