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Philosophical Perspectives on Art$
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Stephen Davies

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199202423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199202423.001.0001

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First Art and Art's Definition

First Art and Art's Definition

(p.68) 5 First Art and Art's Definition
Philosophical Perspectives on Art

Stephen Davies (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

To be complete, theories that define art recursively in terms of some relation between present art and past art must provide an account of the first artworks, since these had no predecessors. The accounts that have been offered are largely unsuccessful. If first art can be identified as such by people who are unaware of the cultural context in which it was produced, this is likely to be because of the prominence it gives to aesthetic properties universally recognizable as such. Though art is not to be defined in terms of its aesthetic qualities, and contemporary art can eschew these altogether, it is probably an historical necessity that art begins with works that focus on achieving aesthetic excellence.

Keywords:   first art, aesthetic excellence, art's definition, cultural context

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