[In advance, sorry for the 700-word response. I had a lot to respond to fromthe Dewey reading (and still couldn’t fit in all of my reactions).]
To be brutally honest, Dewey’s *The* *Live Creature* was the only articlethat interested me. I hope we get to focus some attention on it in class.
I was immediately intrigued on page two, where the author declares that the”primary task” of a commentator on the philosophy of fine arts is to”restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experiencethat are works of art and everyday events, doings, and sufferings that areuniversally recognized to constitute experience.” Let me just say that whileI don’t know how many commentators on the philosophy of fine arts wouldagree with this statement, I believe it to be an idealistic goal - I wouldspeculate that a lot of art theory does more to abstract and complicate anunderstanding of art rather that break down the “wall that confines artisticobjects.”
One paragraph I contemplated can be found on page 2 - “If one is willing togrant this…” In response, I’m not sure if I accept the act of seeking tounderstand a flower as an analogue of appreciating/critiquing/understandingart. Dewey writes, “it is quite possible to enjoy flowers in their coloredform and delicate fragrance without knowing anything about pìantstheoretically. But if one sets out to understand the flowering of plants, heis committed to finding out something about the interactions of soil, air,water and sunlight that condition the growth of plants.” Certainly one mightbe able to appreciate the beauty of flower, just as one may be able to lookat a Monet and find it aesthetically-pleasing. Yet, so much contemporary artseems unconcerned about aesthetics, so one cannot casually stroll into amuseum and hope to enjoy the artwork in the same way that a hiker mightsmell the roses. In my view, this is a sort of problem with art - one wouldneed to achieve a state of knowing that would be equivalent to “committingto finding out something about the interactions of soil, air, water andsunlight that condition the growth of plants.” - at least in the case ofconceptual art. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a work that has adeep meaning embedded (which would not be immediately accessible to alay-person, or “untutored audience member” as defined by Noel Carroll),however I do think that it can be impossible to enjoy SOME contemporaryartworks without knowing about art theoretically.
I grappled with another quote from page 3 (the paragraph that begins “Soextensive and subtly pervasive…”). It took me reading it over severaltimes to grasp what (I think) Dewey is trying to say, and oddly enough, Idon’t think he could have expressed the same concept in fewer words.
On pages 6 & 7, I really appreciated the history of the segregation of art,from the ancient Greek notion that art “reflected the emotions and ideasthat are associated with the chief institutions of social life…”, to thegrowth of capitalism as an influence for the “development of the museum asthe proper home for works of art, and in the promotion of the idea that theare apart from the common life.” My reaction to the segregation of art fromcommon life, and the act of erecting buildings and collections as way toestablish “superior cultural status.” is general disgust. As a staunchegalitarian whose political beliefs cannot be easily classified orcategorized by any current system of political and economic organization, Iaspire to make art that can be appreciated by those who have zero backgroundin art (even if their reaction is “as simple wow, thats cool”). I aim toreverse loss of an “intimate social connection” due to the “impersonalityof a world market.”
One more quick note: regarding a quote from page 2 - “in order tounderstand the esthetic in its ultimate and approved forms, one must beginwith it in the raw…” - What does Dewey mean by “approved?”