It is possible to imagine a culture that treats art merely as decoration, but to inheritors of the European tradition this idea of art’s function is demeaning. We expect great art to express or reflect the spiritual and philosophical preoccupations of our cultural heritage. No system-building philosopher in modern European history would have failed to incorporate an aesthetic theory into his theoretical scheme. Philosophical system-building has been debunked and largely abandoned, but contemporary European thinkers continue to pronounce on art from the perspective of their philosophies.
The philosophy of aesthetics
European Aesthetics: A Critical Introduction from Kant to Derrida
by Robert L. Wicks
Oneworld Publications (Palgrave Macmillan), $46 pb, 347 pp, 9781851688197
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