Thursday, 12 January 2012

Reflecting Beauty

‘We have art in order not to perish from the truth.’ - Nietzsche.Plato thought that art should try to reflect – mimic – beauty in the world. This indeed was the view of most European artists up until the time of Nietzsche. Philosophers sometimes say the fact that artistic fashions changed, with the impressionists and later surrealists changing the world to fit in with their values and priorities, had much to do with the influence of Nietzsche. In his writing Nietzsche argues that art should make you think (so you shouldn’t receive it passively) and any example that does not make you think is not true art.2
The idea that art might produce thought may be distinguished from the notion of art partaking of a body of theory endangered elsewhere. Of course, artists and art theorists may still look to philosophy for a certain manifestation of an idea or argument, but it is never the less possible to demonstrate that art is engaged in a synchronous development of theory. Whereas once disciplinary definitions might have allowed us to circumscribe the nature of arts core activity, limiting it to a set of aesthetic concerns, in the new interdisciplinary dispensation, we cannot so readily cede the domain of thought to philosophers.3
1. Farrell Krell, David (Winter, 1976) Art and Truth in Raging Discord: Heidegger and Nietzsche on the Will to Power, boundary 2, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 378-392 (article consists of 15 pages) Published by: Duke University Press. Stable URL Available at: (Accessed 1st December 2011) 379.
2. Cohen, Martin, Philosophy for Dummies (England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2010) 299.
3. Bennett, Jill, 1963 - Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma, and Contemporary Art (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2005) 150.