Zangwill's Aesthetic Theory of Art

Zangwill builds his argument for an aesthetic theory of art by arguing that we need ‘an independent account of aesthetic properties’ (Zangwill 2002, 112). These properties can be delineated with reference to the central aesthetic properties of ‘beauty and ugliness’ (Zangwill 2002, 112). These properties are intrinsic and valuable (Zangwill 2000, 329), and they are artist related (Zangwill 2000, 330). He deals with the variety of types of art (avant-garde, narrative) and says that ‘works of art are necessarily things that have an aesthetic point’ (Zangwill 2002, 114) and then, that the ‘essential truth’ about the vast number of objects and events in the category of act is captured by the aesthetic approach (Zangwill 2002, 114).
When we reflect on art we are not looking for a concept of art, but we are dealing with many types of objects, events, and attitudes (Zangwill 2002, 116). These phenomena have to be understood. The nature of art is Zangwill’s object of interest, the objects and the world, not concepts or words (Zangwill 2002, 116). In studying art we are left with a ‘class of things’ that have one unifying principle, and that principle is given by the aesthetic theory (Zangwill 2002, 117).
I understand Zangwill’s endeavor in finding an unifying principle in reflecting about art, and I tend to agree with him that the ‘aesthetic’ approach has good arguments. The central properties of ‘beauty and ugliness’ are reference points for any other types of properties of the vast variety of works of art. Perhaps there is no such thing as the universal theory of art, but, I believe that we need to keep the aesthetic element in every attempt we embark upon. These valuable properties are embedded in by the artist and it is for us to perceive them correctly.
Also I would add the ‘historical approach’ into play by which we need to place the works of art within the general tradition of art. We do not invent the art today, but we are part of a long historical practice of creating mastery beautiful expressive works.

Bibliography
Zangwill, Nick. 1999. Art and Audience. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism Vol. 57, No. 3, 315-332.
Zangwill, Nick. 2002. Are There Counterexamples to Aesthetic Theories of Art? The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism Vol. 60, No. 2, 111-118.
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