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The Knowledge of Art

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Organizer: Robert Lehman

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Do works of art—works of architecture, painting, literature, and so on—provide a distinctive way of knowing the world? Do they shed a kind of light on human practices that works of philosophy or science do not? And if so, how should this peculiarly artistic knowledge be characterized? What would it mean to know art’s knowledge, or to translate this knowledge into a non-artistic idiom?
Taking these rather abstract questions as a starting point, this seminar invites historically and philosophically informed reflections on the relationship between art and knowledge.  Here are some possible questions to be considered:

Is the question of art’s knowledge answerable with reference to art in general? Or will the answer differ depending on which of the arts is being considered?
Is the relationship of art to knowledge equivalent to the relationship of aesthetics to epistemology?
Does the attempt to answer the question of art’s relationship to knowledge depend on one’s first answering the question of what art essentially is—“embodied meaning,” for example, or “mere form,” or “irreducible particularity”…?
Is the question of art’s knowledge a question that can only be answered with reference to great art?
If art’s knowledge differs from the sort of knowledge at stake in other areas—for example, the knowledge supplied by art criticism—how does one move from the one to the other?
Does the form of art’s knowledge make art especially useful for, or susceptible to, critique?

Anyone interested in submitting a proposal for the seminar should first contact the organizer at

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