Skip to Content

The Knowledge of Art: Epistemology and Aesthetic Judgment

«Back To Seminars

Organizer: Robert Lehman

Co-Organizer: Jess Keiser

Contact the Seminar Organizers

Do artworks—architecture, painting, literature, and so on—provide a distinctive way of knowing the world? Does art shed light on human practices that philosophy or science do not or cannot? 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? When critics encounter art must they approach it with a distinct hermeneutic, one that is geared to the unique nature of the art object and one that would be misapplied to other, non-artistic cultural or natural objects? Is aesthetic judgment a version of theoretical judgment? Practical judgment? Or does it have a unique structure?
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?
What is the relationship between our knowledge of art and its history? Can we know art as such, or does art itself, and our knowledge of it, change through time? Must we situate our knowledge of art in historical context or can we make more general claims about the nature of art?
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? Likewise, does knowing art make it possible for us to engage in forms of critique we would otherwise neglect?

Because a number of scholars have already been invited to participate in the panel, please email before submitting a proposal.

«Back To Seminars