Philosophical Vision: Institutional Theory


The institutional theory is the most complex theory in the aesthetics field. Also, the most recent that covers the definition of, “what is art?” According to this theory, the argument holds, “X is an artwork, if the “art world” says it is. The art world consists of individuals who have intellectual knowledge on aesthetics AND history of art.

Art therapy also backs up Collingwood’s theory, as art is supposed to express emotions. Many war veterans, amongst other victims of life’s disaster, use art therapy as a process in a treatment to recover from their pasts. Whether it’s painting, writing, or some other form of art, war veterans become artists.

In this case, therapists are considered the “art world.” If the art piece is not exposed to anyone else. Therefore, it is still classified as art in the sense of the classificatory definition. The piece is an artifact created by humans and a status is conferred even if it is just one individual. (“Emily Dickinson”) It is still not none. Therefore it is still art.

However, not all art is revealed to the art world nor was intended to be exposed to the art world initially. Therefore it can’t be art according to the early institutional theory. This includes the poems of Emily Dickenson that weren’t published until after her passing and also the likes of art therapy. Therefore, theorists could argue that these particular art pieces are not indeed art.

The transition of the institutional theory from early to later, excludes the conferring sense. So therefore, even if the “art world” cannot see an art piece, it is still art, even if it is not intended for the public eye. Therefore, art pieces created in art therapy and Emily Dickenson’s poems are still considered art.

Work-Cited
“Emily Dickinson: Lives of a Poet.” New York: Braziller, 1986. Print.

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