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    Art: Function or Procedure: Nature or Culture?

    Author(s): George DickieSource: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 55, No. 1 (Winter, 1997), pp. 19-28Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The American Society for AestheticsStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/431601

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    Art: Functionor Procedure Nature or Culture?

    In his 1991 book, Definitions of Art,1StephenDavies devotes the bulk of its space to catego-rizing and considering twentieth-century heo-ries of artproducedsince 1964 under the head-ings offunctional andprocedural.Near the endof his book he introducesa thirdcategoryof arttheories-the historical-and discusses severalsuch theories. In the first part of this paper,Ishall discuss most of these same theories interms of Davies's categoriesand in the light ofhis analyses and criticisms. While I accept agreatdealof what Davies says aboutthese theo-ries, I will take issue with some of his most im-portantconclusions. In the second part of thepaper, I shall introduce an alternativeway ofclassifying the theories and/or the aspects oftheories that Davies discusses. I shall not beclaimingthis alternativeway is a betterone thanDavies's,just that it is a differentway of classi-fying and that t throws a different ighton thesetheories.

    Fromancient times to the presentday,the greatbulk of the theoriesof arthave been functional,i.e., theoriesthatdefine art n terms of what staken to be art'sessentialfunction or functions.As Davies puts it, these theories are concernedwith thepointorpointsof artas defining.SinceDavies does not considerany theoriesproducedbefore 1964, there aremanywell-known,twen-tieth-century, unctional theories of art thathedoes not discuss.R. G. Collingwood'sview thatart is the expressionof emotion is a good exam-ple of such a pre-1964 functional theory. Ac-cording to Collingwood, the essential functionor point of art is to express emotion. SusanneLanger's definition of art as the creation of

    formssymbolicof human eeling is anotherex-ampleof apre-1964functionaltheory;thepointof art, accordingto Langer, s to symbolize (ac-tually to resemble)humanfeeling. Many otherexamplescould be cited. Before 1964, virtuallyall theoriesof artwere functional,but afterthatyear a new kind of arttheorybecamepossible.Despite the multiplicityof twentieth-centuryfunctionaltheories,Davies discussesonly Mon-roe Beardsley'sfunctionalview of the natureofart, which he subjects to an extensive reviewand criticism.Beardsleyproducedthe first ver-sion of his theory in 1979, a date late in hiscareer and a date well after what Davies callsprocedural heories had begun to appear.Inaddition to settingforthhis view as the correctview, I thinkBeardsley presentedhis theoryasan attemptto stem the tide of procedural heo-ries initiated in 1964 by ArthurDanto's TheArtworld. Beardsley formulatedseveral ver-sions of his functionaldefinition,buthis first isthe simplest and most straight forward. Hewrote: anartwork an be usefully defined as anintentional arrangementof conditions for af-fording experienceswithmarkedaestheticchar-acter. 2ForBeardsley,the essential functionofart is the capacity to produce aesthetic experi-ence. I shall not discuss Beardsley's view be-cause I accept Davies's criticismsand rejectionof it and because I have discussed Beardsley'stheoryon so many otheroccasions.The proceduralaccount to which Davies de-votes his almost undividedattention s my insti-tutionaltheory of art. The title of the chapter nwhichthe main discussion of proceduralism c-curs is entitled, Dickie's InstitutionalTheoryof the Definition of Art. 3 At the beginningofthis chapter,Davies devotes several pages toDanto's writings on the philosophy of art. He

    The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism55:1 Winter1997

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    The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticismtreats Danto's writingson this topic as the pre-sentationof a single theory and concludes thatDanto's view is compatiblewith, althoughnotidenticalwith, the institutionalapproach. thinkthat things are more complicatedthan Daviesthinksand that thereare two distinct theories setforth in Danto's writings-the early view ofThe Artworld and an almostentirelydifferentview presented in his work after The Art-world. The classification of Danto'stheories nterms of the functional/procedural istinction ismorecomplicatedthan Davies thinks.The Artworld introduced a new way ofthinkinginto the philosophyof artby the use ofan argument hat can be called The Perceptu-ally IndistinguishableObjects Argument, andDanto continued o use this argumentand otherssimilarto it in his laterwritings.The argument,as it applies to visual art, goes as follows. Con-sider a pair of visually indistinguishableobjects,either an actual pair such as Fountainand a uri-nal that exactly resembles it, or a pair such asthe actual painting The Polish Rider and athought-experimentbject-an accidentallypro-duced paint-on-canvas object that exactly re-sembles The Polish Rider. Either pair sufficesfor the argument.In such a pair, one object is awork of art and the other s not, or would not be,an artwork, and, since they exactly resembleone another, it cannot be some visually dis-cernible characteristicthat makes the artworkart. Therefore, it must be some context involv-ing at least some nonvisibleelements thatmakesthe artworkart. The conclusion Danto draws inThe Artworld s that it is a specific kind ofcontext in which something is embedded thatmakes it art, not something it functions to do.The way in which he specifies the context canbe seen from the following quotations from

    The Artworld.What in the end makes the difference between aBrillo Box anda work of art consisting of a BrilloBoxis a certain theory of art. It is the theory that takes itup into the world of art....It is the role of artistic theories, these days as always,to make the artworld,and art, possible.It would, I should think, never have occurred to thepainters of Lascaux that they were producing art on

    those walls. Not unless there were neolithic aestheti-cians.4In the lastquotedpassageI take Dantoto be say-ing that the Lascauxpainterswere not produc-ing art and that this is so because therewere noNeolithic aestheticians to produce art theoriesto makeartpossible.In thesepassages,Dantoisclaiming that art theories are either necessaryand sufficient or at least necessaryfor art to becreated.It is plausiblethat dadaist works and Warhol-like works were made possible because theircreators antecedentlyhad an art theory or atleast theoretical thoughts about art in mind.Danto, however,says that this is true not onlyfor such unusualandrecentworks,but that itisthe role of artistic theories ... as always ... tomake art possible (emphasis added). And hethinks that the lack of artistic theories (Neo-lithic or otherwise) makes art impossible.It has always seemed to me that Danto's viewcannot be right because art was beingproducedlong before ancient Greece began producingphilosophers and any theory of art. Indepen-dently of its truth, Danto'stheory is importantbecause it was the first procedural heory. Thistheory is, given Davies's categories, a proce-duralone, since according o it, something is artnot because of what it functions to do, but be-cause of the place it comes to occupy withinanart-specific context;that is, something is art be-cause an [art]theory takes it up into the worldof art.... A pre-existing art theory's takingupinto is a kind of procedure something under-goes that is responsiblefor its arthood.Later, in 19735 and 1974,6 Danto beganclaiming that being about something is a neces-sary condition of art. In his 1981 book, Dantoamplified his view into a full-blown theory ofart.7 This later theory, which revolves aroundaboutness, represents a radical, although nottotal, break with the view of The Artworld.On Noel Carroll'saccount of the later theoryaspresented n Danto's book, which Danto agreesis accurate, t is specified that a work of art 1) isabout something, 2) projects a point of view,3) projects this point of view by means ofrhetorical ellipsis, and 4) requires interpreta-tion, and that5) the work and interpretation e-quire an art-historicalcontext.8 The first fouritems appear to be an expansion of the earlier


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    Dickie Art:Function or Procedure-Nature or Culture?aboutness hesis, while the fifth item, which in-volves art-historicalcontexts, appears to harkback to the even earlier The Artworld.In 1973,Danto wrotethat art s a languageofsorts, 9and the first four items that Carrolldis-criminates n Danto'slatertheoryfit within thelanguage domain. The final requirementof anart-historical context is distinct from the lin-guistic aspect of the theory.Danto'spost-1964theory is more difficult to classify than the ear-lierprocedural ne. The four aboutness tems in-cline the theory in the direction of functional-ism because,according o them,it is anecessarycondition of art to be aboutsomething.The art-historical context requirement nclines the the-ory in the direction of proceduralismn that t isnecessary for an artworkto hold a place in anart-historical succession. With regard to thefunctional/procedural istinction, Danto'slatertheory appearsto be a mixed one. I am not, bythe way, claimingthatthere s something wrongwith his theorybecause it is mixed in this way.The greatest difficultywith Danto's aterthe-ory is that, althoughthere are many, many art-works that are aboutsomething, there are alsomany, many artworks that are not about any-thing. I have repeatedlyraised this point, ashaveothers,aboutthe largenumberof apparentcounterexampleso Danto's atertheory.Danto'sresponse to this criticism is to claim that art-works such as nonobjectiveart that appearnotto be about anything are about art. Certainlysome nonobjectiveartworksare aboutart,butIdo not thinkthatall are.As noted earlier,the chapterthat Davies de-votes to the discussion of the procedural heoryof art is entitled Dickie'sInstitutionalTheoryof the Definition of Art. This title, however, smisleading. Although Davies quotes the earlyversion of the definition of workof art fromArtandtheAesthetic,and thelater version'sdef-initions of artist, workof art, public, art-world, and artworldsystem from The ArtCircle,he does not, as he himself notes, discussin anydetaileither of my versions of the theory.He is primarily nterested n the generalinstitu-tional approach,an approach hat he endorses.Davies, nevertheless,makes no attempt o workout his own institutionaltheory; he just noteswhathe regardsas some central eaturesof sucha view.

    Davies rejectsboth of my versions of the in-

    stitutional theory because both lack what hetakes to be a necessaryingredientof institution-alism-the notionof theconferringof thestatusof art. Althoughhe has somethingto say aboutthis ingredient,he never reallyjustifies its ne-cessity for institutionalism.Davies is rightthat both of my versionslackwhat he takes to be the necessary feature,al-thoughin Art and the Aesthetic I did sometimescarelessly write of conferringthe status of art.The official view of this earlierbook, however,is that candidacy of appreciation s conferredand artifactualitymay sometimes be conferred.Davies appears o think morehighly of the ear-lierversion,presumably ecause t at leastspeaksaboutconferring something, and the later ver-sion does not.Davies'sevaluationof my versionsof the in-stitutional heory are summedup in the follow-ing two quotations romhis book.Dickie too often discusses the conferralof art statusas if it were a kindof action, like shaving,rather hanan exercise of authority vested in socially definedroles,with the result hat he hasno usefulexplanationto offer of who can confer art status on what andwhen.10An artist is someone who has acquired in some ap-propriatebut informal ashion) theauthority o conferstatus.By authority do not mean aright o others'obedience ;I mean an entitlementsuccessfully toemploy the conventions by which art status is con-ferredon objects/events. 1Davies thinks that the necessary featureof con-ferringthe status of art in turnrests on an exer-cise of authorityby an artist.Oneproblem hatDavies thinks will be solvedby his notion of authority s the circularityof myversions of the institutional heory,although t isnot very clear to me how this would be accom-plished. Since I do not regardcircularity o be aproblem and because I discussed this point atlength in The Art Circle, I shall not pursue thismatterhere.I have, of course, never held that art status isconferred,but Davies thinks that I and any in-stitutionalist should. Moreover,he thinks thatthecreationof art derivesfrom an act of author-ity.He contraststhe authority hat Duchampal-legedly exercised in creatingFountainwith the


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    The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticismlack of authorityof the plumbing salesman Iimagined in Art and the Aesthetic. I claimed thatsucha salesmancould have done whatDuchampdid if he had the imaginationand wit to do so.Davies's view is that art is createdby an exerciseof authority-an exercise of an entitlement toemploy art-makingconventions. He claims thatmy imaginary plumbing salesman would lacksuch authority.Davies nevergives an argumentin supportof his claim. Is his claim true?Consider a mundaneexampleof art creation.An artist paints away in his studio on a canvasandafter a while saysto himself, It's inished,and he thensignsthepainting.A work of art hasbeen created,but there has been no exercise ofauthority hat is responsibleor its creation.Theartist may have exercised some skill, imagina-tion, knowledge of a particularsort, and thelike. Neither our artistnor Duchampexercisesauthorityin creating art. After the fact of artcreation, an artist may exercise authorityoverher paintings because they are her property-for example,she may authorizea galleryownerto displaythem for sale.PerhapsDuchampexer-cised such after-the-fact-of-art-creation uthor-ity in gettingFountaindisplayedat that now fa-mous art show. Anartist also exercises a similarauthorityof the propertysort when he or shesays, It s finished, buthavingthe authority odeterminewhen one's own work is completed snot at all the kind of authorityDavies has inmind. For Davies, the relevantauthority s theauthorityto exercise an entitlement to employart-makingconventions.12I think Davies has confused the notion ofbeing in a positionto do somethingbecause onepossesses authoritywith the notionof being in aposition to do something for other reasons. Apoliceman,a doctor,a pharmacist,aparent,andthe like are each in a position to do certainthings because they have the authorityto dothem. But one can be in a position to do some-thing, not because of authority,but because ofknowledgeand skill. Someonemightbe in a po-sition to performcardiopulmonaryesuscitationor the Heimlich maneuver implybecause he orshe knows howto do them.One does nothavetohave authority o do such things. On the otherhand, to do brainsurgeryone mustpossess cer-tain medical authorityand be licensed by thestate to have the legal authority o do so. I thinkthat the creation of art falls under the notion of

    being in a position to do somethingbecauseofthe possession of knowledge (and sometimesskill). The generalconceptionalscheme I havein mind is this. There is the moregeneralnotionof being in a position to do something. Underthis generalnotion there are two species: 1) be-ing in a positionto do somethingbecause of au-thority,and 2) being in a position to do some-thing independentlyof authority.In a review of Definitions of Art, Ira Newmanmakes a similarpoint about Davies's notion ofauthority.Newman writes:By invokinghenotion f authorityndroles,Davieshas apolitical rorganizationaltructuren mind....So Davies's otion ofauthority]asto be viewedas,atbest,metaphorical:hats,it isas ifthemembersfthe artworldonferred rt status he wayministersand udgesdo. YetDaviesoffers ewsupportingea-sons orviewinghismetaphors anaptone.Theresnothing emotelyikea processof electionor selec-tion n whichmembers f the artworld ssumepostsforconferringrtworktatus.Andknowledgef art'shistoryandtheory socentral o understandinghyDuchamp's ountainmaybe an artwork) oes notachieveanythingike grantinghe authorityo be-stow artstatus; .. this is the authority f a qualifiedexpert, ndanaltogetherifferentense rom heoneDavieshas n mind.Davies's otionof authorityhusseemsasmysterious,tthisstage,as theconceptst isintendedo illuminate.'3

    I conclude that Davies's main objections tomy versions of institutionalism, namely, thatboth lack an account of how art status is con-ferred and how it is conferredby an exercise ofauthority, re unfounded.I turn now to two of the historical theoriesDavies discusses-Jerrold Levinson's and NoelCarroll's.In 1979, Levinson offered what Davies callsan historical/intentional efinition of art,whichLevinsonpresentedas inspiredby the in-stitutional heory.14 He, however,offers his the-ory as a competitor to the institutionalview.Levinsongave the following definition:X is an artworkat t=df X is an objectof whichit is true at t that some

    personorpersons,hav-ingtheappropriatero-prietary right over X,


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    Dickie Art:Functionor Procedure Nature or Culture?non-passingly intends(or intended)X for re-gard-as-a-work-of-art,i.e., regardin any way(or ways) in which ob-jects in theextensionofartwork prior o t areor were correctly (orstandardly) egarded.15

    Levinson is awarethat such a definition de-pends on therealreadybeing a workof artpriorto any work to which the definition applies. In1979, Levinson says that art that he calls ur-arts s required o get the definition going. Buthow do ur-artsbecomeart?Levinsonsaysitcanbe stipulated hatur-artsareart,andthe defini-tion gets the first bite it needs.Daviesdiscusses andcriticizesvariousaspectsof Levinson'sdefinition at considerable ength.Forexample,he expressesdoubtwhetherLevin-son'snotion of corrector standardregard n hisdefinition can be worked out without someinstitutional aspects. In connection with thisand otherconsiderations,Davies concludesthatsomething more than intentions or unstruc-turedculturalpractices s neededif we are to ex-plain, on the one hand,the extraordinarydiver-sity of art-makingactivities and of artworks,and, on the other, the continuing unity of theconceptof an artwork. 16Another detail of Levinson's definition,namely,therestrictionof havinganappropriateproprietary ight, seems to me to involvea dif-ficulty. Suppose a starvingartist steals canvas,stretchers,brushes,and tubes of paint from anartsupplystore,and with thesematerialspaints,signs,andsells a painting.Now clearlytheartisthas committed acrime in stealing materials,andsince the materialsare stolen, he has no propri-etary rightto them.But surelyourartisthas cre-ateda workof art fromthe stolenmaterials.Theartist may not legally own the painting he hascreatedand may havecommittedanothercrimein selling it, but, whoever the painting belongsto, it is art.These two criticismsare, however,mattersofdetail. I wantnow to focus on a moreglobal as-pect of Levinson'sdefinition. The point I wantto examine is one thatLevinson himself raisesabouthis owntheoryin a 1993article.In this ar-ticle, Levinson has second thoughtsabout his

    earlier view that ur-arts can be stipulatedto beart. But if ur-arts are not stipulatedto be art,then the original definition cannot get started;thatis, if ur-artsare not art, then, accordingtothedefinition,therecould notbe anysubsequentart. There is then a regress of sorts. I shall letLevinson's own words show how he proposestodeal with the situation:In orderto stopthis regress, it seems thatone of twoconcessions must be made. The first would be to fi-nally grant objectsof the ur-artsthe statusof art,butadmitthatthey are so in a differentsense thanappliesto all else subsequentlyaccountableas art, for rea-sons thatare now plain:theyare art notbecausemod-elled on earlier art,but ratherbecauselater,unques-tioned, art has sprungfrom them. The second wouldbe to keep objects of the ur-artsas non-art,but thento acknowledgethatproductsof the first arts, thosefollowing the ur-arts,are art in a sense close to butnot identicalto thatapplyingto all else subsequentlyaccountableas art, in that their arthood consists inbeing projected orregard hat some precedingur-artobject (ratherthan some precedingart object) wascorrectlyaccorded.Eitherway, the theory's claim to have uneartheda sense of art applying univocally to everythingin the extension of art must be slightly tempered.However,since the temperingrequired s confined tothe very earlieststagesof the storyof art,the univer-salityof theanalysisof arthoodoffered is not,I think,seriously compromised.'7

    Levinson'sfirst alternative,which is to grantur-arts arthood because later art has sprungfrom them, has a logical resemblance to his1979 solutionof stipulatingur-arts o be art. Inbothcases, ur-artsare art, butthey acquireart-hood in a differentway than does all subsequentart. Levinson's second alternative,which is tosay that ur-art is not art, means that what hecalls firstarts are artbecauseof theirrelationto nonart(ur-arts),which means that first artsacquirearthood n a differentway than does allsubsequentart.Levinson is completely aware of the logicalnatureof his two 1993 solutions to his theory'sproblem.He is clear that he has not specified adefinitionthatappliesto all art. His reactiontohis admissionthathe does not have a theoryofart is very casual;he characterizeshis two solu-tions as a slight tempering confined o the very


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    The Journalof Aesthetics and ArtCriticismearlieststagesof the storyof art. He concludesthat the universality of... [his] ... analysis is not... seriously compromised. The universalityofhis theory is, however, completely compro-mised;it is not a theoryat all. Levinson'sexpla-nation thattheslight tempering equireds con-fined to the very earliest stages of the story ofart has the ring of the old joke's punch-lineaboutbeing justa little pregnant.It can be noted that the institutionaltheorydoes not have a similarproblem,because it is astructural heory rather than an historical one.For the institutionaltheory, the first arts arethose thathave a place within the institutionalstructure hat s the artworldwhen thatstructuregels-the gelling may takeplace over a consid-erableperiodof time. Ur-artsarethings that re-semble later art but that do not yet have an art-world to fit into.In an article publishedin 1988, Noel Carrollattacks andrejectsthe institutional heoryof artand presents his historical/narrational ccountfor identifyingartworksas a replacement ortheinstitutional theory and any other theory ofart.18In two articles, publishedin 199319 and1994,20 the contents of which greatly overlap,Carroll renews his attack on the institutionaltheory and again explains his narrationalscheme.Carrollthinksthat the attempt o define arthas been the centralproblemfor recentphiloso-phies of art. He also thinks that at least one ofthe motives of the definers has been to specify adefinition that would enable people to identifyartworks, .e., would enable them to determinewhether a given object is an artwork.Speakingonly formyself, I never conceived of the institu-tional theoryor any other arttheoryas a meansforidentifyingartworks n this way. Rather, al-ways thoughtof theoriesof art as anexplanationof why an artwork is art. To use large philo-sophical words,I havealways thoughtof the in-stitutional heoryand all other theories of artashaving an ontological function ratherthan anepistemic one. It seems perfectly reasonabletome that even if one had a completely adequatedefinition of art, t wouldstill be possiblethatone mightnot be able to tell whethera givenob-ject is a work of art.Forexample,if the object'shistory is unknown, it might be impossible totell if it is an artwork.

    Carroll's 1994 complaint about the institu-

    tionaltheoryis that t does notsayanything spe-cific aboutart,but is rather usta necessaryrameworkf coordinated,ommunica-tive practicesof a certain level of complexity. .. Butin illuminatingertainnecessary tructuraleaturesof suchpractices,Dickiehas notreally old us any-thing about art qua art.... But ... [this] ... is not whatdisputantsn theconversationf analytic hilosophyexpected in the natureof a definition. ... [This] is nolongerplayingthe game accordingo its originalrules,and t onlyconfusesmatterso pretendhatarealdefinitions stillintheoffing.21I haveneverattempted o play accordingto theoriginalrules.First,following MauriceMandel-baum,I went beyondthe exhibited characteris-tics of artworksin looking for necessary andsufficientconditions,which violates the defini-tional rules as conceived of by MorrisWeitzandothers.Second, I explicitly noted the circularityin both versions of the institutional heory;it isthis circularity hatmarks the definitions of theinstitutionaltheory as different from the lineardefinitionsrequiredby theoriginalrules of whatCarrollcalls arealdefinition. My view is thatthe necessary and sufficient conditions speci-fied in the institutional heorycannotbe under-stoodindependentlyof the institutionof art-aninstitution hat s imbibed romearly childhood.I neverintendedor pretended o give a real def-inition in Carroll's ense.I take it that such a realdefinition would specify necessary and suffi-cient conditions that can be known indepen-dentlyof the definedterm art. Carrollmisper-ceives my intent.We arenot really disagreeing.In any event, I find no fault with the histori-cal/narrativescheme that Carrolldescribes foridentifying artworks.His account is self-con-sciously addressed o thecontroversialworksofthe avant-garde,but it applies as well to moreconventional art. There is, of course, little rea-son to feel aneedto identifyconventionalworksas artworks,but Carroll'sprocedurecould beapplied to them. The interestingcases are thecontestedavant-garde nes. When facedwith anobject, the artworkidentity of which is con-tested oruncertain,Carrollproposesthatthe so-lution lies in telling a truenarrative hatrelatesthe object to earlier undoubted art objects orevents. If sucha story linksthe contested workto preceding art-makingpracticesand contexts


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    Dickie Art: Function or Procedure-Nature or Culture?in such a way that the work underfire can beseen to be the intelligible outcomeof recogniz-ablemodes of thinkingandmakingof a sort al-ready commonly adjudgedto be artistic, thenthe objectis identified as an artwork.22Carroll's scheme resemblesLevinson's in itsstructure-in both cases, present artworksarerelated to earlier artworks. But whereas thisprocedure generates a particularproblem forLevinson's attemptat definition, Carroll is notfaced with this problembecausehe is nottryingto define art, merelyto identifyartworks.Carroll raises an important question abouthis own narrationaltheory-the question ofwhetherthe kind of narrationshe has in mindmight result in identifying nonartworksas art.The examplehe mentions is van Gogh'sseveredear.Suppose,he says,that a true narrative ouldbe constructedthat relatesthe ear to an attemptby van Gogh to symbolize the plight of hisartisticconviction in the face of Gauguin'scrit-icisms. 23Even if such a true story could betold, Carroll says that it would not suffice toidentify van Gogh'sear as an artwork.Carrollthencomparesvan Gogh'smutilation o a twen-tieth-centuryartwork-Rudolf Schwarkolger'sself-mutilation.Why is van Gogh's mutilationnot an artworkwhenSchwarkolger'smutilationis? The reason, Carrollsays, is that the earlierone lacks a frameworkthat the later one has.Carrolldescribesthis frameworkas follows:[I]n order o establish he artstatusof a contestedwork,oneneedsnotonlyto tellanidentifying arra-tivethat onnects heworknquestionwithacknowl-edgedartpractices, ut,aswell,oneneeds oestab-lishthat hethinking ndmakinghat he dentifyingnarrativeeconstructse localized o activities hatoccurwithinrecognizablertworld systems of pre-sentation-i.e., artforms,media ndgenreswhichareavailable o theartist and he artworldpublic underdiscussion.Thatis, identifyingnarrativesmustbeconstrainedo trackonly processes f thinking ndmaking onductednside he rameworkof artworldsystems of presentationor recognizablexpansionsthereof.Moreover, here hisconstraints honored,identifyingnarrativeswill notcommit he errorofoveIinclusiveness.24emphasis dded)It turnsout that the framework or constrainingidentifying narrativesthat Carrolldescribes ismade up of the central notions of the institu-

    tional theory of art-a theory that Carrollhasrejectedas a real definition. Since, however, heinstitutional heory'sdefinitionis not a realdef-inition in his sense, Carroll'suse of the institu-tionaltheoryas the frameworkwithinwhichhisnarrational cheme for identifyingart operatescauses no logical problem.In fact, Carroll'sac-count for identifyingart is nested withinthe in-stitutional heory.Davies, writing in 1991 with only Carroll's1988 article in view, anticipatesCarroll'sviewasnestingwithin the institutionalheory.Davieswrites:Unless Carroll'snarrationaltrategiesarethemselvesstructuredby the Artworldcontext, appeal to themcannoteasily explaintheunityof theconceptof artinview of the long and variedhistory of art practicesand themanynonartpracticesrepeated,amplified,orrepudiatedwithin artpractices.... It is not clearto mehow talk of culturalpractices foundedon repetitionand the like can reveal suchprincipleswithoutthem-selves presupposinga framework or such practices.To presupposesuch a framework s to move in the di-rection of an institutionalaccount.25


    I now turnto the alternativeway of classifyingtheories of art and/or aspects of such theoriesthat I mentionedat the beginningof this paper.Human beings, chimpanzees, lions, tigers,bowerbirds,bees, spiders, mosquitoes,and thelike arebiologicalnaturalkinds, and, I suppose,some or all of the things that membersof suchvarious species do can be called natural-kindactivities. Gathering food, stalking prey,eat-ing, mating, building nests, constructing theelaboratecourtshipbowersthatbower birdsdo,living solitarily,and living in social groups areexamplesof natural-kind ctivities. Humanbe-ings and some other species exhibit cultural-kind activities: particular ways of living to-gether, particular ways of hunting, particularways of raising food, ritualsof eating,andmar-riage,forexample.Somecultural-kind ctivitiesareparticularways that,in one way or another,humanbeings have come to organizetheirnat-ural-kindactivities. Such activities are in somesense inventedby the members of a particulargroupand are passed on by learning.Cultural-


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    The Journalof Aesthetics andArt Criticismkind activities sometimes involve a conven-tional element, since thereis sometimesa vari-ety of ways to organizea given activity.An ex-ample of a cultural-kindactivity that does notinvolve convention is painting. If one creates apainting, one does so by putting some kind ofpainton a surface. This is not to say thatpaint-ing cannot involve conventions; symbols inpaintings involve conventions, and depictionsmayinvolve conventions.The initiationof a cul-tural-kindactivity will in some way or otherhave involvedplanning, althoughI do not meanto suggestthatthey are initiated at a strokeby alawgiver,as mythology favors. Such planningmay have been piecemeal, fragmentary,andmay have takenplace over a periodof time andin an interruptedway.Cultural-kindbehavioris not written in thegenes in the way that natural-kindbehavioris,but it is nevertheless remarkablyresistant tochange. If the patternof a cultural-kind ctivitydoes alter over time, there will always be con-servativeresistance to change.Cultural-kindactivities are carried out in aself-conscious way in the sense that those doingthe activities are aware or could become awarethat the activities are aspects of their group cul-tural life. It is possible for someone to becomeawarethat anothergroup carries out an activity,say, marriage, in a different way, and thus beaware at some level that a particular cultural-kind activity involves a conventional aspect. Areflective person might realize that a particularcultural-kind activity has a conventional ele-ment even without knowledge of other groups.The distinction between natural-kind nd cul-tural-kindactivities can be used as a basis forclassifying theories of art.A natural-kind heory of art would be one inwhich it is claimed that art first emergedas a re-sult of a natural-kindactivity and that art hascontinued to be created as the result of natural-kind behavior.Of course, this kind of theory canaccommodate cultural aspects in the art-creat-ing process-for example, the culturalphenom-enon of painting in the impressioniststyle-butit would maintain that the creativeprocess itselfis at bottom a natural-kindactivity. A theorist,for example, who claims that art is the expres-sion of emotion presents a natural-kind heoryof art, for the expression of emotion is a clearexample of natural-kind ehavior.Culturalmat-

    ters arefrequently nvolvedwhen emotion is ex-pressed,buttheexpressionof emotionitself is anatural-kind phenomenon with evolutionaryroots in animal behaviorof the sort exhibitedbya dog when it growls at otherdogs as it eats.Monroe Beardsley defines art as an inten-tional arrangementof conditions for affordingexperienceswithmarkedaesthetic character. fit is assumed thathumanbeings arenaturallyat-tractedto basic aesthetic qualities of the kindBeardsleyhas in mind-unity, brightness,shi-niness, intensecolor,and the like-and seek ex-periencesof them,Beardsleyalsopresentsa nat-ural-kind heoryof art. For bothBeardsleyandtheexpression heorists, he creationof art s justa spontaneous,natural-kind ctivityon thesamelevel with eating and mating.So far as the cre-ationof art is concerned,Beardsleyand the ex-pressiontheorists conceive of humanbeings asbeing very much like bower birds when theyconstruct their courtship bowers. Of coursebower birds no doubtcarry on their activity in apurely instinctive way, whereas for Beardsleyworks of art are made by artists by their ownfree originativepower. 26Nevertheless,Beards-ley's account involves only natural-kindactivi-ties-intentional action for foreseen resultsandthe enjoymentof aesthetic qualities.If Carroll'sview of narrationallydentifyingan artwork s taken as he originallypresented t,as the identifying of a present object as art byshowing by means of a true narrative hat t is anintelligible outcome of earlierart, then his viewis not classifiable by means of the natural/cul-tural activities distinction. This is so becauseCarroll'saccount tells us nothing generalaboutart, only that a particularobject can be linkedtoanotherparticularobject.Of course,his view isnot supposedto be a philosophy of art or adefi-nition of art, o it is not surprising hat it can-not be classified by means of criteria or classi-fying theoriesof art.On the other hand, if Carroll'sview is takenas he worked it out in 1993, then it has beentransformed nto an account for identifying artwithin the institutional heory of art, as I under-stand the institutional theory. In this case, histheory would be classifiable in the same waythat the institutional theory would be classifi-able by means of the natural/culturalistinction.The centralnotion of Levinson'stheory of artis anhistoricalrelation hatrelates anartworkat


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    Dickie Art: Functionor Procedure Natureor Culture?a particulartime to an artwork at an earliertime. This centralaspect of the theorydoes nothint at whether an artwork s created as the re-sultof a natural-kind r a cultural-kind ctivity.In additionto this centralnotion there are threeother conditions specified by Levinson. Thecondition of being nonpassinglyintended doesnot commit the theoryin eitherof the two direc-tions; such intentions could be involvedwith ei-ther natural-kind r cultural-kind ctivities. Thecondition of havinga proprietary ight mpliesaculturalphenomenon,although here is no obvi-ous connection betweenpropertyrightsand thenotion of what it is that makes something art.The condition of standardor correctregardsug-gests, as Davies notes,27an institutional and,hence, a cultural matter.The central historicalnotion of Levinson's theory and the nonpass-ingly-intendedcondition are noncommittalwithregard to natural-kindor cultural-kindactivi-ties. The proprietary ightconditionis a culturalmatter, but it is in fact irrelevantto arthood.Only the standard or correct regard conditioninclines the theory in the direction of cultural-kind activities. But even this last condition isnot one that Levinson requiresan artist to haveany actual knowledge of. He writes:I would urge that there can be private, isolated artwhich is constitutedas art in the mind of the artist-andon no one's behalf but his own andthatof poten-tial experiencersof it. ... Considera solitary Indianalongthe Amazon, who steals off from his non-artis-tic tribeto arrangecoloured stones in a clearing,notoutwardly nvestingthem with special position in theworld. Might not this also be art (and, note, beforeany futurecuratordecides it is)?28Levinson clearly thinks that the arranged col-ored stones are art even though his imagined In-dian has no conception of art in mind in anysense of inmind. On Levinson'sview, the cul-tural condition of standardly or correctly re-gardingthe stones can be fulfilled without theperson or persons who so regardthem havingany notion that such a regard s a culturalphe-nomenon for persons in another culture. Thus,the one condition of Levinson's theory that con-nects it to cultural-kindactivity is such a weakone that, according to the theory, art can bemadeby someone withoutany knowledgeof thecontent of the condition.Intheend, it is perhaps

    best to classify Levinson'stheory as a natural-kindtheoryof art.Levinson's maginedIndian'sartdependson the Indian'snatural-kind ctivityof admiring he aestheticqualitiesof thecoloredstones.Danto's 1964 accountin TheArtworld, bycontrastwith the abovetheories, s clearlya cul-tural-kindtheory of art because it claims, insome notveryclearway,that t is arttheorythatmakes art possible. The formulationand hold-ing of arttheories,even natural-kind heoriesofart, aresurelycultural-kind ffairs, and, thus,ifan art theory is what makes art possible, thenDanto'saccount s a cultural-kindheoryof art.Later, as noted, Danto began claiming thatbeing aboutsomethingis a necessaryconditionof art, and his 1981 book amplifiedthe about-ness thesis into a full-blown theory of art. OnNoel Carroll'saccountof Danto's atertheory, orepeatwhat was saidearlier, hetheory specifiesthat a workof art 1) is aboutsomething, 2) pro-jects a point of view, 3) projects this point ofview by means of rhetoricalellipsis, and 4) re-quires interpretation,and that5) the work andinterpretation equirean art-historicalcontext.The first four items that CarrolldiscriminatesnDanto's latertheoryfit within the languagedo-main. If language is, as I take it to be, a natural-kindactivity,thenthe first four items of his the-ory are natural-kind tems. The fifth and finalitem, which involves an art-historical ontext,ishowever,clearly a cultural-kindmatter.Danto'slatertheory,thus, appears o be a mixtureof nat-ural-kind and cultural-kindelements, just asearlier,when consideredfrom anotherperspec-tive, it was seen to be a mixture of functionaland procedural lements.In the case of Danto'slater theory, the natural-kind/cultural-kindis-tinction classifies aspectsof his mixed theory.

    The institutionaltheory of art, in either itsearlieror its later version, is clearly a cultural-kind theory because it takes a cultural, nstitu-tional structureto be the necessary and suffi-cient matrix for works of art. Of course, acultural-kind heory of art would not deny thatthecontent of artcan involve natural-kind ctiv-ities, for example, the enjoymentof the basicaestheticqualitiesof the kind Beardsleyhas inmind, but it would not make such activitiesdefining. For the institutional theory, variousnatural-kindactivities may show up in variousartworks,but there s no reason to thinkthatany


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    The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticismone natural-kind ctivity is or needs to be pres-ent in every artwork.29The institutional heoryof art has frequentlybeen criticized for overlookingthehistoricaldi-mension of art-the dimension so emphasizedby Danto, Levinson, Carroll,and others.The in-stitutional heory,however, s a structuralheoryrather han an historicalone; it does not neglectarthistory,rather tjustdoes notview it as beinginvolved in the defining of art. All the talkabout art history, as presentedby Danto, Car-roll, and others,is perfectlyconsistent with theinstitutional heory,and, as notedin the case ofCarroll, can be nested within the institutionaltheory.30GEORGE DICKIEDepartmentof PhilosophyUniversityof Illinois-Chicago601 S Morgan StreetChicago, Illinois 60607-7115

    1. Stephen Davies, Definitions of Art (Cornell UniversityPress, 1991), p. 243.2. MonroeC. Beardsley, InDefense of Aesthetic Value,Proceedings and Addresses of the American PhilosophicalAssociation 52 (August 1979): 729.3. Davies, pp. 78-114.4. ArthurDanto, The Artistic Enfranchisementof RealObjects:The Artworld, n Aesthetics:A Critical nthology,2nd ed., eds. G. Dickie, R. Sclafani, and R. Roblin (NewYork: St. Martin's Press, 1989), p. 180. First published asThe Artworld, Journalof Philosophy61 (1964): 571-584.5. Arthur Danto, The Last Workof Art: Artworks andReal Things, in Aesthetics: A Critical Anthology,1st ed.,eds. G. Dickie and R. Sclafani (New York: St. Martin'sPress, 1977), pp. 551-562. First publishedas Artworks andReal Things, Theoria 39 (1973): 1-17. All referencesaretopage numbers n the Aestheticsanthology.6. Arthur C. Danto, The Transfiguration f the Com-

    monplace, TheJournalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism33(1974): 139-148.7. ArthurC. Danto,TheTransfiguration f the Common-place (HarvardUniversityPress, 1981),pp. 212.8. Noel Carroll, Essence, Expression, and History:Arthur Danto'sPhilosophyof Art, in Danto and His Crit-ics, ed. Mark Rollins (Cambridge,MA: Basil BlackwellLtd., 1993),pp. 99-100.9. Danto, Artworks nd RealThings, p. 561.10. Davies, p. 84.11. Ibid.,p. 87.12. I wish to thankananonymousreader or the commentthat made this last clarificationnecessary.13. IraNewman, Review of Definitions of Art, n Cana-dian PhilosophicalReviews 12 (1992): 183.14. JerroldLevinson, Defining Art Historically, TheBritishJournalofAesthetics 19 (1979): 232-250.15. Ibid.,p. 240.16. Davies, p. 179.

    17. JerroldLevinson, ExtendingArt Historically, TheJournalof Aestheticsand Art Criticism51(1993): 421-422.18. Noel Carroll, Art, Practice, and Narrative, TheMonist71 (1988): 140-156.19. Noel Carroll, HistoricalNarrativesand thePhiloso-phy of Art, The Journalof Aesthetics and ArtCriticism51(1993): 313-326.20. Noel Carroll, IdentifyingArt, in InstitutionsofArt,ed. Robert J. Yanal (Pennsylvania State University Press,1994), pp. 3-38.21. Ibid., pp. 12-13.22. Carroll, HistoricalNarrativesand thePhilosophyofArt, p. 316.23. Ibid., p. 324.24. Ibid.25. Davies, p. 169.26. Monroe C. Beardsley, Is Art Essentially Institu-tional? in Cultureand Art, ed. Lars Aagaard-Mogensen(Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1976), p. 196.27. Davies, p. 174.28. Levinson, Defining Art Historically, . 233.29. wish to thank the same anonymousreader hankedin endnote 12 for the comment that made this last clarifica-tion necessary.30. A partial version of this paper was read at themeet-ing of the JapaneseSociety for Aesthetics in Tokyo on Oc-tober 20, 1995.