TRAMES 3, 6, 2002


Marek Volt

University of Tartu

Abstract. In the very first lines of his famous article – ‘The Role of Theory is Aesthetics’ – Morris Weitz tells us that each of the great art theories (Emotionalism, Voluntarism, Formalism, Intuitionism, Organicism) converges in a logically vain attempt to provide the defining properties of art. He tries to examine some of the aesthetic theories in order to see if they include adequate statements about the nature of art. But instead of giving us exact descriptions of these theories, he provided us with only a very scant summary. Thus, even if Weitz were correct in thinking that all theories converged in an essential definition of art, he does not provide any further arguments for his conviction. Some aestheticians (Diffey, Tilghman, Matthews, Snoeyenbos) have tried to do justice to the traditional theories by suggesting that aesthetic theories were not attempting to offer essentialist definitions of art. Unfortunately, those critics left untouched the aesthetic theories offered by Weitz. Therefore, in order to evaluate (1) Weitz’s account of aesthetic theories and (2) to see if the criticisms concerning his account strike home, it is necessary to consider just theories mentioned by Weitz. My paper confirms a view that within aesthetic theories a variety of purposes can be recognised. For instance, the explanation and re-evaluation of art, and the completion of metaphysical system.

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