Art is a diverse and multifaceted field. It comprises a range of activities ranging from sculpture, paintings, drawings, music, and other forms of artistic expression. Some of these activities are purely aesthetic while others are also intended to communicate or serve a social or economic function. For example, art serves ritualistic or symbolic functions. Similarly, it is used as a form of decoration and as a way to convey world views.
Historically, different concepts of art have been proposed and defended. For instance, the eighteenth-century definition of art has been disputed by contemporary theorists. However, the present-day definitions are not all that different from the earlier ones. In fact, some of them have even been re-defined. As a result, today’s artists and experts are able to create new categories of art that will appeal to a wider variety of people.
Traditional art definitions have a narrow focus on the formal properties of art. These definitions have often underplayed the importance of other qualities such as aesthetic or expressive properties, or the substantial unity of art. This is not to say that traditional definitions of art are faulty, or that the concept is insufficient. Rather, it is to say that conventionalist or classical definitions are less philosophically self-contained and are more dependent on the context. Despite this, the concepts that make up most definitions of art are embedded in general philosophical theories, and are therefore difficult to understand in isolation.
Another notable concept that has received a great deal of attention is the Open Concept Argument, which is credited with proving that a concept is indefinable. Although it is not always clear what this argument actually means, it does point to the fact that any concept is open to expansion, if the cases for its assertions are imaginable. The Open Concept Argument is a major contribution to defining art, and it has been applied by several philosophers.
In fact, some of the best philosophers of the past have analyzed key theoretical aspects of definitions of art. They have been able to draw on a rich history of biased understandings. Their analyses have helped to uncover some systematic connections between different concepts of art.
One of the most notable examples of the Open Concept Argument is Stephen Davies’ cladistic definition of art. According to this definition, something is art if it is a work of art and if it demonstrates a high level of skill. A similar claim is made by Arthur Danto. His definition of art is repackaged as a work of art.
Several modern definitions of art have been designed to accommodate the biases of the times. For example, Stephen Davies’ cladistic definition of a work of art is a clever move because it is a way of explaining what an artist does. Using the definition of art as a product and an activity can help to explain how artists are able to produce work that has a social or cultural impact.