A Survey of Artistic Value: From Analytic Philosophy to Neurobiology

Zachary P. Norwood


Analytic philosophers have disputed the nature of “artistic value” for over six decades, bringing much needed clarity and rigor to a subject discussed with fashionable obscurity in other disciplines. This essay frames debates between analytic philosophers on artistic value and suggests new directions for future research. In particular, the problem of “intrinsic value” is considered, that is, whether a work’s value derives from its experienced properties, as a work of art, or from cultural trends outside the work’s properties. It is argued that neurobiological research helps resolve perceived differences between a work’s intrinsic and extrinsic values. A work can be both rewarding and punishing on its own, “intrinsic” merit—as a percipient, real thing in the world evoking predictable kinds of emotion—and with respect to ever shifting, “extrinsic” cultural norms.


evolutionary aesthetics; artistic value; aesthetic properties; intrinsic value; cultural norms

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-13774

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