SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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Entertainment is Not Art: A Pragmatist Defense of an Aesthetic Distinction

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David Hildebrand
University of Colorado Denver
United States

Art critics are known for dividing things up: good and bad, four versus no stars, pop versus serious music, etc. John Dewey is infamous for demolishing dualisms: between fine art and crafts, mental/physical, reason/emotion, etc. But, surprisingly, Dewey’s aesthetics keeps certain distinctions: between "good"/"bad" art, art/entertainment, and between art/political art. After reviewing why Dewey believed art and criticism serve important social functions, I explain his aesthetic evaluation these three kinds of art products. I then show how these functional distinctions of Dewey’s actually entail the tendentious conclusion that entertainment isn't worth the efforts of aesthetic criticism.


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