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Thread: Can we learn from art?

  1. #1

    Can we learn from art?

    I am generally someone who is very interested in art and am planning to pursue a career in art, but I believe that we cannot "learn" from art because it cannot generate truth. It cannot be truth, it can only imitate a previously discovered truth. I guess the main focus here would have to go beyond art and instead define what exactly is learning, truth, or knowledge. If you apply Plato's a,b,c,d chart artists create an imitation of "a" -which is the sense experience of a reality we cannot know and that is not real. Plato would say artists are the furtherest away from "d" which is the ulitmate nature of reality. I'm really wondering what anyone else thinks.

  2. #2
    Boll Weevil cuppajoe_9's Avatar
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    Dude, nothing can 'generate' truth. By definition, you cannot make new truths, you can only describe truths that are already there. Everything you learn from is an imitation of a previously discovered truth. In any case, you haven't defined the word 'art'. Many people would call Plato himself an artist, in that writing, even writing non-fiction, is usually considered an art. It requires imagination and creative skill to translate abstract concepts into readable language.

    Good luck with that career.
    Last edited by cuppajoe_9; 10-07-2006 at 09:47 PM. Reason: I noticed a really hella run-on sentence
    What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it.
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    A washerwoman with her basket; a rook; a red-hot poker; th purples and grey-greens of flowers: some common feeling which held the whole together.
    - Virginia Woolf

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    still waiting to be found amanda_isabel's Avatar
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    yeah, i guess you can't learn anything from art. art is a form of expression, not a body of knowledge.

    on the contrary, i believe you can learn a lot from art, like paintings, for example. generally, because art is a form of expression, it also the expresses the culture that surrounds the artist, which may be a good reference point for history.

    but i gues the biggest thing you can learn from the arts is something about yourself. if you feel you can cponnect with a certain piece because it is, let's say, the reflection of your inner self that you long to reveal, then you have learned something you cannot from anywhere else, because it has shown you more about your identity.
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    Nietzsche has a lot to say about the role of the artist. You should look at many aphorisims in "The Gay Science" and especially "The Birth of Tragedy". Another important thing to look at is Winckelmann's "Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works" and also Lessing's "Laocoon". Read the latter and then see if your opinion changes. Good luck.

  5. #5
    life is but a dream
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    yes, we can learn from art. art in terms of poetry, painting, writing, song. learn in terms of a self discovered truth about the world without and within. by truth i mean any idea that evokes deeper understanding. i jsut wrote a series of confusing sentences. i think thats what i mean.

    joe, the truths that already exist are infinite. meaning, any new idea automatically directs you closer to the "truth." art does not describe the truth. it uncovers it layer by layer.
    I only wanted to live in accord with the promptings that came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

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    Boll Weevil cuppajoe_9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holograph View Post
    joe, the truths that already exist are infinite. meaning, any new idea automatically directs you closer to the "truth." art does not describe the truth. it uncovers it layer by layer.
    What's the difference?
    What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it.
    - Gertrude Stein

    A washerwoman with her basket; a rook; a red-hot poker; th purples and grey-greens of flowers: some common feeling which held the whole together.
    - Virginia Woolf

  7. #7
    we can most definitely learn from art....I'll do some snooping to support my view but, I can definitely say that is my view. I think art is an outstanding way of presenting reality to many people. Some people never confront truth until it spits them in the eye because of some form of art. Literature and music are the two biggest forms of art that influence me. From good literature and good music you can learn alot, maybe not alot of solid facts but nevertheless...learning. Since when have there been solid facts about many things anyways?

  8. #8
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Here's a risky statement: art has the capability and potential to reveal the truth to us because good art should point us to reality in some way. That statement is risky because then we step into the quicksand of "well, then anything that tells the truth is art." Not so. But art that lies to us really has no purpose - and I think there is much out in the world masquerading as "art" which is doing little more than lying to us with the artist's subjective reality (which may or may not connect to actual reality).
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

  9. #9
    I think art has things to teach us, not necesarily about 'truth' but about ourselves, how we view the world, and even natural phenomena. The artist can explore the way light behaves as well as a physicist, just in a different way, and the subjects painters choose often indicate certain things about the society in which they live. For example through the efforts of Baroque artists we can learn about their view of religion from the period, through the Neo-Classicists we can learn about the ideal view of the state held by many of the revolutionaries, etc.
    In these days, old man, no one thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't, so why should we? They talk of the people, the proletariat, and I talk of the mugs. It's the same thing. They have their five year plan and I have mine.-Harry Lime, The Third Man novella by Graham Greene

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    amor vincit omnia livelaughlove's Avatar
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    It's exactly as SheykAbdullah said --- through art, we learn about ourselves (and this only applies to visual art, i.e paintings, drawings, etc). The art itself can prompt questions and feelings which lead to us further discovery of our own perception of the world.

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    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    OK - I agree with that. But may I add that what it tells us about ourselves should (hopefully) be a truth? Aren't the most venerated artists those who faithfully reproduced what light is and does? Art points us to truth - whether that truth is about ourselves, our world, our hearts, our fellow human beings, our future, our past, our destiny.
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

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    amor vincit omnia livelaughlove's Avatar
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    Definitely. We think it's the truth because it is what we see/feel. But our perceptions are all different, and thus so are our truths. So what for me reveals a truth, may mean something completely different to someone else. This is the power of art. There's also a question of whether there is a universal truth, something that everybody acknowledges as truth or reality.

  13. #13
    jgx aka Ghideon
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    Cool

    'Art' as a concept is, for me, too vast and too difficult to pin down. I feel awkward saying anything definitive about it or about how it can affect people.

    Now I know that music,poetry,opera,novels,paintings have influenced generations of humanity for thousands and thousands of years.

    Now I said 'influenced' not 'taught'.

    There are so many dynamics going on between audience and a work of art that to decide whether or not all 'art' 'teaches' us is going to be one hell of a task.

    I suppose one take on this would be for folks to simply list all of the different ways art has influenced them, people they know, their community, and people and communities that they have studied, read about, learned about...

    Art, has in my life, touched me so deeply I have sobbed; left me numb;angered me;made me feel overwhelmed and over stimulated. There have been art forms that have enabled me to understand human anatomy more clearly...there are art forms that have given me deep insights into my own internal world and the internal world of others (or at least my best aproximation of another persons inner world). And then there is art that did nothing to me at all.

    I increasingly find abstract discussions where a dozen different concepts are being discussed...I am never really sure what is actually being said.

    The old oak tree surrounded by a small rusted cage that I see each morning out my window. That is a "tree" and yet it really is also the entire universe.
    "...there is only one plot. Things are not as they seem"
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    I always see art as a form of expression or communication rather than something that can teach us 'truth' or provide knowledge. I believe that art is a way of communicating those things which are impossible to put adequately into words, as language is, in general, so completely insufficient. You can easily see this from your own experience where, particularly when experiencing emotion, perhaps viewing a beautiful sunrise, it is often impossible to communicate exactly what this scene brought to you, in a way that the other person can understand, but by communicating this in a non-linguistic way you may have more success in sharing that experience and making the other person feel what you felt. I think, that if art teaches us anything it is more about the nature of humanity and the subjectivity of perception rather than any universal truth, if such a thing actually exists (which I'm not convinced about!).

    Probably the fundamental question here is rather 'what is art'? I think the answer to that differs depending upon the person who is producing it, and the person viewing or experiencing it, and I'm not sure there is an objective definition. The person producing the art will have in mind what they are looking to convey, in some cases this will be as accurate a representation of a scene as they can master, in some cases they will be looking to express a theme, a thought or an emotion. How this is perceived by the receipient is completely different, however. The receipient may only see that, by possessing that work of 'art' that this demonstrates their power, influence and wealth, and completely miss the message being conveyed by the artist. So I suppose you perhaps ought to establish, for yourself, what art means to you and from there you can determine whether art is capable of teaching you the truths you seek to find?

  15. #15
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bii View Post
    I always see art as a form of expression or communication rather than something that can teach us 'truth' or provide knowledge. I believe that art is a way of communicating those things which are impossible to put adequately into words, as language is, in general, so completely insufficient.
    Art is expression and communication - but communication generally can be said to fall into at least two categories: statements of truth and lies. The best art communicates exactly what you said - "those things which are impossible to put adequately into words" - but what it puts into words is something that the partaker of the art will acknowledge to be "true." If art expresses a lie to us, then what was the value of that communication?


    Quote Originally Posted by Bii View Post
    Probably the fundamental question here is rather 'what is art'?
    You're right - because the best way to analyze the function of something is to make sure you've properly defined that that something is.
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

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