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Art & Philosophy

A Companion to Art Theory edited by Paul Smith and Carolyn Wilde (Blackwell Companions in Cultural Studies: Blackwell) This survey of art theory in the context of Western visual art consists of 41 original essays written by experts in the field. Following an extensive introduction on the formation of modern art theory, the Companion is organized chronologically so that readers can trace developments of visual art theory, from Classical and Medieval sources and modern conceptions of art as they have been theorized since the Renaissance, through to some current theoretical preoccupations.

In addition to outlining and describing various theoretical positions, the book's chapters articulate some assumptions that underpin them and raise more general questions about the nature of theorizing about art. In this way, the Companion provides both an introduction to main themes of Western art theory and a source for critical enquiry into the purposes, possibilities and limitations of theory in the context of artistic practice.


Editors’ introduction: The broad aim of this book is to provide the reader with essays elucidating aspects of theory relevant to the European-­based traditions of art. Of course, what counts as art theory is contestable. This book certainly does not seek to settle the issue, but rather to throw some light on the content, practice and reception of one local strand. To this extent, its main aim is not to provide a philosophical debate about the nature of art, nor a sociological account of the relationship between art theory and the institutions from which it emerges, nor a psychological explanation of what artistic creativity is, even though it touches on all of these issues. Instead, it aims to give the reader a survey of some of the main themes of Western art theory and of how these constitute a particular tradition which has generated, modified and criticized its own contents, whilst assimilating and remaining open to ideas and discourses external to itself.

To some extent this limited scope is a function of the fact that this book was conceived as a companion volume to the three‑volume Art in Theory anthology, published by Blackwell Publishers. However, the present volume seeks to extend that brief in several ways. First, its chronological range extends considerably further back than the Art in Theory volumes: to the roots of modern art theory in Renaissance Italy, and to sources of and contrasts with this body of thinking in the Classical and Medieval world. Secondly, it considers some less well‑known aspects of art theory which may fill in some of the gaps in its genealogy. Both ambitions are grounded in the hope that this book, while it can never be exhaustive, might nevertheless contribute to an overview of the longer tradition of art theory in which relationships between different theoretical discussions are apparent. The corollary of this particular focus is that the present volume omits many aspects of art theory from extended consideration because these topics ‑ visual culture, other cultures, feminist theory, film and photographic theory ‑ are represented in other Blackwell Companions.

None of this means to claim that there is a unitary body of Western art theory, nor that it follows a linear narrative or teleology. But even the more complex idea that art theory has many branches stemming from a single trunk is less adequate

than a model that can show how theory proliferates rather like a rhizome, or network of roots. This does not mean, however, that there are no nodal points in such an array, whose participation in several developments makes them worthy of special attention. The notion of ideology, for example, may have a central place within Marxist art theory, yet, even while being criticized, it has also formed an important reference point for other theories about the power of representations, including feminism, discourse theory, Poststructuralism and Deconstruction all of which can themselves be seen to be interrelated.

This book has a roughly chronological organization, the main advantage of which is that it offers a `rolling' critique of art theory. For instance, the work of Peirce and Barthes, and other varieties of semiotics, offer critical perspectives on the theory of the `sign' developed in medieval times and by Lessing in the eighteenth century, while these theories are themselves interrogated by Derrida and Deconstruction in general. This book thus draws on the ability of the tradition of art theory to question itself, first of all by presenting much of its material in an arrangement that captures something of this dialogue, and secondly by including essays which explicitly feature such dialogical encounters. The book also attempts to confront theories in a variety of ways; in some essays, the power of a theory is tested against its ability to explain a particular `test case' work or works of art; in others, works of art are themselves given the role of interrogating theory; in yet other essays, one theory is tested against another. The assumption that many contributors have worked with, in other words, is that no theory is sacrosanct. They have shown instead that respecting any theory too much runs the risk of making it hermetic: that it can become obscure, unassailable and unself‑critical if taken too much on its own terms. Therefore, some of the essays in this book are specifically concerned to reveal the inbuilt criteria of coherence, or the tacit assumptions about history, art or causality that can underpin theories of art. Others seek to show the aspect‑blindness and closures that theory can induce, especially when internal theoretical considerations become less important than what a theory can do. And some pursue the possibility that it is part of the job of abstract reflection on art (as opposed to something radically different) to question whether there can be a theory of art at all.

In all these respects, and perhaps most importantly the last, this book is designed to meet a variety of important critical and sometimes sceptical views on the nature and possibility of art theory that have developed relatively recently. The earliest is a view to be found in the `New Art History' of the 1970s and early 1980s. A particular target of this `revisionist' phase was the view, deriving from eighteenth‑ and nineteenth‑century aesthetics (and from certain readings of Kant and Schopenhauer in particular), which was central to much modernist art theory, that art provided an aesthetic experience characterized by disinterest, which made it autonomous from the practical interests of life, or that the work of art somehow embodied an autonomous realm of value. In opposing these formalistic approaches, much Marxist and feminist theory sought to show how art served to misrepresent the class and gender interests it reproduced as objective or `natural', and hence how the notion of autonomy itself was part of an ideology that occluded or naturalized this repressive effect. In similar ways, psychoanalysis was used to show how art sought to convert aspects of a masculine way of seeing, rooted in developmental anxiety, into power. Varieties of semiotics supported such readings of art and their implications for art theory. The critique of autonomy, especially, found further support from developments in discourse theory with its idea that art (like any other modes or genres of representation) is a vehicle through which power reproduces itself by regulating what can and cannot be represented, and how.

Since such critiques have proven very powerful, especially in combination (as in theories of the gaze that draw simultaneously upon psychoanalysis and Foucauldian theories of power/knowledge), part of the aim of this book is to present some of their developments. They have undoubtedly resulted in a profound change in contemporary theories of art, and perhaps also in an idea, foundational to the discipline of visual culture, that considerations of aesthetic quality are largely irrelevant to the understanding of visual representations. Nevertheless, even the mature forms of revisionist criticism leave problems and issues concerning their own theoretical coherence and methodological probity, some of which this book has sought to consider. The `theory' that looked as though it occupied a special, metatheoretical, position in relation to traditional art theory is, in other words, itself the subject of critical scrutiny in this book.

The next phase of the sceptical examination of art theory can perhaps be identified with the arrival, sometime in the mid‑1980s, of fully fledged postmodernism, one of whose landmarks was Victor Burgin's apocalyptically titled The End of Art Theory. A central claim of this was that traditional art theory, and hence the very notion of art, could be traced to the progressively individuated and institutionalized `grand narratives' of an Enlightenment project which had attempted,`but failed, to establish legitimating principles grounding`science, ethics and aesthetics. Theory now was conceived as situated and more piecemeal, as responsive to the interests of particular groups and as necessarily fragmented or activated by conflicting forces. The idea that postmodernism marks a catastrophic break with traditional art theory is very strong, and is recapitulated in recent interventions in art theory, notably in Arthur Danto's After the End of Art (1997). Here, the claim is made that the `atmosphere of theory', which once lent a characteristic seriousness and unity to the notion of art, irrevocably changed or dissipated towards the end of the twentieth century, largely in response to what was perceived as Warhol's (and before that, Duchamp's) challenge to the very idea of art.

There is no denying that such ideas have profoundly affected our own ideas about what art can be. But the absence of grand theory of the sort rejected by postmodern thought does not entail`that theoretical reflection on art is no longer possible at all. It is by no means inevitable, therefore, that thinking about art in the future is destined to be without any I significant relationship to the family of practices and theories that forms the bulk of what is considered here. --Paul Smith and Carolyn Wilde .

Art and Aesthetics At Work edited by Adrian Carr, Philip Hancock (Palgrave) The chapters of these essays are grouped in terms of common themes. In Part I of the volume, art and aesthetics are examined as a way of knowing organization. What is intended`here is to reveal how a discourse informed by art and aesthetics may help pave the way to an epistemological framework I within which studies of work and its organization may gain a greater sensitivity to the non­cognitive, non-rationalized dimension of everyday organizational experi­ence. Moreover, considering the heuristic potential that art and the realm of aesthetics may offer the fields of organization studies and man­agement practice, also affords us an opportunity to reconsider the forms of `logic' that we have employed in these fields. Art and aesthetics pre­sent us with a different way of knowing and understanding of human existence and experience and potentially may serve to alert us to what we have missed in our past theorizing of the fields. The chapters in this part of the volume highlight this heuristic potential.

Part II marks a shift away from the largely epistemological issues that dominated section one, and towards a consideration of work and its organization as itself an aesthetically ordered activity. In doing so, it combines both a range of theoretically informed approaches, as well as a number of different sites of research and analysis, including organiza­tional games, songs and the bodies of organizational members themselves. What is particularly significant about these contributions`we would sug­gest, however, is that they challenge the traditional disregard for questions of aesthetics and sensuality that disciplines such as organizational studies and industrial sociology have traditionally shown. Instead, they demon­strate to us, with great clarity, the ways in which aesthetic experience per­vades a range of organizational settings and practices. While this can often be experienced as a technology of control and authority, at other times, or in other instances, it can also facilitate patterns of resistance in both thought and activity or contribute to the processes of self-identification, both at the level of the individual and the organization.

In Part III the focus shifts towards a series of self-avowed critical engagements with the role aesthetics play in the structuring of relations of power and control both within, and through, work and its organization. While sympathetic to the desire for a more aesthetically rich environment, what unites these authors is a critical distance that leads them to question the origins, and potential consequences, of the current fascination with the practice of organizational aestheticization surfacing within the field of management and organization studies. As such, underpinning all three of the following chapters is a normative commitment to the preservation of a mode of critique that places at the centre of its endeavours a concern for the preservation of the human potential for autonomy within a range of structured regimes of power and subjectification.

The volume as a whole shows how organizational, economic and political structures frame aesthetic theory and practical art.

Wollheim's Druthers

Richard Wollheim on the Art of Painting: Art As Representation and Expression edited by Rob Van Gerwen, response by Richard Wollheim (Cambridge University Press) This critical collection of essays about the attempt by Wollheim to reinvent how we talk about painting as art should give pause and both puzzle and delight a plethora of readers. Given the high level of international recognition that Wollheim's work has enjoyed for many years, this book will be eagerly sought out by all serious students of the theory of art, whether in departments of philosophy or art history.


Wollheim is one of the dominant figures in the philosophy of art, whose work has shown not only how paintings create their effects but why they remain important to us. His influential writings have focused on two core, interrelated questions: How do paintings depict? How do they express feelings?

In this collection of new essays, a group of distinguished thinkers in the fields of art history and philosophical aesthetics offers a critical assessment of Wollheim's theory of art. Among the themes under discussion are Wollheim's explanation of pictorial representation in terms of seeing-in, his views of artistic expression as a type of complex projection, and his notion of the internal spectator. In the final essay, Wollheim himself responds to the contributors.

Editor’s summary: To sum up, the following are among the most important concepts that Richard Wollheim has contributed to our aesthetic understanding of the evaluative and descriptive appreciation of the`art of painting. Seeing-in is a twofold, perceptual attention both to the surface which (hopefully) is painted in an individual style, and to a subject that can be seen in it. Recognizing a work's expression involves a projection of mental properties with a personal history on our behalf depending on an affinity between that personal history and the very same individual style the subject is painted with. In general, what we need, according to Wollheim, is an art‑critical approach of art, a "Criticism as Retrieval" which answers to the many notions of correctness I have just alluded to. With Wollheim, this is no mere academicism. Whoever studies Wollheim's texts will soon find out that critical conclusions reached too hastily can seriously damage one's insights. One who takes this theory to heart finds himself or herself forced to look afresh at paintings, and this time more critically and with a better eye for art's psychological origins. It is therefore no coincidence that among the authors in the present volume we find philosophers as well as art historians.

For all the contributions in the present book, it will be helpful to sketch the main arguments, without (of course) offering any judgement on their soundness. Wollheim's views of pictorial representation form the core subject of six chapters, and we begin with Wollheim's own recently elaborated defense of them. In Chapter 1, Wollheim discusses three demands on theories of pictorial representation. He argues, first, that if a picture depicts, then a suitable experience can establish what is depicted in it. Second, a suitable spectator will have such suitable experiences. Third, the spectator must have the suitable capacities or be able to acquire them, and these capacities concern the visual experience of the depicted. With these demands in hand, Wollheim addresses (and dispatches) the subtle theories of depiction of Christopher Peacocke and Malcolm Budd, who understand depiction and our recognition of pictures in terms of the experienced resemblance between the structures or, respectively, shapes, of visual fields of a picture and its real‑life subject. Wollheim's main argument against this view is that there need not be a separate experience of the two visual fields resembling one another, just as there needn't be an experience of the real‑life subject, for a picture to be recognized as picturing what it depicts. Thus, the demands this 'theory of experienced resemblance puts on our perception of pictures do not meet Wollheim's first, minimal requirement that there be a suitable experience.

The next chapter is by Jerrold Levinson, one of the two contributors who had ready access to Wollheim's present text (the other being Susan Feagin). Levinson finds himself in much agreement with Wollheim's present views, but poses several questions concerning Wollheim's account of seeing‑in. He doubts whether the experience of seeing‑in has a uniform nature in all the relevant cases. For instance, Levinson argues, imagination is implied in a different way in the experience of seeing columns in a painting, in contrast to seeing "[ . . . ] them as having been thrown down some hundreds of years ago by barbarians" (Wollheim, this volume, 24). Andrew Harrison, in Chapter 3, urges that the twofoldness of representational perception does not fit well with the strict division Wollheim proposes between pictorial and descriptive representation, because as is the case with linguistic understanding, we start our understanding of pictures from principles (a "pictorial syntax") which guide the production of a picture from the basic elements an artist starts out with. These basic elements are in themselves non-pictorial combinations`of colours and forms, what Harrison calls the "pictorial mesh." If this is correct, as Harrison thinks, the`strict division should be abandoned, not the twofoldness. In Chapter 4, Monique Roelofs disputes Wollheim's idea that seeing‑in should be treated as a primitive type of perception. She thinks seeing‑in can and should be further analysed. Roelofs proposes to view seeing‑in as a process of advancing and testing hypotheses concerning what we see before us. Among other things, she sees an answer in this to the question of the role of background knowledge in our appreciation of works of art. Chapter 5 is dedicated to the question of art's beginning and continuation. Anthony Savile argues here that the development of art over time can best be understood as motivated by the idea of wanting to pass on taste and artistic values. This theory, Savile thinks, is compatible with Wollheim's ideas on individual style and its psychological reality. But what about Wollheim's thesis that art works need not be motivated by the wish to communicate? For Savile, Wollheim cannot make sense of the idea of communication, because he takes the artist as producing his work for unknown, hypothetical spectators. Against this position, Savile urges that any artist's aimed for spectator isn't as unspecified as Wollheim has it.

Because Wollheim thinks of seeing‑in as a perceptual capacity, he doesn't see a role in it for imagination. (Only when there is an internal spectator in some painting is the imagination activated to assist in the perceptual process). But one can see that the following is neutral as to this issue: seeing‑in ". . . allows us to have perceptual experiences of things that are not present to the senses" (A02 217). Obviously, only those things that are represented in the picture present themselves to our perception, and of these it remains to be seen whether or not they present themselves to the imagination or ‑ more strictly ‑ to the senses. Therefore, in the present volume, four authors Levinson, Crowther, Podro, and van Gerwen ‑ disagree that Wollheim's characterization of seeing‑in rules out imagination. Apart from Levinson, these authors do not necessarily take imagination restrictedly as fantasy. In the sixth chapter on representation, Paul Crowther investigates the role of imagination in our twofold attending to pictures. He views the imagination as a basic function in cognition in the transcendental sense which Kant ascribed to it: not as the actual thinking up of fantasies, but as the often unconscious mental power that is presupposed for experience, which puts before the mind image‑like representants of things that are absent to the senses. In Wollheim's view, this may be incorporated in visual perception, but Crowther thinks it is rewarding to shuffle the distinctions in the way he does this, because this very transcendental type of imagination, he thinks, is what is being objectified in paintings.

Wollheim's characterization of perception is challenged from other angles, too. Thus, Malcolm Budd (Chapter 7) sees a problem with Wollheim's account of expression as a kind of perception that corresponds to a feeling one doesn't have. We see something in the picture, then become aware of an affinity with some emotion, only then to reperceive the subject which is then coloured by the emotion. Or do we first see the affinity, only to find that there is no way to see the subject without the emotion with which it has an affinity? What determines what? And, Budd asks, how does Wollheim account for the correspondence between the thing perceived and the feeling not being had? Concerning expression's relation with representation, Michael Podro (Chapter 8) distinguishes three aspects in pictures that cannot be conceived of as independent: the power of depicting a subject, the singularly specific and complex coherence of a painting, and our experience of seeing the way the painting is painted as loaded with expressiveness. Expressiveness derives from the way something is rendered. Starting, like Wollheim, from a psychoanalytic theory, Podro treats these three aspects in relation to how a child places a transitional object between himself and his mother. The child projects onto such a transitional object both his mother's and his own emotions, so as to repair the separation he is experiencing. Podro perceives certain analogies with expression, which introduce new subtleties into Wollheim's account.

In Chapter 9, Carolyn Wilde argues, via the case of forgery, that style forms the very basis of artistic value. She quotes Wollheim saying that "application of the concept of style to a work of art is a precondition of its aesthetic interest," and argues that individual style is the product of the artist's attention to a subject, which as such steers the beholder's attention to the right spots. A forger will use a style as a kind of matrix for his painting, whereas the painter applying his own style will use it as a way of perceiving the world in order to supplant that way of perceiving onto the picture plane. The authenticity of a picture and its expression is a function of the picture's individual style. Therefore, individual style is as important to understanding expression as it is to our understanding of depiction. Rob van Gerwen's (Chapter 10) approach to representational perception starts from the acknowledgement that a picture addresses only the perceptual modality of vision (while recognizing that vision is embodied). Seeing a horse in a picture implies an anticipation on the capability of recognizing such an animal's depicted visual characteristics if ever one were to be within the depicted reality. (The anticipation removes all talk of experienced resemblance from the analysis of depiction.) Thus, the perception of representation is characterized generally as an anticipation of some unimodal recognition. This general notion enables van Gerwen to understand the analogy of artistic expression to depiction, taking the difference between the two as that between the beholder's respective modalities of mind that are addressed. Pictorial representation is of the visual, whereas expression represents the experiential, and the latter's relevant perceptual modality is imagination. Therefore, according to van Gerwen, both depiction and expression function, similarly, as types of representation albeit with distinct types of subject matter. In Chapter 11, Graham McFee questions the combination of the projective nature of expressive properties with the realist undertone of Wollheim's approach. If expressive properties depend on the contribution of the beholder, how can they objectively be there in the work? Wollheim thinks that the perception of expression does not merely depend on the presence of an extra stock of knowledge, but rather on the ability to mobilize that extra cognitive stock in one's experience, to have it play a role in one's perception of the work. But if perceiving artistic expression becomes such an esoteric ability, then how can people still be educated aesthetically? Can people be taught to appreciate art? McFee offers a solution to Wollheim's difficulty by seeing what follows from the (obvious) "yes" answer.

In Part Three, the contributions which address the internal spectator are collected. Art historian Svetlana Alpers (Chapter 12) takes a close look at that other significant spectator, the artist, by analysing Rembrandt's painting Bathsheba ‑ in particular, the artist's position towards his own canvas. She disagrees with Wollheim that the crucial position for the artist with regard to his own work is an upright stance frontally opposed to it, which would as such be a stance available to every spectator. She shows that the spectator of Bathsheba cannot quite take up the same position Rembrandt held towards his painting. Two other contributors ‑ van Eck and van de Vall ‑ propose to expand Wollheim's analysis of the internal spectator in the direction of the external spectator. Caroline van Eck (Chapter 15) argues that Wollheim is too dismissive with regard to illusion, and that the use of linear perspective can be understood as a rhetorical device that fulfils the very conditions that, according to Wollheim, point to the presence of an internal spectator. Consequentially, van Eck thinks that the phenomenon of the internal spectator is more widespread than Wollheim thinks it is. Renee van de Vail (Chapter 13) investigates the distinction between the external and the internal spectator by developing the notion of staging. Installations stage their spectators, luring them into the work so as to dissolve the very separation between work and spectator and (so to speak) make the external spectator an internal one. She then applies her insights to a painting by Barnett Newman, showing how it lures one inside while itself entering the beholder's space. Like van Eck and van de Vail, Susan Feagin (Chapter 14) addresses the way a painting addresses its beholder. However, unlike them, she does not loosen up Wollheim's sharp conviction of trompe l'oeil, but, instead, defends it. She explains the difference between presentation and representation by analysing the four characteristic differences between trompe I'oeil and representation, and argues that although the former is not an instance of the latter, it does lead us to applaud the technical powers of an artist if only he uses them to empower his representation. Robert Hopkins (Chapter 16) questions whether Wollheim really needs an internal spectator with his own psychological repertoire on top of the already very rich phenomena of seeing‑in and projection. This criticism becomes all the more pressing in the light of the problem of whether or not external spectators are capable of retrieving the internal spectator's

psychology. In Chapter 17, Michael Baxandall considers it the task of the art critic to show the external spectator where to aim his projections. He ‑ the critic ‑ must in this process maintain a certain openness. He must point out the visual connections, but not the psychological ones, which he must leave for the beholder to fill in. The last word on each of these topics is left, as expected, for Richard Wollheim. In Chapter 18, he has defences on offer, as well as further questions. The debate is not over yet, far from it.


Painting as Art by Richard Wollheim (Princeton University Press) provides the first sustained discussion of the complex of perceptions, design, pigments, biography, social history, and lived experience that becomes the experience of a painting as a work of art. Wollheim is well conversant with the philosophical issues while bringing a depth and expertise to the appreciation of the art and craft of painting within both broad historical contexts and the minutiae of a particular artist and this unique painting.  So that what he says about any painting becomes a phantasmagoria of informed facts and conjectures that is a marvel approaching Keats’ truth, beauty; beauty, truth.  Wollheim's interpretations are intrepid corrections of received wisdom and well-argued virtuoso interpretations. His scientist’s appreciation of the subtle effects of perception blends well with an informed style; not an easy read, but one likely to educate one’s sensibilities anew.

Art and Its Objects by Richard Wollheim (Cambridge University Press) What defines a work of art and determines the way in which we respond to it? This classic reflection was written with the belief that the nature of art has to be understood simultaneously from the artist's as well as the spectator's viewpoint. The rigor of his abstract language may put off readers lulled by narrative artspeak or not used to the cryptocare given to analytical reformulations of aesthetic sensibility, but Wollheim is trying to cover all bases even if he isn’t actually up to the play itself.

On the Emotions by Richard Wollheim (The Ernst Cassirer Lectures, 1991: Yale University Press) This rich and thought-provoking account of the emotions considers what emotions are, how they arise in our lives, and how standard and "moral" emotions differ. Drawing on insights from literature, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, Wollheim argues that emotions form a distinct psychological category, not to be assimilated with either beliefs or desires. These three lectures were delivered to the philosophy department at Yale in 1991, but are here revised and enlarged. Wollheim writes within the analytic tradition, yet abandons many of its assumptions, developing a re-invented psychology of the mind by adapting and reconceptualizing ideas from such writers as Sartre, William James, Freud, Melanie Klein, Stendhal, Montaigne, and Bertrand Russell. The Thread of Life by Richard Wollheim (Yale University Press) attempts a synthetic view of life and what it means to us.

Art As a Social System by Niklas Luhmann,  translated by Eva M. Knodt (Meridian: Stanford University Press)  Art As a Social System continues a series that aims to elaborate a theory of society. Since the overall project focuses on theories that deal with individual functional systems, I have considered the elaboration of these systems a priority. The theory of society itself requires two different approaches, assuming (r) that the system as a whole is operatively closed on the basis of communication, and (z) that the functional systems emerging within society conform to, and embody, the principle of operative closure and, therefore, will exhibit comparable structures despite factual differences between them. Comparisons derive force when we recognize that the compared realms differ in all other respects; we can then highlight what is comparable and charge it with special significance. However, to illustrate this point requires an analysis of individual functional systems. The introduction to this series appeared as Soziale Systeme in 1984.1 Since then, the following studies have appeared: Die Wirtschafa der Gesellschaft (1988; The Economy as a Social System); Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft (1990; Science as a Social System); and Das Recht der Gesellschaft (1993; Law as a Social System). The volume presented here is the fourth in this series. Further studies are planned.

This project seeks to distance itself from prevailing social theories that attempt to describe their object in terms of normative, integrative, and unifying concepts. Such theories envision society as a system determined by stratification, that is, by a principle of unequal distribution. In the eighteenth century, a counter-discourse insisted on the possibility that mankind could nonetheless attain happiness. This promise was replaced in the nineteenth century by the demand for solidarity. In the twentieth century, politics was put in charge of establishing equal living conditions throughout the world‑a demand frequently made upon democratization or developmental and political modernization. As this century draws to a close, we are far from realizing universal happiness and satisfaction. Nor have we reached the goals of achieving solidarity and creating equal living conditions. One can continue to insist on these demands and call them "ethics," but it becomes difficult to ignore their increasingly apparent utopian component. This is why we recommend rewriting the theory of society. To do so requires a shift, at the structural level, from stratification to functional differentiation. The unity of society is not to be sought in ethico-political demands, but rather in the emergence of comparable conditions in systems as diverse as religion or the monetary economy, science or art, intimate relationships or politics‑despite extreme differences between the functions and the operational modes of these systems. Our theoretical proposition offers the following: a clear demarcation of external system boundaries of different domains and comparability between different systems. Talcott Parsons launched a similar experiment, taking the comparability of all subsystems of the general action system for granted. He believed that each action system, even in the position of subsystem or subsubsystem, needed to fulfill four functions to be complete, that is, if it were to exist as a system capable of maintaining its boundaries and orienting itself in relation to temporal differences. This is not the place to argue with Parsons's position. What matters is that with Parsons, the comparability of subsystems began to occupy a pivotal theoretical position in sociology. In what follows, we do not propose a theory as rigorously derived as Parsons's from an analysis of the concept of action. Instead, what interests us is another one of Parsons's ideas: that each evolutionary differentiation process must reconstruct the unity of the differentiated system. This does not presuppose central norms, no matter how generalized. In our modern (some would say postmodern) society, such norms are difficult to detect. It suffices that all subsystems employ the operational mode of the system as a whole, in this case communication, and that they are capable of fulfilling the conditions of system formation‑namely, autopoiesis and operative closure no matter how complex the emerging structures turn out to be.

Carrying out this program in the realm of art requires theoretical models that cannot be extracted from observing works of art and can be demonstrated in the communicative employment of these works. Here we use distinctions such as system/environment, medium/form, first‑ and second

order observation, self‑reference and external reference, and above all the distinction between psychic systems (systems of consciousness) and social systems (systems of communication); none is meant to assist in judging or creating works of art. We are not offering a helpful theory of art. This does not exclude the possibility that the art system, in its own operations, may profit from a theoretical endeavor intended to clarify the context and contingency of art from a socio-theoretical perspective. Whether such a transposition of insights can be accomplished and what kind of misunderstandings may contribute to its success must be decided within the art system itself, for "to succeed" can mean only "to succeed as a work of art." The issue is not to propose a theory that, if properly understood and applied, would guarantee success or assist the art system in coping with its worries about the future. It follows from the general theory of functional social differentiation that functional systems are incapable of directly influencing one another. At the same time, their coexistence increases their mutual irritability.

Science [Wissenschaft], here specifically sociological theory, must open itself to irritation through art. Science must be able to observe what is presented as art. In this basic sense, sociological theory is an empirical science (according to its own self‑description, at any rate). But the labor of transforming irritation into information that can be used within science is an entirely internal affair. The proof must be delivered within science. Art becomes a topic in the first place, not because of a peculiar inclination of the author, but because of the assumption that a social theory claiming universality cannot ignore the existence of art.

In view of how these intentions have been realized in this book, we acknowledge that it turned out to be difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the systematics of the system from the bare facts while bracketing historical analyses (as it would have been feasible with the economic system, the system of science, and the legal system). Aesthetic endeavors involving art have always separated themselves from a historical discourse oriented toward facts. This was the case in the poesia/theoria discussion of the sixteenth century with its emphasis on "beautiful appearance," and it holds for twentieth century hermeneutics, which distinguishes historical documentation that may be useful in the sciences from an understanding of the expression and significance of individual artworks. From a sociological standpoint, this separation is untenable and breaks down to the extent that art orients itself historically. This is the case in Renaissance art, for example. Art permits no simple repetition‑except as the perpetual repetition of its own history. Even for a theory of society, there is ultimately no history independent of the continual reactualization of that history.

This is why the text presented here can offer neither a structuralist de­scription of the system of modern art, nor a structured evolutionary his­tory of the differentiation of the art system. The reader will find both per­spectives interwoven. Each chapter is conceived in terms of its factual theme. We draw on historical retrospectives, as we need them, especially in Chapter 4, in which we discuss the differentiation and self‑description of the art system. Repetitions are inevitable. One should not expect a linear order, progressing from important to less important issues or from prior to subsequent events. I hope that the reader's understanding will benefit from the recognition that conceptual or historical materials reappear in different contexts. An extensive index should facilitate such a nonlinear reading.

ART FOR ART’S SAKE AND LITERARY LIFE: How Politics and Markets Helped Shape the Ideology and Culture of Aestheticism, 1790-1990 by Gene H. Bell-Villada ($18.95 paperback, 352 pages University of Nebraska Press, ISBN: 0803261438) HARDCOVER

ART FOR ART’S SAKE AND LITERARY LIFE is a history of literary aestheticism from the eighteenth century to modern deconstruction. Gene H. Bell-Villada examines writings by critics, philosophers, and other writers from Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Uniting all is his conviction that "there are concrete social, economic, political, and cultural reasons for the emergence, growth, diffusion, and triumph of Part pour Part over the past two centuries."

Gene H. Bell-Villada is a professor and chair in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Williams College. He is the author of Borges and His Fiction, Garcia Marquez: The Man and His Work (North Carolina) and The Carlos Chadwick Mystery: A Novel of College Life and Political Terror (Amador Publications).

Introduction The Idea, the Phrase, the Problem
Chapter 1 The Enlightenment Origins and the Theory of the Mental Faculties
Chapter 2 The New Economy, Poetry Displaced, and the Birth of the Doctrine
Chapter 3 The Diffusion of the Doctrine I: England
Chapter 4 The Diffusion of the Doctrine
II: Poe (U.S.), Modemismo (Latin America)
Chapter 5 The Modernist Internationale and the Market
Chapter 6 The Diffusion of the Doctrine m: Literary Modernism and After
Chapter 7 The Changing Politics of Art for Art’s Sake
Conclusion The Enduring Dilemma, the Academy, the Media

STONE by John Sallis ($12.95, paper, 146 pages, notes, photos,Studies in Continental Thought, John Sallis, general editor, Indiana University Press)

In an elegant and provocative text enhanced by photographs, Sallis offers an important new theory of philosophy and art. He takes up the various guises and settings in which stone appears and what philosophers have said about the beauty of stone.

STONE challenges the simple opposition of philosophy and art. It is written in a style that has the fullness of sculpture.

"I would have liked this discourse to be inscribed by a very skillful stonemason, by one who knew just the right slant at which to hold the chisel so as to cut obliquely into the stone and produce well-formed, clearly legible letters, chipping away the stone so as to leave the inscription both in place of stone and yet still in stone, practicing thus a kind of lithography. I would have liked the well-measured strokes of his hammer to be audible, as he practiced his venerable craft of making stone, in its silence, nonetheless speak.

". . . The stone fences that were once used to mark the boundaries of fields and that one still sees in England and in certain parts of the United States. Here and there they even serve still to partition and to mark the partitioning of the land, even if in such cases one cannot but sense that they belong properly to a world that has today withdrawn. . .

"Stone can mark not only a boundary but also a former presence, as in those self-images that nature prints in stone. In fossils one senses a kind of natural history, unassimilable to what philosophy delimits as history and sets in opposition to nature. . .

"In the presence of the mountain peak one senses a gathering of the elements. The mountain is earth itself, thrusting upward toward the sky, upward through mist and clouds, upward into that pure and shining upper air that the ancients call upon and frequently regarded, in its brilliance, as the region of the fire of heaven. Up there in the aethereal region the icy peak is exposed to the fire of heaven, whitened stone shining brilliantly in the intense sunlight, earth extended and exposed to the sky. In the mountain peak, fire and ice are gathered in (as we say) their elemental opposition. And yet, the mountain is stone...." —From Chapter One of STONE

The relation of our vision of stone's beauty to what we say, think, and write about stone, about the way in which such vision can both empower and interrupt language, is radiantly revealed in Stone. In an elegant and provocative text enhanced by photographs, Sallis takes up the various guises and settings in which stone appears: in wild nature, in shelter against the elements, in the tombstones of the Jewish cemetery in Prague, in Greek temples and Gothic cathedrals, and in sculpture and drama. STONE is critically attentive not only to what certain philosophers such as Hegel and Heidegger have said of beauty and of stone, but also to what they have written on their travels to the Alps, to the great cathedrals of Europe, or to the temples of Greece. Oriented throughout to various sites where the terrestrial beauty of stone shines forth, STONE draws increasingly toward theatrical presentation, toward theater of stone.

JOHN SALLIS is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. His previous books include Echoes: After Heidegger, Crossings, Being and Logos, The Gathering of Reason, Delimitations, and Spacings. Sallis is editor of Reading Heidegger: Commemorations and founding editor of the journal Research in Phenomenology.



From Hieroglyphics to Isotype: A Visual Autobiography by Otto Neurath (Hyphen, Princeton Architectural Press) From 1943 until his death in December 1945, Austrian sociologist Otto Neurath worked tirelessly on numerous versions of an innovative visual autobiography entitled From Hieroglyphics to Isotype. Now, sixty-five years later, comes the first publication of his full text, carefully edited from the original manuscripts. This edition highlights the important role visual material played in Neurath's life—from his earliest years to his professional work on the Isotype picture language. This engaging and informal account gives a rich picture of Central-European culture around the turn of the twentieth century, seen through the eyes of Neurath's insatiable intelligence, as well as a detailed exposition of the technique of Isotype. From Hieroglyphics to Isotype includes an appendix showing examples from Neurath's extensive collection of visual material. More