Agora Speaker Series 2021 - Associate Professor David Macarthur

Why Does Art Matter to Us?

The more fundamental question when considering art is not “What is art?” but “Why does art matter to us?” I assume that there is a philosophical answer to this question so that it is not all about money or social status.

I consider and reject three such answers: 1) art manifests God; 2) art improves us morally; and 3) art is pleasurable. The answer I propose is suggested by the striking analogy between art & the physical objects that realize them and minds & the physical objects (bodies) that embody them. That is, the art/object problem is an analogue of the mind/body problem. Art matters because it is a model of the self. I explore this answer in terms of the issues of artistic incomprehensibility, the freedom to respond, and love.