How Can Our Enjoyment of Art and History Destroy Evidence of Historic Context for an Artwork?
The basic goal of this work is to arrive at an understanding of art and its meaning in its historical moment, taking into consideration the formal qualities of a work of art, the function of a work of art in its original context, the goals and intentions of the artist and the patron of the work of art, the social position and perspectives of the audience in the work's original time and place, and many other related questions. Art history is closely related to other disciplines such as anthropology, history, and sociology.
The thematic subject of art and cultural heritage (looting and destruction) offers students the opportunity to engage with a potent subject that can elicit cultural empathy, to critically examine a historical and contemporary societal problem that affects their present and future, to examine their own attitudes and values, and to consider how art intersects with issues of power. Of particular importance to this lesson are issues of identity and contestation of power over objects of cultural heritage. Some questions that can be addressed by the lesson include: what objects have been held by various cultures and rulers as being imbued with power? Who has chosen to co-opt, usurp, or destroy particular works, and for what reasons? Who has obtained objects in the hopes of transferring a civilizing aura and promoting their cultural enrichment and status? What objects have been subject to iconoclasm, and why?
Yet one of the main reasons for going in for the theory of types in the first place was Peirce’s basic observation that while token word inscriptions of ‘the’ have their times and places, the word the, qua type, has no location. Is it sound to postulate the existence of an autonomous abstraction having spatial or temporal features? In an extended criticism of particularist accounts of the individuation and evaluation of works, Meager characterizes a work as either a spatiotemporal object or performance that manifests a pattern of elements that is the product of a person’s (or group of persons’) activity, where the activity was not a matter of copying or servile imitation, and where the object or performance is evaluated non-instrumentally (Theodulf of Orléans, 1998). The concept of a work of art, she comments, “operates in a rather special way as a universal defined by a spatio-temporal particular, which may itself therefore be regarded as a type-universal”.
Cultural heritage passed down to us from our parents must be preserved for the benefit of all. In an era of globalization, cultural heritage helps us to remember our cultural diversity, and its understanding develops mutual respect and renewed dialogue amongst different cultures.
Ruttkowski, Wolfgang, 1990, The Main Differences between Roman Ingarden’s and Nicolai Hartmann’s Strata-systems, Munich: Grin.
Stecker, Robert, 2005, Review of David Davies, Art as Performance, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 63 (1): 75–77.
Sagoff, Mark, 1978, ‘On Restoring and Reproducing Art’, Journal of Philosophy, 75 (9): 453–470.
Theodulf of Orléans, 1998 [ca. 794], Opus Caroli regis contra synodum (Libri Carolini), Ann Freeman (ed.) with Paul Meyvaert, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Concilia 2, Suppl. 1, Hannover: Hahnsche.