John Dewey was an exclusively important American thinker who greatly contributed to the philosophical ideas of the twentieth century. His educational and psychological theories and experiments had a global search and noticeable impact on these fields’ development. Besides, this intellectual’s systematic and extensive views in philosophy of religion, aesthetics, metaphysics, logic, epistemology, and ethics were unique (Hildebrand, 2018). Among other significant philosophers, Dewey also explored the concepts of aesthetics and art and their experiences in particular.
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The philosopher discussed his thoughts in his major book titled Art as Experience. According to Dewey, art is “the greatest intellectual achievement in the history of humanity,” while “aesthetics is central to philosophy’s proper mission: to render everyday experience more fulfilling and meaningful” (Hildebrand, 2018, para. 8). In his book, he also mentions four main objectives of aesthetics. First, to explicate art’s ontology and specify criticism and interpretation functions. Second, to examine its role in projecting, presenting, and reimagining human identity (Hildebrand, 2018). Third, to analyze art’s communicative functions; and fourth, to describe the meaning of its expression as experience. What is more, Dewey tried to emphasize the importance of preventing art’s reduction to short-term pleasant excitements and mere entertainment. At the same time, the museum’s conception of art is also opposed to Dewey’s position (Hildebrand, 2018). Works of art are not only for being observed; humans need to be engaged and feel the specific experience with them.
There are two core ideas expressed by Dewey in his book that I can agree with. To begin with, art is indeed the most outstanding achievement of humans. It is unimaginable how people managed to learn to express their feelings, worries, fears, happiness, and the whole range of emotions in any form of art so that other persons can perceive the emotional message of their work. Second, it is necessary to avoid perceiving art as a short-term or everyday pleasure as it is a way for people to lose its value.
Hildebrand, D. (2018). John Dewey. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.