extract V

© giovanni casu, 2016

Investigations philosophiques: « Ne dites pas: «il faut que quelque chose leur soit commun [...] mais voyez d’abord si quelque chose leur est commun » (Wittgenstein, 1961, part. I, sect. 66-67)..



Extract V:


(...)Weitz's Open Concept Argument: “any concept is open if a case can be imagined which would call for some sort of decision on our part to extend the use of the concept to cover it, or to close the concept and invent a new one to deal with the new case; all open concepts are indefinable; and there are cases calling for a decision about whether to extend or close the concept of art. Hence art is indefinable” (Weitz, 1956).

From a historical perspective, we can sketch a first distinction between philosophers and thinkers who believe that a definition of art is possible and a second, post-Wittgenstainian group of thinkers who believe that categories such as sport, games, and art are indefinable. The neo-Wittgensteinian approach has achieved great popularity in post- WWII philosophy of art in the aftermath of anti-essentialist theories of language (cf. Gallie 1948; see also Weitz 1956).

For these latter authors, we cannot fulfil the conditions necessary to establish a definition. As Morris Weitz wrote: “art may be an open concept. (…) Faced with the question ‘Is X an artwork?’, what we should do is try to detect strands of resemblance with paradigmatic instances of an artwork. If some significant resemblance to such a paradigmatic case is observed, we can rightly call the object of our scrutiny a work of art.”(...)