Art and the Anthropologists

Gregory Currie

in Aesthetic Science

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199732142
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918485 | DOI:
Art and the Anthropologists

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This paper develops a modest version of the thesis of aesthetic universalism--the idea that all human cultures express, through their material productions, a concern with and a delight in the skilful making of beautiful things. It is argued that the use of the expression "aesthetic" in this context does not involve an illegitimate imposition of ideas drawn from one culture and imposed on another, but reflects the widely attested phenomenon of the accessibility of one cultures standards of beauty to agents from another culture. It is argued that this accessibility is initially limited, but is capable of being deepened through a study of the relevant culture's history, values and modes of life. It is further argued that aesthetic factors may play an important role in the project of explaining a culture's practices. The aesthetic is thus a universal and an explanatory concept.

Keywords: anthropology; beauty; aesthetics; aesthetic universalism

Chapter.  11946 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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