Art and Emotion

Alex Neill

in The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780199279456
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577239 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Art and Emotion

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The theory of art in which the abiding philosophical interest in the connection between art and emotion is most explicit is expression theory, of which there have been several, significantly different, versions. Common to all of these is the thought that the value of art lies at least largely in the value of its expression of emotion; but theorists have differed markedly in how they understand the nature of such expression. On what might be called the full-blown version of expression theory — instances of which were held by Leo Tolstoy and by Clive Bell — expression is understood as a matter of the communication or transmission of emotion or feeling from artist to audience via the work of art. The value of a work of art, on this view, will be a function both of the value of the feeling that it transmits (Tolstoy, for instance, held that sincerity and individuality of feeling were crucial criteria of value in this respect), and of its ‘infectiousness’ (to use a Tolstoyan metaphor) and the clarity with which it transmits that feeling.

Keywords: art of emotion; expression theory; value of art; expression of emotion; communication of emotion; transmission of emotion

Article.  7977 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Philosophy of Mind

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