Art and Knowledge

Berys Gaut

in The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Art and Knowledge

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  • Philosophy
  • Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art
  • Epistemology



The question of whether art gives us knowledge is as old as the philosophy of art itself: Plato in The Republic argued that, although poetry purports to give knowledge, it in fact does no such thing, but produces a mere deceptive appearance of knowledge. In contrast, Aristotle in The Poetics argued for the capacity of poetry to give its audience knowledge of universals. The dispute has reverberated down to the modern period, and a large part of the contemporary debate is still concerned with the classical form of the question. This can be dubbed the epistemic question: can art give its audience knowledge? Though the questions are rarely distinguished, there is a distinct issue which also needs to be addressed under the general rubric of art and knowledge.

Keywords: knowledge of universals; epistemic question; of art and knowledge; Plato; The Republic; poetry

Article.  7254 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology

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