Well, maybe not too exciting.


Richard Lewis Roth

August 28, 2005

October 27, 2010, added "solitary" to the definition of beauty.

Definition of Art with Consequent Definitions


(Meaning all arts: visual, music, literature, performance, etc.)

Art: Art is human action intending to and causing the experience of beauty.

Beauty: Beauty is an incitement to a transitory and solitary loosening of the bonds of self.

Experience: Experience is a limited duration sequence of impressions we bind together as a thing.

The bonds of self: these are the social and material cares centered on our physical being.

The loosening: this refers to our faculty of intense animal attention such as of a predator or prey which focuses on cares, being instead focused on pleasure.

Intention: that is, working to an end, is required for art because when human action causes the experience of beauty without intention this falls within the realm of the beauty of nature such as utility driven patterns of agriculture, habitat, tools.

Comments and Objections

Nov. 2011, the update is the addition of two words to the definition of beauty: incitement and solitary.

I did feel uncomfortable saying "beauty is the loosening of the bonds of self" making it intrinsic to the self when it is an attribute of the other or at least of the self's perception of the other. The word "incitement" makes the distinction.

Having added "solitary" to the definition of beauty should answer to some of the diluting cases where social interaction in the loosening of the bonds of self are involved such as reliigous experience and sports team enthusiasm.

I continue now with my original objections.

The definition is very porous. All sorts of human action can loosen the bonds of self as here described.

So called light entertainment: music of that sort, food, sex, dance, sport, so many activities could be described as loosening the bonds of self, at least in the experiences of given persons at given times. How can my brevity striving definition avoid the issues of taste, quality, depth?

Can a sermon or ceremony that causes at least a passing religious experience (which is a loosening of the bonds) be called art?

Can being engrossed in a problem, for example in mathematics or science, and exulting in a new insight or coming to understand a grand insight be human action that causes the experience of beauty and be art? I believe that having added intention to the definition rules out mathematics and science as arts while recognizing their beauty. So then their beauty must be the beauty of nature.

Can the action of receiving the art be considered art. That action is after all causing the experience of beauty. Thus the couch potato sports fan whose action is to turn the TV knob and thrill to a good game. So the distinction has to be made between the act of the action and the act of receiving the action.

I have to account for the artist and art performer and the art work or art action and the audience or receiver.

A General Conclusion

I like my definition as a general starting position expressing my inclination. I need to develop language to express sliding scales judgement and issues of the momentary versus the historical, and the individual versus the society or the culture.

That"s all for just now.