Date of Original Version
Journal of Computing in Higher Education, Fall 1990, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 3-31
Abstract or Table of Contents
The appreciation or historical study of visual art depends crucially on assumptions or claims that given art works can be attributed to given artists in given periods; both the appreciation and history of art presuppose a methodology of attribution and a theory of evidence; and these are open to philosophic question and analysis. Apparently straighforward, deceptively prosaic empirical questions of attribution (By whom was a given work created and when? ) are themselves often influenced by judgments of aesthetic value (as when features reflecting the artistry or artfulness of a work are themselves taken as evidence for attributing the work to a given master). Philosophy begins in wonder, and our wonder about What is art? o r why we value it, wonder about what makes any artifact a work of art, wonder about the source and nature of aesthetic value is best catalyzed when our assumptions about the attribution of a presumed art work are cast in doubt or violated. For this reason, the study of forgery and issues of artistic attribution is a powerful motivation to philosophic wonder and aesthetic inquiry. Of all the realms of arguable human values, aesthetics perhaps purports the most mystifying questions. Aesthetic inquiry can therefore provide paradigmatic insights into very generic issues of human valuing and inquiry. But the student requires special means, motive, and opportunity for the study.