The philosophy of anti-art

Humble, Paul Nugent (1979) The philosophy of anti-art. Masters thesis, University of Lancaster.

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In this thesis I examine problems raised by the phenomenon of anti-art and, in particular, Duchamp's Readymades which most acutely raise these problems. I argue that the problems to which I draw attention have not been sufficiently appreciated by those philosophers and critics and historians who have written about them. I claim that the problems I raise are, in part at least, philosophical problems and that to solve them we need to examine the criteria we employ in classifying things
as artworks. In the light of this I show that some of the objects of anti-art, especially some of Duchamp's. Readymades are the antithesis of art and represent an attack on the institution of art. It is, therefore, incoherent and paradoxical to speak of such things as artworks. I examine and criticize the views of the philosophers who have spoken of such things in this way, notably George Dickie. I 'also consider whether any of Duchamp's Readymades do satisfy the criteria we employ in speaking of things as art and can, therefore, be claimed for art.

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