By James W. Manns
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Art theory pure and simple, words on a page, literature undefiled by vision, flat, flatter, Flattest, a vision invisible, even ineffable, as ineffable as the Angels and the Universal Souls. 27 Theory, it appears, had taken the upper hand over practice. It could well be that it was in this milieu that Danto's thinking came of agesmall wonder, then, that theory should be appealed to in validation of artistic trends. But in retrospect, these theories should perhaps be taken to indicate a certain interest, a desire to understand the creative processes at work, and such interest and desire demonstrate in their turn that the works in question were already accepted as art.
Perhaps I can allow myself to say at this point that I am hopeful, but we must give serious consideration to the many obstacles that stand in the way of realizing such a goal. Certainly one of these obstacles lies in the very subject matter itself that aesthetics must deal with. In the natural sciences it seems reasonable to expect the phenomena under investigation to "hold still" long enough to be examined. Entomology, for example, unambiguously declares itself to be concerned with insects, supplies an account of the characteristics that combine to constitute an insect, and sets about to find and study insects.
An Adequate Theoretical Explanation Danto may have in mind that any adequate theory is sufficient to sustain a work of art within the artworld. And yet, odd as it may be to think that artists need to articulate theories in order to ground or justify their practices, or that they need to have it done for them, it is positively unsettling to think that they, or someone elseanyone elseactually have to get it right, that is, develop an adequate theory of art, for us to regard certain works as legitimate.
Aesthetics by James W. Manns