Introduction 

Art and Philosophy

Art is a form of an intuitive cognition caused by our unconscious striving for truth which satisfies the aesthetic feeling. The Oxford Dictionary defines art as a creation of what is beautiful. And what is beautiful? Schopenhauer associates art with the will-less contemplation of truth. According to him the object of science is the universal that contains many particulars; the object of art is the particular that contains a universal. Furthermore a work of art is successful in a proportion that the chosen object corresponds or reflects the essence of the group the object belongs. For instance an image of a cat should reflect the completeness of cats features. Thus the understanding of truth and beauty are the driving forces of art. Ironically both conceptions of truth and beauty have no clear determination, or definition. It is why art has been, is and would be a purely subjective branch of human creative activity in opposition to science.

The arts

There are several kinds of art we are enjoying: painting, sculpture, architecture - all perceived visually, theater - perceived both by vision and listening, music - perceived just by listening, literature and poetry perceived by reading or listening. The visual arts are in general meaning accessible to everybody. Music does not demand the help of language, because it is a language in itself - a universal one. Although to understand music (when one means the serious kind) it is not enough just to listen it, one has to feel it. The emotional appeal of music has to resonate with our feelings without the help of reason. Because of its universality Shopenhauer considered music the highest form of art. Literature is accessible to any one who could read, besides, if written in foreign language, it can be translated. Literature is a well which opens up to us the thoughts, visions and the life both of the gone times and our time. It broadens our insights, improves our language and last but not least gives us enjoyment.
Poetry, perceived both by listening and reading, even when written in the native tongue, is somewhat more complicated. Great poetry is an alloy of emotion, thought, rhythm and rhyme, and it demands from the reader a very good command of language and acquaintance with culture. The ancient Greeks who were sophisticated in grasping the minutiae of arts had among nine muses five for poetry. To translate poetry is much more difficult than to translate literature, and a good translation is mostly done by other poets. The combination of language peculiarities, associations, music and rhyme makes it extremely arduous. Therefore it seems that poetry is the most elitist type of art. The current work chooses the easy way, being concentrated mainly, but not exclusively, on the visual arts, especially on painting, although other types are occasionally mentioned. Concerning the named artists it might be that not all who deserve it has been remembered.

Time table
Philosophy
Arts
The impact of social aspects
The Greek philosophy and art
The Christian period
Renaissance
17th-18th Century
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A Historic Review
Zeitgeist
An attempt to grasp the term beauty
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