Culture And the Arts in Education: Critical Essays on by Ralph Alexander Smith

By Ralph Alexander Smith

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11) What was its function in the culture in which it was made? (12) What is its function in the culture of today? (13) What peculiar problems does it present to understanding, appreciation, and evaluation? What I think is helpful in Levi’s redefinition of the humanities—the humanities as promoting humanizing and civilizing skills—is his provision of a method for studying the humanities and an identification of the subjects of the humanities as languages and literatures, history, and philosophy.

These three—medium, structure, and style—are the categories or dimensions of art as communication. Every masterpiece of world art is also a human creation that is produced in time and takes its place within a larger context of tradition. It therefore has a date and was created at a certain place by a certain person in a particular social situation, usually for a certain kind of people. Date, situation, and audience are thus the categories or dimensions of art as continuity. Every work of art is also the product of a philosophy of life and is therefore implicitly or explicitly a work of criticism; it either favors or denies certain constellations of value, contains implicitly or explicitly a critical message.

EXCELLENCE AND AESTHETIC LITERACY The basic question for any theory of aesthetic education turns on the qualities of mind, body, and character that should be developed through the study of the arts. 14 What, then, are the dispositions, the excellences of mind, body, and character, that we should cultivate through aesthetic education? 15 The reason for emphasizing outstanding works of art as principal objects of study, at least in the middle and secondary grades, is perhaps obvious enough, but for educational purposes it is worth referring to Harold Osborne, who during his lifetime was regarded as the dean of British aesthetics.

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