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Abstract

In this essay I examine the conceptual difficulties generated by drawing a distinction between artworks and mere real things. I argue that the distinction is an unfortunate one, requiring for its operation an assumption of possibility of an objective value judgment with regard to aesthetic productions, which, in reality cannot be defensible on purely philosophical grounds. The distinction, in fact, may be useful in describing the interactions between the artworld, qua a cultural institution, and the socio-economic environment in which it is situated; yet, it proves misleading when introduced into discussions about the nature of artworks and the nature of our interactions with art. I also recommend, in passing, that our understanding of art may benefit from embracing a more holistic approach to construing the relationship between artworks and human agents within a culturally constituted space of the artworld - an approach, perhaps, along the lines resembling those suggested by Margolis' historicized relativism.

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