A theory of art: inexhaustibility by contrast by Stephen David Ross

By Stephen David Ross

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They sacrifice the sovereignty of the work of art to its richness. An ordinal theory can emphasize the sovereignty of the work of art yet can also accommodate an inexhaustible richness surpassing even that to be found in Goodman's theory. This is the support an ordinal theory gives to an adequate theory of art. The fundamental principle of an ordinal theory is that whatever is is an order of constituents, whatever is relevant to it in a particular location, and every order functions as a constituent in other orders.

Contrasts are then pervasive throughout nature and experience. The crucial property they possess that makes them central to art is that they accommodate more and more complex levels of contrast, higher and higher syntheses. " (PR 22) This property, I will argue, is essential if we are to understand the richness and power of some of the minimalist works of twentieth-century art. It is the property that enables art, through intensity of contrast, to manifest inexhaustibility. " This is surely a major contrast, but it is mute on higher levels and complexities of contrast (though the infinite and inexhaustible character of the opposition peculiar to art is clear in Schelling while the notion of level upon levels of contrast is mirrored in Schlegel's theory of romantic irony).

5. See especially Part 11, Chapters 11 and IV; Part III, Chapter V. Page references are to the Corrected Edition, D. R. Griffin and D. W. , New York, Free Press, 1978. Page 4 one experience is the central movement in Whitehead's theory, and it inevitably engenders contrasts: the synthesis or unification of a multiplicity in one prehension or feeling. This notion of prehension is very general in Whitehead's theory: for the moment we may neglect it and consider his position, with some simplification, to be that the conjunction of diverse components is a contrast, that a contrast is comprised of a synthesis of one and many in which multiplicity is preserved, in which synthesis does not supersede differences.

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