Non Conceptual Definitions

Published 2020-05-25

Philopsophers often question what is "art" or "love" or other words for humanity has never had a solid definition.

The quest to finding a general principle which can define these words is always admirable and bears much fruit (e.g., reading Heidegger's work on coming up with a the nature and definition of "being" is continually mind expanding) but I think words of the class of art actually don't have proper conceptual definitions. They are defined by a set of concretes rather than an abstract principle. They are non-conceptual words.

Taking art as an example.

What is art?

If someone picked any of those definitions for "art" then it is likely to only be held by them and a few other like-minded individuals. Making conversing about art impossible as those they converse with will have different definitions.

Maybe art is really just all of the things a culture has chosen to uphold as art at a given point in time. I.e., art is enumarted by the concretes of the moment rather than having a conceptual unity.

Is this way of defining terms a dangerous way of thinking that ceases thoughtfulness? Probably.